Due to a severe case of congenital glaucoma, Cristian Valenzuela Guzmán completely lost his sight at age 12. The depression this event caused came close to determine the rest of his life, however, he chose to re-direct his course and began to practice athletics. Twenty years later, the athlete has won 3 world gold medals, as well as being the winner of the first medal for Chile at the 2012 London Paralympics.
His most recent triumph comes few months after earning the silver medal in the Parapanamerican Games in Toronto. In the same category as then -5 000 m T11- the Chilean athlete achieved the highest recognition after an epic end marked by the fall of Brazil’s Odair Santos, the favorite competitor for this event. Valenzuela began to accelerate at the start of the last lap, and with a final sprint managed to cross the finishing line, obtaining the eighth medal of his career. His time was 15 ‘ 52 ‘ 64, the best of the season.
Valenzuela’s trajectory in the high-performance competition begins in Beijing 2008, but is in the 2011 World Paralympic Championship of Athletics in New Zealand where he earned some notoriety by winning the silver medal in the 10,000 meters and also triumphing in the marathon. This performance earned him the recognition of the Chilean sports press as well as the access to the State’s support system for athletes.
Cristian Valenzuela has put the National Paralympic sports in the map, a sports category that is often left out of the media coverage. It is hoped that this young athlete keeps adding triumphs to his career, as well as other victories off the track.
This post is also available in Spanish