Marta Galimany

“I thought only the chosen ones would be able to go”

This athlete from Valls has made rapid progress to reach her first Games at the age of 35

You came to athletics late and almost by chance...
I’ve always done some sports since I was a kid. Basketball, skating, tennis... When I went to university in Barcelona, I missed it. Some classmates and I signed up for running. I didn’t know anything about high performance athletics. I just wanted to run, my body was demanding it and I just wanted to have fun.
When did you realise that you could succeed in athletics?
It’s been a process. At the club I was participating in Catalan leagues, and Catalonia championships but without any great results. The first Spanish championship I did was the cross country. We had a university team in the first year. I wasn’t very fast, but I made the team. I changed clubs and with Hospitalet I competed in the honour division in the 3,000 m hurdles. I managed the qualifying time for the Spanish team. It had been four or five years. In 2016, I did my first half marathon and in 2017, the first marathon.
When did you realise you could make a qualitative leap by running marathons?
When I finished my university degree and returned to Valls, I met my partner and coach, Jordi Toda. I asked him to train me. Little by little, we formed a team and I grew a lot more from that moment on. I knew I was a cross-country runner because I felt more comfortable doing that, but I also knew I had to improve my 5,000 and 10,000 times first. When I did my first marathon I already made the qualifying time for the Europeans. We knew I could do well because of my training times, how I felt, and due to the times I had done in the 10,000 m and half marathon.
How did you experience lockdown and the Games being postponed?
At first I was calm because I’d already done the work in Seville in February, with the qualifying time for the Games. For people who were still training to get it, it was harder. I thought we’d be locked up at home, and that it wouldn’t be long, that I would train again when we left and that I wouldn’t lose out much. Then, when it got longer, I thought that not training would make it hard for me to know how I’d get to the Games. Weeks passed and I realised I couldn’t do the workouts at home like I would do them outside. What made me most anxious was not knowing if the Games would go ahead or not. That made it difficult to motivate myself every day. Once they were postponed, I relaxed, realising I had more time to prepare.

A rapid rise

She started out with a basketball in Valls, but her university career in Barcelona led her to change sports. From 53rd place in the World Half Marathon Championships in 2016, she beat the marathon qualifying time for these Olympics in February 2020 - a month before the pandemic started.

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