The Chilean ex-para athlete, winner of a gold medal in the London 2012 Paralympic Games, hopes to be able to give support to the organization of Santiago 2023 and emphasizes its accomplishment as a positive platform for the development of the Paralympic sport in Chile.

Cristian Valenzuela is one of the historical athletes of the paralympic sport in Chile. After his excellent participation in London 2012, where he obtained the gold medal in 5000 meters (T-11) test, Cristian became the first Chilean in obtaining a podium in these events, a situation that still goes on today.

In addition 2015, the Chilean para athlete became the world-wide champion after obtaining again a gold medal in the 5000 meters.

In spite of his good results, the track athlete decided to retire from the competitions in 2017 to focus in his personal projects. One of them, to educate and to raise awareness on the disabilities and thus to obtain a greater fairness and equality of conditions. Cristián feels that Santiago 2023 is an opportunity for this.

 What do you think about the country finally having a Parapan American Games in Santiago?

I think it's excellent. It is a tremendous opportunity for the national Olympic sport, and mainly for the paralympic sport that I believe that has demonstrated an important development in all levels and it will be a very good platform to show to the people what is the paralympic sport and its stronger members. I believe that it is a good opportunity in every sense.

In a particular moment you commented you wanted to be a part of the organization of the Santiago 2023 Games, is this still the case?

For me the disability is just a person's additional characteristic, nothing more than that, and I believe that what it's thought today about disabilities doesn't help much equality and fairness. Therefore, from that angle, I have been doing many things that are related to interventions, such as placing people without disabilities in a situation of disability. I believe that Santiago 2014 was a failed opportunity to take advantage of from that point of view and I would like to collaborate from inside so that this can be optimized to the maximum that it can.

You got a paralympic gold in London 2012,  how did that medal change your life?

That moment continues being an indescribable sensation. When I crossed the goal after running 5000 meters in front of a full stadium, and for the first time a Chilean had obtained a medal at a paralympic level, for me and my team it was a tremendous blessing and of course that changes a life. When I crossed the goal, I understood the reason why I lost my sight at 12 years old, why I had to walk this road before winning that medal. Many things began to make sense and began to change. From my experience, I have felt that the paralympic sport has been poorly taken care of in Chile, although it has been advancing and today it is in a better position than it was at a point. For this same reason I decided to take up the fighting flag about inclusion, because I understood that in Chile a paralympic champion was not recognized as they were in Europe, so there was a lot of work to do.

 Do you feel as a reference of the Chilean paralympic sport?

I do not know if like a reference, but more like someone that has been working based on results, as well as many other names, like Cristian Dettoni, Juan Carlos Garrido, and Francisca Mardones. We came to contribute from our efforts and from the capacities God gave us. All of us are in some way an example of others in this life, so feeling like a reference in paralympic sports in Chile is not what I feel like.

  What do you do today?

I have my foundation, but I make many talks, visits to schools and universities, we have been making workshops in the Universidad del Desarrollo. Last year, we made the first university quadrangular, where a wheelchair race was performed and young people without disabilities participated, with the objective making people understand that having a disability is to make things differently, and nothing more than that.

More news