The Path of María Isabel Urrutia, Colombia's New Minister of Sports
President Gustavo Petro made official the appointment of María Isabel Urrutia as Minister of Sports. How was her sports career? How did she make the leap into politics? And what is expected of her in this new facet?
LatinAmerican Post | Theoscar Mogollón González
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Leer en español: El camino de María Isabel Urrutia, nueva ministra del Deporte de Colombia
Colombia begins to feel the winds of change after the elections won by Gustavo Petro. As he had anticipated days ago, he officially announced that former athlete María Isabel Urrutia will be in charge of the Ministry of Sports. This is a historic event in the country as she is the first woman and Olympic medalist to assume this position. The 57-year-old from Valle del Cauca arrives with experience in politics and with the challenge of overcoming all kinds of challenges.
Her sports path was marked by innumerable challenges, which he gradually conquered. Initially, she started as a discus and shot putter, disciplines that got her little support. With all that, he won national and international titles, but it was at the 1988 Seoul Olympics that her life took a turn. There, a Bulgarian coach suggested he switch to weightlifting, a decision that changed his life.
Although there were several points to consider, such as the fact that women's weightlifting was not an Olympic sport at that time, María Isabel did not think twice. Since then, the fruits have come over time, despite the fact that Colombia continued to have obstacles due to the apathy and ignorance of the sports authorities. However, at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, she achieved the unthinkable: winning the first gold medal for his country.
In addition to his titles in the weightlifting championships, her retirement from the discipline was somewhat abrupt in 2001. Even so, her passion for sports remained intact and some time later she obtained a degree in Physical Education and Sports, all with the aim to become a coach and thus support the new generation. As her desire for growth knew no limits, the former medalist began to plow her way towards politics.
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Her Achievements in the House of Representatives
In 2002 a new stage began for María Isabel. She was elected to the House of Representatives by the special constituency of blacks with massive support, a feat that she repeated in 2006 with the endorsement of the Afro-Colombian Social Alliance. However, her path was stopped in 2010, when she did not get a second re-election. In addition, with the intention of continuing to improve and contribute to the country, she became a candidate for Mayor of Cali in 2011 and 2015, but without success.
To all these, her achievements in Congress spoke for her throughout that journey. In the first instance, she promoted the professionalization of both athletes and coaches, without mentioning that one of the points on which she made the most emphasis was against racial discrimination. Likewise, along with other congressmen, she was in charge of increasing the VAT for the financing of the 2005 Bolivarian Games in Armenia, and the XX Central American and Caribbean Games in Cartagena.
On the other hand, she was also the author of different important laws today. The project that grants pensions to outstanding athletes in international competitions stands out, as well as a criminal law that punishes racial and ethnic discrimination in Colombia. It is worth mentioning that, while she was part of the Congress, María Isabel always accompanied and supported high-performance athletes in their preparations for the different tournaments.
What to Expect from the New Minister of Sport?
María Isabel Urrutia is only the third Minister of Sport in Colombia, and it is no secret to anyone that she will have multiple challenges to overcome. For example, for the remainder of 2022, it must establish audits of the different works that are underway throughout the territory. For this, it will have a budget greater than 500 billion pesos, which will also have to be in sync with a thorough inspection of the state of those works tendered and in the process of being tendered.
Likewise, it is expected to implement a budget tracer in the DRAFE (District System for Participation in Sports, Recreation, Physical Activity, Parks, Stages and Recreational and Sports Facilities); as well as to consolidate a women's soccer league that is sustained over time, something that Dimayor and the Colombian Soccer Federation have not been able to achieve.
Finally, two other tasks that you will not want to overlook will be promoting the inclusion of women and the Talent and Sports Reserve project. While the first goes through extolling the female figure in practice, in training and in the development of leadership spaces; in the second, it will focus on the search for athletes who meet the biotype of the different disciplines that take place in Colombia. Will María Isabel be able to revitalize Colombian sport? Let's hope so.