Looking Back to Birmingham: Andrés Acuña Araya

Looking Back to Birmingham: Andrés Acuña Araya

Andrés Acuña Araya (CRC) is the first ever Costa Rican to win a medal at The World Games. And not just any medal: he won gold at The World Games 2022 in Birmingham, Alabama! He is this week’s athlete Looking Back to Birmingham.

I started playing Racquetball when I was 8 years old. My father and my older brother used to play in the club that was 3 minutes away from our house,” Acuña Araya says. “I chose Racquetball because it is extremely fast, and it demands all the aspects of any sport (being healthy, fast, strong, powerful, speedy and smart). Also, you can train by yourself.

The athlete says he enjoyed the Games in Birmingham very much. “My experience at The World Games 2022 was priceless. Everything came out perfect for me. I was able to have most of my family with me, and we enjoyed the Opening Ceremony a lot. Without any doubt, the best part of the Games for me was climbing the podium in 1st place at the end of the competition.

The World Games differ from the World Championships because The World Games is the most exclusive tournament in our sport Racquetball. To play in The World Games, first you have to qualify for your country (2 per country) for the World Championships (every 2 years). Then, in the World Championships prior to The World Games (every 4 years), you have to make the top 12 in that specific tournament in order to qualify for the World Games. Also, The World Games is played by a draw of single elimination, so it makes it harder to win (in world championships, we play both ‘round robin and single elimination).”

When asked which sport he would compete in if not Racquetball, Acuña Araya quite understandably chooses Squash, which is in some ways similar to Racquetball. He was also able to watch some Squash during his time in Birmingham.

After the great time in Birmingham, and the historic gold medal, life has been good for Acuña Araya: “After The World Games, my life has become better. I have had more opportunities to fly out to new tournaments and play more. In my personal life, I finished university and I’m getting married next July.” We wish the couple all the best, and hope to meet Andrés Acuña Arraya again, at least in 2025 in Chengdu, CHN!

Later today, you can watch how his day is going when he takes over The World Games Instagram Stories!

 

Acuña Araya also got questions through social media:

As the first Costa Rican to win a medal at The World Games, how did it make you feel to get to the final?

- Being the first Costa Rican to win a medal is very special for me; I feel that I gave back a little of what the country has given to me. Im still looking for new achievements, to grow our country story more.

What did you like most about the city of Birmingham?

- I love the history of Birmingham and the love the people have for their state.

Do you have any pets?

- I have two Shih Tzu dogs.

What do you normally eat before a competition? What is your favourite food?

- My favourite food is a hamburger, but I can’t eat that before competition. Before competing I like to eat rice, vegetables and a protein (salmon, chicken or rare meat).

How much do you train in a week?

- I train around 12 sessions a week.

What is your next goal?

- My next goal is getting gold in the Central American and Caribbean Games, next month in Santo Domingo.

 

 The World Games is a multi-sport event staged every four years by the International World Games Association, organised with the support of the International Olympic Committee. The World Games 2022 was held in Birmingham, Alabama, USA, 7-17 July 2022. 3,600 athletes from 34 sports and 100 countries took part in the Games. The 12th edition of The World Games will be held in Chengdu, CHN in 2025.

 The World Games is a multi-sport event staged every four years by the International World Games Association, organised with the support of the International Olympic Committee. The World Games 2022 was held in Birmingham, Alabama, USA, 7-17 July 2022. 3,600 athletes from 34 sports and 100 countries took part in the Games. The 12th edition of The World Games will be held in Chengdu, CHN in 2025.

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