The name Aitor Ojeda takes part of a group of athletes from the island who don’t stop getting prizes and making Fuerteventura well known worldwide. Aitor has just achieved the second position of Bodyboard in the Quemao Class, which took place in La Santa, Lanzarote. He was the only Canary Island athlete in the final.
“I’ve always liked to get better at catching waves and competing is one of the best ways to achieve it”
By Eloy Vera
How was your start off in water sports and how did you get to bodyboard?
One day, when I was seven or eight, I was with my father in the quay of the port and I saw other children sailing with the sailing school and I told my father I wanted to start sailing. That Summer he enrolled me in a Summer course in Optimist and that’s when I first made contact with water sports. After three or four years competing in the Canary Islands, the same happened with Bodyboard in Playa Blanca. I saw a group of children catching waves and I told my mother I wanted to learn it. That very Summer I started a course and since then I haven’t stopped catching waves.
What role has Optimist played in your sports life?
There were very nice times when I met my most competitive side and I could realise that individual sports were what I liked most. A pity I couldn’t keep developing in sailing due to the lack or sponsors.
When did you start competing as a professional and what has that meant to you?
I’ve always liked getting better at catching waves and competing is one of the best ways to do it. You must bear lots of things in mind so everything goes alright and you can get to the final. When I was 16 I went to Portugal to compete in my first European championship, and at 18 I was taking part in the European tour and World championship for Europe and Hawaii. Then I wasn’t yet mature enough to get good results. I thought I just needed technique to catch waves and that was all, but you need a lot more, most of all being mentally prepared and having the analytical skills I have now. All that has served as a learning to know how to do self-analysis.
What role has Fuerteventura and its sea played in your sports career?
Fuerteventura has played a very important role. Being surrounded by the sea and practising a sport related to the sea have been key. By then a sport other than football was almost inexistent in the island. The conditions Fuerteventura enjoys when it comes to catching waves are incredible the whole year through.
Something I’ve missed It’s been a school where they taught us the technical part of this sport. That would have been useful to improve much more quickly and create a big team. Luckily my friend Ruymán Rey, a professional of this sport, has just set up his own school of professional bodyboard and introduction to surf: “Pura Vida FTV”. This will make this sport grow a lot in the island and many great riders too.
What has your career path been like and what awards have you got?
It’s been just pure pleasure and enjoyment that have always motivated me to practise this sport. Making a living out of it is really difficult and the lack of sponsors makes you pay for all the trips. This is why I’ve always been confident that I do it because I like and I’m very keen on it. When I was a Junior, 17, I got the runner-up position in The Canary Islands and in Spain. Then, in Open, I succeeded in one of the most prestigious events of giant waves in El Frontón, the “Furtive Challenger”. The first time I took part in the world tour I could participate in half the tests and I ended up in the 33rd position. The last three years I managed to get to the quarter-finals in Fronton King, the most important test nowadays in the world tour. And it was just the last weekend that I got the second position in the Quemao Class Championship.
What has getting the second position in La Santa meant to you?
I could almost say that it’s been the best result in my whole sports career. This test doesn’t mean any scores for any circuits, but it has an important repercussion worldwide. Quemao Class is a very commanding competition where the level of the participants is really high and the quality of the waves is one of the best ones in the world. Apart from this, having the support of my friends has been incredible. During the whole event they were unfailingly encouraging me from the shore and this gave me even more energy and motivation.
I suppose the lack of sponsors has prevented you from competing in other tests, how is this matter?
It’s quite complicated. The thing is people consider Bodyboard and the young brother of surf or the initiation to catch waves on a board later on. It has nothing to do. They are sports that seem to be the same but are completely different. Also, the lack of professionalism of federations and organizers of the world tour is preventing this sport from growing and this makes it difficult to get a good sponsor that gives you financial support to be able to pay for the trips.
Do you really believe they’re doing enough for water sports as a tourist attraction in Fuerteventura?
I don’t think so. Fuerteventura has a strong potential for water sports like sailing, surf, windsurf, bodyboard…. They have top-level athletes and in the case of Bodyboard, one of the best in the world, but there’s nothing for the team to provide a basis for these sports. Mar Azul club, in Corralejo, has been long working along this line, and now I think Ruymán Rey, with his school “Pura Vida FTV” is going to change all this.
Why did you also decide becoming a personal trainer?
I didn’t decide it until the last year in my degree. It was something I liked and when I was finishing it, I decided to focus on this field. Personal training made it possible for me to start changing people’s lives, helping them to improve their health and life standards.
Tell me what your project related to nutrition consists of.
Rather than nutrition it has to do with a change of habits where food is also included. It’s an online programme of fat loss where I get people to change their physical aspect, inside and outside, through training and food. I get them to change training and food habits so they don’t need to go on a diet anymore.
What must we do, regarding nutrition, to fight the weather crisis?
I think the first thing that must take place is a change from the top. That means governments and multinationals, which are the ones that manufacture and cause large-scale pollution. There’s no point in using a bottle which isn’t made of plastic if to refill it we must buy a plastic container. We as citizens can push so the rest of us make changes, but if they don’t modify this kind of containers from the top and don’t concern about polluting less there’s little we can do. Another example is recycling. What’s the use of me throwing the waste to the right container if then everything, or almost everything, goes to the same place? That’s why I’m saying the change must come from the top, but a true change!!!