Sheila Herrero

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Biography of Sheila Herrero, Spanish athlete who competed in speed skating on inline skates. She is the Spanish athlete with the most world triumphs: no less than 15 gold medals in world championships. She still holds four world records in skating.

Sheila Herrero was 70 times international with the Spanish National Team. She participated in more than 300 competitions played in different countries in Europe, Asia, Australia and the United States.

Between 1994 and 2003, this great athlete won 27 medals (15 gold) at the World Inline Skating Championships.

In those same years, she won another 67 medals at the European Inline Skating Championships.

She also has another 180 titles in Spanish championships and 136 in European championships.

Basilica del Pilar, in Zaragoza, on the banks of the Ebro river. Credit: Wikipedia

Childhood and family of Sheila Herrero

Sheila Herrero Lapuente was born on June 28, 1976, in Zaragoza.

Her parents were amateur skaters. In 1980, as a birthday present, Sheila was given skates.

Right away, she asked her mother to help her put them on. The skates adapted to her feet, “like a glove”.

Very soon she began to rollerblade with her family, and to walk with them the streets of her neighborhood.

It was the beginning of a sports career that lasted 23 years and that made her the most awarded Spanish athlete in history, a sport unknown to almost everyone in Spain.

The following year, when she was just five years old, she participated in a children’s skating championship and was declared champion of Aragon.

Skater girls
Skater girls. Credit: web of Arantxa Sampedro

Her parents enlisted her, along with her sister, to skate at school. Her remarkable physical conditions and the unconditional support of her family made Sheila Herrero succeed in this sport of skating.

Sheila Herrero’s sports career

Sheila Herrero, is the number one in the world in her specialty. She started skating at the “Club Domingo Miral” in Zaragoza.

Club Zaragoza
Municipal Sports Center of Zaragoza. Credit: web

In Spain, this sport has no tradition, and Sheila has barely been able to make a living from a sport that does not move the media and sponsors, as is the case in Italy, Switzerland, Germany or the United States.

Only the financial support of her father, and with some occasional jobs that Sheila did before dedicating herself entirely to skating, allowed her to pay for the competitions.

It was many years until she landed a professional contract: first, in the United States; later, in Italy.

Sheila Herrero had to train in the supermarkets’ parking lots, where she took advantage of closing hours to rush across the esplanade, under the watchful eye of her father.

As the cyclists, Sheila used the road a lot to train for speed and endurance. Life was at stake in each training session. She needed the maximum concentration so that the cars did not “eat” her.

There are too many cyclists run over on the road. Credit: web from August 14, 2017

Sheila Herrero practiced in the most unexpected places, such as old roads. In complete solitude she would roll for miles and miles to complete a marathon, the discipline to which she devoted herself most in recent years of racing.

Kilometers to complete a marathon, the discipline to which she dedicated herself most in recent years of competition.

In this way, she ran short distances. In addition, she spent many hours in the gym, lifting weights and doing aerobic exercises. She spent eight hours a day training.

In July 1990, when she was only 14 years old, she was proclaimed champion of Europe, in a skating championship in Arganda del Rey.

Since 1992, as a member of the Spanish National Team skating team, she has been international with the Spanish National Team 70 times.

At just 19 years of age, in 1995, Sheila Herrero was world champion in the circuit-speed specialties in 1,500 meters and in the 5,000-meter test at the Gujan-Mestras world championship (France).

From then on, the titles and trophies accumulated by the dozen, year after year, and in her house there is hardly room for any more.

Sheila Herrero
Sheila Herrero is one of the glories of Zaragoza. Credit: web

Sheila Herrero climbed to the top step of the podium 15 times. However, she had to manage to make her victories and her records have an impact.

In 1995, the Higher Sports Council of Spain recognized her as the best Aragonese athlete. This title of honor was renewed in 1999 and 2000.

The Royal House of Spain granted her entry into the “Order of Sports Merit” in 1997.

The following year, the city of Zaragoza named her “Favorite Daughter of the city”.

In September 1998, at the World Championship in Pamplona, she suffered a serious clavicle injury.

Her body and muscles were strongly built because she did a lot of sports since she was a little girl.

After her accident, she was about to sink into an abyss. Obsessed with her tendency to gain weight, she fell into anorexia.

This disease that affected all her bones, prevented her from exercising and, above all, made her life bitter.

However, aware that her obligation as an athlete was to set an example, she stopped counting calories and returned to enjoying food, even some cake from time to time.

The great test of her recovery was in October 1999, when she won five gold medals and one silver at the World Championship, in Santiago de Chile.

Between 1997 and 2000 she was signed by the professional team of the “Roces” skating club in Venice. At the time, this was the best team in the world. The facilities are in Monte de Luna next to Ferrari.

Later, between 2001 and 2002, she belonged to the professional team of the “Verducci” club, in California, United States.

The American team could also be considered the best team in the world as they invested a lot in all aspects.

There her technique improved a lot, because in the United States they have skating rinks everywhere. It was a very important experience Sheila Herrero and she improved in all aspects.

Sheila retired from competition in 2003

When she turned 27, Sheila decided to retire from competitions. She did so in October 2003, after having won 15 world titles.

In 2020, she still held four world records for rollerblading racing:

  • 5,000 meters, in 7 min 53 sec at 37.98 km / hour (in Pamplona, ​​year 1998)
  • 10,000 meters, in 16 min 49 sec at 35.66 km / hour (in Colombia, 1997)
  • 20,000 meters, in 24 min 57 sec at 36.97 km / hour (in Colombia, year 2000)
  • 40,000 meters, in 1 hour 18 min at 30.76 km / hour (in Chile, 1999)

    Sheila Herrero
    Sheila got a gold medal, in Chile. Credit: website of September 16, 2001.

After her retirement, she had some businesses that did not go well for her. She was even working as a clerk in a clothing store in her native Zaragoza.

Now she gives courses throughout Spain promoting skating. Previously, she had complemented her training with the titles of free time instructor, school activities monitor, skating instructor, regional skating coach and regional skating judge.

Her objective is to pass on her knowledge to the children, motivating them to do a lot of basic work.

She has also participated in different specific inline skate and traditional skate courses, in Spain and abroad.

The Italian team “Roces”, from Venice, with which she had a contract to run marathons, signed her as an instructor.

Sheila Herrero King Juan Carlos
Sheila Herrero receiving the Reina Sofía Award. Credit: Germán Piqueras website, Dec 25, 2001.

Tributes awarded to Sheila Herrero

  • Title of Excma. Lady, granted by the Spanish Royal House and delivered by Their Majesties the Kings, in 1998.
  • Gold and diamond badge awarded by the Royal Spanish Skating Federation.
  • In 2001, Sheila received the Queen Sofia gold medal, and had a reception at the Royal House.
  • Diploma as Great of Spain granted by the newspaper MARCA, in December 2007
  • In Zaragoza there is a square that bears her name, in her neighborhood.
  • On February 9, 2000, she received the Gold Medal for Sporting Merit.
  • On May 4, 2000, she was awarded the “Aragonese of the Year” award in the sports section, by El Periódico de Aragón.
  • At the end of 2008 she was the image of the telephone company ONO; Sheila Herrero posed skating.

I am grateful to Víctor Rivero for suggesting that I write this biography. I do it as a small tribute to this great athlete who took the name of her land and Spain to the top of world prestige.

Click here if you want to see this biography in Spanish translation.

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