Paulina Armeria is a mexican born italian taekwondo competitor.
Most of her career has been fighting for Mexico until last year when she changed her life one day to another to start living in Italy and to compete for that country.
As her grandfather was Italian, she has both countries citizenship. She received an academic and sport opportunity so she didn’t hesitate to take it.
Before traveling the world, you have to learn how to ride a bike.
During all of our lives, we have chances to learn and grow up. One of the early lessons that Paulina remembers from her childhood was precisely from her grandfather Remo Vecchi, when he was teaching her how to ride a bike.
By the way, Paulina’s grandfather was a professional cyclist and biker. He was an Italy cycling national team member and when he moved to Mexico he participated in many competitions, founded a motorcycle factory and then a motor competition team.
But that’s another story.
When she was 4 or 5 years old Paulina’s grandfather was teaching her how to ride a bike and in her first attempt she fell off the bike and started to cry.
She was expecting her grandfather to comfort her as her knees were bleeding. But it didn’t happen. He made her ride again.
A few years later she understood that moment as a big lesson, because when you fall you have to try to recover as early as possible. That not only applies to sports but also for life.
Ronda Rousey’s book helped Paulina to win Central American Games
We are more than our achievements.
Her grandfather gave her another lesson without even talking. When he passed away she and her family were moving his stuff and they found pictures and pieces of newspapers, until that moment she realized all the amazing achievements that he made in the past.
I’ve known some amazing people that you never heard them boast about their past feats. Until you hear it from other people. You need to be very humble and self secure to achieve such amazing things and never to talk about it.
Paulina remarks that we should be proud of our past but we are not only our achievements.
What is the solution to avoid dancing lessons? Taekwondo!
Paulina was a sporty girl. She was supposed to start dancing lessons, but she didn’t like it. At the same time her school was promoting taekwondo classes.
So her first motivation to start in taekwondo was a way to don’t take dancing lessons.
She fell in love with the sport and she started to attend normal classes. After some time she had to move out of her comfort zone to start training taekwondo in a more competitive environment.
The power of now is the book that most of my interviewed athletes, including Paulina recommend
One month is nothing in a long athlete career.
When she went to her first big tournament she made it to the final but lost on the golden point. A very good result for being her first competition of that level.
The preparation time for that competition was too short, only a month, but in her mind she thought she trained a lot.
After the competition she said to Mario Labastida, her trainer -That was so sad, to lose after such a long time of effort and training.
His answer was simple, he laughed and said to her. -That was not a long time. That was only a month.
Mario taught Paulina that the things that are worth take time and that you have to be disciplined to reach your goals.
Going to an upper weight class to win
Paulina struggled to make Mexico’s national team. Her first opportunity came when the national team trainers doing scouting saw her fighting and invited her to train with the team. They saw her talent but she still hasn’t won the place there fighting in a tournament.
She was happy to be in the team but she wanted to be there by winning a national competition. By that time she was 17 and fighting on -53kg. Her mother saw that each tournament was harder and harder to make the weight. She was still growing.
After making weight she used to fight lacking energy, different to how she performed in training. With her family and trainer support, she decided to try at -57kg.
The results were completely different. She felt much better and won her spot at the national team.
That was the way she started to compete internationally. She’s been Panamerican Champion, silver medal in the Toronto Pan Am Games and Bronze medal in Taipei 2017 Universiade.
Why it is so important to find a meaning for the things we do? Like Paulina you can learn from Viktor Frankl and this modern classic
Out of the comfort zone again
Last year Paulina was looking to an opportunity to study abroad. And she wanted to choose a place where she could also train taekwondo at a high level.
Naturally one of her options was Italy, because as she had the citizenship it was always on her mind.
She asked Carlo Molfetta, the Italian National Team manager if she could train with the team in case she moved to Italy and help them in some way. In combat sports is always useful to
test your athletes against others.
The answer of Carlo Molfetta was very favorable. The Italian Federation was not only open to let Paulina train, but also to let her fight for Italy. Obviously she had to compete in italian nationals to win her spot at the national team, but she had the right to do it as she had the citizenship.
In December 2019 she won the Italian National Championships, she is preparing for the European Pre Olympic looking to be in Tokyo 2021.
My fight, your fight
Outside taekwondo Paulina is a very educated person. She speaks three languages. She recommended Ronda Rouses’s book My Fight your Fight as it helped her to prepare for the Juegos Centroamericanos. She also recommended The Power of Now, a book that is often recommended by athletes I’ve interviewed.
Another interesting recommendation was Man in the Search for Meaning, the classic book by Dr. Viktor Frankl. Frankl has an essay about Sports and Logotherapy, where he states that the main competition for an athlete is against himself not against others.
Please enjoy the interview. You can let us know what you think of it on the comments section.