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Olympic dreams in cash-strapped Venezuela

Friday, June 10, 2016 - 01:36

Venezuela's brutal economic crisis has squeezed state funding for elite athletes. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.

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Crowds erupt in Brazil as the Olympic torch makes its way across the host country ahead of the games that open in August. Nevermind the political turmoil and threat of the Zika virus, the Olympic spirit is alive and well in Brazil -- as the torch passes on. In neighboring Venezuela, athletes face unexpected challenges as they prepare for the games. A brutal economic crisis has squeezed state funding, forcing top athletes like archer Elias Malave to largely prepare on his own. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) VENEZUELAN ARCHER, ELIAS MALAVE, SAYING: ''Even with all my experience, I can't remain by myself for long. If I don't see my coach for a month -- that's fine. Nothing will happen. But seven months is too long. I don't think any top athlete spends seven months without seeing their coach." Malave receives a small state stipend but confesses that a friendly karate fighter shares vitamin supplements with him because he does not have enough. He still has his dreams -- hoping for a possible medal. President Nicolas Maduro had vowed to continue his predecessor's policies promoting and supporting sports. At the end of May, he gave a brand new car and a hefty stipend - to Yulimar Rojas, a 20-year-old indoor triple jump champion. As the Olympic torch continues it's journey in Brazil -- for some in Venezuela it may be more of a symbol of what could have been.

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Olympic dreams in cash-strapped Venezuela

Friday, June 10, 2016 - 01:36