Ecuadorian minister of Sports describes athletes’ participation in Olympic Games as positive

Quito, Aug 18 (Andes).- Ecuadorian athletes competing in Rio Olympic Games have won four Olympic diplomas and two have ranked nine so far in their first Olympic cycle.

The Ecuadorian delegation participating in Rio 2016 is composed of 38 athletes who are part pf the High Performance Plan promoted by the State, through the ministry of Sports since 2013. It is the first time a national team competes at the Olympics with such a support.

In a telephone interview with Andes, minister of Sports Xavier Enderica said many countries are ahead of Ecuador in this first Olympic cycle with a public policy aimed at supporting high performance athletes. “This didn’t happen in the past,” he said.

The official added “if we compare ourselves with countries like Colombia with four Olympic cycles supporting a high performance plan, they’re 16 years ahead, the same thing occurs with Chile and Venezuela, with three Olympic cycles being supported.”

Enderica considers that the country has made “giant strides” in terms of sports and “Ecuadorian sports are increasingly improving; however, other countries continue to improve their process and this is even more competitive.”

Ecuadorian weightlifter Alexandra Escobar ranked fourth, the national team’s best result so far in Rio 2016. Photo: AFP.

Ecuadorian athletes Alexandra Escobar and Neisi Dajomes, weightlifters, and Carlos Mina and Carlos Quipo, fighters, ranked among the best eight in their sports and categories. Therefore, they were given Olympic diplomas while Samantha Arevalo, open-water swimming, and Estefania Garcia, judo, ranked nine.

“We will always want to win medals and we will be glad if we do, but we also see the effort our athletes have made to win one,” said the former swimmer, who is now supporting athletes in Rio.

The lack of medals motivated a small sector to start questioning athletes’ performance. On this matter, the minister emphatically said “criticism comes from people who don’t know about sports.”

Moreover, he defended each one of the national representatives. “This is not a conventional job, they train 24 hours a day in two, three or four training periods. They make sacrifices such as leaving their families, children, parents and siblings.”

Ecuadorian fighter Carlos Mina won two rounds and lost in quarter finals. Photo: AFP.

Asked about athletes who retire and those who start their Olympic career, Enderica said “there are replacements; we have 19 athletes participating for the first time and now they expect to be part of three or four Olympic cycles, so we must continue supporting them.”

Additionally, he informed “Alexandra Escobar said she is thinking about retiring after her four Olympic Games, she would be great trainer in the high performance plan, we cannot stop supporting athletes who gave it all for their country.”

“What we need to do is continue working and supporting our athletes because we cannot toss what they’ve achieved to the bin. They didn’t come here with an invitation or by being chosen, we cannot forget they came to Rio because they were Bolivarian, South American, Pan-American and world champions.”