"I am seeing my short-term purpose in life to be out of the track, working to help make a more inclusive world for people with disabilities and support them so that they can achieve their goals as I did.”
London 2012 Paralympic athletics champion Cristian Valenzuela has opened up on his retirement plans, stating that the end of his career could be near.
The 36-year-old vision impaired runner admitted he has “a great desire to do many other things” and has already started planning his life after Para sports.
“Spending over 10 years as a high-performance athlete is really exhausting. And if you want to be an athlete, you need to devote yourself to sports with your heart, mind and soul.
“I deeply love the Paralympic Movement for everything it has given me for so many years.
“But I am seeing my short-term purpose in life to be out of the track, working to help make a more inclusive world for people with disabilities and support them so that they can achieve their goals as I did.”
With 100 days to go until Lima 2019, Chile’s only Paralympic champion said the Parapan American Games might be one of his last competitions.
“I will give my best as always and try to represent my country as well as I can. It is great to compete in a place like Peru which is developing Paralympic sports so much. For me as runner I want to do my bit.
“Together with my team we are preparing very well, with much energy although I had some injuries last year that left me a bit fearful.”
Brazilian Julio Cesar Agripino, who beat Valenzuela earlier this year at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix, Peruvian Luis Sandoval and Ecuadorian Darwin Castro will be his main opponents in Lima.
“Agripino has been performing very well and already defeated me. Sandoval will be competing in his country, which I am sure will give him extra strength. And Castro has also been running fast,” described Valenzuela.
He made his Parapan American debut at Toronto 2015, winning one silver and one bronze. However, Valenzuela expected more.
“I did not do so well because I was sick of my stomach. The rivals have always been strong.”
Depending on how he is feeling post-Lima 2019, he will decide whether he wants to continue until Tokyo 2020 or hang up his boots.
“I feel grateful for being Chile’s only Paralympic champion in their history. But I want many more to achieve this beautiful dream in Tokyo.
“It is true that I currently see the 2020 Paralympics very far. But I do not rule out the possibility of competing there completely. We will see.”
Lima 2019 will take place between 23 August and 1 September and will feature over 1,800 athletes competing across 17 sports, overtaking Toronto 2015 as the biggest Parapan American Games in history.