Venezuela`s top athletes pray for Chavez

Caracas: Venezuela`s top athletes gathered at a church to pray for their ailing president, Hugo Chavez, one of their most steadfast supporters.

"Chavez is our main athlete," weightlifter Hildegar Morillo, president of the National Commission of Athletes, was quoted as saying by Xihua Sunday.

Morillo said he hoped "with all my heart, that he is soon with us, so he can continue to accompany us in the revolution of Venezuelan sports."

Chavez, who is hospitalised in Havana, Cuba, after undergoing cancer surgery and is in stable but delicate condition after suffering from a lung infection, has made promoting sports a priority of his socialist government.

Numerous athletes dressed in track suits with the red, blue and yellow colours of the Venezuelan flag packed the Divina Pastora Church in the capital Caracas to mark the National Sports Day, celebrated Jan 6.

Many expressed similar sentiments of support for Chavez, AVN reported, including retired footballer Luis Alfredo "Mendocita" Mendoza, Paralympic athlete Pablo Castillo and Formula One driver Pastor Maldonado.