Name: Eugenio Garza Perez
Hometown: Born in Monterrey, Mexico. Now living in Wellington, FL
Major: Business Management & Business Finance
Meet 20-year old freshman, Eugenio Garza Perez. Like most college kids, he spent his summer travelling and hanging out with friends and family. Unlike most college kids, however, he did so while pursuing equestrian showjumping at the very highest level. After a successful season, Eugenio has set his long-term goal: the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo.
Talk to me about the next four years: how did it feel to set the next Olympics as your long-term goal?
"The Olympics will always be a goal - I think that’s true for any athlete in an Olympic discipline. However, at the end of the day, it is just another competition, so it is important for me to appreciate the journey as we try to get there. If we do, great, but if we don’t, then at least we gave it our best shot and got to enjoy some great moments."
What would you say is the worst thing about going to college while pursuing a sport at the top level?
"Managing time. Practicing any sport at a high level will require a great deal of time. College can make that really difficult as you try and juggle academics and training on a daily basis. I often find that the days are not long enough for both of them, and missing school for competitions can be really challenging since it is so easy to fall behind in a class."
…And the best thing?
"There really isn’t anything that comes to mind. It’s a pretty hard thing to do, often really stressful. If I had to say something, it would have to be that pursing a sport that you are passionate about definitely works as an incentive to get your schoolwork done early every week. That way you get more time to concentrate on your training as the week goes on."
If you could sit down for dinner with one person from history, who would it be and why?
"I would have to say the younger version of my father. I hear all these stories from his friends about how he was when he was younger and I just can’t believe them. He has a very calm, serious demeanor today, which didn’t seem to be the case back in the day – so I think that would be a very interesting dinner."
Have you always known that showjumping is what you wanted to do, or was there a time when you had your mind set on something different?
"I think showjumping always has been and always will be a part of my life. That’s how my parents met, through showjumping, so I owe it all to that. Both sides of my family were horse fanatics so I was always kind of pointed in that direction. However, it wasn’t until I moved to the states about 5-6 years ago that I realized that I wanted to pursue the sport at the highest level."
What does a typical week look like for you?
"On weekdays, my day consists of going back and forth from Miami to Wellington (a 1.5h drive) to flat the horses in between my morning classes and afternoon classes. My last class ends at 7:30pm, and then I sit down and try and get as much work done as I can before I go to sleep."
I don’t have classes on Fridays, so I go back to Wellington on Thursday night. I can wake up early in the morning and ride the horses before it gets too hot. I try to go to the gym as frequently as possible, and usually fit that in after the morning ride. In the afternoon I catch up on schoolwork or work ahead so that I can leave for an upcoming show. All in all, there really isn’t much time to socialize since I have to be up so early in the mornings."
As an athlete: which matters more, talent or hard work?
"Hard work. I think those fortunate enough to have talent will always have a big advantage, but in the long run I have seen hard work be more critical to the career of an athlete. I think success is a product of hard work and dedication -- something that the people around me really emphasize."
What is your biggest fear?
"My biggest fear would have to be disappointing the people closest to me. It is something that has always gotten to me, I can’t handle disappointing my parents, who are so supportive of me, or trainers who spend hours preparing me, or anyone who has sacrificed something to help me, for that matter. That and spiders, hate those things."