Kia The Spanish karateka, with the Kia e-Niro
Sandra Snchez rehearses a kata in front of the Kia e-Niro.
Photos by Jaime Sainz de la Maza
Sandra Snchez is considered together with the Spanish also the best karateka of all time Damin Quintero . After four and a half years as number 1 in the world kata ranking in the female category, and having been world champion five times in Europe and having won 53 consecutive medals, the 38-year-old woman from Toledo only was missing to be crowned in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games which have been postponed to the summer of 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
We interviewed Sandra just before the state of alarm was decreed in Spain , when the world had not yet stopped and was preparing to participate in the Olympics. We had been warned of Sandra's
affable and cheerful character Kia's ambassador to Spain but reality exceeded any expectations. We can't reproduce all the laughter and laughter from the karate fighter during the interview, but we hope you enjoy reading as much as you made us enjoy your infectious joy. It was an injection of energy, like the one used by the of the images, the Kia electric SUV with up to Kia e-Niro 485 kilometers of autonomy and available in Spain from 31,200 euros .
Do you have a car?
(Laughter) S. (Laughter). A great car! He is bigger than me!
That is not difficult either.
That is also true, ho! Yes, the truth is that I am very happy with the Kia Sorento, it is very good. Also, I have to travel a lot with the theme of championships and training all over Spain, so having a big and safe car I like a lot.
Do you like driving?
Yes, I know I like it. Plus, the comforts of the self-driving car make it all that much easier. Although I have to say that I like driving more myself, I don't always go in the automatic because I enjoy driving.
Who was your 'sensei' to learn to drive?
Well, my father. I think all the girls have learned with daddy. The poor man was very scared. I remember that whenever he took me, he kept his hand on the handbrake and I would say to him: "Dad, you can trust me, man." He taught me. Then I did my driving school practices, but it always went hand in hand with my father.
Do you consider yourself a good driver?
I would have to ask your father, right?
Sure, ask the others to see what they tell you. Seriously, I think I am a good driver: I am super safe, I respect speed limits a lot … Maybe someone who likes risk more thinks I am boring driving, but I think I drive well. And I park very well, I am a professional parking, it was my favorite part of the exam.
Let's say you practice defensive driving, right?
Yes, prevention is better than cure, just like in training and with sports injuries. Prevention is essential, so driving must be cautious.
Does the concentration that your sport demands help you to concentrate also on the road?
Yes, I train about six hours a day, krate is my life, and all that has a reflection on your daily life. As you are training, you are in your life, driving, in everything. The security and discipline that I have in training are also behind the wheel.
What is more difficult, doing the perfect kata or driving around Madrid at rush hour?
Driving through Madrid at rush hour, without a doubt (laughs). Madrid gives me a lot of stress, people are very upset at the wheel, I don't know why they whistle so much.
There are many judges on the street, Right?
Yes, yes, they are worse than the kata referees, but hey, when they ask me to say hello and smile, let's see if at least we are happy for someone, that people are very bad mood.
Do you prefer power or control?
If we talk about krate, power and control go hand in hand. And if we apply it to life it is the same He needs one thing the other.
Do you like sports cars and aggressive cars more or do you prefer that they be discreet?
As I have never had a sports car, I can't compare, but I think I prefer them discreet. Because of my own personality, I don't like to attract attention, unless it is with a kata well done. I prefer a discreet car, although I do not rule out trying a sports car to remove that thorn and be able to compare. Kia has a very handsome one, which I saw at the dealership.
Sure, the Kia Stinger, very nice.
S, yeah, I remember when I went to the dealership I was speechless: "Hala What is this Kia? " Impress, impress.
What is the last car you have seen that has left you behind KO?
I know, the Kia Stinger! I was impressed because I did not expect it, and when I saw it at the dealership it seemed so beautiful and so impressive that I was left wanting to try it.
What is your ideal car?
Now my ideal car is what I have (laughs). I don't know, I don't have an ideal car concept. Above all, it has to convey security. I also like that it is big, like the Sorento, because it seems that the rest of the drivers pay more attention to you. Or because as always I have been very small and I am not seen among the greats, with the car I can be seen a little more. So my car has to be big and safe.
Are you one of those who settle for basic equipment or do you want all the extras available?
Although I don't really like luxury and recharging There are details of the car that I like. Although some are only static, there are others that are security. Security is the best thing a car can bring you, you should not skimp on those kinds of extras.
There is something you will not give up under any circumstances, such as the parking sensor or the rear view camera ?
This is like everything, when you haven't had any of that you think you can drive with anything and that's the good thing, because you have to know how to drive in any situation. But once you have tried it, the rear camera seems to me an incredible comfort when it comes to parking. Although I'm good at parking, it gives you a lot of comfort and ease. When you get used to it and you get into a car without a rear camera you feel lost, you don't know where you have to look and suddenly you realize that you watch the radio and you don't see anything. I choose that, the rear camera, I want it forever. And the automatic change too. When I take my father's car, which has a manual transmission, the same thing happens to me, that you get to the traffic light and your engine stalls because you forget to put it in neutral. I always appreciate learning to drive with a manual transmission, because now I know how to drive any car, but when you test the automatic you don't want to go back.
You know how many liters per 100 kilometers your car consumes or how many grams per kilometer of CO2 it emits your car?
Consumption varies between 8 or 9 liters on average, depending on whether I'm more in town or on the road. It depends on what you accelerate in the starts. But CO2 I don't know. You got me! (Laughter)
Do you know what efficient driving is?
Yes, I know that. In fact, I always have the Eco driving mode on automatically, to try to pollute as little as possible and I'd love to end up with an electric. I know that we are in a phase of change and that all this technology is developing a lot. In addition, I encouraged CSD to put electric chargers in the Joaqun Blume residence so that it is a boost to the people who live here and can have electric cars. We talked about it once and I know they want to put them on.
Is there something you don't understand about cars that you don't dare ask?
There are many things about cars that I don't understand, and of course I don't I understand, I don't ask. If I had to take a mechanical exam again I don't know if I passed. But at least I can change a wheel and I am very independent in all those things.
You have as many medals as you have years, how do you overcome your particular ITV?
Well, because I always think that I can improve. Just like in cars there is always something new every year, at every championship I present I try to teach the referees something new. Let them not see how well I do the kata, but see something even more than what I did the last time: stronger, faster, more confident, more technical, whatever. There is so much to improve that although I have won a championship I return the next day to the mat thinking that I have to train to improve some details. Although you are good, you have to contribute something more so that the referee does not always see the same thing and sees that there is progression. You always have to try to improve and teach something new.
Do you see the withdrawal close?
Well no Because they have been withdrawing me before entering and they have always thought I was older, I like to say that I'm going to stay out of my nose. At the moment I really enjoy what I do and I really enjoy training. The competition is only one day and where you suffer day by day is training. If one does not come to train with desire, with illusion and with motivations, it is time to retire. But today, as I am so eager to keep improving, I don't have the date set. Time will tell what the moment is.
What is the hardest thing about living in a high-performance center?
I entered to live in the CAR in Madrid when I had already had a life independent, so it is not the same as entering with 14 or 15 years, you just came out of the shell. Some independence is lost, from living alone or with your partner to living in a student residence. But on the other hand it is like recovering a certain youth. And here I have so many facilities and I can buy so much time that I would not change it for the life I had before. When you live you just have to go shopping, cooking, cleaning, ironing and running a house. Here all this is time for rest because we have all the facilities in the world.
Do you say on your website that you love to travel, in how many countries have you been able to drive?
With competition travel I don't It takes time to drive because we go, compete and come back, but I have been lucky enough to drive in Mexico, Australia, Canada and even Dubai, which we spent three years there and had a Kia Ceranto. It is an experience and gives you a lot of security. When you dare to drive in other countries you already dare with everything, it is another fear that you overcome, because it always gives respect the first time you drive in another country.
Do you have any anecdote driving in those countries?
The first time I had to drive on the left. I think that is an anecdote for anyone who tries it. Going on the road is relatively easy, but taking a roundabout is crazy. Turning at a junction is impressive at first, but more or less you do. On the other hand, with the theme of roundabouts the head goes crazy. We all have to drive on the left at least once in our lives.
You were nicknamed 'llaverito' in a competition. How many times have you lost the keys?
Many, I am very clueless, I have to admit it. It's not that I lost them, it's that I don't remember where I put them, nothing else. But they end up appearing, I still haven't lost them forever.
What do you think that some manufacturers want to eliminate them?
It can be a solution for people like me. The mobile makes life easier for us in many ways but it makes us very dependent on it, so the day we lose the mobile we lose everything.
Could you live without a car?
I think it is , because I remember that I have spent many years of my life with the bicycle up and down. And when I am in the city I also recommend that the bicycle be used for sport, for health and for taking care of the environment. I think I could live without a car, although, with the life I have to travel and compete, having a car makes my life a lot easier.
At the Tokyo Olympics you played much more than a medal, right?
It is that they are the first Olympics for krate and perhaps the last ones. In addition to how special it is for any athlete to go to some Olympics, whether they are the first or not. If you add that they are the first, perhaps the last, and that as an athlete we are in some Games … It is that so many things come together that make it so special that it is incredible. I am clear that every day that I am living until the Games arrive are part of the Games and they are special. But, in addition, fighting for those medals and being able to bring perhaps the only Olympic medals of krate will be something unique, incredible. It is clear that we are going to have many feelings that we try to learn to manage and I am sure that there will be much more than we think. But I hope that with the psychological and krate training we are doing we will know how to carry it out in the best possible way.