LOS ANGELES – Jamie Nieto wants to make up for not being selected for the 2008 Beijing Games and hopes to take home a medal for high-jumping from the London Olympics.
At 35 and with the experience of having competed in the 2004 Athens Games where he finished fourth, the Hispanic athlete hopes to achieve his Olympic goal in what will perhaps be the last chance of his career.
Nieto began high-jumping in 1993 at Valley High School in Sacramento, California, and still remembers trainer Joe Radan as a close friend who taught him a lot when he was just starting out.
His personal best is 2.34 meters (7’ 8”), just 11 centimeters (4”) less than the record of 2.45 meters (8’) set in 1993 by Cuba’s Javier Sotomayor.
“Winning the classifying round for the Olympic Games gave me a lot of confidence and now I really feel good about my chances,” Nieto told Efe.
Nieto said that in his mental preparation he’s at the top of his game and that his training routine has put him at 100 percent of his potential, all of which is key to getting the best out of himself.
“I feel sure of my concentration since I prefer to work on quality rather than quantity,” the athlete said about a daily schedule in which he trains his track and field skills for two hours in the morning, then lifts weights for an hour in the afternoon.
When asked about possible rivals, he perferred not to speak of anyone in particular.
“What’s important is that I’m going to do the best I can. My favorite rival is me, because while I’m mentally focused there’s no panic attack, everything is fine,” he said shortly before flying off to Europe to finish his training before the July 27 inauguration of the Olympic Games.
Jamie feels proud of his Latino roots and warmly remembers visiting the land of his Mexican ancestors in recent years.
“It was a wonderful experience, I really enjoyed the country and the city, I love Mexican food as well as the views of the countryside,” he said about his trip south of the border.
He said he doesn’t feel weighed down by the years but rather buoyed by the experience of having done well since he first competed in the Games.
Win or lose in London, Nieto has already prepared for what he’ll do when he’s no longer an athlete, thanks to a transition program he has been working on for several years.
“From the time I was passed over for the team going go to Beijing, I began training as an actor, taking classes and trying to get involved in something I wanted to do for a long time,” he said.
Nieto has now acted in commercials, television sitcoms and the movies “The Encounter” in 2010, “Jerusalem Countdown” and “Red Line” in 2011, as well as in “Baseball’s Last Hero: The Roberto Clemente Story”, which has yet to premiere. EFE