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Senas 2018-03-13, 07:43   #1
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SANTIAGO, April 26 (Xinhua) -- Chilean ace discus thrower Karen Gallardo believed her country will have more athletes qualifying for the upcoming Rio Olympic Games and hopefully score a better result.

Gallardo is one of the 35 Chilean athletes who have already qualified for Rio 2016. This is the same number of athletes that went to London in 2012.

Given the time that still remains before the world sporting event, it is probable that Chile will achieve its first aim: increasing the number of participating athletes.

Far from the glory days of former national tennis stars Nicolas Massu and Fernando Gonzalez, who managed to win two gold medals and a bronze in Athens 2004, the medal count has been evasive in Chilean sport recently as they came back from London 2012 empty-handed.

"We still have time for some more athletes to qualify and for that reason, we are hoping that Chile will be able to increase the number of participating athletes compared to London (2012)," the national champion told Xinhua.

"It is true that we are also hoping for medals. The vast majority of athletes want to improve on their past results. We have some athletes that have (previously) reached the finals and they are facing another kind of pressure, getting podium finishes," added Gallardo.

Gallardo has her sights set on this year's Olympic Games which she qualified for by throwing the discus 61.1 meters in the Castellon International Tournament, Spain, in August, 2015.

With this distance, Gallardo broke the national record that she set in 2011 (60.48 meters).

"Truthfully, I want to improve on what I did in London, where I came in 20th by throwing 60.09 meters. The idea is to improve both the position and the distance," said the Chilean.

In South America as a whole, Gallardo has been ranked in fourth place behind two Brazilians and an Argentinian.

A current criticism has been the government's low financial support for sports in Chile. However, Gallardo has another opinion.

"It is true there are other countries where (financial) support is higher and that it (the Chilean government) should increase its support but I think that (financial) support has increased. What is happening is that now there are more elite athletes and for that reason funding has to be spread thinner," said Gallardo.

The athlete supports herself with a grant from the United States, supports from brand sponsors and a part-time job.

Gallardo trains other paralympic colleagues in the same stadium so that she doesn't have to move around much. However, her concerns stretch to the union.

"I am the representative for the High Performance Athletes (DAR), a group (union) that looks out for their (athletes') interests," said Gallardo.

Sports in Chile "have improved greatly, there is more support from the government and private companies and they (Chilean athletes) have managed to qualify in sports they never have before," said Gallardo.

Gallardo is an example of this. She was the first female Chilean discus-thrower ever to compete in an Olympic Games.
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