MOBILE, Ala. – University of Mobile freshman Fedra Florentin didn’t throw a shot put until high school, when all students were required to try every sport one time. Her first throw went two meters further than anyone else’s – and changed the direction of her life.
On Sept. 27 – Oct. 15, she will represent her home country of Paraguay in the shot put competition at the XII South American Games.
It will be the largest multi-sport event in the history of Paraguayan sport. Florentin is “a key athlete for us in our competition plan,” the Paraguayan Olympic Committee wrote to UM, requesting the student-athlete’s attendance.
The 21-year-old holds the national record in Paraguay for the shot put in the under-23 category, at 14.22 meters. This will be her sixth time competing on the Paraguay National Team in the South American Games – she started competing at age 16 – but it’s the first time the games will be held in her home country.
“To compete for my country is an honor for me, and at the same time it’s a responsibility. I want to put my country in a good position. It’s not just me – I represent my whole country,” Florentin said.
She is also a standout on the University of Mobile’s outdoor track and field team. Her personal best at UM for shot put is 13.77 meters. Last spring, she qualified for the national championship tournament for the NAIA and was named Field Freshman of the Year for the SSAC.
“We have a reputation at the University of Mobile of having a very successful program in the NAIA,” said Andy Canegitta, head men’s and women’s cross country/track & field coach. Having an elite athlete such as Florentin on the Rams team “solidifies the message that this is a program that will be competitive each year. We bring in the top athletes from everywhere and develop them to be successful in the sport and academically.”
A friend on UM’s track & field team told her about the Christ-centered university in Alabama, and Florentin was offered a scholarship.
“I like it a lot. People here are nice. They are helpful. It’s easier to be so far from home because the people here, they are kind,” she said.
Florentin’s goal is constant improvement. When spring semester and UM’s track and field season ended in May, her season started in Paraguay. This summer she threw her best mark, a national record – again.
Dr. Lori DeLong, dean of the School of Health and Sports Science where Florentin majors in exercise science, described her “a very focused and determined student-athlete. She began her career at UM last spring setting athletic records, and she brings that same passion to her academic career.”
Coach Canegitta said Florentin is not only a top athlete, she is “a very funny person. She’s a joy to be around, and she’s a friend to everyone. And she’s strong – really strong.”
To prepare for the South American Games, Florentin practices throwing one hour a day, then lift weights at the university’s new J.L. Bedsole Sports Performance Center.
“I enjoy training on the weights, to be better and better every day. It’s a healthy way to live,” she said.
About the University of Mobile
The University of Mobile is a Christ-centered university offering on-campus and online bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in over 75 academic programs. Founded in 1961, the University of Mobile is affiliated with the Alabama Baptist State Convention and is located 10 miles north of Mobile, Alabama on a campus of over 880 acres.For information about the University of Mobile, areas of study, admissions and more, visit umobile.edu, connect with UM on social media @univofmobile, or call Enrollment Services at 1.800.WIN.RAMS or 251.442.2222.