Genesis Leal is working overtime to treat COVID-19 patients in her home country ©Twitter/@Agitos

Venezuelan Para-swimmer Genesis Leal has taken a break from her preparations for the postponed Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games to treat COVID-19 patients in her home nation.

Leal has been attending to those suffering from the virus at the San Jose Secure Hospital in her home state of Aragua.

A doctor by profession, she began working in the Traumatology and Orthopaedics department at the hospital in February ahead of the nation declaring a lockdown because of the pandemic on March 16.

She has since been working on the COVID-19 wards.

There have been more than 3,500 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Venezuela, resulting in the deaths of 30 people.

"We faced this because we took an oath to do so," Leal said.

"We have to do our best and give our heart no matter what situation we're in, to help patients.

"The first few days we were so scared, we didn't know what to do, we couldn't sleep even during our hours of rest.

"One day, five patients came in with a fever and COVID-19 symptoms; and you just have to be there and recognise your role as a doctor to face this context."

In 2019, Leal had a breakthrough year while suffering from depression after her father had passed away.

She prepared on her own and qualified for the Parapan American Games in Lima in Peru, where she finished fourth in the 400 metres freestyle.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics have been postponed until 2021 ©Getty Images
The Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics have been postponed until 2021 ©Getty Images

Leal has had to put on hold her hope of attending her first Paralympics due to the pandemic.

"I was training in a 32-metre pool, in a hotel," she said.

"I was training hard when the COVID-19 happened, now the future is uncertain."

Leal missed the opportunity to qualify for the Rio 2016 Paralympics after struggling to balance her studies to become a doctor and training to get a last-gap qualification spot.

She added: "I want to continue getting results representing my country and to be able to participate in a Paralympic Games.

"During the quarantine, I have been training at home with some equipment.

"I don't stop working and my physical trainer sends me training exercises.

"Sport is on hold right now due to the pandemic, we know that this situation is continuing and it will not be easy, but we must keep faith and hope."