LOS TEQUES, Venezuela (Reuters) – Venezuelan BMX cyclist Camila Iachini at 8 years old is already dreaming of becoming an Olympic champion.
She has been riding since she was three, when she got a bike as a Christmas gift.
“Bikes are too much fun,” said Iachini, the older of two sisters, in an interview in the living room of her home in Los Teques, about 30 kilometers (19 miles) southwest of Caracas. “You have to have discipline, perseverance and if you have perseverance you will achieve your dreams,” she adds with a smile.
Iachini discovered BMX while watching the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics on television. She was 3 years old, but was dazzled by Colombia’s Mariana Pajon, a two-time Olympic champion, and by Venezuela’s Stefany Hernandez, who won a bronze medal that year and is now Iachini’s coach.
“When she saw those women coming off the starting gate, she said ‘Dad, I want to be an Olympian, I want to be an Olympian,'” said her father, Mario Iachini, a 34-year-old merchant. “(It) is a very competitive sport, a second in BMX requires a lot of discipline and perseverance.”
Camila immediately began riding in the neighborhood and later began training formally on private tracks and at state-owned facilities.
Her mother, Jessica Zambrano, also a 34-year-old shopkeeper, admits she worries about injuries. But she says Camila “has found her passion and she enjoys it.”
The third-grader has won 25 medals and trophies including first place at Venezuela’s national BMX freestyle Championship in February, and in August is headed to the Papendal BMX world championships in the Netherlands.
“That girl is going to fly and she will be very prepared for her world championship,” said Hernandez, her coach, in an interview last month with local website SportHD News Venezuela.
(Reporting by Efrain Otero and Jhonny Carvajal; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)