Isaac Morillas was a weightlifter and is now a photographer. During his sports career, he discovered his passion for photography and has managed to combine these two passions.
Isaac Morillas stared at his television, fascinated. It was night and on the screen, artistic gymnasts were flying through the air. The graceful movements fascinated Morillas. He stayed awake all night and watched the competitions with great interest. The next day, he went to his mother and resolutely told her that he wanted to take up sports and compete in the Olympics. Morillas was twelve years old at the time and was following the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney day by day. It was the beginning of a great sporting career.
Since Isaac Morillas was already twelve years old, it was difficult for him to start gymnastics. He lived with his family in a small town with just 2000 inhabitants in the south of Spain. His mother had to travel a long way and go to a bigger city to sign him and his little sister up for a sport. One of these offered sports was weightlifting.
Morillas was immediately enthusiastic and began to work with the barbell. As time went on, he began to train harder and harder and to improve steadily. After only three years, the Spanish Weightlifting Federation called him and offered him to stay in Madrid at the High-Performance Sports Center. For eight years he stayed there to train and study.
European champion in Poland
For more than ten years Morillas was a high-performance athlete in weightlifting, during which time he celebrated numerous successes. In Spain, he won in all age groups and held the Spanish record in the up to -69 kg weight category. At the international level, he celebrated one of his greatest successes in 2009 – in Poland, he won gold at the European Championships (-69kg). At the World Championships in the same year in South Korea, he also finished 11th in the -69kg class. However, Morillas was not able to achieve one of his goals – to participate as an athlete at the Olympic Games.
“I, unfortunately, had to stop weightlifting in 2012 due to an injury to my right elbow. A chronic injury no longer allowed me to stretch the entire joint. The injury was very painful and unfortunately could not be operated,”, Morillas looks back. The injury meant not only the end of his sporting career but also a missed opportunity to participate in the Olympic Games. In London 2012, Morillas could have competed, but his elbow wouldn’t allow it.
It was time to devote himself to something other than high-performance sports. Also at a young age, Morillas had already come into contact with photography. “My first and biggest inspiration for photography was my grandfather Joaquìn. I remember that when he visited us, he always had his camera with him. Every year he participated in the contest in our village, where he won first prize several times,”, remembers Morillas. This was later a reason to pursue a degree in public relations and then a master’s degree in event management.
Combining two passions
Photography became more than just a hobby for Isaac Morillas, he made it his profession. Four years after he was forced to quit high-performance sports, he got the opportunity to become the communications director of the Spanish Weightlifting Federation. At the same time, he also took on the role of the official photographer.
“For more than ten years I was a high-performance athlete and during this time I got to know the sport of weightlifting in all its details and facets. Now I can combine my two passions, weightlifting, and photography. I try to take the photos I wish I had taken when I was competing. I try to reflect in them the love I have for this sport.”
And it is this love that Morillas can now reflect in his photos at this year’s Tokyo Olympics. As a photographer, he attends the Olympic weightlifting competitions and captures the special moments on his camera. Morillas can now be found at the Tokyo International Forum, where the weightlifting competitions are held, almost every day until August 4. And even though this year, unfortunately, no spectators can be there, Morillas sometimes imagines that this place is full of people cheering on the athletes, and he begins to feel a special energy.
“This is currently the most beautiful moment of my career as a photographer because it was a long way to get here. As an athlete, I could have competed in London in 2012, but my elbow injury didn’t allow it. Now I’m fulfilling my dream but as a photographer. Every shot I take here is the most beautiful moment of all.” And in Tokyo he can fulfill another dream. Although he is not allowed to take pictures at other competitions, he was present at the opening ceremony on July 23 and he will never forget this moment in his life.