She was bullied by a boy in her primary school. In an effort to get back at him, Patricia Bermúdez learned how to fight. Now this Argentine Olympian is wrestling her way to Rio for her second Olympic Games.
“I went to the local [fight] club, and told the teacher I wanted to learn to fight to be able hit him,” Bermúdez says, referring to the bully. “I was told I would need to train first and that’s how I started.”
She didn’t know it at the time, but fighting would prepare this 29-year-old for far more than defeating a bully.
In 2008, Bermúdez began her career in the northern Argentine city of Santiago del Estero, where she had joined the Gendarmeria, Argentina, border police force.
“I’ve got a lot of [goals-to reach] a world podium and obviously dream of an Olympic podium,” said the olympian who divides her day between training for those world podiums and managing her office duties at the Security Ministry in the capital.
Bermúdez competed in the 2012 Olympic Games in London after winning the bronze medal at the Pan-American Games in Guadalajara in 2011. “I say dream because maybe I can see a world podium closer. The world championships are every year but the Olympics are only every four years which is why I see it more as a dream, though not impossible,” she says of her plans for winning.
“These are my second Games and I think I’m not too far from a good result,” she added. “There are no secrets in this [sport] because it’s getting up, training, getting through it with injuries and a million other things which you often think get in the way, but they fortify you.”
Bermúdez only began competing in 2010 and within a year, she had clinched two bronze medals.
“In those early competitions after only two weeks as a [full time] wrestler I had finished with two bronzes and I said to myself, ‘If I’m getting bronze after two weeks’ fighting what might happen if I dedicated myself to it.'”
After realizing this, she found more joy in her practices, and now dreams of ‘dancing’ her way to an Olympic medal. She’s now one step closer after qualifying to wrestle in the the 48kg category at this year’s Olympic games in Rio.
I bet that bully isn’t laughing anymore.