CofC Logo
Ask the Cougar

True Mettle

Juan Maegli

feature profile

Juan Maegli has big plans – Olympic-sized plans. He wants do what no other Guatemalan has done: medal in the Olympics.

To date, this business administration major has taken two shots at that goal, representing his native Guatemala in both the 2008 and the 2012 Olympic Games. Though he has yet to medal in that arena, Juan gained valuable experience from those international competitions, which helped him go on to win the collegiate singlehanded national championships and dominate so thoroughly at the 2013 fleet racing national championship that he and his team not only won, he was named College Sailor of the Year!

As a high school student, Jusn won a gold medal in the Pan-American Games sailing a catamaran, and that prompted him to follow in the footsteps of his father – a three-time Olympian from Guatemala. But to participate, Juan had to switch out of the catamaran and into the Laser, a one-person dinghy that requires tremendous strength and stamina.

“It's a very physical boat," he says of the Laser, and a demanding one, too. To be competitive in the 2008 Games in China, Juan had to lose 30 pounds (it’s a light-wind venue). For the 2012 Olympic Games in England, where the breezes can be significantly stronger, he had to focus on increasing his strength. In China, he finished a distant 33rd out of 43 entries. Four years and a lot of collegiate sailing experience later, he improved tremendously, finishing 9th in England.

Juan says he was excited to be in the U.K. for his second Olympics, and he regards it as an amazing honor to have been chosen to carry his country’s flag in the opening ceremonies. These days, he’s focused on finishing his degree and on the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil, where he believes he’ll have his best shot at winning a medal.  “For this, you really can't prepare enough. You have to go full out, or not go out at all."