Latin American Armed Forces Participate in the Sixth World Military Games
By Dialogo October 07, 2015Dialogue was missing on the military side. Congratulations for the good impression and issues presented.
Hundreds of athletes from Latin America’s Armed Forces are participating in the Sixth World Military Games, a 14-day competition that began on October 2 in South Korea.
Though the event is relatively new, held first in Italy in 1995, the World Military Games
are already considered the world’s third-largest sports competition, after the Olympics and World Cup, and fields athletes from more than 100 countries. Latin America is well represented among those teams, with Brazil fielding the largest: 286 athletes competing in 24 events. Brazil has always been a major participant in the competition; it hosted the last edition of the games in Rio de Janeiro in 2011, where Brazil won 114 medals, breaking the previous domination of Russia, which compiled the top medal count in 1995, 1999, 2003, and 2007.
“We have a good chance. In spite of some very stiff competition – and we have to respect them for that – we foresee landing in the top five countries in medal rankings,” Brazilian Air Force Brigadier General Carlos Augusto Amaral, Brazil’s delegation leader, said during an online discussion open to the public on September 4. ”We are ready for that.”
The following four athletes are representing the region in this year's competition:
Brazil: Colonel Júlio Antonio de Souza e Almeida
Event: Double-Barreled and Rapid-Fire Military Pistols
Brazilian Air Force Col. Júlio Almeida, 46, is a veteran athlete. He won a gold medal in freestyle shooting at the Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada, in July after being on the winning Military pistol team at the 2011 World Military Games in Rio.
“In Korea, our goal is to win at least one individual medal and land in the top three teams for the events we compete in,” said Col. Almeida, who currently serves on the Air Force Sports Commission, which is in Rio.
“South Korea, China, Turkey, Russia, and Ukraine are the favorites. Asian countries are at the front also because they won’t have jet lag. In any event, it is always an honor and a privilege to interact with the best marksmen in the world and to represent my country.”
Colombia: Captain Daniel Alejandro Hernández Ortiz
Event: Military Rapid-Fire Pistol and Double-Barreled Pistols
Army Capt. Daniel Alejandro Hernández Ortiz, 33, has been in the Armed Forces for 15 years and has competed in sports for eight of them. He’s one of the country’s 25 athletes competing at the World Military Games, though Capt. Hernández Ortiz is the team’s lone representative in shooting.
“I am on the national championship team in Military Rapid-Fire Pistols. In Korea, my goal is to have a good showing and, who knows, maybe win a medal,” said Capt. Hernández Ortiz, who is also the coordinator of the Colombian Armed Forces Shooting League. He added that representing his country during the World Military Games is a rare honor.
“Only those with the talent who stand out manage this feat. I am happy because the Armed Forces High Command has given me an opportunity to be a military athlete. I want to learn about other cultures and participate in this unique moment for exchange.”
Chile: Army Major Javier Tisi Yávar
Army Maj. Javier Tisi Yávar, 37, finished among the top six in a field of 50 national athletes in the triathlon -- which includes swimming, cycling, and running -- to qualify for the event at the World Military Games.
“It is a super-complete sport and I’m thrilled with the demanding level of competition in the events involved,” he said.
Currently ranked third among the Armed Forces’ best triathletes after being the top Chilean triathlete at the World Military Games in Rio de Janeiro four years ago, Maj. Tisi has competed in the triathlon for 20 years; he’s the oldest athlete representing the Army in what will be his third World Military Games, having competed in Rio 2011 and in Italy in 2003.
He completed his first Pucón 70.3 Ironman in less than five hours in 2007 before winning his age group in the annual event in southern Chile in 2010 and 2011. Today, he serves as the commercial director of the Santiago Military Hospital, a job he balances with a daily training routine: for the 2015 competition, the National Defense Sporting Confederation designed a rigorous training plan and hired a full-time trainer to prepare the triathletes.
“We have been checking out the level of our competition in Korea, and this will be a very tough race. Unlike us, the vast majority of the countries participating have high-performance programs for their athletes, something our country does not have. However, I am confident in our preparation work and I want to do as well as possible. Hopefully, I’ll come in among the best in South America and within the top 50 in the event.”
Argentina: Lieutenant Diego Alexis Puchetta
Lt. Diego Alexis Puchetta, 37, is the chief of the Argentine Navy’s Supply Department’s Food Services Division – and the bright star of the sailing team. He was ranked second in South America in the 2008 IMS 500 South American Cup regatta, and in 2005, he won a blue ribbon at the Rolex Buenos Aires-Punta del Este Regatta, where he achieved a historical record for real time on the course. That same year, he also won the blue ribbon for the Buenos Aires-Rio de Janeiro Regatta.
“The Korean World Military Games are a high-performance tournament,” said Lt. Puchetta, a member of Argentina’s 19-member delegation. “We know that we are competing against navies with elite athletes capable of landing on that dais. We have a lot of respect for our competitors because we compete against countries who are world champions from the last Games...Brazil has a top-notch team, as do Croatia, Spain, and Italy. But I think we’re at that level, and we are going to do our best.”
His country's sailing team consists of officers who learned to sail at the Navy Military School and were motivated by a desire to win and the institution’s values - among them, Ensigns Judit Alejandra Cardozo and Victoria Neme Vélez, who also have great expectations for the Games.
“The goal is to represent Argentina well,” said Ensign Cardozo, who is an Assistant Head - Machinery in the Navy. “And in addition to doing well, we want to make a good impression.”
Ensign Vélez, who began her nautical career at 13 at the Admiral Brown Naval High School in Buenos Aires, knows Brazil is the favorite -- but she is focused on winning.
“I am going to do my best to compete well under the circumstances. We will compete as a united team, confidently, and with our characteristic camaraderie.”
The Argentine Armed Forces athletes will also compete in the Military pentathlon, orienteering, fencing, modern pentathlon, and parachuting, an event in which Marine First Sergeant Juan Carlos Pérez, a highly-regarded Paratrooper, will compete.
* Carolina Contreras contributed to this report from Santiago, Chile; Eduardo Szklarz, from Buenos Aires, Argentina.