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From volunteer in San Salvador 2002 to defending champion in San Salvador 2023: the story of Roberto Hernández

Roberto Hernández, an athlete who in two decades went from being an enthusiastic volunteer at the Central American and Caribbean Games hosted by the country in 2002, to becoming a top figure in Salvadoran compound archery and athlete with a strong possibility of winning a medal at the XXIV Central American and Caribbean Games San Salvador 2023.

The Salvadoran archer, now 34 years old, will add his fourth Central American and Caribbean Games in a row and will also do so as the defending champion in the men’s individual compound event.

“From the archers who are going to participate, I am the only one who has won a medal in all the editions of the games I have participated, and I am the current champion and I will have the opportunity to defend the title in the San Salvador 2023 Games, which is also a privilege”, he highlighted

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About his experience as a volunteer in the 2002 Central American and Caribbean Games, which were held in San Salvador, the athlete from San Salvador reminded that he was still a high school student and had just seven months of practice as one of the new archers of the Salvadoran Archery Federation (Festa).

“I joined the federation in January 2002 and by that time the games were already about to start; I was 13 years old and I had to be a runner, which within the scale of archery volunteers is the one who has to suffer the most, the hardest, because I was assigned to bale one and I had to cross the entire shooting range running with a scoring board and I had to arrive at the same time the archers arrived for them to score their scores and from there I ran back to the offices”, explained the archer.

Roberto also mentioned that, as a volunteer at the games, he saw the Mexican goalkeeper Almendra Ochoa, sister of the one who would become, years later, one of his best friends: Linda Ochoa.

“It was my turn to cover the women’s compound and I met some archers, among them was the Mexican Almendra Ochoa, who is the sister of Linda Ochoa, who is now my best friend, this marked me a lot and I said: I want to participate in some games and the desire to be part of a selection arose,” said the athlete.

Another detail that Hernández highlights is that due to the remodeling of the shooting range for the San Salvador 2023 Games, he has returned to train where he learned to shoot his first arrows.  “At the beginning of last year, I had to train in the hallways of the Gymnastics Federation and there is that feeling of saying: Hey, here I learned to shoot my first arrows at 30 meters”.

From his office as technical manager and coach of the Festa, Roberto Hernández disclosed that he experienced the 2002 Games in a special and different way.

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“I was an archery volunteer but I had a special accreditation because my dad was from the organizing committee of the games, he was also the General Manager for INDES and my mom was assigned as the chief nurse of the Sports Village, so I lived all the games: I arrived at 6: 00am to take the transport, came to archery as a volunteer and returned to the Village along with the delegation, spent the whole day there with mom and left around 11: 00pm”, detailed the archer.

“I lived the games completely, I spent all the time in the village with my dad, he gave me a bag of pins and with my brother we dedicated ourselves to change the ends inside the village and entertain ourselves a little”, he added.

The 2002 Salvadoran team was formed by Jorge Jiménez, Renato Lara, Rigoberto Hernández and Alex Rivas, who later became the federation’s coach..

FROM CADET TO AN ELITE ATHLETE


After 21 years of his experience as a volunteer, Roberto Hernández has achieved an extraordinary advance in his sports career by establishing himself as a strong candidate to win a medal in the San Salvador 2023 Games.  

To date, Roberto has won medals at the Mayagüez 2010, Veracruz 2014 and Barranquilla 2018 Games.

At the Barranquilla 2018 Games, Hernández won silver medal in team and secured the gold medal in the men’s compound bow individual event by beating Colombia’s Camilo Cardona 143-142.

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“I am the champion of the games and I would not like to lose that title, less in the country. I know it is going to be more difficult than the previous games because every year there is more evolution of equipment, there is more access to information and there are more possibilities for the countries to have better coaches, today the number of archers is double what we had before, but my idea is to be able to give a medal or to be in the fight for the team medal and stay within the first three archers of the games,” mentioned the athlete, who also has in his palmares the historic Pan American gold medal he won at the Lima 2019 Games.

The athlete detailed that for the San Salvador 2023 Games he will compete in individual, team and mixed team, events in which he aspires to obtain a medal.

In addition to being the top figure of Salvadoran compound archery, Hernandez is also the coach of a generation with good medal projection for this event, among which Paola Corado and Douglas Nolasco stand out.

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“I said I would like to be in the selection for the Central American and Caribbean Games and we have participated. I am not wrong when I say that they are the most complicated games, because in the World Games you can make that kind of pineapple that we are the Latinos against the Europeans, in the Pan American Games we are Latinos against the gringos, but in the Central American and Caribbean Games we are all equal, because our region has the same level and it is where the greatest rivalry is seen”.

Roberto Hernández

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