“A month ago my aim was to learn, train, and practise. Now, with the results I obtained in Brazil, I can imagine myself being a finalist at Lima 2019 and Tokyo 2020.”
Francisca Mardones played wheelchair tennis for many years. But in 2018 she decided to make a big career change and switched to athletics. Since then, she has been enjoying plenty of success, even setting a new Americas record in the shot put F54.
Mardones’ successful year enters at No. 7 in the Americas Paralympic Committee’s Top 10 Moments of 2018.
The Chilean broke the Americas record in the women´s shot put F54 at the Sao Paulo Grand Prix in April, at the Berlin Grand Prix in June and, most recently, at the Barranquilla National Open in October with a 7.30m throw.
She was also selected by the public as the Americas ‘Athlete of the Month’ for June after receiving 46 per cent of the votes.
But her quick success in the new sport came as a surprise for her. “I was extremely happy and I felt very satisfied with my result. But the biggest satisfaction came from the fact that I realised that there is so much for me to accomplish in this new sport,” she said.
Her outstanding performances put her as a strong candidate to reach the podium at the 2019 Parapan American Games and 2020 Paralympic Games.
“A month ago my aim was to learn, train, and practise. Now, with the results I obtained in Brazil, I can imagine myself being a finalist at Lima 2019 and Tokyo 2020,” she said.
Mardones was on the wheelchair tennis circuit for 11 years, but was forced to retire following a domestic accident which caused her nerve damage.
Following an encounter with Ricardo Opazo, coach of track athlete and Chile's only Paralympic gold medallist in history Cristian Valenzuela, she decided to start with athletics.
“I don’t have to move in my wheelchair like before but I can still use all my strength. Athletics gave me back my love to practice. Each day I enjoy more this feeling of throwing the shot put,” she said.
The countdown of the APC’s Top 10 Moments continues until 31 December.