A Young Olympian: Diver Carolina Mendoza’s Path to London

Tomas Munita for TIME
Tomas Munita for TIME
Mendoza, 15, will be one of the youngest athletes to compete in London this summer.

Although she is one of the youngest athletes set to compete in this summer’s Olympic games, 15-year-old Carolina Mendoza displays a maturity beyond her years through her training. In early June, TIME commissioned photographer Tomas Munita to photograph Mendoza as she prepared to represent Mexico in the 10-m platform dive in London—one of the only remaining Olympic sports permitting teenage competitors as young as 14.

(For daily coverage of the 2012 Games, visit TIME’s Olympics blog)

Munita, who photographed Mendoza at the National High-Performance Center (CNAR) in Mexico City, was drawn to his subject’s balanced approach to her training. At an age where many kids face distractions from friends, family and school, Mendoza has found a rare balance in the frenzy of her life.

“Her happiness and professionalism completely explains her success,” he said. “She is not just tough practicing over and over again, but she also loves what she does as a challenge and a game—not just as pure competition.”

Mendoza seems perfectly suited for the rigors of the Olympics. Learning to walk at 9 months old and swimming by age 2, she was encouraged athletically by her parents: her mother, a Mexican national track-and-field champion and her father, an Olympic cyclist competing at the 1968 Mexico City Games.

At age 11, Mendoza discovered that her experience in both swimming and gymnastics found harmony in diving. And now, four years later, she is packing for the London Games.

Munita watched in awe as Mendoza dove again and again during practice.  “She works every detail systematically and patiently. In between each dive, she finds time to joke and laugh loudly with her partners,” he said. “Then, suddenly, she’s running up the ladders again.”

Read more about Carolina Mendoza on TIME.com.

Tomas Munita is a freelance photographer based in Santiago, Chile. He previously photographed Church and State: The Role of Religion in Cuba for TIME.


Related Topics: , , , , , , , , , ,

Latest Posts

2014.  Gaza.  Palestine.  Schoolchildren head to class at the Sobhi Abu Karsh School in the Shujai'iya neighborhood. Operation Protective Edge lasted from 8 July 2014 – 26 August 2014, killing 2,189 Palestinians of which 1,486 are believed to be civilians. 66 Israeli soldiers and 6 civilians were killed.  It's estimated that 4,564 rockets were fired at Israel by Palestinian militants.

Inside Gaza with Photographer Peter van Agtmael

What photographer Peter van Agtmael encountered in Gaza changed the way he worked.

Read More
WASTELAND PERMITTED USE: This image may be downloaded or is otherwise provided at no charge for one-time use for coverage or promotion of National Geographic magazine dated December 2014 and exclusively in conjunction thereof.  No copying, distribution or archiving permitted.  Sublicensing, sale or resale is prohibited.     REQUIRED CREDIT AND CAPTION: All image uses must bear the copyright notice and be properly credited to the relevant photographer, as shown in this metadata, and must be accompanied by a caption, which makes reference to NGM.  Any uses in which the image appears without proper copyright notice, photographer credit and a caption referencing NGM are subject to paid licensing.        Mandatory usage requirements: (Please note: you may select 5 branded images for online use and 3 images for print/unbranded)1. Include mandatory photo credit with each image2. Show the December cover of National Geographic somewhere in the post (credit: National Geographic) unless using only one image3. Provide a prominent link to: http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/2014/12/superfund/voosen-textat the top of your piece, ahead of the photos 4. Mention that the images are from "the December issue of National Geographic magazine” GOWANUS CANALNew York, New YorkPollutants: polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), mercury, lead, copperYear listed: 2010Carved from a tidal estuary 160 years ago, the Gowanus Canal is Brooklyn’s industrial artery—and a deeply polluted waterway. Even so, it’s frequented by herons, seagulls, crabs, and canoeists. Defying local fears of economic stigma, the EPA listed the canal as a Superfund site in 2010. It hopes to start dredging contaminated mud in 2016.

Photojournalism Daily: Nov. 24, 2014

Mideast Israel Palestinians

The Best Pictures of the Week: Nov. 14 – Nov. 21

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 19,255 other followers