Paddle canoe against the current

The participation of the Venezuelan canoe team in the next Canadian continental championship which grants quotas to the Pan American Games of 2023 in Chile is at stake.

Each passing day reduces the possibility for our delegation to attend this sporting event, due to the sporting and economic obstacles that have prevented the federation from processing the corresponding visa for athletes and technical personnel who must travel to the country of the ‘maple.

“There is less than a month left to compete in the Pan American Championships in Dartmouth and we do not have the visas for the 15 members of the delegation”, declares the president of the Venezuelan Canoe Federation, José Giovanny Ramos, double medalist and multi -medallist with regret at the National Games in Lara in 2001, gold medalist in the two-man canoe modality at the Central American Games in Cartagena in 2006, bronze medalist at the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2007 and semi-finalist Olympic K2 in 500 and 1000 meters at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

One of the factors jeopardizing Venezuela’s participation in the Pan American in Canada is geopolitics.

“It is one of the few countries in the world that requires a visa for athletes who are going to compete on its territory. For this reason, when until 2021 we occupied the second vice-presidency of the Pan American Canoe Kayak Confederation , we opposed Canada organizing this championship”, explains the general secretary of Fevecanotaje, Sergio Navarro, who ensures that this visa problem also affects the delegations of other countries of the continent such as Argentina, the Dominican Republic, the Peru and Guatemala.

The situation is more complicated, because the Canadian government is part of the group of satellite nations of the United States that ignores the legitimate government of President Nicolás Maduro, and the procedures to obtain the visa are a long and tedious process, which takes forever, by virtue of the fact that they have withdrawn their embassy in our country.

Fevecanotanje must wait for the Canadian consulate in Caracas to send the passports to Colombia so that they can approve the visas, and then the documents return to our country.

To make matters worse, the ministerial bureaucracy, so recriminated by President Hugo Chávez and constantly castigated by President Nicolás Maduro, has also joined the chain of calamities that jeopardize Venezuela’s participation in the Pan American Championship in Canada, which will be held in from August 10 to 12.

“In May, we submitted a request to the Ministry of Sports for a delegation of 30 athletes and they rejected it; We reduced it to 15, but so far Minister Mervin Maldonado has not met the demand for the $5,000 we need to pay for the visas,” Ramos stressed.

The continental event in Dartmouth grants six places in each category to the Pan American Games in Chile and Ramos assures that Creole canoeists will be able to obtain 12 places, if they manage to obtain visas to compete in Canada.

disused canoes

Ramos also clarified that canoeing was not one of the priority sports at the last Bolivarian Games in Valledupar, where the team won six silver and three bronze medals to take fourth place in the medal table. , behind Colombia, Chile and Ecuador.

“We arrived seven days before the competition, because we had to travel overland with the truck that transported the canoes from the El Tocuyo reservoir to Chimichagua, four hours from Valledupar. We had to arrive earlier to try to adapt to the 40 degree temperature, but all the delegations suffered from the intense heat”, details Ramos.

That wasn’t the only imponderable facing canoeing at the Games. “We had to change accommodation because the place we were at was in danger of being flooded due to the rains and on alert for malaria,” Navarro describes in the context of the competition.

Read also: Venezuelan rowing bathed in three colors

As for the results in Chimichagua, Ramos says at least four of those medals could have been gold had they had state-of-the-art ships.

“We lost four titles in the photo final. We compete with canoes that have completed two Olympic cycles and are no longer in use. They weigh three kilos more, are longer and slower than those of all our rivals. While we were shoveling in Wolkswagen, the others were going in Ferraris,” Ramos points out.

To turn silver into gold, Ramos says national boating doesn’t require any act of magical alchemy, but rather determined support.

“We don’t need them to give us resources on the day of the competitions to solve. If we want to improve the results for the next South American Games in Asunción, in October, we need the provision of boats, the attendance of virgin international competitions such as the Pan American in Canada, the training of our coaches and better conditions of concentration and preparation. of our athletes,” the former Olympian and now Federal athlete paddles down raging channels today.

Alvin Nguyen

"Amateur introvert. Pop culture trailblazer. Incurable bacon aficionado."

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