I'm a coach, I'm not Harry Potter
Since time immemorial, Arturo Martín has always been there, on the athletics tracks in half of Spain, especially on the Moratalaz tracks or at the INEF in Madrid, a teacher for his athletes, a model, a great father.
Also, a discreet man.
Personalities of all stripes have taken refuge under its umbrella, some brilliant.
Arturo Martín has trained Arturo Casado, a 1500m European champion (2010) and today an athletics scientist. Or Roberto Sotomayor, today a Podemos politician, a few years ago a middle-distance runner who, in the mornings, gave up his life kicking the synthetic and, in the afternoons, sold suits in the heart of Madrid, in El Corte Inglés. Or Elena García Grimau, as committed as she is to the fight against doping. Or the obstacle player Fernando Carro, too many injuries have been torturing him lately, too many obstacles. Or the plague-stricken Alberto García, caught twice for doping, nobody wants him in the world of athletics.
Today, Arturo Martín's strong pupil is Adrián Ben (25), the slight 800-year-old who achieved everything in the 800s, achieved everything even by squeezing the less orthodox strategies, because in the international sphere there is no other like him, so refined, so congested in the first round, and so fresh and consistent in the outcome, "when you have to be, it is," says Arturo Martín.
Adrián Ben, European indoor champion this winter, 6th in the 2019 Doha World Cups and 5th in the 2020 Tokyo Games, has nothing to do with the gigantic Marco Arop, nearly two meters of muscle, a Canadian wardrobe that seizes the head of the group and settles there in front, occupying two lanes, and it has nothing to do with the vehement Algerians, Djaml Sedjati and Slimane Moula, green arrows that camouflage themselves in the center of the group to appear in the final stretch , nor with little Emanuel Wanyoyi, a Kenyan like Rudisha, a junior who handles himself like a senior, a teacher who is Kenyan, it has already been said, and therefore, a candidate for an 800 title.
Adrián Ben is not like any of those, and yet all of them will be in tonight's final (8:30 p.m.), the outcome that has Arturo Martín in suspense, the coach who knows everything, has lived everything, and even so he continues to feel the vertigo that precedes any performance.
Technicians and athletes come and go through the Grand Budapest Hotel, on Margaret Island, the city's spa, crossed by the Danube.
There is Jordi Toda, the coach of the marathon runner Marta Galimany, and Chuso García Bragado, Juan del Campo and Enrique Pascual Oliva, formerly the coach of Fermín Cacho and Abel Antón, today dressed as Portuguese, now he trains Isaac Nader.
I ask Arturo Martín:
-Don't you suffer when you see Ben so far behind the group, often off the hook, with so much to do when the race is already launched?
(Well, Ben, a diesel at the start of the race, a rare 800-year-old, almost the only one of his kind, needs to compose himself in the race, find his tone and get up little by little).
-It would make me suffer if we had not considered the strategy before. The problem is pigeonholing athletes.
-What do you mean?
-Every eighth centista is different. Adrián Ben is essentially a middle distance runner. A pure eighth century? I don't know that anymore. Neither was Sebastian Coe: he ran the 800 and the 1,500. In the 800 there are people who come from the 400 and are very fast, and there are pure specialists, and then there are others who would defend themselves very well in the 1,500. Ben is one of the latter.
-Does that condition your way of competing in the 800, then?
-When the 200m is passed in 23s, we understand that Adrián should not be there. What he has to do is not give in, keep up with him and do his thing. Why is he going to pass at 23s if then you don't reach 400 in 48s? He's several steps behind, and when the bell rings for 50, then he's already there.
-So, should you train him in a different way than other eight-hundred-year-olds?
-You have to use several systems. But I don't have to change many things. Arturo (Married) and Adrián are similar because they are going well at the top and since they were young they have assimilated a lot of mileage. Pablo Martín Valladares (another of his athletes), for example, is different: he is more of a 400-year-old... According to my athletes, I make the most of his qualities, although I prefer to work from above, longer, than from below .
-Before the 800 was not so intense, so accelerated in the first section, right?
-Now it is very physical. I guess the new shoes allow me to better endure those painful final meters.
Do you apply technology a lot? Do you draw blood, measure all the parameters?
-I try to benefit from everything it brings. Now there is more control of technology and rest. There are massage guns, pressotherapy, nutritionist, psychologist...
-Do you draw blood from athletes during training?
-We have the lactate analyzer, like all my fellow technicians. But I don't use it in all trainings. I'm still a lot of the eye. It's not scientific, but it works for me. It is true that, despite my experience as a technician, I can be wrong in my own perception. However, I think that technology is invasive: you can't be pricking yourself all the time. And besides, it's expensive. When Casado comes to assist me, we do two or three tests a year. Other times Dr. Carlos Balsalobre helps me, especially in force controls. We try things based on scientific studies, although I don't like to test the athlete all day, among other reasons because he would need three or four more technicians to help me with the whole group.
-Would you say that Ben is the best eighth century artist that has ever existed in our country?
-For tastes, the colors. We have brutal generations in the 800 and 1,500. It's hard, because it makes it difficult for you to win a place for these events, but it also improves you. And for this reason, when you reach the first round or the semifinal of the World Cup, you come more than prepared, because the level of a Spanish Championship is very similar to that.
-What do you expect from Ben in the final?
I think of several options. I have a mid-level final, neither at 1m42s nor at 1m46s. It will move in the range of 1m43s or 1m44s, and in those circumstances, anyone can be there.