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Pau Gasol: "We have to invest in talent so they do not have to go out"

We chat with Pau Gasol, one of the voices of Iberia’s Talento a Bordo project, which promotes local and international talent.

At 39 (happy birthday for 6 July!), what’s it like to have an injury that forces you to miss playoffs and world cups?

You have to understand that your injury is bad, that you have to have surgery and then there’s a long and difficult recovery period. Also, most of your colleagues have already retired. But I always take adversity as an opportunity to grow. I feel very strong, enthusiastic and eager to go back and continue at the highest level next season.

Is knowing how to overcome adversity part of the talent?

Actually, it’s more a skill you have to develop over time, based on learning and character. And it makes your talent develop and you end up capable of growing instead of stagnating or even falling apart.

Do you think that inspiring examples such as yours – which Iberia promotes with the Talento a Bordo project – are our best ambassadors?

They’re a good letter of introduction. The confirmation of our work and the investment in national talent so people don’t have to go abroad to pursue their goals says a lot about a country. We have to give tools to young Spaniards to grow and develop.

What could be done better?

I don’t know if there’s an easy solution, but committing to its youth brings benefits to a country – it’s key. Education and professional opportunities, investment in sport, and especially in training, are vital to a society’s success.

In your case, how did you discover your talent?

Playing and experimenting. You try things and find out what you like most. Both of my parents played basketball and I’d go and watch my father and his team – the Gaudí veterans’ team – at the weekend. Then I was lucky with my school, because it was Llor, a sports school in Sant Boi, which has an excellent sports programme. Basketball is what I liked best, not because I was tall – because I was a bit taller, but also very thin. It’s not like I was very good at it when I was little, but I wanted to work at it, play more and see how far I could go.

Now, when you finish recovering, is the goal to join the team at next year’s Tokyo Olympics?

Undoubtedly, one of the team’s goals is to go as far as possible at the World Cup in China [from 31 August to 15 September] in order to automatically go through to the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The top two European teams make it, and it isn’t easy. But we’ve always been very ambitious, always through work and preparation, without rushing things or taking anything for granted.

 

Image by Sara Stathas

 

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