Venezuela’s BMX silver medalist flies high in gang-run Caracas neighborhood

Venezuelan Olympic medalist Daniel Dhers raised applause, cheers, and laughter during a BMX freestyle exhibition on Saturday (August 14) in Cota 905, a neighborhood northwest of Caracas, which a month ago was besieged by clashes and shootouts between officials and a criminal gang.

Dhers, 36, and a living legend in the world of BMX Freestyle, won the silver medal for Venezuela in the new freestyle event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and dreams of competing at the Paris 2024 Olympics.

“Let’s show the nice things. I do not see problems here in Cota 905. I see happy people and people who want to do things,” Dhers said, who showed residents his silver medal.

Venezuelan cyclist showed his stunts in a makeshift track that was placed amid the street while people gathered to see the unprecedented exhibition. Many with phones in hand recorded the tricks, and others took pictures with Dhers.

The athlete received the support of non-governmental organizations to carry out the visit he had been planning for months.

More than a month ago, in that area of Caracas, there were clashes between police and criminal gangs that left at least 26 dead, including four police officers and 38 wounded, according to authorities. The non-governmental Monitor de Víctimas documented 37 deaths, including the 4 officers and, by stray bullets, 22 people who were presumably not gang members.

In Venezuela, 11,891 people died of violent causes in 2020, implying a rate of 45.6 deaths per 100,000 inhabitants, according to the non-governmental Venezuelan Observatory of Violence.

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