From Puerto Rico to UAlbany — steeplechaser has Olympic aspirations


Ricardo Estremera, a native of Puerto Rico, sat down for an interview with me recently. He’s a Spanish teacher at my school, Academy of the Holy names. As a former student at UAlbany, recruited from Puerto Rico at age 18, Estremera set track and field school records and remains one of the college’s top distance runners in history. In this interview, I uncovered more about Estremera’s past that has impacted his present and future.

At a young age, Estremera remembers racing against his friends and genuinely liking running. But since he was in a family of swimmers, he was a swimmer himself for many years. That was until all his brothers graduated high school. He then started to run, which would lead to an offer that would change his life forever.

Estremera continued to run in college, but he didn’t run his destined race until his junior  year. A big competition for UAlbany was to take place, and they feared loss against a challenging competitor. His team needed him to run the steeplechase and he ran it for the team. The race later became “the usual” for him.

Currently, Estremera is training around the Capital Region for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympic Games and will run for his native country, Puerto Rico. His training includes an initial base training, working on specific faults and gaining mileage over the course of the year.

After missing the 2016 Olympics by a matter of seconds, he’s training to take multiple seconds off the qualifying time for his event, the steeplechase. He finds training in the United States more accessible. There are more resources for him here (as in more competition, better tracks and trainers), and easier-to-find places to run than in Puerto Rico. As an amazing athlete who loves to travel internationally, Estremera is ready to officially have the title of Olympian.

But Estremera’s life isn’t just about sports. Growing up, academics was very important to his family, as his father has two doctorate degrees and his mother has a master’s. Academics play a key role in his life. He earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and PhD in linguistics.

Estremera also discussed how important it is to keep a balance between sports and daily life. In his case, he has a good balance between training, teacher, a strong relationship with his fiancee and learning, which are all things that he’s proud of.

Finally, Estremera said that he sees athletics as an opportunity. In his case, it has opened many doors — for education, training and now the Olympics. He offers same valuable advice for young runners: running faster and harder is the key to success, but recovery is essential to your performance.


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