María Fernanda Valdés Paris

Further Personal Information
Family
Husband Jorge Avalos Gonzalez
Residence
Santiago, CHI
Occupation
Athlete, Student
Languages
Spanish
Higher education
Civil Engineering - Andres Bello University: Santiago, CHI
Sport Specific Information
When and where did you begin this sport?
She took up the sport at age 14 at her school in La Serena, Chile.
Why this sport?
Her father thought weightlifting would help to improve her health.
Name of coach
Giorgi Panchev [national], BUL
Training Regime
She trains for six hours a day.
General Interest
Memorable sporting achievement
Winning two gold medals and a silver medal at the 2017 Pan American Championships in Miami, FL, United States of America, and receiving the Chilean National Sports Award in 2017. (ahoranoticias.cl, 04 Oct 2018; elobservatodo.cl, 27 Jul 2017)
Injuries
In January 2012 she fractured her ankle, which sidelined her for a few months and also affected her performance at the 2012 Olympic Games in London. (huffingtonpost.com, 03 Aug 2012)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"When you like what you do, you enjoy it even if you have to sacrifice other things." (diarioeldia.cl, 27 May 2012)
Awards and honours
She received the 2017 National Sports Award from the government of Chile. (ahoranoticias.cl, 04 Oct 2018)

She was named Chile's flag bearer for the opening ceremony of the 2018 South American Games in Cochabamba, Bolivia. (iwf.net, 18 May 2018)

In 2017 she was presented with the 'Best of the Best' award by the Chilean Olympic Committee and the Circle of Sports Journalists. (iwf.net, 08 Jan 2018)
Ambitions
To compete at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. (latercera.com, 01 Aug 2019; buenasnoticias.cl, 19 Feb 2019)
Other information
CHANGE OF CATEGORY
After her seventh-place finish at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, she decided to switch from the 75kg category to the 90kg category. She believed the change would give her more of an opportunity to win a medal at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. "[In Rio] I made several mistakes and many of them were my fault, so I needed a change. Gaining 10kg to change category is a big challenge, but my coach told me I had to try. At the beginning, I had bad moments, but now I feel really confident." (teamchile.org, 12 May 2017)

PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT
Prior to winning a silver medal at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, ON, Canada, she struggled with confidence issues while competing and even considered retiring from the sport. "For four years I was very bad, I didn't grow as an athlete. I'm a stubborn girl who doesn't learn, so I thought about retiring. I convinced myself that I wasn't good enough. I hid a lot and didn't admit that I was wrong." (emol.com, 15 Jul 2015)

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