Thursday, July 7

Going to the final and not being able to compete: the fight for the nationality of Gaitha El Jarraz

The day he picked up his cell phone and was told that he had been granted nationality, Gaitha El Jarraz (Tetuán, 2001) burst into tears. He couldn’t help it. Of emotion, but also of rage. It had been a long time since he first asked for it when he was 17 years old. A long and complicated process in which, while he waited, he had to miss medals and not participate in the finals in which he deserved to be for his marks. All for a role, for a formality: “Shortly after they granted it to me, I had a Spanish Championship of 800 meters and I managed to win a medal … It was tremendous happiness.”

Today Gaitha is Spanish and an athlete for FC Barcelona, ​​one of the best in its category at the national level. He came with his parents to La Rioja when he was six years old from a small town near Tetuán (Morocco). “Even if you study and get a career there, you are nobody. If you don’t have acquaintances, you can’t get a job … Here you have more freedom and more options, not there,” he explains sincerely. She, who because of her training and because she mastered the language, has been the pillar of her family since she was little, always felt Spanish. Here he grew up, learned to play tag at recess and discovered his passion for athletics: “My school teacher told me that I was good at running, that I had to join a club. I listened to him. Running is freeing myself, it helps me a lot in times of overwhelm, stress, anger … “.

He took refuge in sport to keep going despite the difficulties. Race to race, hurdle to hurdle. For many months, she had to train to be the best, knowing that even if she went to the final, she would not be able to play it: “I have had many opportunities and they have escaped me: going to the U18 European Championship in Hungary, Kenya … Once in Madrid, on an indoor track, they signed me up for the final, but my coach, Héctor, and I knew it was a mistake. We warned, but the street was finally empty because the other athlete left thinking that I was stuck in the final. That made me very angry, “he confesses. Such was her determination to be Spanish and to be able to compete here that Gaitha even rejected the offer of the Moroccan Athletics Federation to participate in the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires.

This Sunday, Gaitha finished third in the 400 hurdles U23 Spanish Championship. Back home, she is focused on finishing her Internship in Business Activities and preparing for the last championships before summer. Always without losing the smile and optimism. “All this has taught me to have a great capacity for persistence. I thought all the time that I had to keep fighting because nationality was going to come and when I had it, it would be time to show if I’m really worth it. I think I’m showing it so far, little by little, but I’m showing it. ”