Maria Paula Quintero: Staying Strong

Maria Paula Quintero
Date: 23/06/2020

With lockdowns easing across the globe, and many people beginning to take those first tentative steps back to normality, we'll be catching up with some of our World Series cliff divers over the next few weeks to find out how life has been for them recently.

First up, it's Colombia's Maria Paula Quintero, who is celebrating her 20th birthday today. The youngest female diver ever to earn a World Series podium place also became the youngest diver to secure a spot in the permanent line-up last season, and she hasn't been resting on her laurels during the diving hiatus this year.  Keeping fit and strong has been key, including a mammoth 20km run in the Wings for Life World Run recently, but Maria Paula has also used this time to grow spirtually and mentally, taking important life lessons away from this experience. Read on for the full interview.

Is there anything you have learned about yourself during the lockdown months? Any life lessons, emotions or experiences that you can take away from this period?

I have learned that I need to appreciate more what is really important in life. In these moments of need, there are a lot of people who are hungry, without a house to live, alone without family... And I have everything I need!! Also, I have learned to appreciate more each hug, each kiss, each time with family and friends. This moment that gave us a "Big Pause" has helped me to see my life in a different perspective, understanding that the material goods aren't enough and you need to be surrounded by your loved ones to support during the hard times. Something so small (a virus) shows us how big are the simple things!!

Is there anything you took for granted before that you now truly appreciate?

Freedom!! So many times, we have done a lot of special things outside with a beautiful landscape, without worrying about getting infected, breathing fresh air and seeing the smiles of others. Jumping, running, hanging around, just having fun... now, when we can´t go outside is when you start appreciating that freedom you have!!

What was the one thing you never stopped doing/didn't give up during the lockdown period? Why?

Working out!! Strength is one of the first abilities that you start losing in the time, and I lose it even faster!! Hahahaha... I rented some equipment and I haven't stopped doing strength training to keep me in shape!!

Maria Paula has been keeping pumped physically and mentally over the last few months. Photo: Maria Paula Quintero.

What was the first thing you did once restrictions loosened up in your country?

I went out with my family to ride bicycle around the city and finish the trip with a small stop by the river to enjoy the nature... I miss nature a lot!!

What did you miss doing the most, and have you had the chance to do that again yet?

I miss the training in the pool a lot. Starting again with the somersaulting, twisting and falling from high. And I haven't had the opportunity to do it again!! I think the pools will reopen soon... that's what I heard!! *Finger Cross*

How did the restrictions affect your training? Are you finding it easier to do now?

It really affected me a lot!! I can't practice the water part, the technique part!! But well, now I find my way to do technique in the floor with mattresses and mats, and obviously some imitation of the movements just to keep the mind fresh and coordinated with the muscle. And of course, the physical conditioning.

What are you missing most about the World Series this summer?

In the beginning it was the travels, the hotels, the opportunity to discover new places, jumping from somebody's balcony, a cliff, a platform really high, and dive to the ocean, river or a pool. But right now, I just found out, what I am really missing most is hanging out with all the Red Bull Cliff Diving family!!
See everybody again, make fun of my English, laughing and hanging with the girls!! You know what... I MISS EVERYTHING!!

Maria Paula (far right) is missing her cliff diving family this summer. Photo: Dean Treml/Red Bull Content Pool.

Are you keeping in touch with any of the other cliff divers?

I have spoken with some of the girls, asking if they are ok, what is new in their life, how they are training, etc., and of course with Orlando and Miguel we chat all the time.

If you could name 3 things that helped you through the last few months the most, what would they be?

Of course, first of everything would be GOD!! Understanding that I will never be alone to face the challenges in my life. His love gives me hope, and my love to Him holds me and gives me the strength that I need to face all the troubles that I can have. Me trying to follow Him, give me the perseverance to accomplish the purpose that I have in this world!!

Second, would be MY MOM, because she is who helps me to improve myself, to force myself, challenging me daily while at the same time making me feel safe and secure. The last would be EXTRA FREE TIME, because the excuse of being busy went away these few months. Now I could do stuff that normally due to the lack of time I did rarely, like enjoying reading a book, chatting with my family.

I understood that we are going TOO fast in our life, and we have to make small pauses to appreciate and value all the things that God gives us and try to help others and listen more than speak!! You always will have time if you set your mind and your heart on it.

Dancefloor or platform – if you could be on one of these tomorrow, which would it be?

Without thinking... PLATFORM, PLATFORM!!