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History-maker Rojas stays mum about Venezuela protests


London (AFP)

Venezuela's Yulimar Rojas would not comment on the political crisis that has left her country paralysed only saying she hoped her historic gold in the triple jump world final would bring some happiness to the country.

The 21-year-old -- the Olympic silver medalist -- deposed the dominant force in the event for the past several years, Colombia's Caterine Ibarguen on Monday.

Her victory -- Venezuela's second medal in the history of the championships and first in gold -- is a welcome piece of good news for the country.

Venezuela, which is suffering from an acute economic crisis marked by shortages of basic goods, has experienced four months of street demonstrations against President Nicolas Maduro that have left 125 people dead.

However, Rojas, who has been training in Spain for the past two years, refused to comment on the protests.

"I don't want to talk about this topic as it is delicate," said Rojas.

"I am happy, very pleased with this medal and this is really the last thing I want to talk about. I want to talk about what happened here and this historic medal for Venezuela."

Rojas, who has previously said she is 'sad' about the events taking place in Venezuela, expressed her belief that despite the present troubles the Venezuelan people would come through the turmoil.

"I am sad about everything going on there in my country, which is a wonderful country," she said.

"We are going to come through all this.

"I know these struggles and wars between Venezuelan brothers will cease. And I hope this medal can provide my country with some happiness.

"My country always supported me, always made sure I felt good. I have spent two years training in Spain with (her Cuban coach) Ivan (Pedroso).

"I hope to keep on receiving the backing of my country."

Maduro, a former bus driver who was Hugo Chavez's vice-president before succeeding him in 2013 when the latter died, tweeted his congratulations.

"What great pride to see the victory of our Yulimar Rojas, glorious athlete of the golden generation. Congratulations on your medal."

The crisis in the oil-rich country is rooted in large part in the collapse of its economy due to a plunge in global oil prices. Public anger is spreading as people struggle for basics like food and medicine.

Maduro, however, blames an economic "war" that he says is fomented by the right-wing opposition in cahoots with the United States.

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