Kiara Rodriguez seeks to win Ecuador's first Paralympic medal

The 18-year-old long jumper targets Tokyo success following world and Parapan titles 02 Feb 2021
Ecuadorian athlete Kiara Rodriguez flies in the air after her jump
Kiara Rodriguez has won junior and senior world titles, as well as Parapan American gold
ⒸLuc Percival | For World Para Athletics
By Laura Couto | For IPC

Kiara Rodriguez carries Ecuador's hopes of reaching their first ever Paralympic podium in Tokyo. At 18, the long jump T47 world champion divides her time between training and searching for a Bachelor degree to undertake.

Having just graduated from school, Rodriguez is "planning to continue studying at university, I'm going to apply for it, although I haven't decided on a degree yet" as she trains day and night to reach top form ahead of the postponed Paralympic Games.

"There is not much Paralympic experience here in Ecuador. That's why so far no one has told me what a Games is like. My coach tells me that it's not the same as a Grand Prix, that there will be more competitors from all over the world and most of them will be top level".  

Rodriguez is looking forward to trying to put an end to Ecuador's medal-drought at the Paralympics: "I'm going for a medal, I want to be in the top three; I want to make a good mark and be in the top places."

Early successes

At just 16 years old, Rodriguez won gold at the World Junior Para Athletics Championships in Nottwil, Switzerland, in 2019. She followed that up with two major titles at the Parapan American Games in Lima and the World Championships in Dubai to round off a perfect year.

"I am very grateful to God for taking me where I am now. I'm proud to have made it this far and I aspire to go even further," she said. "What has allowed me to be among the best in the world is good training, the support I get and the work of my coach Bernardo Valdés."

Kiara Rodriguez with her family
Kiara Rodríguez with her biggest support: her family

"It gives me great pleasure to know that I have been able to visit some countries and that I have achieved good results there. Despite that, I have my feet on the ground. It's something that comes from within and the education I received in my neighbourhood Isla Trinitaria in my city Guayaquil. You always have to be humble, humility must come first."

Visiting new places

Something that Rodriguez especially enjoys when attending different international competitions is exchanging pins with athletes from other countries.

"In Lima I was able to exchange a lot, but at the World Championships I couldn't do it because we only received Ecuadorian pins for the Parapan American Games. God willing, at the Paralympic Games I will do it again, but I will go and get the ones I still don't have."

Kiara Rodríguez in Dubai
Kiara Rodríguez travelling around the UAE after competing at Dubai 2019

Rodriguez has visited many countries she would never have imagined travelling to before starting her sporting career. But there is one particular place she has not been to yet and wants to visit.

"I've always dreamed about travelling to Disney. I would love to spend a Christmas party there. We were going to do it with my mum, but and we couldn't due to the pandemic".

"I would buy dolls, shirts, ears and earrings. I had a pair, but I lost one of them in Dubai; at least I won gold there."