Marcos Díaz, Sport taught me life lessons in advance
As a ultra distance swimmer Marcos Diaz knew that all you need to change things is the will and today he applies the same philosophy as Vice Minister of Sports.
Five years ago the ultra distance swimmer proposed to call the attention of world leaders to make them aware of unfinished goals and to attain the plan suggested by the United Nations Organization called “Millennium Goals”. This is a plan to improve the quality of life and reduce poverty for all its member countries in this year 2015.
In 2010, Marcos Diaz had already a number of records. He had crossed the English Channel; he also crossed –twicethe Strait of Gibraltar; he won first place in the competition held in the stormy waters of the Bhagirathi River, India, in 2006; two full laps to Manhattan Island, New York, in 2007, and he was recognized as one of the best swimmers of ultra distance open water around the world.
“Everything started because I was invited to Juan Dolio to give a talk together with Juan Luis Guerra to some young people, who simulating the UN models, knew what the millennium goals were. I asked each of my family members and no one knew what was that of the Millennium Goals ... well, I had to do some research to carry out this task, and gentlemen when I saw this I was surprised about the importance of this issue for humanity and I got involved right away.“
The task was not easy. You had to plan the travel routes and get the necessary financial support, because although I was still supported by the UN, the financial support was missing. However, Díaz was provided with resources thanks to his experience and reputation.
By having everything ready, Marcos swam across the world in four stages. In the first stage he managed to unite Oceania to Asia, from Papua New Guinea to Indonesia, a trip around of over 19 kilometers. In the second stage, he marked a milestone in history by connecting Asia with Africa from the coast of Jordan to Egypt, a journey never undertaken before. The third phase had already done previously, to swim across the Strait of Gibraltar to join Africa with Europe.
The biggest challenge was to cross the Bering Strait. “I was prepared after swimming in a pool filled with ice cubes for several hours: I joined Asia and Latin overcoming the Bering Strait, with water having temperatures of two degrees. I left Diomede Island in Russia until Little Diomede, Alaska, in an hour and fi ve minutes. It was the most diffi cult swimming of my life“.
All sacrifices were rewarded in September 2010 when Diaz gave to the very UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon a book with the signing of more than 200 thousand people who joined to this cause to comply with the goals urgently. “When I met with Mr. Ki-moon I told him if a man had managed to swim from one continent to another, actually we were not so far from each other”.
The determination of Marcos Diaz is far from being a coincidence. As a child he was asthmatic and his doctor advised his parents to enroll him in swimming lessons. He wanted to quit swimming in several occasions, but his parents knew that discipline and persistence would be a mantra that would accompany him forever.
“Sports taught me many life lessons in advance: learn how to win, to lose, to have discipline, the value of effort, what is right or wrong, to handle frustration, and all that since early ages.” This certainly allowed him to become in one of the few people able to live on a sport (other than baseball) for many years. In 2011 he officially announces his retirement as a professional athlete.
Marcos Diaz studied business administration and has a master degree in marketing. In 2013, it was not easy for Marcos Diaz to say yes to President Danilo Medina when he was asked to lead the Vice Ministry of School and University Sports. Although he had never thought to be involved in politics he saw an opportunity in this offer to take the actions he had claimed as an athlete.
“By considering this idea very carefully, we analyze the risks and there were many, so I asked my team, is there any a difference from when I quit my job to make me swimmer? and the answer was no. I have the opportunity and responsibility to correct from this position all I pointed out as wrong when I was a sportsman.“