Synchronized swimming champion and activist mother Ona Carbonell



Train for hours, repeat the same gestures endlessly and underwater what is more. This life, Ona Carbonell thought to put it on hold for a long time at the end of 2019. After all, she had won everything, the Spanish synchronized swimmer: 23 world medals, a record for an athlete and silver and bronze in London in 2012 in addition. A star track record and, in Spain, an incredible aura, reputation honed in hit shows.

In the deep end a month and a half after giving birth

All this, the champion paused, the time of a pregnancy. With little Kai due to be born in August 2020, there was no question of participating in the Tokyo Games. Except that. The pandemic and the postponement of the competition have turned the young mother’s program upside down.

→ EXPLANATION. Breastfeeding in public, a taboo?

It’s stronger than she: she plunges back, a month and a half after giving birth, to play the captain of the Spanish team in the ballet event. But leading this quest and her life as a mother head on is very complicated. She must lose 9 kg, work with doctors to better understand the consequences of breastfeeding on her preparation. We talk about it, just to show the difficulty. Especially since not all sportswomen have the means to train calmly.

Not just a personal challenge

“It is not only a personal challenge, but a struggle to reveal an abnormal situation, she explains. There is not enough social dialogue on this subject. The economic question is also important: I am lucky, because my sponsors and my federation have supported me 100% ”. In May 2021, she actually managed to qualify her team for Tokyo (1).

Before the competition, the activist spoke again. In an Instagram video, to regret not being able to continue breastfeeding her son during the Games. A problem raised by other champions, and that the International Olympic Committee did not take into account until late. Ona Carbonell also finds the IOC to be a bit conservative on issues of gender diversity and equality. Either way. She regrets, for example, that men are not allowed to compete in her discipline. “We can really say that things are moving if it happens. “

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