The summer fun you have as a teenager can wind up changing your life and take you on the path to becoming a world champion.
One summer as a child, Rodrigo Yanho of BBVA Paraguay was looking, like many other kids in his country, for something fun to do. That’s when his cousins took him to a rowing school, and he got hooked on the sport. What he could not have imagined was that he would become a world champion almost 25 years later.
By 15, he was already competing, and he eventually made it on the national team. He was the South American champion and at one point was among the ten best in the world. However, when he turned 21, he was forced to leave the Paraguay national team to focus on college and his professional career.
That did not mean he stopped rowing, though. "I was always keeping an eye on the sport, and once a month or so, I would go to the river, and that satisfied my desire to row." Rodrigo wasn’t considering returning to elite competition, though—at least, not yet.
A dream come true
When he was 35, he decided to make one of his dreams come true: to open a rowing school. He started it with a friend, a former teammate, and other people linked to the sport. Since 2015, about 60 boys have trained in his school and competed nationally. Some of them are already on the youth team. "It's a lot of work, but I love it,” he says. “It is a school in which everyone collaborates, and where everyone has a function and tries do their best with the resources available."
"It's a lot of work, but I love it"
Opening the rowing school also changed Rodrigo’s relationship with the sport. "I started to get a little more into the training and, in 2016, I had already competed on behalf of the school in a few regattas." He soon realized that it was necessary to set some goals. "When you compete, it's important to set yourself a goal to get motivated. If you don’t, you won’t get up at five in the morning to train."
Rodrigo and his team looked at the calendar of competitions and saw that the South American Championship in the Master category would take place in May in Montevideo. “We started training with that goal in mind about eight months before the competition," he explains. Rodrigo and his teammate won the gold in the two categories in which they participated.
Name: Rodrigo Yanho
Position: Market, Structural and Liquidity Risk Manager and Control Management – BBVA Paraguay
Dream: hare my values with my kids and teach them to contribute to society
After the World and the South American championships in 2017, the challenge for 2018 was to stay on top. But, in addition to the usual difficulties of performing at an elite level, they had to deal with other hurdles. "We could not participate in the South American Championship in Chile because of work-related issues." The next big event was the world championship in September, in Sarasota in the United States. However, his partner's work commitments made it impossible for him to participate, just three days before the start of the competition. "I was so disappointed."
"I dream of winning a gold medal again"
But his wife said, "It's not the end of the world, we're going to find you someone to row with." Rodrigo found a friend from 25 years before. "We got in the boat just two days before the competition. That was all the time we had to train." Nevertheless, the results were once again spectacular: they won the bronze in double pair and in the double scull category, for which he’d earned gold the year before.
The next world championship will be held in Paraguay, and Rodrigo is already dreaming of winning a gold medal again, no matter how many obstacles he finds along the way.