Cabildo’s 30,000-euro tribute to Tenerife’s Olympic contestants
TENERIFE Cabildo has pledged a total of 30,000 euros in grants for the Island’s Olympic and Paralympic Games qualifiers for this summer’sLondon spectacular.
The chosen few are sailors Javier Hernandez and Alicia Cebrian, discus-thrower Mario Pestano, Eli Chavez (handball), Andres Mata (weightlifting) and Paralympic swimmer Michelle Alonso.
Already, it is a record number ofTenerifesporting stars through to the Games, and three others – Sergio Rodriguez (basketball), plus wheelchair basketballers Ismael Garcia and Rafael Muiño – could join them.
The grants, which will go towards their training costs, were presented at a ceremony on Tuesday inSanta Cruz, hosted by Second Vice-President Carlos Alonso, and Sports Minister Jesus Perez.
Pestano is the most seasoned performer of the group, with successive Olympics behind him, in Athens(2004) andBeijing(2008). But the 34-year-old has yet to finish on the podium.
He has won numerous national and international titles, but his best performance yet is a fourth-place finish in the 2002 European Championships.
He reigned as Spanish title-holder for 10 years, from 2001-2010, and is the country’s current record-holder with a distance of 69.50 metres, set four years ago during the Tenerife Championships.
But 28-year-old Javier Hernandez is, perhaps, the best-known Olympian, having taken part in the last Olympics in Beijing, where he came 14th in the single-handed laser class.
He has beenSpain’s No1 in this class since 2005 and has made his mark on the world scene over the last couple of years.
TheSanta Cruzsailor won the ISAF World Cup series in 2010, took bronze in the 2008 World Championship (2008) and silver at the European Championship a year later.
He is respected throughout the sailing fraternity and, twice in the past seven months, has invited world-class laser sailors from all overEuropeto train with him from a base at San Miguel Marina.
Among them wasBritain’s reigning Olympic champion Paul Goodison, who enjoyed the “ideal” Atlantic conditions and flourished over here.
Alicia Cebrian, 29, who took bronze in last year’s European Championships, has also made an impression on the women’s laser radial class, winning the recent Spanish leg of the ISAF Sailing World Cup (the Princesa Sofia Mapfre Trophy) offMajorcato qualify for the Olympics.
Elizabeth (Eli) Chavez has won a last-gasp place in the Spanish Handball team forLondonafter an anxious wait, with just 14 of the 16-woman squad being selected.
The 22-year-old was in the Spanish team who came third in last December’s World Championship inBrazil- their first-ever medal in the event.
Teenage weightlifter Andres Mata grabbed the only Spanish place in the London Games after setting a national record in the junior category (77 kg).
The 19-year-old, from La Laguna, displayed his potential in the World Junior Championships inGuatemalalast month by winning three bronze medals.
Finally, the outstanding Michelle Alonso looks a certainty to get among the medals in the Paralympics, also in London, from 29th August to 9th September.
Michelle, just 18, is current European and Spanish champion in the 100m breaststroke and has a world best time of 1min.19.24secs this year.
She also smashed Spanish records in the 50 and 100m breaststroke events in the recent International Open at the 3Ts in Adeje.
The youngster had already secured a glorious double in the Global Games inItalylast year in the same events.
Vice-President Alonso paid tribute to the super six, saying: “It is not a coincidence that they have qualified for the biggest sporting event worldwide.
“It is the result of hours, days and years of work and I am convinced they will all perform well.”
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