Venezuelan Teen Hopes to Overcome Travel Restrictions, Financial Challenges to Get to Madison
In 2019, Amato Mazzocca became the first Venezuelan CrossFit athlete to win a medal at the CrossFit Games when he placed second in the 14-15 year-old division.
- After that, he returned home to Madrid, Spain and was “fuelled by the desire to stand atop the podium” the following year, explained Mazzocca’s coach, Connor Martin, who started working with Mazzocca after the 2019 Games.
- Things were looking good for Mazzocca last season, but then the pandemic hit and Mazzocca never had the chance to head back to Madison, WI.
2021 challenges: This summer, Mazzocca is finally hoping to compete and ultimately get back to the podium — this time in the 16-17 year-old division — however, financial and logistical challenges are making it difficult.
- Even though Mazzocca works part-time in the evenings to help out with the family’s financial situation, it’s unlikely Mazzocca’s mother can afford to send her son to Madison without “substantial assistance,” Martin said.
- This is why Martin has set up a GoFundMe page for his athlete with the hopes of raising $5,000 to cover the costs of flights, food and lodging.
- To add to the financial costs, because of continued COVID-19 European travel restrictions, Mazzocca will have to travel to another country for two weeks prior to entering into the United States this July.
- He’ll likely do this in the Dominican Republic, explained Martin, as he has a friend who lives there near a CrossFit gym. “That said, I just saw on the news that they may close (the) Dominican Republic, so we will have a few contingency plans in place, but it’s definitely a logistical nightmare,” Martin added.
Coaching Mazzocca: Since Martin speaks very little Spanish and Mazzocca very little English, they use Google translate to review videos and communicate through the TrueCoach app and on WhatsApp.
- “It was for sure a bit of an adjustment initially for both of us, but I think over the past two years we have both gotten into a good rhythm, “ said Martin, adding that he is blown away by how much Mazzocca has improved.
- “Seeing his muscular endurance and comparing what he’s doing now to what I did when I was his age is crazy. He’s light years ahead,” said Martin, a 2007 CrossFit Games athlete who was a teenager himself at the time.
- More than anything, though, Martin is impressed by Mazzocca’s work ethic. “He is super driven and one of the most talented athletes I’ve ever worked with,” he said.
The bottom line: Martin is determined to get Mazzocca, who placed 10th in the Age Group Online Qualifier despite battling injuries at the time, to Madison this summer, and thinks he has a great shot at the title.
- “I think his tenth place in the AGOQ is not representative of his chances at the Games. I think he has a very legitimate chance (at the title), “Martin said.
The hardest part might just be getting him to the competition.