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Wed Aug 1, 2012, 04:18 AM

Colombia’s Figueroa: From Displaced Person to Olympic Podium

Colombia’s Figueroa: From Displaced Person to Olympic Podium
August 1,2012

BOGOTA – Colombian weightlifter Oscar Figueroa, who secured the second silver medal for his country at the London Olympic Games, is one of the 5.5 million people displaced from their homes by the South American nation’s decades-old internal conflict.

The medalist in the under-62kg class was born in Zarazoga, a town in the northwestern province of Antioquia, but at age 9 he left with his mother Hermelinda Mosquera and his three siblings to settle in Cartago, in the southwestern region of Valle del Cauca.

The clashes between paramilitaries and guerrillas and the lack of economic opportunities in Antioquia were the main reasons that Oscar and his family left to seek a better future, which – in the end – he found in sports.

Figueroa tried an assortment of sports early on – soccer, basketball, swimming and even karate – but eventually settled on weightlifting, thanks to the advice of a physical education teacher who saw great possibilities in him. From that point forward, Figueroa never stopped training, not even when he had to do his obligatory term of military service.


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