Las Leonas, 20 years old: from the rain of emails to becoming celebrities who rubbed shoulders with Tinelli and Susana

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In a time without social networks or WhatsApp, the players learned about the repercussions of Sydney 2000 in Argentina through their emails. What happened when we got to Ezeiza.

In the middle of the quarantine, Vanina Oneto was given to rearrange her house. And in the middle of that cleaning she found a box full of mails printed 20 years ago. The slightly yellow leaves and some already illegible texts did not prevent him from getting excited and remember those days without social networks or WhatsApp in Sydney 2000. The origin of the Lionesses.

“Do you know what was the first parameter that something had happened here with the Leonas?”, Asks the scorer of that Selection from the other side of the phone. “In Atlanta 1996 there was fax, but in Sydney there was already a room with, put it, 50 computers. We had opened the first mails and in the Games they also gave you a mail. So the people who wanted to search, were looking for your mail Olympian and wrote to you. And some, don’t ask me how, they got your mail personal. Then you walked into the mail and the first day you were 50. It was a bomb, because there were always 2: your mother and the girls from the club, put it. And I remember the day I told them: ‘Girls, I have 67 emails and I don’t even know half of them’. And the next day 150, 400 and so on“, remember.

There was a problem, of course. In the Olympic Village only half an hour of Internet was allowed per athlete. “We printed the mails and we read them in the room. But there were more and more and they had to start taking us out because we were cheating, obviously, to spend more time on the computer. Because at first there was no other country but then they started going and there was a queue outside and they put a timer to launch the computer. So we stole minutes all the time and we went at unusual times, ”she says. “How many do I have? I don’t have all of them, but 300 are still saved”, He says.

The time difference and poor communication made it difficult to assess the magnitude of the media impact of that team. “My equation, with mailsIt was that 400 people, plus the club, were watching us ”, Oneto released.

“I sent a mail and my mom would tell me: ‘Oh, everyone sees you’. And I thought my mom, my dad, my brothers, the girls from the club and put it that hockey had taken over. That was the only thing you could think of. What will there be: ten thousand people watching us at 4 in the morning? My mom told me: ‘They set audience records, they have 3 points’. And I remember telling it and we laughed, because for us 3 rating points was nothing, because open TV programs had a rating of 45. ‘Girls, my mother, poor thing, says that people see us’, I was saying. Zero notion ”, he adds.

Undoubtedly, they finished understanding it when they returned to the country and arrived in Ezeiza. “When I leave the airport, I see cars parked after the tollbooth with Argentine flags and posters. And I tell my mom: ‘Ma, is the soccer team coming today?’ I’m not forgetting it anymore ”, he laughs.

‘No, Vana’, he answers me when I just see that one of them said Leonas. ‘This is for you’, tells me. I remember throwing myself from the window and saying hello. There were not 300 million cars, but there were people who had come to greet us, do you understand? There were more people than just hockey“, Explain.

Magui Aicega also remembers it: “At that time I was not conscious. They told us: ‘Girls, look, your thing in Sydney hit a lot in the country’. And when we got to Ezeiza we thought the soccer team was coming and that’s why there were so many people. They told us: ‘Tomorrow Tinelli wants them to go to the program, then Susana’. We got to the airport and it was CQC. Things that I only saw on television. It was a hit at first. You were wondering what all this is. And then you start to get used to it, in quotes. We were in our bubble. We had been runners-up, but we were just starting out to be the best in the world ”.

They also had to face that their rivals believed that the silver medal “had been luck.” “The rest said: ‘Very good for Argentina but let’s see how the next one goes’. And the next one was the Champions Trophy, which we won in the Netherlands with victories against Australia for the first time in history and against the Netherlands in the final -remarks the defender-. Then Perth, world champions. Then, Argentina was no longer lucky: Argentina was the best in the world. Everyone wanted to come and play here to see what these girls who win and have nothing do. And they started copying workouts. We had to know how to carry that “weight” of being the best in the world “.

That training that they now copied had begun in 1998, when Luis Ciancia became head coach and the selected hockey players left the early mornings at the Marangoni fields in Las Heras Park and began practicing in the morning. “We proposed to them to train from Monday to Thursday from 8 to 11 and twice in the afternoon. All the girls accepted it“, remember a bit Vigil.

Luis Barrionuevo was also fundamental, with “that remote control car that came and went,” he says. Magui about an era without drones. “Every day we implemented things. We went around the CeNARD with weighted vests, anklets and wristbands. It killed you. But we didn’t ask questions: we did what they told us. And that’s trust. When there is confidence, sooner or later the achievement comes“, contributes.

The team also struggled against a difficult economic, political and social situation in Argentina, which prevented travel abroad. “We were not going to have a lot of competition, because there was no money, and we had to generate a very large internal competition. We decided to train 11 months a year as if it were a club, but with 6 weekly stimuli from the Selection, plus the 3 from the club, regardless of whether it competes or not. The training It was not to fulfill, it was to grow“, remarks the technician.

“And training every day began to build a family of dreams and from that family they began to be friends of dreams,” says Vigil, who was accompanied by Claudia Medici, Luis Barrionuevo, Lalo Junquet (later Gabriel Minadeo), doctor Francisco D’Angelo, the kinesiologist Sergio Lemos and the psychologist Nelly Giscafré.



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