Venezuela Shines with 26 Gold Medals in 2022 South American Youth Games

Venezuelan young athletes earned 79 medals in Argentina, taking first place in seven disciplines while also breaking an international record.

Caracas, May 11, 2022 (venezuelanalysis.com) – The Venezuelan athletes at the Rosario 2022 South American Youth Games knocked it out of the park with 79 medals: 26 gold, 19 silver and 34 bronze.

The Venezuelan delegation reached fourth place in the medal table behind Brazil (147), the host Argentina (113) and Colombia (93). This is the Caribbean country’s best performance in the event after earning 17 and 15 gold medals in the 2013 Lima and 2017 Santiago editions, respectively.

The 2022 South American Youth Games took place from April 28 to May 8 in Rosario, Argentina, after being postponed last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. More than 2,500 athletes between the ages of 14 and 18 from 15 countries competed in 30 different sports. Thirteen nations secured medals, with only Aruba and Guyana missing out.

During the 11-day competition, Venezuela shone in seven disciplines breaking national and international records. The winning streak began in the 100-meter freestyle male swimming contest with athlete Emil Pérez earning the country’s first gold. In total, the Venezuelan swimming team collected three gold medals, four silver, and four bronze.

Athletics was another bright spot for the South American nation’s youth with 12 medals, four of them gold. The country especially celebrated 16-year-old athlete Ricardo Montes de Oca winning gold in pole vaulting with a 5.06-meter mark that set a new national record and qualified him for the 2022 World Athletics U20 Championships in August. The other three gold medals were gained in the track and field categories.

The Venezuelan delegation likewise brought home eight medals in weightlifting, two gold, three silver, and three bronze. The country’s flag bearer Kerlys Montilla grabbed first place in women’s 49 kg powerlifting with a 161 kg mark and set a new South American record, beating Colombia’s Yineth Acosta’s 89 kg mark in 2001.

“We come home with this record and the much-desired medal. I want to thank President Nicolás Maduro for his support,” said Montilla on Monday after arriving in Caracas.

Additionally, the Venezuelan young athletes reached first place in boxing grabbing four gold medals, one silver and two bronze. The gold podiums belonged to Alondra Brito (51 kg), Juliannys Álvarez (69 kg), Yonaijer Curbelo (57 kg), Juan Cedeño (69 kg).

Venezuela was also in fine form in Olympic wrestling earning 11 medals with an impressive eight gold count, one silver and two bronze. Fencing was another category where the young Caribbean athletes became protagonists snatching three first places, one silver, and one bronze.

The gold medal count for the Venezuelan delegation rounded up with Joaquín Sánchez and Nicole Gamboa crowning themselves champions in the +68 kg and -59 kg Karate categories, respectively. The other competitors also brought home two bronze medals.

Finally, the South American nation had podium finishes in 3×3 basketball (one silver, one bronze), judo (one silver, four bronze), speed skating (one silver, three bronze), taekwondo (two silver, four bronze), archery, beach volleyball, cycling, and table tennis (one bronze each).

On Monday, President Nicolás Maduro praised the young athletes’ “perseverance, discipline, and patriotism” and their record-breaking performances. “I thank you for the joy you have brought us”, he wrote on Twitter.

Venezuelan sports have been on a purple patch in recent months. The Caribbean nation enjoyed its best ever Olympic performance in the Tokyo 2020 games.

Edited by Ricardo Vaz in Caracas.