During the first season of Exatlon United States, international duels were one of the biggest attractions for the competitors. Coming face-to-face with athletes from Colombia, Romania and Mexico made them feel more adrenaline than they usually did. “International duels were interesting because they allowed us to see other athletes and at the same time compare ourselves. Also putting Celebrities and Contestants in one team was a different experience. We got closer together and that daily rivalry disappeared ”, Raquel Becker, a contestant on the Contendings team from that first season , confessed to me.
Colombia was our first rival and two duels were held against them. In both they prevailed with José Rodríguez and Isa Orozco as great protagonists. The advantage that the South Americans had was experience, something that Tommy, Yarishna, Sebastián, Jennifer, Janelly, Lorena, Kenny, Raquel, Jorge, Chuy and company did not have. Those of Roberto Manrique, host of the show, had weeks in the arenas and those weeks meant a daunting advantage.
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After those two defeats, Uncle Sam’s “ex-athletes” were left wanting more. Claiming was the priority and what better way to do it than in front of Mexico, a country that raised the flag of Exatlon’s success, one that seems to have no limits thanks to the mastermind of David Limón, executive producer of Azteca, who has known how to reinvent and innovate the show without affecting the essence of the fiercest sports competition on the planet.
PLAYA COSÓN: SCENARIO OF A TITANIC BATTLE
The day so longed for by athletes and fans had arrived: Exatlon United States and Exatlon Mexico would face off at the Cosón circuit, one of the longest and most challenging of the competition. Aristeo Cazares, Zudikey Rodríguez, Evelyn Guijarro, Aideé Hernández, Misael Rodríguez, Jahir Ocampo, among others, made up this second Mexican litter that was very fearsome. “I raced in front of Zudikey in my first race. I knew it was very fast and it really went well for me. I was nervous, I fought her on the track but she managed to beat me in aim ”, Raquel recalled. And yes, it was.
Hand in hand the balance leaned more and more towards the “colossal.” With the light marking 9-7 in favor of Mexico it was time for Kenny Ochoa. He had to win yes or yes to keep us alive. He did not do it the first time but the second. Yes! As soon as the race began, one of the mechanisms of the circuit failed and delayed it, which is why the Mexican athlete took a huge advantage that in the end consolidated his aim with the final point. The ARMY reservist’s claim was not ignored and the game chief confirmed the ruling. The race had to be repeated.
“I remember that the atmosphere began to get very tense,” says Raquel. It took about three hours for the executive producers of both shows to reach an agreement: the race had to be repeated. That’s when it was repeated and Kenny added the point for the United States. Next it was the girls’ turn. Again Mexico was one victory away from the triumph but Janelly Farías frustrated them again. 9-9 of heart attack and the relay duel was just around the corner!
CHELLY AND KENNY FACE TO FACE IN FRONT OF ZUDIKEY AND PATO
It was a race of forecast reserved a priori and a posteriori. Speed, dexterity, strength and a lot of accuracy in aim were condensed between these four protagonists. The fight between Chelly and Zudi was wild. They reached the last crawl on par and practically took the flag at the same time giving the green light to the exits of Kenny and Pato, who had already decided to be the marksmen in the marksmanship.
Pato took advantage knowing that Kenny could destroy him with the cubes and it was precisely in that area, that of the aim, where the tension increased. “I remember that in that relay race I was cheering on Kenny until I felt a push from behind,” Raquel recalls. It was Misail Rodríguez, a Mexican boxer. “I turned around, saw him and didn’t say anything to him. I noticed that he wanted to push Sebastián Caicedo but he did not allow himself and they began to argue. The atmosphere became very heavy. It felt ugly to see how Misail treated us, ”he added.
While on the benches things heated up with dimes and outright Pato and Kenny were incessantly trying to knock down the nine cubes. The discussion between Caicedo and Misail reached its climax when the Chihuahua Olympic medalist invaded Kenny’s territory and at that moment Pato knocked over the last cube and sentenced us. Mexico had beaten us in the third international match of the season.
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In the middle of the celebration the insults began from one side to another with Jennifer Salinas and Misail face to face. Taking it to baseball slang: the benches were emptied. It was a moment of great confusion, of much lack of control and this at the same time lent itself to many speculating about a supposed fight I had with Antonio Rosique. We never cross words on the circuit. In fact that night we met in a restaurant in Las Terrenas and we had a few drinks to talk about what happened. With whom I did have an altercation was with David Limón but everything stayed there.
That setback, also very hard, left a question in the air. Would we have a rematch? Would we meet again after the incident? Yes. We had it and we savored it in a very sweet way with Daer and Chelly as protagonists in the Playa El Limón circuit. They were unforgettable days not only for the athletes but for all Exatlon fans.