Once my boss sent me to the welcoming ceremony of a real champion. Miguel Indurain, who just had wined the Tour de France, considered as the best cyclist of the world in his time (the early nineties).
Miguel was a man of a few words. One of my editors told me before I left towards the village:
– Try to get some exclusive statements from him. But – she added – be aware that he’s a little stupid and usually only answers yes or no.
I though : what a harsh judgment.
It was a big event for his village. They had prepared a stand in the main square and the church was crowed, because he was going to make an offering of his yellow maillot (the symbol of the winner of the tour) to our Lady of the Rosary the Virgin Patron of the village.
The bishop, the parish priest, th President of the region, the mayor of the village, everybody was there. After the offering we went all to the square and there were speeches and ovations. Everybody wanted to be with Miguel and to touch him and talk to him.
I had my opportunity. He told me among other things that he was planning to go back to the church next day, because with the bishop, the president and all that people around, it was impossible to pray properly. When I asked him about the immediate future he told me that his father was waiting for him to help him in the harvest.
Finally there was a press conference in the school. The correspondents of the specialized international sport media were there, trying like me to know what were his plans for the future, but in sports. Above all if he was going to take part in the world’s championship or not. He didn’t want to answer. And he managed to keep the subject at by, answering to all of them with wit and wisdom, but with only a few words.
– He is no stupid at all, my friend, I told my editor. He’s very smart. You should have seen how he managed to drive crazy a bunch of specialized journalists. He just doesn’t want to talk too much and he has the right to do so.
(in the photo a younger me smiling while interviewing Miguel Indurain after one of his winning tours)