Ángel David Rodríguez, “El Pájaro”, is part of the Athletics

Angel David Rodriguez says he neither likes nor hates the nickname bird That friends from the neighborhood of Las Nieves, in Móstoles, dressed up that skinny, restless boy. Some kids who never imagined the nickname would be For which you will know the Spanish speed legend, an athlete who announced this week that he is leaving track and field after setting national records in the 100-meter, 60-meter indoor, 50-meter, 4×100 and 4×100 mixed. The 43-year-old spent so much time in the major competition that he managed to win 21 Spanish championship titles.

the bird He walks these days in Benidorm, sun and sand, with his wife, Anna Freilly, who was four at the time, and their son, Dante, who is four years old and very demanding of attention. “Here I am, I’ve got a belly,” jokes the former athlete who at 1.78kg and maybe just over 66kg has made him look like a wreck among the crowd who have dominated the sprint at major international events. Rodriguez has been to all of them: two Olympics, four World Cups, and Six Europeans. And in the many European Championships, the competition he adored and in which he developed the camaraderie that has always distinguished him and the love of relay.

The runner has gone beyond the stats. Two traits, beyond times and medals, have defined him: the desire to learn and his enjoyment of advising the generations of Spanish athletes who came from behind. “the bird He lived in a constant search for improvement. It’s a myth of speed. He has a way of being and he has been around for so long that he knows how to read speed and technique, he has known how to cut it… He has asked everyone to teach him something and he has been telling it for many generations. the bird It has had a very good effect on the speed of the Spanish language, beyond the related trademarks. And at the European Cup, he developed a sense of the team. It’s great,” explains Coach Ramon Syed, with whom he shared many championships during his tenure as national coach.

The man from Mustola knows he didn’t have an outstanding body, but he knew how to make the most of it by running the 100m in 10.14 seconds (he fell eight times from 10.20 seconds) and the 60m in 6.55 seconds. “I’m not superior to many who run with me, but I’m very heavy. I loved training, and I thought a lot about training and analyzing my style. He took words from other coaches. I remember Jacques Piacenta was a center for runners from the Spanish Federation, and I kept asking him to tell me exercises to add to my training sessions.”

This skinny boy was addicted to athletics by his uncle Basti, who was a runner and knew how to guide him by giving him some shoes. But he was never a precocious boy. It was not even as a child, when, in 1991, he arrived at the Soto circuit, in Mostolz, and placed himself under the command of Doña Martin, with whom he remained until he was thirty (he later went to the show jumping coach, Juan Carlos Alvarez). At first he did a little bit of everything, though what he calls it was a length. “I have a fork over there.” But Dunya directed him towards speed, the discipline he was slow to excel at. “As a cadet, I didn’t do the bare minimum to go to the Spanish championship. Later, as a junior, I actually won gold in a Spanish championship. But I was the youngest of all. I looked around and everyone was more developed. As a sub 23, I was still doing well, but then I drifted. You’re going to live in Madrid, everything is new, you know tonight… Until 2006, already at the age of 26, I decided I wanted to try for the Games I trained a lot and got it.”

the bird jump. The Beijing Games arrived, then the London Games, and many other World and European Games. Great competitions in which he lined up in the starting blocks alongside great speed stars: Usain Bolt, Justin Gatlin, Tyson Gay, Ato Boldon, Tim Montgomery… “The first time I met Linford Christie, I mentioned to him that at a rally in Madrid he didn’t want to sign an autograph for me. I told him and he started laughing.” With Bolt, the legend, he competed many times. “The first was in Osaka (2007 World Cup), when I weighed 15 kilos less. There I met him also the tough, dancing version, the one at night. Then I was amazed when I saw how fast he ran. I was upset with him because you knew there was already one you wouldn’t win. I had to strip myself and stop thinking about him because seeing how he runs is painful and can knock you out of the race.”

Ángel David Rodriguez, the son of a man who dedicated himself to establishing telephone lines, later recounts that, despite everything, Bolt was not the athlete who impressed him the most, a privilege he holds for his own. Karsten Warholm, the Norwegian athlete who set the world record for the 400m hurdles at the Tokyo Olympics. (45.94 seconds) that left the athletics scientists speechless.

the bird already flew off the cliffs. He now works at Mediapro on audiovisual production issues focusing heavily on the global skateboard circuit. Master is clear that he has always been a very awake man. “He was not only the fastest on the field, but also off the field. In Osaka, I had arrived half an hour earlier and he already knew where everything was. He was always the fastest.”

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