Martín Piboto looks to the sides, shakes his head and seems unable to believe what he is experiencing, a true dream, after having suffered everything in his life and acting in his own game. At 49, he stands in the middle of the Olympic track he designed and built, days away from the most important skateboarding tournament in the country.
Next week, in San Juan, the third date of the Olympic circuit will be held -with points for Paris 2024-, no less than the skatepark that DT of the national team did during the record time -two months- 2022. nothing stands a chance. A double act that belies his talent, dedication and commitment. And, above all, with its flexibility. A very special ability is that he faced family traumas that would have driven many others away. A story that moves and inspires.
Nothing in life was easy for Pibotto. opposite of this. It still shocks him when he lived with a mother suffering from alcohol problems and a father who was a victim of violence, who committed suicide at the age of 24. “They were difficult times, with very notable incidents, with fights, beatings, blood…. Later, when they separated, there was a little peace but never completely”, recalls Martin, who was still asleep one morning when he heard a message on the phone and answering machine. It was the cleaning lady of his father’s house, who urgently needed his presence because of a serious incident at that address.
He thought the worst because he knew his father, with whom he had lived for months… and when he came to his senses, he confirmed it: he had committed suicide with a shotgun. “I’ll never forget the scene when I entered the bathroom…”, he recalls while avoiding details that are still playing around in his mind. and his soul.
Skateboarding became his lifeline when he was five, when an 11-year-old neighbor who was riding gave him one from the USA. “From there I competed in all categories until the age of 18, even among professionals. But, of course, it was another era: Skateboarding was very minor, almost not considered a sport. There was huge prejudice, they shouted at us on the street and threw us out everywhere, even with the police… Sponsors, if you had them, it was in return. Obviously you can’t live on that. Today it is also very difficult, but earlier it was downright impossible,” he recalls.
When he entered college, his motivation to continue competing waned. Martin kept running as a hobby until life hit him at a crossroads. “When my father committed suicide, I had to take care of everything. Till then I worked, studied and skated like a son. My old man left us almost nothing and I had to start working. I gave private classes for high school and worked on vaccination campaigns. Until I had to make a decision: I was looking for a job as a cadet or something similar, or I was looking for a return to my sport, skateboarding”, he reviews.
The decision was to continue playing what he knew well. He put together a good resume and within two months he was a team manager for an important company (the now defunct LA Gear). He put together skate, BMX and roller teams to do action and events. And also, he organized various events and exhibitions in CABA schools for three years. “About 400—he recalls—that drove the boys crazy,” he says.
Then it occurred to him that he was a pioneer in teaching. “I wondered why there couldn’t be skate schools when there were other sports… and I started with such great success that we even reached clubs and countries. I spent 14 years (2000–2014) teaching, even today I meet people who tell me I taught them”, he says. One of them was the former sports director of the Buenos Aires province, a contact who helped him In 2016, he was allowed to skate at the Buenos Aires Games.
By then he was already the president of the Argentine Skate Association and this milestone was the last stop in his management. By that time, Pibotto had been managing public space for years and was of the opinion that it was necessary to have more tracks in the country. And, from his experience, he began to design. The first took place in 2009 in Catamarca. It was only the fourth in the country at the time. “I stayed there for four months and I was lucky enough to find a builder who taught me a lot,” he says. Thus he went from design and documentation (plans) to handling construction. “Not everyone can do them, many mistakes are made if you don’t know about the sport and you think that because you have built buildings, you can build skate parks,” he explains.
Today it has more than 120 specialties, between design, supervision and construction, with four in progress, one Olympic in Avellaneda, two street ones in Vicente López and Maschwitz, and one in Children’s Republic. The most important ones already built are Technopolis, Pacha, Converse, Mataderos, Parque O’Higgins in Mendoza and of course, Posito (San Juan), the first Olympic of both modality in the country, park with worldwide symmetry For (bowls). “Personally, it is a great recognition that they have given me this, that it turned out so well in such a short time (50 days) and today it can host the World Cup date. This tournament is an unprecedented event in the country And to be able to be here, as a coach and builder, that the best in the world are on this track is a very special feeling”, admitted Piboto.
The importance of this competition is great because tournaments in the Americas usually take place in the United States or Brazil. The first date was in Rome, the second in Dubai and now in San Juan in the Park. The team is composed of six boys (Sandro Moral, Juan Pablo Mateos, Martin Toyos, Valentino Damico, Santo Sasson and Gael Dobobarnes) and three girls (Mecu Videla, Aline Arzua and Evelyn Enriquez). “Park is not our best tool. Street is better for us because here we have more tracks of that style and some bowls. Today, in Street, we have Matias del Olio ranked No. 8 in the world and Mauro Iglesias, 12th, When 20 qualify for Paris 2024”, he reports.
The day ends in San Juan and Martin looks back. The track he made. and in his life. “It is very special to be here. Despite all this I have been able to move forward in life and have managed to follow my own path and doing what I am passionate about is a great source of pride”, he admits. Be a true go-getter without being annoying, a one-man orchestra that went through each act.
“It was a solo start in the game with a small market. It’s been a joy to teach, to preach, to sow, to build… and it’s almost like touching the sky with my hands doing what I love able to live”, he analyzes without forgetting his family. “I was able to put together my best team, with two kids and my wife Agustina, who is a skater like me and I met her at a track,” he says. And of course, Martin, it couldn’t be otherwise.