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Donovan Castillo during his short program performance. Photo credit: David J. Phillips/Associated Press
Donovan Castillo during his short program performance. Photo credit: David J. Phillips/Associated Press

Mexico sends its first male figure skater to the Olympics in 30 years

Donovan Carrillo is also the country’s first skater to advance to the free skate.

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The amount of Latin American athletes tend to be lower during the Winter Olympics, compared to the Summer Olympics. This year, there are 33 representing eight countries and Puerto Rico. Mexico sent four of those athletes to the games, including 22-year-old figure skater Donovan Carrillo. 

This is the first time that Mexico has sent a male figure skater to the Winter Games since 1992. At the 1992 Olympics Games in Albertville, France, Mexico was represented by Riccardo Olavarrieta who dropped out after the short program. 

Yesterday, Carrillo finished the short program in 19th place and secured himself a spot in the free skate, making him the first Mexican skater to do so. He received a score of 79.69, which is a personal best for the skater. 

Carrillo has faced many barriers on his way to the Olympics. He is the only Mexican athlete who trains there despite the lack of infrastructure for winter sports. At 13, he had to move from his home city of Guadalajara to León with his coach because his local ice rink shut down. There are no Olympic-sized rinks in Mexico so the rink he moved to was a public one in a mall, leaving him unable to dedicate time on the ice to himself.

He also faced cultural barriers and has been teased for his choice of sport. 

“Sometimes people think that the artistic sports are only for women, so that’s something I had to fight when I was a kid because many people at school told me ‘Oh you’re a girl,’ and they sometimes even think that to practice an artistic sport, it’s going to affect your [sexual] preferences as a person. I never thought that,” Carrillo told the Associated Press. 

He added, “I think that’s one of the reasons why we don’t have many male skaters in my country.”

Carrillo has looked up to Spanish skater Javier Fernandez since he was a child. Fernandez retired in 2019 after winning a bronze medal in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. 

Part of the reason he looks up to him is that both have faced similar obstacles in doing winter sports in countries where sports like soccer are much more popular. 

Much of Carrillo’s performance is rooted in Mexican culture, from his song choice to his skate covers that match the Mexican flag.

While becoming Mexico’s first male figure skater to participate in the Winter Games in three decades holds a lot of personal significance, Carrillo hopes his distinction will serve as inspiration for the next generation of aspiring figure skaters and Olympians. 

“I also hope during these Games, more boys and girls from my country will be inspired and find my story as a motivation for them to look for their dreams, dare to try figure skating because maybe they can find their passion in it as I found it,” Carillo said. 

Carrillo is now looking towards the 2026 Winter Games in Milan-Cortina. 

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