If Chile were a person, its jaw would have dropped to the floor Oct. 17.
For the first time in history, Chile is going to the Olympics in gymnastics. Earning 15.225 points, Tomas Gonzalez earned seventh place in the World Championship of Gymnastic Arts to qualify for the London 2012 Olympics.
He is the first Chilean gymnast to reach such a high level of competition and is the only gymnast from Chile going to the 2012 Olympics.
The road to success has been a long one. He said in an interview afterward with Una Nueva Manana that he hopes his victory will help change the infrastructure of athletics in Chile.
He has struggled a lot to achieve what he has, and he has felt discouraged at times by the obstacles standing in his way.
This includes not having adequate gym facilities in which to practice within his own country.
Gonzalez thanked ADO (the Olympic Sports association of Chile) for helping him during the past winter to prepare for competitions by using the Flamengo Club in Brazil.
However, he said he hopes the press exposure for his success in the qualifications for Olympics will inspire changes within the country for the future of gymnastics, although these changes may be expensive.
An adequate gym facility would cost around $150,000, but a change like this would be key to the future of Chilean gymnastics.
Despite his struggles and discouragement, Gonzalez always returned to training in gymnastics – his passion. With the help of his trainer, Joel Guiterrez, he is now one of the best gymnasts in the world.
In fact, there aren’t more than 10 gymnasts in the world who can achieve the level of skill necessary to land a score of 17 in executing a jump in one of these competitions. Gonzalez is one of them.
On Oct. 13, in the preliminary rounds of the championship, Gonzalez came out in fourth place with a score of 15.575, behind Japanese Kohei Uchimura (15.775), Romanian Marian Dragulescu (15.725) and Chinese Zou Kai (15.675).
However, the big surprise of the competition was Gonzalez’ defeat of Brazilian rival, Diego Hypolito, who was eliminated with his score of 15.400.
In the final floor competition, Gonzalez opened with an open-piked Arabian double and ended with a triple twist with a step. He continued with a strong performance and qualified for the 2012 Olympics in London with a seventh place finish.