“Although some try to deny it, sports in Venezuela have become, during these 11 years of Revolution, a true career alternative for many and a national success for all”, exclaimed President Chavez during a sports event last week. With those words, President Hugo Chavez emphasized the importance his government has given to this area of human development.
Chavez underlined that the Revolution has socialized sports and “today, Venezuelan sports, have become a major platform for reaffirming the positive, the best that our nation has”.
This week, Venezuela participated in the IX South American Games, held in Medellin, Colombia. By Monday, just during the first round of games in diverse sports, Venezuela had already won 13 gold medals, 15 silver medals and 21 bronze, for a total of 49 medals.
The Venezuelan judo team won five gold medals during the Medellin games, placing second after Brazil, which took six gold medals. “I believe this tsunami of Venezuelan judo is rising all over the Americas. The most important thing is showing how Venezuela won the gold, we are very proud”, declared Armando Padron, member of the national judo team.
Before the Revolution, little or no emphasis was placed on sports in Venezuela, and minimal investment was made in the area. Since President Chavez came to power, Venezuela has excelled internationally as a sports leader in baseball, softball, judo, and even soccer, a sport common in most Latin American nations but previously neglected in Venezuela.
During the IX South American Games, Venezuela won gold medals in archery, volleyball, women’s softball, martial arts, and bowling, evidencing the diverse talents of the Venezuelan national team.
The Chavez administration created the Ministry of Sports in November 2006, demonstrating the government’s clear interest and focus on making Venezuela a sports reference worldwide. Atheletes in Venezuela have never received as much support as they do today, nor have they enjoyed as many accomplishments nationally and internationally. For the first time in history, 110 Venezuelans participated in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, scoring several gold, silver and bronze medals. Venezuela’s feminine softball league has also classified as one of the best teams in international competitions, and in February, Venezuela’s feminine soccer team, Sub 17, classified for the World Soccer Cup.
The Sports Ministry, headed by Victoria Mata, has focused on bringing sports into communities and ensuring that all Venezuelans have access to sports and recreation as a fundamental aspect of human development.