Imagen
36367-Francisca Mardones Sepulveda photo

Francisca Mardones Sepulveda

Athletics

Biography

Impairment information

Type of Impairment
Impaired muscle power
Origin of Impairment
Acquired
Classification
F54

Further personal information

Residence
Santiago, CHI
Occupation
Athlete
Languages
English, Spanish
Higher education
Hospitality Management - Technological University of Chile INACAP: Santiago, CHI

Sport specific information

When and where did you begin this sport?
She began playing wheelchair tennis at age 28. In 2017 she switched to Para athletics.
Why this sport?
She has always enjoyed sport, playing basketball and volleyball before she sustained her impairment. She was encouraged to take up wheelchair tennis during her rehabilitation, and switched to Para athletics after a domestic accident prevented her from playing tennis any longer.
Club / Team
Grey Rock Tennis Club: Austin, TX, USA
Name of coach
Exal Garcia; Rodolfo Ortiz

General interest

Nicknames
Pantera [Spanish for 'panther']. (Facebook page, 23 Apr 2020)
Hobbies
Reading, listening to music, dancing. (Facebook page, 27 Oct 2018)
Memorable sporting achievement
Winning gold in the F54 shot put at the 2019 World Championships in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Athlete, 20 Aug 2021)
Sporting philosophy / motto
"I always put all my passion and energy into each throw I make. All that effort is priceless when you realise that you have managed to achieve your personal best and have been able to break down your own barriers once again." (Instagram profile, 28 Apr 2019)
Awards and honours
In 2019 she was named Para Athlete of the Year and Para Sportsperson of the Year by the Chilean Sports Journalists' Circle. (latercera.com, 09 Mar 2020; t13.cl, 20 Dec 2019)

In 2019 she was named an Outstanding Citizen of Vitacura in Chile in recognition of her achievements as an athlete and her contribution to Paralympic sport in Chile. (Instagram profile, 15 Jun 2019; Facebook page, 15 Jun 2019)

In 2016 she received the Inspiration Award from the Capital Area Tennis Association [CATA] in Austin, TX, United States of America. (magallanesdeportes.cl, 12 Dec 2016)
Other sports
She represented Chile in wheelchair tennis at the Paralympic Games in 2012 and 2016. (SportsDeskOnline, 16 Apr 2021; paralympic.org, 25 May 2018)
Ambitions
To set a world record at the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo. (latercera.com, 09 Mar 2020)
Impairment
In 2000 she lost the mobility in her lower limbs after she fell into a ravine when Hurricane Lenny hit Culebra Island in Puerto Rico. It took two days before she was rescued, and she required four years of rehabilitation which included several operations on her spine. (Athlete, 11 Nov 2019; emol.com, 15 Apr 2012; franciscamardones.com, 01 Jan 2012)
Other information
SPORT SWITCH
She represented Chile in wheelchair tennis at the Paralympic Games in 2012 and 2016, but switched to Para athletics in 2017 after a domestic accident aggravated a nerve problem she had in her neck. "When doing discus throw, I use a similar technique as that of my forehand, which helps with the acceleration as well." (t13.cl, 20 Dec 2019; paralympic.org, 25 May 2018)

TRIBUTE TO FATHER
Her father died six days before she won gold with a world record throw in the F54 shot put at the 2019 World Championships in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. She dedicated the victory to him after deciding to compete in the event. "I feel overwhelmed by emotions. I stayed here in order to compete as a tribute to him. It is so hard for me to express how I feel now after winning gold and setting the record. I'm so sad, but at the same time I'm satisfied to have given him such a tribute. I know that he would have told me to keep on competing." (emol.com, 14 Nov 2019)

MEDAL UPGRADE
She originally finished fourth in the F54 javelin event at the 2019 Parapan American Games in Lima, Peru, but in December 2020 she was upgraded to the bronze medal position following the disqualification of US competitor Sebastiana Lopez for an anti-doping rule violation at the Games in Lima. (paralympic.org, 11 Dec 2020)

OTHER ACTIVITIES
She has worked as a motivational speaker and also served as director of Ronda Chile, a non-profit organisation that supports people with an impairment integrate into society. (rondachile.cl, 30 May 2018; franciscamardones.com, 01 Jan 2012)