Florencia Cerutti makes history for Paraguay

Florencia Cerutti (PAR) - Laser Radial Class(Photo: www.ultimahora.com)
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When Florencia Cerutti arrived at Qingdao Olympic Village on August 1, she made history for her country, as the first and only sailor to represent Paraguay for Olympic sailing.

'I am in the Olympics, that's excellent. If I win something, it will be the first medal for Paraguay in Olympic sailing regatta,' said Cerutti of the Laser Radial class, after taking the welcome gift from the head of the Olympic Village in Qingdao, where the 2008 Olympic sailing tournament will be held.

Florencia Cerutti, 25, is among the seven athletes, who made up the Paraguayan Olympic team in Beijing 2008.

Paraguay sent 23 athletes to the Athens 2004 when it won its first medal in history, a silver medal in soccer after losing 1-0 to Argentina in the final.

Influenced by her parents who used to be sailors, Cerutti started sailing when she was seven. Having received little investment from the government, she had to work part time as a coach for amateur sailors to pay for her sailing equipment and expense of training in Argentina.

'I bought the boat myself for 5,000 Euros. The government only covered my flight tickets and accommodation here,' said Cerutti, adding that it is difficult to find sponsorship, because sailing is not popular in Paraguay.

'Even back home in Paraguay, there are not many people knowing that I am here,' she said. 'But it doesn't matter. The qualification for Olympics itself is already a huge success for me.'

Having participated in very few international sailing competitions, Cerutti said Olympics is quite a challenge for her. 'I have to be careful of every one. I am now in a strict diet to be very thin to cope with the light wind here,' she said.

'But everyone has the chance to win. My advantage is that I cansail in different situations and I don't have any pressure,' she added.

Cerutti said what made her stick to sailing for so many years despite a small budget from the government, was simply because 'I love sailing. It's my life.'

'Two years ago when I broke my leg, I couldn't sail a lot. It was really boring. I realized then sailing is my life. If I don't do this, I don't know what is going to be. That's why I keep going against everything,' she said.

'On the water, you are in another space. You can feel the speed and freedom. It's amazing,' she explained.

'If I could give everything during the competition, that would be the best result for me,' she smiled.