LIMA – Peru’s top competitive sailor Stefano Peschiera is focused on winning his country’s first Olympic medal for sailing, an ambitious goal for which his warmups will start with the 2019 Pan American Games in Lima, where he aims to take home the gold.
Stefano Peschiera, 24, will compete in the Laser class in the Pan Americans without the pressure of winning a spot in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, since he already earned that last year in the world championships.
“The Olympic Games are a week for which you work four years. You have to enjoy getting there but those four whole years are wrapped up in one week,” said Peschiera, who last year was named the Intercollegiate Sailing Association (ICSA) College Sailor of the Year in the United States.
“I think I can get there with the amount of training I’ll need to have a chance for a medal. It all depends on how well prepared I am both physically and mentally for that week,” he said.
These will be the second Olympics for Peschiera after the 2016 Games in Rio de Janeiro, an experience he described as “incredible and very exciting.”
“I went to the inauguration and cried with emotion. Your blood boils, your pulse throbs more than for any other competition,” he said.
Nonetheless, he failed to finish among the top 15 as planned and that made him think about giving up sailing, a sport he has practiced since the age of 7.
“I was very disappointed with myself, really discouraged. It took me six months to get over it. When I went back to university, I was able to distract myself a little, to think things over and realize it wasn’t because of a lack of talent,” Peschiera recounted.
“I realized the university limited me and that in the future, after I graduated, I could do better. It’s hard to fit sailing in with the time spent studying at the university. I’m a very competitive, disciplined person and I try to be a perfectionist,” he added.
Peschiera said that while studying at the College of Charleston, where he was five-time US university champion, sometimes he had only one day to prepare for the competitions while professional competitive sailors had two weeks.
“I once had to go to Europe the day before, get the sailboat ready and compete,” he said.
Having graduated from university, the Lima native is “one-hundred percent” focused on sailing, and is currently in Peru to take part in the first of the two classifying tourneys for the Pan American Games.
“I’m really motivated for this. I’m happy so many more people are getting involved in this sport. If I want to win Pan American gold, I know I’ll have to be the best Peruvian,” he said.
Peschiera said “the training is very tough because the Laser class is the most demanding in Olympic sailing, much more than the rest.”
“It’s an hour with a sailboat that doesn’t go so fast, where the effort and exhaustion of doing even slightly better than the other competitors is tremendous,” he added.
At any rate, Peschiera hopes to crown his family’s sailing tradition with its biggest sporting success, a tradition started by his great-great-grandfather, who brought to Peru the first Lightning class sailboat, the wooden sailboat that is used by his family to this day.