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‘All of the sacrifices are worthwhile’ – Katherin Echandia

Katherin Echandia was chosen to be Venezuela’s flag bearer, which is comprised of 54 sportspeople competing in 17 sports: athletics, boxing, wrestling, equestrian, triathlon, swimming, beach handball, beach volleyball, modern pentathlon, sailing, basketball 3×3, cycling, gymnastics, judo, fencing and roller speed skating.

The Venezuelan Olympic Committee had an original way of choosing its flag bearer for the Buenos Aires 2018 opening ceremony. The country held an open election with the participation of the general public (who could vote online), local media, the Ministry of Youth and Sports and the Committee’s Executive Board.

Katherin Echandia, a weightlifter from the Caribbean country, won the vote, surpassing fellow candidates Anabella Acurero (fencing), Mayra Parra (wrestling), Víctor Betancourt (gymnastics), María Giménez (judo) and Bernardo Lander (equestrian). She was given the flag in a ceremony that was also attended by the rest of the athletes who qualified for the Youth Olympic Games.

Echandia’s achievements were more than enough to be her country’s flag bearer on October 6: she won the gold medal at the 2017 South American Youth Games in Santiago and she also triumphed in the 44kg category at the Pan American Youth Championships in Colombia last June.

“It’s a great pride to get to carry the tricolour at Buenos Aires 2018. I feel very touched and I appreciate this immense support. We are all going to give our best in our competitions. I promise we will bring home many medals,” anticipated Katherin, who is 17 years old and 1,47 metres tall.

Fulfilling her promise, there were tears of joy after she won the women’s 44kg event at the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games on Sunday.

Echandia Zarate has set her sights firmly on an Olympic gold medal, and her victory brought a roar of relief, as well as payback for the blood, sweat and tears that go into making a champion.

Katherin Oriana Echandia Zarate of Venezuela celebrates jubilantly with her coach after winning the Gold Medal with a successful lift of 90kg in Women’s 44kg at the YOG Buenos Aires, Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018. (Gabriel Heusi/OIS/IOC via AP)

“The sacrifices you make are so hard,” she said after lifting 72kg in the snatch and 90kg in the clean & jerk to total 162kg for the gold.

“I train every day for the YOG. I missed the Opening Ceremony (to prepare for the event) and I can’t eat sweets as I’m on a diet.

“All of the sacrifices are worthwhile. I prepare very well and always have a positive attitude. I just won a gold medal for my country. I’m so excited.”

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