Australian Paralympian robbed at gunpoint in Rio de Janeiro

RIO DE JANEIRO, June 21 (UPI) — An Australian Paralympian robbed at gunpoint while riding her bicycle over the weekend in Rio de Janeiro called the city “a dangerous place” and said witnesses never tried to intervene.

Gold medalist Liesl Tesch, a sailor and wheelchair basketball player, was on a fitness ride with Sarah Ross, her physiotherapist, at the time of the incident. Two men jumped in front of them and demanded money, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported.

Tesch said several people saw the incident, but failed to come to their aid.

She described the robbery as “absolutely horrific.”

“I think he said ‘dinero’ … which means money, so I lifted up my shirt and said, ‘look, I don’t have any money’,” Tesch said.

One of the men then pointed a pistol at her and shoved her off her bike, while another man wrested Ross’ bike from her and both rode away.

Tesch tweeted about the incident.

“I was robbed of my bike at gunpoint at the local bus stop Stay safe! in Rio! All safe,” she wrote.

Following the robbery, Australian Olympic team Chef de Mission, Kitty Chiller wrote a letter to the Rio Olympics organizers requesting they deploy some of their security force of 100,000 to begin protecting athletes in the weeks leading up to the Games, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

“Athletes have been mugged while training or competing in Rio test events and we want our athletes protected,” Chiller said.

Spanish athletes were uninjured in an earlier incident when they were fired upon while training at the Olympic sailing venue. Tesch and Ross’ robbery happened nearby.

“This is a major concern and the only answer is for the authorities to put extra police and security on the ground now,” Chiller said.

Chiller said Australia is sending 400 athletes to the Games and she wants to ensure they are going to be protected.

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