Pedro Pascual was born in Mexico and learned to windsurf at age 13 in Spain. He kept at it when his family moved to Saudi Arabia, and he didn’t stop upon later moving to the U.S.
All the while the sport has taken him around the globe, and now that journey continues on to Tokyo for the 2020 Olympic Games.
Pascual, 23, will represent Team USA at the Olympics for the second time after finishing 34th at the RS:X World Championships on Friday at Port Phillip Bay in Melbourne, Australia. He’ll be looking to improve upon a 28th-place finish from four years ago in Rio.
The sole U.S. Olympic men’s RS:X spot came down to a battle between Pascual and fellow Florida native Geronimo Nores. U.S. Olympic qualification for this class was based on combined placements at the 2019 and 2020 world championships, as well as the Miami World Cup, and whoever finished with the lowest total earned the spot at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Pascual came into Melbourne with a 12-point lead, and even though Nores did one better in Melbourne, finishing 33rd – including a second-place finish in one race, it wasn’t enough to overtake Pascual.
Born in Córdoba, Mexico, Pascual later lived in Spain and learned to sail on the nearby waters of Cadiz, on the country’s southwest coast. Taking cues from his father Alberto, who was also a windsurfer, Pascual proved to be a natural, his 6-foot-1 and 160-pound body ideal for the sport.
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Life took him far from Spain, though, as he graduated from an American high school in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, in 2014, and then moved on to Florida Atlantic University near Miami. He now considers nearby West Palm Beach, Florida, to be his hometown.
Though Pascual took a year off to prepare for the Rio Games, where at age 20 he was the youngest U.S. sailor, he graduated with a mechanical engineering degree in 2018, and all the while he’s continued his upward trajectory in the sport.
Following a 42nd-place finish at last year’s world championships, he took the silver medal at the Pan American Games Lima 2019 and later won the Miami World Cup in January.
This summer in Tokyo, Pascual will aim to become the first U.S. man to medal in windsurfing since Mike Gebhardt won a silver medal in 1992. He’ll also be competing in what will be the last Olympic contest using the RS:X equipment, as windsurfing will switch to the iQFoil for the Olympic Games Paris 2024.
Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic and Paralympic movements for TeamUSA.org since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.