#Santiago2023Ambassadors: Francisca Mardones, the woman of the shot put record

Paralympic champion, worldwide champion, and world record in shot put; with those titles we can present our new ambassador, who even changed the discipline in her career.

August 30th, 2021. Tokyo, Japan. During the Tokyo Paralympic Games the Para athlete of 45 years old was not just the best in the category of shot puts and won the gold medal, but also made history breaking her own world record in two occasions.

She is one of five people born in Chile who have had the honor to win an Olympic or Paralympic gold medal. Francisca assumed the challenge that Santiago 2023 presented to her and she decided to join the ambassadors team with the objective of promoting the spirit of the Games during this year.

What does it mean to you to be a Santiago 2023 Ambassador?
It is a great pride having the chance to represent, along with other ambassadors, the athletes of the continent. It is an honor to me, so I expect to do it the best I can and, also, to prepare the field so everybody can feel welcome to this event.

What do you think about the Paralympic structure that has been built for this event?
According to what I have seen in the plans and at project level, it seems to be a first level structure, very good and with high standards. I hope this will be achieved in the best way possible so we can receive everybody in an amazing way here, in Chile.


Francisca Mardones studied Hotel Administration which led her to work in Puerto Rico. In 1999 when the Caribbean island was ravaged by Hurricane Lenny. While she wanted to make sure that every host had escaped from the shelter, an earth landslide hit her. Because of the accident, she injured her spine which forced her to use a wheelchair, to start a long recovery plan, and underwent several surgeries.

She adapted to the sport and started practicing wheelchair tennis for more than a decade, a discipline in which she obtained Parapan American medals and participation at different Paralympic Games. However, in 2017 she suffered a new injury because of a domestic accident; this harmed the nerves of her right hand.

After this second accident, she made the decision to begin practicing Para athletics, experiencing the shot put, discus, and javelin. With a career of more than two decades, on both occasions, she has led the Team ParaChile and is a witness and protagonist of the Paralympic Movement development of our country.

How have you seen the evolution of Para sports in Chile during the last years?
I consider that adapted sports and Paralympic sports have progressed in a good way in Chile. It has increased the number of athletes and support for paralympic sports. So, I do believe that we have been preparing ourselves, for a few years, for this huge event that is Santiago 2023 and we expect to have a nice presentation.

As Robinson Méndez, another of our ambassadors, you practiced wheelchair tennis and then you moved to another sport, how was that change of discipline for you?
It was difficult going from wheelchair tennis to Para athletics. The transition was not easy but it was a beautiful challenge that has been very positive for me and I am happy about that.

At what point in your career do you feel you are?
I feel that I am enjoying what I do, I am living it with a lot of passion and what can be more awesome than having an event like this in Chile! We have been waiting for this for years. Having the opportunity to represent Chile as a local, in my country, is a feeling that I am looking forward to experiencing. I am very happy to have the chance to live Santiago 2023.

At the Tokyo Paralympic Games you did not just win a gold medal, but you also broke your own World record two times in the same category. Do you consider that such an important milestone gives you an extra responsibility within Chilean sport?
If we see the picture from that point of view, yes, it gives me an extra responsibility, but I also had a responsibility when I arrived in Tokyo as a worldwide champion. So, each person has to consider how to take the extra pressure, that could be in a good way or maybe you feel nervous. In my case, at least, I try to enjoy what I do, living with passion and giving the best of myself. If that means a great result, I am happy, and if it is not I will keep working.

You recently became a mother. Do you think that your daughter will find a country that gives better opportunities to athletes and Para athletes?
I hope so; we have been fighting for years to pave the way for the athletes that come behind us, to contribute to the sports with improvements from the practical to the Sports Law. We have been working along with authorities and other athletes. I truly expect that my daughter lives in a Chile in which we all have the right to practice sports and live them in the best way. 


With less time per day to the beginning of the Pan American and Parapan American Games, Francisca Mardones knows that she wants to compete in the best way and give an amazing performance in her country.

In this sense, she admitted that her biggest dream is winning a medal and celebrating it with her daughter Sara.

Which are your expectations about Santiago 2023 as a Para athlete and also as a Chilean?
I have a special dream. My dream is to obtain a great result and maybe have the chance to celebrate it in Chile with a medal, accompanied by my daughter. It is a big dream and I will fight to make it real, and if I do not achieve it, I will keep being happy along with my family and I will keep training hard to represent my country in the best possible way. On the day of the competition at Santiago 2023, I will give my best to take Chile to the top. 

How has your experience been with volunteers at previous events of this magnitude?
Volunteers are the life of the party. The truth be told, with all their love, work, time and energy, they support the Games and the athletes so we can all have a nice experience. I do hope they also have a beautiful experience, that they may be very happy with what they are going to live in Chile, in Santiago 2023. I invite you all, even those people who may be on the fence about joining up, just do it. I know that you still can sign up, so come along to work with us to develop an outstanding Santiago 2023.


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