This week (yes, two weeks in a row) I had the pleasure to interview a fellow coach and accomplished athlete that was the first Portuguese Trampoline Gymnastics Olympian.
Thank you Nuno Merino for the opportunity and for all the help on making this post possible.
I Hope all of you enjoy the interview.
Who is Nuno Merino?
Nuno Merino is a person like any other, he wakes up in the morning, goes to bed at night and live the day’s hours as anyone else. Perhaps one of the differences is the spirit of sacrifice to achieve the goals I set for myself. But I was never very good at talking about myself, so I will leave that to others.
With so many coaches, we can say that there is a Trampoline tradition in the Merino family?
It is true. I look back and I never thought such a thing would happen. But right now we are already 3.
You were the first gymnast to represent Portugal at the Olympic Games in Trampoline Gymnastics. Tell us how was that experience.
Well, I think that it is an honour to represent your country. To represent your country at the Olympics is something you can’t describe. It is an experience that, if possible, everybody should live. The Olympic Games are the great goal that every athlete wants to achieve. Achieving this goal successfully and leaving a good image of our sport to the world, was an honour that leaves me speechless.
Was it a 6th place with a taste of gold?
Funny question. Looking back, it didn’t taste like gold. It didn’t because who watched the competition knows that I deserved the 4th place. So yes, 6th was a tremendous place (only gymnastics final for Portugal) but the 4th would have been the proper place. Some people handed me a 4th place medal when I got to the airport.
How was the experience of being a Role Model athlete of the sport at the Naijing Youth Olympic Games?
Being a Role Model athlete was definitely a different experience. It enabled me to live the Olympic Games in a way that I had never lived before. I have been to several Olympic villages before and never had time to enjoy and communicate with other athletes as in Nanjing. The fact that this is the main objective (to share life experiences, draw attention to unexpected situations that might appear in younger athlete’s careers, dealing with success and failure) made this an undoubtedly awesome experience. As expected, China does not organize events in a small scale so these Youth Olympic Games were almost as big as the Olympic Games, which allowed me to live the experience as a whole. It was a pleasure to take the Portuguese “colours” to the top of the world once again, this time off the trampoline but still in an extremely important role.
Could you talk a little about other memorable moments that you have lived through this sport.
After 26 years of jumping on a trampoline there are many memorable moments for sure. Finals at the Olympics were certainly a defining moment, especially with all the media covering the event, but the moment that still impresses me the most was undoubtedly winning the Synchro World Cup Circuit with Diogo Ganchinho. That moment will never leave my memory. The circuit was a goal I had from an early age, from the time that João Marques and Nuno Lico represented the Portuguese colors, so it all made sense at the time, all the effort, all the injuries, all 26 years spent on a trampoline.
What were the major changes when you went from gymnast to coach?
Going from Gymnast to Coach was certainly an easy fit, but it had its details. If, as gymnasts, we are only concerned with ourselves, as coaches we have a group of people to worry about. Knowing levels, progressions, schedules and concerns of each of the elements of the said group makes the coach’s role one of the utmost importance, to maintain a constant focus on all gymnasts. When I finished my career as a gymnast, I was ready for this step, I had already begun coaching and my motivation increased when I used my time to help others progress.
How is the professional experience at Huntsville going?
The experience of coaching outside Portugal is certainly something that makes me very proud to have tried. I didn’t think this project was for me, but when the opportunity knocked, I accepted it with open arms. It’s a completely different reality, which has its good and bad thing. No doubt that in Huntsville I have everything I always wanted in an adventure like this. I have the possibility to coach in the morning, evening or other time if I think it is the most beneficial for that moment in time. This was a prerequisite when I accepted this proposal. Of course the fact that it is a very competitive country also has it’s downfalls and, at the time, my greatest difficulty is to explain to parents that it is not important that their children win titles when they are very young, they can stabilize what they have learned and may achieve new skills or even routines. But everybody wants their children to be the best and they want it now, making children tired of the sport at an early age. It is without doubt hard to explain this and they are only going to get it with time. Overall is certainly very different, and allows make a life out of our aport, which would be impossible in Portugal.
And future projects?
For the future projects are the same as now. Live one day at a time dealing with one problem at a time. I think I have a stable team and have the parent’s confidence. These are important factors to in the future achieve all the goals each gymnasts is committed to achieve. I am really eager to take the kids to Portugal to compete in the Scalabis Cup and stay a week for an training camp. I think it will be an important point in their careers and realize the kind of evolution Portugal has compared to their country. More ambitious projects, it may be a possibility that one day I’ll open a gym and take my sport to another level in Huntsville, but all that I have learned is that we can not only guide ourselves by the the plans we create, we have to always leave a door open to the unforeseen because this unforeseen might become our future so, we must be happy every day.
What advice can you share with our readers?
The only advice I have is to be happy. Find happiness in all that you do, for that is what the human being tries to do every day. Everyone wants holidays, and during the holidays are happy to do nothing. Try to find that balance in what you do and you won’t have to yearn for vacation. This is the point I am in. Rest days are rare, but even in working days I have time to do what I like outside the gym and this allows me to be happy.