From Rio to Rotterdam – Mexico's rowing dynamo
The first race for Kenia Lechuga Alanis at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games put the Mexican single sculler into the history books. Lechuga won her heat against the World Champion, Kim Brennan of Australia. This was the first time that Brennan, who went on to become the Olympic Champion, had been beaten in two years.
Lechuga, 22, was at her first Olympic Games and normally a lightweight rower, she was racing in the open-weight class. First racing internationally in 2012, Lechuga finished 12th overall at the 2015 World Rowing Championships in the lightweight single. She then went on to qualify for the Rio Olympics through the continental qualification regatta and by the end of racing in Rio, Lechuga had developed a large following in Mexico and scored a position of 12th in the world.
Now in Rotterdam, Lechuga is racing at the combined 2016 World Rowing Senior, Under 23 & Junior World Rowing Championships in the under-23 lightweight women’s single sculls. She has finished second in her heat and then first in her semifinal. Lechuga will race in the final on Friday 26 August at 14:45 CET.
Current feeling…I’m feeling well, I’m still a little bit jetlagged but much better
Return from Rio...On the 18th. I took some sleeping pills to help with the transition.
Rio experience…I was super happy to be in Rio, it is any athlete’s dream. So I was very happy to be in the B-final. Even though I finished last, I just kept fighting.
Media attention…In the heats, when I won ahead of Kim (Brennan), everyone saw me and I think no one knew me before but after that race everyone knew me.
That race…I felt good. I was very happy, because all the other competitors had a higher level, they were really like super powers. But I knew that it was because of the weather that I was able to beat Kim. But I was still very happy. It was the best race of my life!!
Media attention now…No not much. Nobody remembers the results after the Olympics. That is because rowing is not very popular in Mexico, but I’m just working very hard to get good results to change that.
Rowing in Mexico…The national team is about ten people only. There’s about 200 people rowing in Mexico. It is no comparison to the USA or other places.
Training base…Mexico City. I’m from Monterey, but the national team is in Mexico City. I live there without my family for four years now. I visit my family every 6 months, sometimes 3 months.
Start in rowing…I was 12 and nearby my house was a reservoir. I hadn’t practiced any other sport before but when I started rowing, and I started competing and beating other people I very much liked the competitiveness. In that reservoir there are a lot of waves, so that’s why I was able to do so well in Rio. (laughs) I train with Juan-Carlos (Cabrera), the other Olympian from Mexico, he is my boyfriend as well. We train together and we push each other, because we are at the top of the national team. There are other people training as well, so we push each other.
Coming to Rotterdam…I knew that this was my last under-23 World Championship, so I knew I had to be here, even though I’m super tired after Rio. Now I’m excited, because it’s my first ever A-final. I’m going to give it my all!
Hoping for waves?...YES!!