Eugene, Ore. ( Associated Press) — Both were born in the United States, where they also grew up and took up athletics. When they bump into each other like Tuesday in a mixed field, they chat and joke, mostly in English.
But Gianna Woodruff and Melissa Gonzalez’s faces light up when a reporter speaks to them in Spanish, although they each share a certain fear of not expressing themselves well in the language.
“It’s good to practice Spanish. If you talk to me slowly, I’m sure I can understand everything,” said Gianna Woodruff, who represents Panama and who won the 400 meters at the World Athletics Championships Has made it to the semi-finals for the third time in a row in the hurdles.
Woodruff, who was born in Santa Monica, California, said, “I want to achieve more, I want to set my personal record and get to the finals, in 53 or 52 seconds, I can do it in the heat that I want.” like.” , but decided to run across the country. of his mother Donna, who was originally from the city of Cologne.
Woodruff competed in Tuesday’s third heat, in which he finished third in 55.21 seconds. Speaking to the press, he is captured by Gonzalez, who is running for Colombia.
Both greeted each other warmly.
“The girls are always together,” he chanted in Spanish.
Gonzalez was born in El Paso, Texas, a city on the border with Mexico, to a father from Cali and an athlete.
“I feel proud, my dad played basketball in Colombia with the national team, for me wearing this shirt means my family, my people, my home, and showing the world that Colombia is great,” the athlete said. , the champion American sport in the South, who also played a semi-final at the Tokyo Olympics without qualifying for the title race.
In the fourth heat, Gonzalez was fourth with 56.24. Heat’s best time was 53.90 by Dutch Femke Boll in the third race.
Now Gonzalez wants to take a step she didn’t have in the Japanese capital, and she knows that many Colombians trust her. In fact, it represents one of the remaining hopes of a good show by the coffee delegation.
The spectacular day that Venezuela’s Yulimar Rojas won gold in the triple jump the day before was probably giving birth to nostalgia in Colombia. Following the retirement of Rojas’ frontrunner Caitrin Ibarguen as Queen of the Triple Jump, the Colombian delegation is left without a great man.
Colombia was also affected by injuries, such as the 20-kilometer march that sidelined Lorena Arenas, silver medalist at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
“I’m sorry for the injuries to the Colombians, but I don’t feel more pressure than that,” Gonzalez said. “The only thing I want is to improve my points and maybe reach the finals”.
Of course, making the family happy also has a goal.
“I run into Melissa a lot when I’m running for college,” Woodruff said. “She runs for Texas and I run for the University of Washington, and we’re always friends and talking, but we like it better when we’re running for our parents’ countries. That was our decision to compete for the country we were not born in.
Puerto Rican Grace Claxton finished in the first qualifying round with a time of 56.40 seconds.