Alejandra Benítez

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Alejandra Benítez
Alejandra Benitez 2014-15 Orleans WC teams t095340.jpg
Personal information
Born (1980-07-07) 7 July 1980 (age 34)
Caracas, Venezuela
Weapon(s) sabre
Hand right-handed
Height 1.69 m (5 ft 7 in)
Weight 62 kg (137 lb)
FIE Ranking current ranking

Alejandra Benítez Romero (born 7 July 1980) is a Venezuelan sabre fencer, who competed at the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics.[1][2] She was minister of sports under Nicolás Maduro in 2013.

Sports career[edit]

Benítez was born in the Antímano district of Caracas. She took up fencing at the relatively late age of fifteen on the suggestion of one of her aunts, who knew coach Hildemaro Sánchez at the Central University of Venezuela.[3] The national Venezuelan team trained in the same fencing hall, which inspired her to work hard to join them. Besides fencing Benítez also practiced ballet, swimming and judo.[4]

In 1996 she joined the national junior team. With them she took part in the first Junior World Championships for women's sabre held in 1999 in Dijon, France. She was defeated in the first round in the individual event, but earned a gold medal in the team event after Venezuela prevailed successively over Italy, France and Germany.[5]

In the senior category she qualified to the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens through the zone qualifying tournament for the Americas; she was defeated in the first round by China's Zhang Ying.[6] She won the Havana World Cup in 2005. She earned a bronze medal at the 2006 Pan American Championships in 2006–she would repeat this feat in 2008 and 2013. She qualified to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing as one of the two-ranked American fencers. She received a bye, then lost to Poland's Bogna Jóźwiak.[6] At the 2012 Summer Olympics, her third Olympic participation, she defeated Korea's Lee Ra-jin before losing to World No.2 Sofiya Velikaya.[6]

Political career[edit]

Benítez met in 1999 Hugo Chávez, who made a strong impression on her. She supported him in several elections and featured in a TV sport for his presidential campaign.[4] She also stood as honour guard at his funeral. On 22 March 2013 she was named Minister of Sports for the government of newly elected Nicolás Maduro. She soon had to deal with a corruption scandal about payments by State currency control agency Cadivi CADIVI to motor sports.[7] She was replaced by singer and ex-baseball player Tony Álvarez in the January 2014 government reshuffle.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Benítez married in 2011 Ricardo Diez, son of basketball coach Francisco Diez.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "2008 Summer Olympics Results". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 2012-06-24. 
  2. ^ Alejandra Benítez es la venezolana 33 en clasificar a Londres
  3. ^ "Alejandra Benítez: sablista de oro" (in Spanish). Fundación Gigantes en Acción. 20 July 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c Ewald Scharfenberg (24 April 2013). "El sable más ‘sexy’ del chavismo". El País (in Spanish). 
  5. ^ Richard Alfredo Contreras (27 April 1999). "Ganar el Mundial fue la meta". El Universal (in Spanish). 
  6. ^ a b c "Alejandra Benitez Olympic Results". sports-reference.com. Retrieved 2012-06-10. 
  7. ^ Jorge Rueda (18 October 2013). "Engines idled for Venezuelan race car drivers". Associated Press. 
  8. ^ "Venezuela's Maduro appoints new ministers in gov't reshuffle". 10 January 2014.