He picks up Olympic memories with a shovel. It must be said that the Argentinian Santiago Lange, soon to be 60, is not in his first Games. His life is almost entirely placed under the sign of the rings, since the navigator began to inflate his sails to dock in Olympia in the 1980s.
He was a very young pretender then, encouraged by his father’s sailor who himself had gravitated around the Argentinian sailing team at the Helsinki Games in 1952. After studying naval architect, the young Santiago really saw himself hoisted up. high and he therefore headed for Seoul for the 1988 Games. In South Korea, he finished 9e in the Soling category, a sport keelboat then registered in the program (until 2000).
From one boat to another
But the native of San Isidro, north of Buenos Aires, likes to multiply the challenges and jump from one bridge to another. In tandem, so here he is trying his hand at the Laser category, this small dinghy with which he tackles Atlanta in 1996, then that of the Tornado, these catamarans which ultimately suit him very well. Warm-up in Sydney, and bronze medal twice, in Athens and Beijing. Too easy ?
Not really. He misses London, and when he returns to the Games, in Rio, it is on a Nacra 17 catamaran, with Cecilia Carranza Saroli, 25 years his junior, as a partner, and above all, half a lung less. Because the Argentinian was diagnosed with cancer a year earlier. After the shock, hope: an operation is possible. 70% of the upper lobe of his left lung is removed. Nine months before the competition in Rio.
A victory against cancer
To renouncer ? He’s not the kind of guy. “I dreamed of an Olympic medal which escaped me since 1988. Having this ultimate goal in Rio was my main source of motivation”, he recounts. Even with reduced breathing capacity, he forces himself to walk 10 km a day, returns to a body of water a month after his surgery. And the improbable arises: he takes the gold in Brazil.
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Incredible fate. Others would no doubt have dropped anchor for good. Not Santiago. He left for a tour, in Tokyo. He is in the final with his co-sailor, this Tuesday, August 3. Without the possibility of a medal, but what does it matter to him. “I have already won my biggest fight against the disease”, he blurted out. For the rest, it only displays one objective: ” Live ! “. He’s doing it pretty well.