Francisca Mardones Sepúlveda, who has her own Barbie doll, created to promote the practice of sport as a reference in society, made history in Tokyo by being the first Chilean woman to win the gold medal at the Paralympic Games, in which she also smashed the world record for shot put.
Mardones (Santiago de Chile, 1977) lost mobility in his legs in 1999 when he fell down a ravine when Hurricane Lenny hit Culebra Island in Puerto Rico. It was two days before she was rescued and she required four years of rehabilitation, which included various operations on her spine and left her in a wheelchair.
To overcome his new situation, he found his refuge in sports. He represented Chile in wheelchair tennis at the 2012 and 2016 Paralympic Games. After a domestic accident that aggravated a nervous problem in his neck, he decided to try athletics and throwing the shot, discus and javelin.
“When I shoot I use a technique similar to my forehand in tennis, which also helps with acceleration,” confesses Mardones, whose turning point in his sports career was just before the Dubai World Cup in 2019.
Her father died six days before she won gold with a world record throw in the shot put, in the F54 class. He paid tribute to him by dedicating the gold medal to him and set himself the goal of trying to repeat the feat at the Paralympic Games in Tokyo.
Paralympic GOLD and double WORLD RECORD !!!! Again we did it dear daddy !!! ❤️🙌🏻🇨🇱💪🏻 #gold medal #world record #recordparalimpico #teamparachile #chili # tokyo2020 #paraathletics #shotput pic.twitter.com/q3TcDW8Qor
– Francisca Mardones (@Fran_Mardones) August 30, 2021
In the Japanese city he fulfilled his dream and also the promise with his father. At the Tokyo Olympic Stadium he completed a brilliant contest in which he went from low to high. The 7.50 meters from the first pitch became the last at 8.33, beating his own record of 8.19. She was accompanied on the podium by the Mexican Gloria Zarza, a silver medalist with 8.06 meters, and the Uzbek Nurkhon Kurbanova, who took the bronze by achieving 7.77 meters.
“The word happy falls short. It is a moment for which a lot of work has been done and I have also waited for many years of arduous training and perseverance in high performance. That finally a medal has come out is really a dream come true, “said Mardones at the end of the test.
Success on the slopes comes to Francisca Mardones at a time when her figure is already crossing the border of the sports field. Proof of this is the doll that the company ‘Mattel’ has created, within its ‘Sheroes’ collection, as a tribute to women capable of inspiring boys and girls to fulfill their dreams.
In figure, Francisca is sitting in a wheelchair, with the throwing bullet in her hand and also with a tennis racket. “I never imagined that one day I would tell them that I have become the first Chilean Barbie. I am very excited for this tribute and for being one of those selected to inspire boys and girls to play sports and also fulfill all their dreams,” she stresses.
Among the figures in the collection is the aviator Amelia Earhart, the first woman to cross the Atlantic Ocean flying a plane, the Mexican painter Frida Kahlo or the American scientist Katherine Johnson, who calculated the trajectory for Project Mercury and the Apollo 11 flight. who traveled to the Moon in 1969.
Step by step, Mardones is entering the history of Chilean sports with his achievements. The last being the first woman, considering the Olympic and Paralympic Games, to win a gold. Far behind is Marlene Ahrens’ silver in Melbourne (1956) in javelin throwing and closer to Mariana Zúñiga’s silver in shooting this year in Tokyo.