Recovering the lost ground in the last two editions of the Bolivarian Games held in Trujillo 2013 and Santa Marta 2017, won by Colombia, is the challenge facing the national delegation that will compete from June 24 to July 5 in Valledupar, Colombia, headquarters of the nineteenth edition of these competitions, the only ones in the world that honor a national hero, as is the case of the Liberator Simón Bolívar.
From the fourth Bolivarian Games in 1961 in Barranquilla to the sixteenth held in Sucre in 2009, Venezuela maintained an unflappable regional hegemony for 48 years. But the enormous investment made by Colombia in recent decades, in which it hosted the South American, Central American and Bolivarian Games, coupled with the economic crisis in Venezuela, as a result of the international blockade imposed by the United States government, catapulted the coffee delegations to first place in the medal table in Trujillo and Santa Marta.
In the Peruvian city, Colombia dominated the medal table with 166 gold to 163 from Venezuela; and in the so-called "Pearl of America", the neighboring country took advantage of its locality to extend the advantage at the top with 213 gold medals for 94 of the national athletes. The reason for this difference must be sought not only in sports, but in the most adverse circumstances that the country and national sports went through in that year, where oil revenues reached zero, due to the economic war against our economy.
At the Bolivarian event in Santa Marta 2017, the Colombian government denied the possibility of Venezuela taking its delegation on a plane from our country, and for this reason the athletes had to travel by road from Maracaibo to Santa Marta. There were also no resources left over for preparation and, furthermore, those Games marked the retirement of a golden generation headed by the triton Albert Subirats.
It is not surprising, therefore, that for the Valledupar Games, the new Venezuelan Olympic Committee, headed by María Soto, has decided to convene a good part of the country's elite athletes, headed by the Olympic champion, and five-time Pan American champion. in individual sword, Rubén Limardo; and the Olympic silver medalists in Tokyo 2020, the weightlifters Julio Mayora and Keydomar Vallenilla.
Someone might ask, what does Limardo do in some Bolivarianos, if he is an Olympic champion and twice world runner-up? The answer is simple. Venezuela needs its greatest talents to fight again for the top spot in the medal table, and Limardo is one of them. And in his case, there is a kind of pending debt with these Games in which he has never been able to become champion. In Santa Marta he only won gold in team; in Trujillo he could not compete because he was recovering from yellow fever that endangered his career and his life; and in Sucre he lost the final against Silvio Fernández from Caracas.
It will not be easy to close the gap with Colombia, because once again, they will have the advantage of being home and will be able to register a greater number of athletes to go for the medals in the different disciplines. For this reason, apart from fighting again to return to first place, the Bolivarians will serve as a showcase to follow the evolution of emerging athletes such as Ricardo Montes De Oca in athletics, Emil Pérez and María Yegres in swimming, Gleymaris Bera, Karla Castillo and Alexa Álvarez in wrestling or Kerlys Montero in weights, to cite some members of the new breed of national athletes who start the Olympic cycle with the illusion of climbing positions and adding victories in the dream of qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Ricardo Montes De Oca deserves to fall on safer mats
Athletics has been one of the sports hardest hit in the country by the economic war against our nation. The budget for sports investment in the maintenance and recovery of the facilities was impacted by the reduction in State resources, and as a consequence, the tracks and materials for the practice of athletics have been seriously affected. The deterioration of the Brígido Iriarte in Caracas and the Pachencho Romero in Maracaibo, two of the most emblematic facilities for the training of athletes and the celebration of national and international competitions, are undeniable signs of the disinvestment to which we refer.
Other facilities such as the Máximo Viloria in Barquisimeto and the Agustín Tovar stadium in Barinas have been resisting, but they also require new equipment. The new jewel of national athletics, the Larense pole vaulter Ricardo Montes De Oca, who at just 15 years of age again surpassed on Friday with a flight of 5,11 meters the U-18, U-20 and U-23 national records that were in his power (5,06m), and ranks fourth best in the world, trains and competes on mats worn by time.
Falling from a height of more than 5 meters on this deteriorated and moldy material puts the physical integrity of one of the athletes with the greatest projection in the country in this form of jumping at risk.
The Lara Sports Institute made a valuable investment in the Máximo Viloria, but needs more resources to renew the mats, which can cost between 17 and 31 euros. Could it be that some private company joins in supporting athletics and a budding champion like RMDO?