“Self-confidence is a critical factor, not just in sports, but in life in general”
Maitane Melero (Spain) – considered the best Navarrese long-distance runner in history and the overall Spanish champion in 3,000, 5,000 and 10,000 meters – admits that she found it difficult to balance her family and work life and still manage to achieve good results. One of the people who helped her believe in herself and reach the goal was her coach, who sadly passed away a year ago but remains imprinted on her memory. Here we bring you a series of interviews with the protagonists of our new digital campaign, “We believe in you. Do you?”, which features Maitane and five other exceptional characters who all reached their goals thanks to the unconditional support of those around them.
As an engineer, an athlete and above all, a mother, what does confidence signify for you, and what have been the biggest obstacles you’ve faced on your journey?
For me, confidence is that feeling of security you have when it feels like a certain situation you’re facing looks really difficult, but deep inside, you know that it’ll turn out well and that you’ll be able to cope.
I’ve gained more and more confidence as time goes by for a number of reasons. First of all, it’s down to the people I have around me, since they’ve always given me that baseline security that I needed, and they’ve believed in me. Secondly, because I’ve seen myself that I’ve been able to overcome difficult moments by believing in myself, and by knowing that I could achieve whatever it was I put my mind to if I put in the effort and believed in my capabilities.
For me, it’s been difficult to reconcile family life and work life and still achieve high-level sporting results. It’s also been very difficult to achieve those results when I suffered an injury, or worst of all, when I suffered the loss of loved ones, as with my coach.
You talked to us about the flexibility of your coach, Patxi. What other qualities of his, together with your own, have kept you in the game for so long?
If there’s one thing that stood out about Patxi, it was his patience. He was someone who transmitted calm and confidence. We had a very special connection and, in large part, I think it was due to the passion we shared for the sport.
We could spend hours talking about athletics and we motivated each other a lot by thinking about goals, projects or simply talking about how a training session had gone. I think we fed each other positive energy. We enjoyed sports so much! His passion for athletics, his very direct manner and the way he was able to manage emotions and people made me want to keep on running despite the difficulties. Running has always filled me with energy and made me feel good about myself.
In addition to making sacrifices and your own desire to improve, what was it inside you that got you from the starting line with a fissured vertebra to the finish line, where you became champion in the last 10,000-meter Spanish championship?
I broke that vertebra playing at home with my son and I think it was him who drove me to recover as soon as possible. He went through the whole process with me, from the fracture itself to the final victory in the Spanish Championship three weeks later. I think I wanted to show him that even though things don’t always turn out the way we expect them to, we have to adapt to circumstances and do everything we can to push forward and achieve our goals. I wanted to show that you have to have a positive attitude in the face of adversity, even if it sometimes takes a lot out of us, and that you have to make the effort and trust in yourself. That was mainly what led me not to give up. During the race, I thought a lot about him, how he was watching me run, and that always gives me extra energy!
What values do you want to teach your son, who has been with you all the way so far in your unstoppable career?
Well, the truth is there are many values I want to instill in him. Above all, that the effort is more important than the result, that if we want to achieve something we have to work hard, put in the effort, be consistent and persevere. I’d also like to help him build up his self-confidence, so that he trusts himself. People have much more potential than we often think they do. When the going gets tough, I want him to have a positive attitude, and to be able to recognize learning opportunities in even the most difficult of circumstances. I’m convinced that will stand to him in the future. Other core values such as respect, perseverance, humility and dedication are very important too.
In your opinion, how important is self-confidence in the sporting arena?
The sense of security we have in ourselves is key to achieving objectives. If we don’t believe that we can achieve what we set out to do, if we have doubts, then we’re already thinking negatively and that will impact on our bility to reach our goals.
Self-confidence is a very important factor, not just in sports, but in life in general. Setting real goals and achieving them little by little boosts our self-esteem, raises our confidence and that radiates outward.