Hernan Andrade, the Olympian Rep
Hernan Andrade spends his days at the gorgeous beaches of Cancun. But he’s not just lounging around – he’s a hotel representative for Amstar DMC, ensuring visitors have the best vacation ever.
In addition to being an Amstar DMC destination specialist, Hernan is particularly proud of a label that marks his life. He is an Olympian.
“Being an Olympic athlete is something that stays with you. Once you’re an Olympian, you’re always an Olympian,” he says.
Hernan, 57, represented Mexico in 50 km race walking at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, South Korea. Today, he proudly belongs to an elite group of Olympians whom the world applauds every few years.
A YOUNG OLYMPIAN
As a soccer-playing teenager in Mexico City, Hernan got hooked to race walking after meeting Jerzy Hausleber, coach of the newly formed race walking team at the Olympic Village, just a couple of blocks from Hernan’s home.
Following years of dedication and hard work as a race walker, young Hernan reached every athlete’s dream of competing in the Olympics.
“Being an Olympic athlete is something special,” he says. “When you see your country’s name on the screen next to yours, when you hold your uniform, you feel pride in thinking, ‘Wow, look at everything I had to do to be here.’”
SO CLOSE TO OLYMPIC GLORY
Hernan was among the favorites to win in Seoul. His marks were among the global top 5 and his chances of earning a medal were high.
His concentration was at an all-time high as he took to the starting line. Then he shot off to an early lead against the most elite race walkers in the world.
He was definitely competing to win gold.
But at the 30-kilometer mark he was disqualified.
According to the judges that day, Hernan failed to follow one rule. Athletes must have at least one foot in contact with the ground at all times throughout the entire race.
“I risked it,” he admits. “They told me not to set the early pace. But I thought if I wanted to win, I needed to fight for it.”
But he says he doesn’t regret this. “I went out and fought. After all this time, it was worth it. And that stays with you, in mind and heart.”
LIFE AFTER SPORTS
Upon his return to Mexico, Hernan competed in a World Cup in San Jose, California and several other international competitions, but a knee injury kept him out of the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain.
He began distancing himself from the sport and he decided to move his family to Cancun in search of better climate and new opportunities. He now lives another one of his passions as an Amstar DMC representative in Cancun serving travelers from all over the world.
While he left race walking behind, he brought all the teachings from his Olympic experience to his life and work.
“The coach used to tell us, ‘I wish each of you could take home a medal, though I know that won’t happen. But I will shape good citizens, good people.’.”
AN OLYMPIC-SIZED COMMITMENT
Hernan continues to apply an Olympian’s unwavering commitment to his work ethic, delivering exceptional service as an Amstar DMC representative. Whether he’s recommending perfect excursions or transportation options to Cancun visitors, Hernan does it with a smile and with the lessons that prepared him for Seoul.
“The Olympics and the sport gave me everything – discipline, courage, it taught me to never give up, to always fight, to have mental strength and to be responsible. It changes your life,” he says.
—JL Bribiesca contributed to this post.