It was all uphill going at the end of the first day of London Olympic Games 2012 men’s decathlon event for Chilean athlete Gonzalo Barroilhet.
The first of the two days of the event on Wednesday, August 9, was far from a perfect start for the 25-year-old Santiaguino. After the 100 meter sprint, long jump, shot put, high jump and 400 meters events on day one, Barroilhet ended in 23rd position – way outside his ambition of a top 10 berth.
But not only was it the 22 athletes ahead of him that Barroilhet had to overcome on day two, but a series of injuries that have dogged his career in recent years.
At his first Olympics in Beijing, 2008, the Chilean athlete was forced to pull-out after injuring his left ankle. Worse still, the subsequent four years were far from the recovery period that would have been doctor’s orders – in 2009 he received surgery in his right shoulder, and two years later in his left as well, following a dislocation.
So it was that, with all the odds against him, his victory in the pole vault event against the world’s most accomplished athletes was made all the sweeter.
“To come back from an operation like that was difficult,” the ecstatic athlete told press afterwards, “but I worked hard to get back to the situation I’m in now.”
With a personal best of 5.4 meters in the pole vault – 10 centimeters above his closest rival – and strong performances in the javelin and 110 meter hurdle events, the Chilean champion pulled off a stellar day two that saw him rise 10 positions to finish 13th overall.
“I’m happy, it was a positive decathlon,” said Barroilhet at the end of the event, “I had a day which didn’t start well, but turned into a good day, and the experience of being in the Olympic Games was marvelous.”
And it’s an experience that can only benefit the young Chilean as he returns to the United States to continue his studies in economics at Florida State University.