He got scared of the bike. He didn’t want to see her again. Martha Bayona was eight years old when she stepped on the Bucaramanga velodrome track to rehearse, but that day was not the best for her.
The cement of the Alfonso Flórez did not receive it well. She said yes to Pedro Bayona, her father, who wanted her to be a cyclist, to be measured in the sport of cranks and pedals, so, reluctantly, she went to that stage.
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He got on the bike and took the first pedal strokes, but he went wrong. It was not the same bike with which he circled the block from home, because in track cycling the fixed-gear machine is used, with which you cannot stop pedaling.
Martha, who has won 10 golds in the history of the Nations Cup, before the World Cup, he didn’t know that and when he picked up speed it seemed easy to him not to press on; Of course, the cement mass received it. The blow was not hard, she did not break, but she cried a lot and she swore that she would not return to the velodrome.
Those bruises on his arms and legs were the perfect excuse not to come back, to tell Pedro he would never get back on his bike to go around the track.
However, Martha herself says that what happened to her was perfect, ideal, because what she wanted was to continue playing soccer, her favorite sport. She was one of the best on the Divino Salvador school team, He was one of his figures, because he won the starter up front with goals.
turned the page
It has been 18 years since that terrible day, since that bitter moment in his life when he learned what it was like to kiss the ground at high speed on a bicycle, something that has happened to him many times on the tracks of the world.
Today he laughs at that moment. He says that if he returned the film of his life, he would have returned to the Alfonso Flórez the next day.
Pedro kept insisting that she become a cyclist and one day, she does not remember when, she accepted, returned to the bicycle, an impulse that has led her to be one of the best sprinters in the country and in the world.
Gilberto Santa, the Santander track coach, convinced her to put on her shoes, of course, after thinking about it a lot, receiving the help of the boys who trained daily at the velodrome.
Santa told Pedro to take her to the track, that she had a future, and she accepted. Fearful, she got back on the horse, she already knew that she couldn’t stop pedaling, that if she wanted to stop she had to ask for help to stop her, she gained confidence and no one stopped her.
Pedro is key in his story. While he drove the truck in which he distributed the ingredients to make pizza and dedicated his free time to his three daughters, because he wanted one of them to be a cyclist, the sport he was passionate about.
“I didn’t like that she played soccer, because I couldn’t accompany her many times; On the other hand, in cycling I could go out riding with her”, Peter remembers.
Nora, one of Martha’s sisters, It was the first one he tried, but he quickly got off the bike. Then it was Diana’s turn, who took her sister’s machine to ride, but she didn’t rig it either.
The two won local tests, some trophies are still kept with affection his mother, Martha Pineda, who was a housewife.
Martha, the youngest, who was born on August 12, 1995 at the Los Comuneros Clinic, accompanied her sisters to the races, and when Nora and Diana got off the ‘iron horse’, she got on the same bike
Pedro took her to cycling festivals, and he won, which gave him wings and the confidence to continue on the subject of bicycles and forget about football.
In the studio he did not stand out as in sports. He spent the years, but on the lot. He flunked his first year of high school, and his dad got mad.
Martha liked to laugh with her classmates, because, as she herself admits: “I’ve always had a good sense of humor.” He graduated from high school at the Custodio García Rovira school.
In 2010 he had the opportunity to defend his department in the Bogota National Track Championship and gave the delegation a bronze medal in the queen event: speed.
That metal prompted her to take cycling, the velodrome, sports more seriously; It was the first time that she competed against other delegations and she always won in the short competitions, because she did poorly in the middle and long distances, because she got tired very quickly, but the gold metal did not arrive.
The following year, in Cali, he won three golds: in speed, 500 meters and keirin. He began to speak with figures of the Colombian track. JUliana Gaviria, Fabian Puerta and Diana Garcia it was his friends, whom he only knew when he watched the competitions on television.
It was very hard, I cried a lot, when I left and when I arrived in Medellín
In Santander the training was not the best; yes there was support, but the problem was that he did not advance in learning.
leaves the family
Martha and her family evaluated the possibility of her going to live in Medellin, where the Gavirias and coach Jhon Jaime González were. It was normal for the decision to affect the feelings of an entire family that had always lived together.
The game was not easy. There were tears, laments, but it was his duty. Everyone knew that this was the step she had to take if she wanted to progress and become a champion.
“It was very hard, I cried a lot, when I left and when I arrived in Medellín. It’s just that I wasn’t used to leaving the house, living far away, and even after two years I still miss them,” Bayona confessed to EL TIEMPO.
Still in his house in Bucaramanga it is difficult to fill the void he left, but the sacrifice has been worth it.
“She is missed –says Pedro–, because it is not easy to get up and want to bring her a hot breakfast and not see her. If it stays in Bucaramanga, it would not be what it is today.”
Her first trip out of the country was in 2011, in the Junior Pan-American, and she was gold in the 500 meters: With Laura Valencia she was silver in the team speed, under the command of Absalón Rincón, results that left her perplexed.
It happened to majors and it was madness, because next to Juliana Gaviria he won gold in team speed, in Mexico.
It hasn’t been easy for her, because she considers herself a woman of few words, but she confesses that when she makes friends, nobody can stand her. “She rides everyone,” she confesses.
2017 was an exceptional year for her. The Santanderean was silver in the Hong Kong Track World Championship, in the keirin test, in which she was defeated by the German Kristina Vogel, who on some occasion, in Los Angeles (USA), made signs, referred to the height of the Colombian: 1.65 meters. She is not as tall, but taller than Bayona.
But not everything is rosy.
It hurt the rider a lot to stay out of the Tokyo Olympics. He was doing well, with good results, but he did not qualify by 10 points.
“It made me very sad. I am very sorry for what happened. It seemed incredible to me that for so little I was left out. I still think about it and I don’t believe her,” she recounted. She knows that she had difficult times, but she didn’t know why her performance dropped.
I had to lose seven kilos and I returned to my ideal performance
With the technician González they began to analyze several points, and it turned out that the problem was in the weight.
“I had to lose seven kilos and I returned to my ideal performance. We didn’t know that was the problem, but we got over it. It was incredible that they trained, they spent hours on the track and the performance was not the same, but once we discovered what had happened, we worked to continue at the ideal weight”, the cyclist specified.
Martha Bayona is the best sprinter in Colombia. No doubt about that. In the past Bolivarian Games that took place on the Cali track, the local delegation swept: 12 of 12 possible golds, of which Martha hung those of individual speed, team and keirin.
And in the Nations Cup which ended last Sunday he got gold in the keirin and the 500m and silver in the sprint.
With these two first places, Bayona reached 10 gold medals in the history of this event, formerly called the World Cup.
In 2019 he won the keirin in Brisbane (Australia). Then, in 2021, she too
He imposed in the keirin and also in the 500 m in Saint Petersburg (Russia).
In that same season he won the keirin, individual speed, teams and the 500 m in the Cali Cup. This year, in Glasgow (Scotland) won the 500 meters, and in
Cali adjusted two more, those already mentioned in the keirin and the 500 m.
It has two immediate goals. One, to be world champion, in the contest that will be held in France at the end of October.
And his second goal is to win an Olympic medal, that’s why he trains, takes care of himself and works hard to continue on the winning path to go to Paris in search of a medal that he lost in Tokyo by only ten points.
“I can’t keep thinking about what could have happened and didn’t happen in Tokyo. We have turned the page and now we think about what is coming. Wearing the rainbow would be sensational and an Olympic medal would complete my happiness, ”said the Santanderean, who confesses that she sometimes cries because her family is far from her.
Martha Bayona Pineda is one hundred percent dedicated to the fixed gear bicycle, the one who sent her to the floor that time on the Alfonso Flórez track, made her cry with pain, but the one she loves today and thanks for what she has served her, even if a few tears still escape when she thinks of her family, the same one for which in Bucaramanga he also cries, but thanks to his victories.
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Editor of THE TIME
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