The Maria Guedez sisters, two destinies linked by family, exile and high

Refugees in Montpellier after leaving Venezuela, Maria Balbina Guedez and Maria Amyulina Guedez stood on the podium at the world sambo championships last week.

In Kyrgyzstan, Maria Balbina Guedez (33 years old) and her little sister Maria Amyulina Guedez (23 years old) marked the history of Sambo. And much more than that. By overcoming exile and obstacles, the two athletes from Venezuela won a bronze and gold medal at the world championships in the discipline. Their journey to the top is also made of encounters and gifts of life.

Moreover, in the near future, no one will be able to say that a woman who gives birth to a child cannot pursue a career as a high-level sportswoman. Another example is Maria Balbina Guedez. The Venezuelan, exiled in France with her coach Mactheuicx Castellanos since 2017, won her tenth international medal while her son is not yet walking. “We left the country because there were problems and to seek a better quality of life”explains the coach modestly to discuss the serious economic crises affecting Venezuela.

Just 10 months ago, the athlete who now lives and trains in Montpellier gave birth to a baby boy. Last week, she pocketed the bronze medal in -54kg, a category that is not hers. “I’m proud of her, I always tell her she’s an incredible girl,” rejoices her sister Maria Amyulina. One day I want to be like her. »

“An example of person, life and discipline”

Mactheuicx Castellanos, too, measures the feat of his protege whom he trains within the Montpellier club Jita Kyoei Judo and in a room fitted out at the home of Maria Balbina: “The Venezuelan federation arbitrarily decided to put him in this category, explains his coach in French in the text. But Maria is an example of person, life and discipline. She did something amazing. She lost her first fight against the Russian (3-2), a controversial fight. Then she beat a Mexican and a Spaniard in the repechage final.”

As exceptional as she is, Maria Balbina Guedez is not the only one in the family to have climbed the podium in Kyrgyzstan. His sister Maria Amyulina Guedez, who arrived in Montpellier only three years ago, was taking part in her first senior world championships and representing the refugee team.

“The dream of my life”

In the -50kg category, she simply won the gold medal: “I have just realized the dream of my life, she says in impeccable French. I left my country three years ago. When I arrived, I did all the formalities, we thought it was going to take a year, no more. But it lasted two years. I trained in the meantime. I didn’t compete, and I thought it would never work. The process was complicated. I finally managed to get my passport and now I represent the refugee team. I’m both proud and sad because on the podium I didn’t hear the Venezuelan anthem. It’s a medal for the refugee team but for my country too, I don’t forget my roots.”

Maria Balbina Guedez and Maria Amyulina Guedez, these are two extraordinary stories and destinies mixed in difficulty but also in joy until the summit of Sambo. A sport where you must never stop fighting as shown by the two Venezuelan sisters.

The Maria Guedez sisters, two destinies linked by family, exile and high-level sport