Most professional athletes have one thing in common: they're intensely competitive. Which, when they're pushing themselves day in day out to compete against, and beat, the best athletes in the world is often a good thing. But, it can be tricky to turn off that competitive fire when they try their hand at another sport.
Rower Nathalia Barbosa is amongst Brazil's best rowers and dreams of qualifying for the next Olympics. She discovered the sport at age 20, relatively late in the world of elite performance, but she immediately thrived.
"My passion for the sport was so great that at the beginning I faced a daily routine that started at 5 am with training in Lagoa, I immediately had classes at the Nursing College, a second training session and then work, which only ended at midnight. All of this living in Deodoro, almost 40 km from Lagoa," she said.
That dedication paid off. Now, age 30, she has more state and national titles to her name than she can remember, but her focus is on her next big goal: qualifying for the Olympics. During long training days of up to 6 hours, Nathalia has discovered a passion for running.
"At first, it was just a training supplement to improve aerobics, but I started to enjoy it. It became one of my passions. I feel free when I run, put my music on and leave the world, and I have already participated in some half-marathon events. All for fun, of course, but sometimes it is difficult to let go of the competitive side of being a professional athlete when someone is running ahead, or a little bit faster," she explained.
"Sport has taught me to try to be better every day, a constant competition with yourself. Even if it's a badminton game, I want to be better and better. It is no different with running, but not with the seriousness that I need when I'm rowing. Ultimately, rowing and running are my two passions. In one, I am a high-performance athlete and I want to be involved professionally for a long time. In the other, I am another one among so many amateurs. Maybe just a little bit more competitive!"
Follow Nathalia's running and rowing training on Strava: https://www.strava.com/athletes/18897877
Photos: Guilherme Leporace