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Hungary for more: Track and field coach attends Thorpe Cup, World Athletics Championship

Courtesy of Richie Mercado
Track and field coach Richie Mercado gives a speech alongside other coaches at the World Athletics Championship.

While most tourists in Europe can be found admiring intricate architectural designs and feasting on local delicacies, track and field coach Richie Mercado spent most of his time in Prague and Budapest training famous athletes and advising coaches.

Mercado’s summer consisted of numerous track and field coaching experiences throughout Europe. On Aug. 7, Mercado and the national U.S.A. Track and Field team headed to Marburg, Germany, for the Thorpe Cup, a dual competition between the U.S. and Germany. Mercado led the athletes to victory in the decathlon and heptathlon.

“We may have kicked the pants off the German team, but we had some good camaraderie too,” Mercado said.

Following the win, Mercado continued his journey to Budapest, Hungary, to watch the World Athletics Championship. There, he worked with coaches from around the world. In particular, he met with fellow members of the Global Athletics Coaching Academy. Mercado works to bring attention to track and field coaches who do not usually receive the same amount of attention as other coaches in major sports; he interviews them and invites them to seminars, “bringing coaches to the forefront.”

Mercado also works to protect the reputations and bonds between coaches and their athletes. 

According to Mercado, disgruntled athletes often falsely claim that a coach abuses or harasses them. This situation often leads to the coach’s suspension and causes their name to be “dragged through.” Although the GACA takes care of their athletes, they also protect their coaches’ rights as well.

Mercado’s work with coaches in Hungary allowed him to expand his social connections and visit with old friends with whom he has only interacted with online. Although he engaged with the team virtually, he had never received the chance to meet them in-person until the event.

Mercado believed the championship provided an opportunity for track and field athletes to gain their well-deserved recognition since the sport is often overlooked. 

“Not a lot of people watch track, so we don’t often see many fans. Having fans watch and cheer us on in Germany really fired up the athletes,” Mercado said.

One of the competing athletes was Shelby McEwen, a world-renowned Olympic athlete who specializes in high jump. As a friend of Mercado, McEwen began training on the St. John’s campus shortly after moving to Houston. She placed seventh in the championship.

“It was a great experience representing Team U.S.A. along with my coach, family and friends while doing something I love,” McEwen said.  

McEwen and Mercado were among the many coaches and athletes who got to reconnect with friends and make new acquaintances during this time. Mercado met many influential coaches, such as John Smith, a sprint coach with 35 years of experience, and Laurent Meuwly, a coach for some of the best Dutch athletes in the world.

Although there was important work to do, Mercado made sure to take time off and enjoy some leisurely sightseeingnot only in Budapest, but also on a detour to Prague.

“Prague is a gorgeous city,” Mercado said. “I got to meet really cool people from all around the world.” 

In Budapest, Mercado explored the downtown area and its local wonders. During his free time, he loved visiting markets.

“When you walk in, they’ve got everything under the sun, from meat counters to fish,” Mercado said.

Mercado’s time in Hungary coincided with the country’s national independence celebration.  He enjoyed a boat ride on the river accompanied by a firework display with drones and lasers. 

Hungary offered Mercado more than just a fun and productive experience; it also allowed him to pave paths for a better coaching experience, build new social connections and explore the wonders of the city.

“It was nice meeting people from all over and hanging out with them,” Mercado said. “There were some great spectators at the competition and a lot of good coaches to work with.”

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About the Contributors
Genevieve Ederle
Genevieve Ederle, Staff Writer
Genevieve Ederle ('27) joined The Review in 2023 as a freshman. She loves to organize her life on Notion, and she can’t stand black coffee.
Annie Li
Annie Li, Staff Writer
Annie Li ('27) loves chewing ice and playing competitive field hockey. She joined Review in 2023.

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