Venezuela celebrated a highly successful year in sports and culture

By Alvaro Sanchez Cordero

2021 was a good year for Venezuela. Our economy started to grow, political dialogue made impressive progress and free and fair elections were successfully held throughout Venezuela. However, there are two additional areas where Venezuela made major advancements last year. I am referring to sports and culture.

  Venezuela succeeded in these two strategic areas like never before in recent history. Nonetheless, little has been said or reported, especially abroad, about our sporting and cultural achievements. This is why I feel compelled to share with our Caribbean friends some of our outstanding records in 2021.

  Firstly, our beloved, charismatic and yet humble Yulimar Rojas broke both a world record and an Olympic record in Tokyo, thus becoming the first Venezuelan woman ever to win an Olympic gold medal. Rojas, 26, became triple jump champion in the Olympic Games and was awarded, along with Argentine football player Leonel Messi, best athlete of the Americas in 2021 by the International Association of Sports Journalists (AIPS).

  However, Rojas was not the only Venezuelan medallist in Tokyo. Venezuela also won three silver medals: two in weightlifting (Julio Mayora and Keydomar Vallenilla) and one in BMX cycling (Daniel Dhers), as well as six Olympic diplomas. All in all, Tokyo has been so far the best ever Venezuelan Olympic performance.

  Additionally, also in Tokyo, Venezuela exhibited the best ever Paralympic team, with a total of seven medals and 17 diplomas. Our most outstanding Paralympic athlete was Lisbeli Vera in track and field. Vera won two gold medals in 100 and 200 meters and one silver medal in 400 meters. Equally, Tokyo has been so far our best Paralympic performance.

  In October, Venezuelan cyclist Lilibeth Chacón became the champion of the 2021 edition of the prestigious and rigorous Tour of Colombia, defeating long-established cycling teams from Europe, North America and South America.

  Women’s football has developed tremendously in Venezuela. Our best football player, Deyna Castellanos, who plays forward for Atlético Madrid in Spain, was awarded the best female football player of the month (December) for scoring three goals with two assists.

  Although baseball is not a big sport in several countries, I would like to mention two important Venezuelan achievements in 2021. Firstly, Venezuela won the Under-23 World Cup championship, held in Mexico. In addition, Venezuelan Miguel Cabrera from the Detroit Tigers reached the 500 home-run mark in the Major League Baseball of the US. Only 28 sluggers in more than a century of professional baseball in the US have batted more than 500 home-runs.