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Carrillo Puts Mexico on The Olympic Map: From Zapopan to Beijing

Donovan Carrillo

Donovan Carrillo, a 21-year-old figure skater from Zapopan, Mexico, has not just carved a niche for himself in the world of figure skating but has also placed Mexico prominently on the Olympic map. Born in 1997, Carrillo’s journey to the top echelons of the sport is nothing short of inspirational.

Key Takeaway

  • Donovan Carrillo’s qualification for the 2022 Olympics marks a significant milestone for Mexican figure skating, breaking a 30-year hiatus.
  • Carrillo’s adaptability and resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic highlight the importance of flexibility and mental strength in sports.
  • His journey is a beacon of inspiration, proving that geographical barriers do not define an athlete’s potential or success.
  • Carrillo’s decision to retain his free skate program while bringing fresh elements to his short program showcases his dedication to constant improvement.

Qualifying for the Olympics

In a historic achievement, Carrillo qualified for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games after a commendable performance at the 2021 World Championships, where he finished 20th. This feat made him the first figure skater from Mexico to participate in the Olympics in three decades, a record previously held by Riccardo Olavarrieta and Mayda Navarro in the early 90s.

The Journey Through a Pandemic

The global COVID-19 pandemic posed significant challenges for athletes worldwide, and Carrillo was no exception. With the closure of his training rink in León from March to September 2020, he and his coach, Gregorio Nuñez, had to adapt quickly.

  • Adapting to New Norms: During this period, Carrillo focused on strength, elasticity, coordination, and off-ice exercises at home.
  • Seeking Alternative Training Options: As soon as other rinks opened in July, Carrillo and Nuñez traveled to different cities to continue on-ice training.

Mental Resilience

  • Working with a Sports Psychologist: Carrillo also worked closely with a sports psychologist, engaging in visualization exercises and meditation to maintain his motivation.

The Path to the 2022 Olympic Winter Games

Donovan Carrillo skating

The 2021 World Championships were more than just a competition for Carrillo; they were a gateway to realizing his Olympic dream. But to compete in Stockholm, he first had to achieve the minimum technical scores, which he successfully did at the Challenge Cup in The Hague.

Experiencing a ‘Bubble’ Environment

  • Safe Sporting Environment: Carrillo commended the safety protocols and measures taken by the organizing committee and the ISU, which created a secure environment for the athletes.
  • Adjusting to No Audience: While Carrillo thrives on audience energy, he quickly adapted to performing in an empty arena, understanding that this might be the norm for some time.

Carrillo’s Vision and Goals

donovan Vision and Goals

Carrillo’s journey is not just about personal achievement; it’s also about shattering stereotypes. His success is a testament to his belief that no dream is too big, and it serves as an inspiration to upcoming generations in Mexico and beyond.

Planning for the Future

  • Retaining the Free Skate Program: Carrillo and Nuñez have decided to keep the previous season’s free skate program with minor rearrangements.
  • Collaborating with a Renowned Choreographer: For the short program, Carrillo is excited to work with a choreographer he admires, promising a fresh approach.

Preparing for the Olympic Season

  • Starting with Philadelphia Summer International: The team plans to kick off the Olympic season with the Philadelphia Summer International, subject to its confirmation. This competition would set the tone for Carrillo’s Olympic campaign.

A Strategic Approach

  • Nuñez’s Competition Plan: Nuñez has a detailed plan for Carrillo’s participation in competitions leading up to the Olympics. This strategic approach is designed to ensure Carrillo is at his best when he takes the ice in Beijing.


Donovan Carrillo’s journey to the 2022 Olympic Winter Games is a story of resilience, passion, and breaking barriers. As the first Mexican figure skater to compete at the Olympics in three decades, he is not just fulfilling his own dreams but also altering the perception of figure skating in Mexico.

His dedication, coupled with the support of his coach and family, serves as an inspiration to aspiring athletes around the world. As Carrillo prepares for the biggest season of his career, he carries not just his own aspirations but the hopes of a nation eager to see their star shine on the Olympic stage.

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