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Gaviria voices Colombian athletes' need for support ahead of Rio

Fernando Gaviria Rendon of Columbia celebrates on the podium after winning the Men's Omnium during Day Four of the UCI Track Cycling World Championships (Photo: Getty Images)
by Alejandro Munévar, AIPS Young Reporter, Colombia
BOGOTA, March 10, 2016 - Fernando Gaviria is a Colombian cyclist that has won the last two Omnium titles at the Track World Championships. His last title was won just days ago in London, where he defeated Germanys Roger Kluge and Glenn O´Shea from Australia. Gaviria was one of the favorites to obtain the title, due to the fact he had previously won it in 2014 in the city of Cali, Colombia.

Gaviria is one of the cards that Colombia has for the Olympics in him lies the faith that a medal can be won on the track in Rio. However, despite being the conscious and serious athlete that he is, Gaviria is lacking preparation.

This story is not about his victory at London, the real story is what happened after he won, when he declared: We are lacking more preparation if we want to do a good job in Rio. It is not because of lack of talent or ability that Gaviria is demanding better preparation he managed to win in London despite knowing he wasnt at his best level. His win, he says, is good, because it can shed light on the financial support that he and his Colombian teammates need in order to train for the Olympic Games in the proper conditions.

The problem lies not only in what Gaviria said. The real issue is that when Colombian athletes win, and produce good results, such issues seem to disappear, for everyone except for the athletes. Because even after their win, the struggles for adequate training conditions continue. The Columbian Olympic Committee and the National Cycling Federation must be aware of the issues their athletes continue to face, now more than ever, since Gaviria is a strong candidate for a medal in Rio.

But not everything is so gloomy for Gaviria. The Colombian is a member of Belgian cycling team Etixx Quick Step, and before signing his contract, an agreement was made with the team that: one of the priorities is the participation in and preparation for the Summer Olympic Games”. The team now has the responsibility of respecting the agreement they made one year ago when Gaviria signed on. Another solution is that the NOC and National Federation starts paying attention to their athletes.

What Gaviria said is important, due to the fact that the athlete saying it is a two time world Omnium champion and member of a major cycling team. This is someone who is expected to have access to more facilities, and better facilities, than others. But this is also someone who is speaking out for other athletes that don't have the same opportunities. This is something that goes further than just cycling, and just sports.

The panorama of sports in Colombia is changing, it is becoming something more than just football. Cycling is bringing good news and has become an unexpected favorite of the nation, athletics is now also on the agenda thanks to Catherine Ibarguen Colombian sport needs support now, for the development of its athletes, and not only when they are candidates for an Olympic medal. Colombia now has 90 athletes qualified for the Olympics. In London in 2012, the nation reached a historic 100 participants, and the NOC promised to have, and to support, at least that same number in Rio. We have just under five months to see if they can accomplish their own goal.

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