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Venezuela's Olympians in need of funding due to economic slowdown

Reporter: Xu Zhen 丨 CCTV.com

06-29-2016 16:34 BJT

Olympians in Venezuela are dealing with other issues -- the financial kind. The country's economic collapse means many seeking gold, have been left without much or any funding as they try and finance their Olympic dreams without any government support.

Elias Malave is one of the world's best archers having nearly made it to the top eight in the last Olympics. He's also going to the Rio games. But his chances for winning gold this year are shrinking, just like his country's economy.

Venezuela is in the midst of a brutal recession thanks to plummeting oil pricesm, and that squeezed funding for elite athletes, meaning they've had to train with old equipment and worse, without a coach for extended periods of time.

Elias Malave, a Venezuela archer, said, "Even with all my experience, I can't remain by myself for long. At times, to stop seeing my coach for a month, would be fine. Nothing will happen but seven months is too long. I don't think any top athlete spends seven months without seeing their coach."

The country's athletics program today is a shell of what it was during the late Hugo Chavez's presidency in the late 1990s.

Back then, the government devoted a lot of resources to train their athletes to be able to compete with the rest of the world.

But the recent perceived decline of the country's sports training has become a sore point for the government.

It hasn't been all bad though. Recently President Nicolas Maduro heaped praise and awards on Yulimar Rojas for winning the gold for the triple jump during the World Indoor Championships in Portland last March.

Nicolas Maduro, Venezuelan president, said, "The investments we make for you to be trained in the best schools in the world, with the best coaches in the world, to keep up the diversified pace of Venezuelan sports."

Despite Maduro's investment claims, some of the country's sporting bodies claim they haven't seen any of it.

The country's football federation said they haven't received any funds from its main sponsor this year. In fact they didn't get anything from the government in 2015.

Even Formula One Pastor Maldonado has been caught up in his country's cash crunch. In 2012 he won thanks to the millions of dollars provided by Venezuela's state-run oil company. But that well has all but dried up for him- leading to Maldonado being dropped by the Renault-owned team.

Still the country's Olympic hopefuls are trying to stay positive.

"Since the beginning of the year, when I saw the support was not going to be what it should, I tried to forget about that and focus on my thing. Despite the difficulties I have had to endure, I still hope to reach the Olympic diploma at least," said Venezuelan archer Elias Malave. 

In the meantime, Elias says he'll continue training for the Olympics with or without the government's support.

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