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What Have Athletes In Politics Done For Sport?

Regarding the candidacy of the Olympic medalist Caterine Ibargüen, we review the actions taken by athletes in politics.

Caterine Ibargüen in her campaign announcement

Regarding the announcement in Colombia of the candidacy of the Olympic medalist Caterine Ibargüen, it is worth asking what actions have athletes who have entered politics carried out for sport? Photo: TW-tripleCIbarguen

LatinAmerican Post | Luis Ángel Hernández Liborio

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Leer en español: ¿Qué han hecho por el deporte los deportistas en la política?

In the world there are many examples of athletes who by conviction or taking advantage of their popularity have entered the world of politics, examples are the boxer Manny Pacquiao, who is a senator and candidate for the presidency of his country, or the former football player George Weah who is president of Liberia. Regarding the announcement in Colombia of the candidacy of the Olympic medalist Caterine Ibargüen, it is worth asking what actions have athletes who have entered politics carried out for a sport?

Why enter politics?

That an athlete or an artist enters politics is always something that causes controversy, in Colombia (and Latin America in general) the political class does not enjoy a positive image. So, the fact that an athlete is running for public office is understood as a setback for the person rather than an advance, that is, it is seen as something negative. First, because it deteriorates his image as someone dedicated to a different activity, in this case, sports, and secondly, because he apparently lacks the experience and knowledge for the professional performance of a government position. However, athletes are also citizens with full rights who can aspire to obtain public office, either by mere economic ambition or by a true vocation of service.

The promises of Caterine Ibargüen

The Olympic medalist in London 2012 and Rio 2016 has been nominated to the Colombian Senate by the now called Union Party for the people, a party that is remembered for its right-wing tendency. However, for Ibargüen the difference was made by the former governor of Valle del Cauca, Dilian Francisca Toro, whom She considers someone close to sports and health. In addition to the fact that the party is in a process of transformation, Ibargüen plans a campaign to visit remote regions of Colombia and at the same time be close through social networks. Her main proposal is to increase the hours of sports practice in Colombian schools, and at the same time give better educational opportunities to athletes, what she calls "Uniting sport with education," according to El País Colombia.

Norfalia Carabalí Villegas

The historic Cauca athlete was the representative of Colombia in different international competitions, including the Olympic Games. Her sports experience is also in the academic field since she studied Physical Education at the Universidad del Valle and continued her studies in Madrid, Spain. She decided to go into politics with two objectives: struggles for Afro-descendant communities and for Colombian sports. Before her time in politics, he had already started a foundation that promoted sports in her region, already in politics he stood out as a leader of the Indeportes de Cauca, taking the National Games there, focused on the generation of new Caucasian athletes creating a plan strategic for the past decade, according to El Heraldo.

You can also read: Pacquiao President? The Facets of the Filipino Boxer

Willington Ortiz

The Nariño soccer star also had a stint in Colombian politics, however, his experience was unpleasant. In 2002 he was elected to the House of Representatives, but his career quickly darkened, he was accused by the Attorney General's Office of having misappropriated funds destined for the campaign. The media wear and tear generated by the investigation and his passing without pain or glory as a legislator gave him a bad image in the eyes of Colombians. Despite this, he "survived" the processes that were opened to take away his place in Congress, but the time invested in it distracted him from his work. It was the Pacific Integral Social Corporation Party that nominated him for the chamber, winning the seat as an Afro-descendant representative, according to information from Estado magazine.

Maria Isabel Urrutia

Another historical woman, the first representative of Colombia to win a gold medal in the Olympic Games, a feat achieved in Sydney 2000. She came to the House of Representatives at the same time as Don Willy, but her stories in politics are totally different because in 2006 she was even reelected to the post as representative of Afro-descendants. Its actions were focused on improving the conditions of sport and athletes, according to the Visible Congress Project of the Universidad de Los Andes, it also presented 35 bills in the congress focused on women, Afro-descendants, certifications to coaches, and incentives to medalists. In terms of sports, it legislated to grant pensions to athletes with outstanding achievements and managed to hold the Bolivarian and Central American Games in Colombia.