Venezuelan Paralympic athletes dream of winning medals in Tokyo

Venezuelan Paralympic athletes dream of winning medals in Tokyo

CARACAS – Jose Gregorio Montilla started swimming at the age of seven to help him recover from operations to treat a joint condition called arthrogryposis.

Today, the 20-year-old Venezuelan journalism student hopes to win a medal in the 50-meter breaststroke at the Tokyo Paralympic Games, which begin on August 24.

“We can achieve whatever we set out to do,” Montilla said after a recent training session in Caracas.

“It takes time, it takes patience, dedication, effort to get to the Games,” he added with a smile.

Montilla qualified to compete in Tokyo after swimming the 50-meter breaststroke with a time of 1:41 at the 2019 Parapan Am Games in Lima, Peru.

The youngest of three brothers, Montilla usually trains for an hour and a half each day from Tuesday to Saturday. But since qualifying for the Tokyo Paralympic Games, he has doubled his daily training.

He will again face competition from Mexican swimmers Diego Lopez Diaz and Marcos Zarate, gold and silver medalists at the Lima Parapan Am Games, as well as competitors from Thailand, Brazil, Israel and Canada.

A total of 25 Venezuelans will participate in the Tokyo Paralympic Games, including weightlifting, judo and cycling.

Oriana Teran, 21, says she is still trying to control her enthusiasm about going to the Paralympics.

She will compete in a form of powerlifting adapted for athletes with a disability, in the 45 kilograms (99 pounds) bodyweight class.

Sports activities not only benefit the body of parathletes, Teran said, they also “nourish our souls”.

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