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Column 082712 Wall

Monday, August 27, 2012

Mexican Olympians Won Seven Medals, including Soccer Gold

By Allan Wall

Four years ago Mexico sent 85 athletes to Beijing for the 2008 Summer Olympics, and the Mexicans brought back two gold medals and a bronze.  After the Olympics, President Felipe Calderon received the Mexican medalists at Los Pinos (the Mexican equivalent of the White House), and proposed change to improve the medal count, stating that "We must correct what doesn't work."

Four years later, the 2012 Olympic Games were held in the city of London.  The Mexican Olympic Committee sent 102 athletes, who competed in 23 sports.  Mexican athletes competed in track and field, the triathlon and pentathlon, boxing, fencing, judo, taekwondo, wrestling, archery, shooting, swimming, diving, synchronized swimming, soccer, badminton, table tennis, cycling, equestrian competition, gymnastics, weightlifting, canoeing, rowing and sailing.

When the Games were completed, Mexican athletes had earned one gold medal, three silver medals and three bronze medals.  In the overall medal count, that put Mexico in 39th place, tied with Georgia, a country in the largely mountainous Caucasus region.

One of Mexico's bronze medals was won by Laura Sanchez in diving, on the women's 3 meter springboard.

In taekwondo, Maria del Rosario Espinoza won a bronze in the women's +67 kilogram division.  Maria was also the flag bearer for the Mexican team at both the opening and closing ceremonies.

Two Mexican women earned medals in archery -- in fact they competed against each other in the semi-final round.  Mariana Avitia took bronze and Aida Roman won the silver.  The gold medal winner was Ki Bo-Bae of South Korea, the country that did the best in archery overall.  The medals won by Aida and Mariana, by the way, were the first won by Mexico in any Olympics archery competition. 

Two of Mexico's silver medals were picked up by synchronized pair diving.  This is a very difficult competition, in which both divers dive off the board together, do the same acrobatics simultaneously as they plummet downwards, and straighten up before they plunge into the water.  In the women's 10 meter platform synchronized diving, Paola Espinosa and Alejandra Orozco won a silver.  In the men's 10 meter platform synchronized diving, Ivan Garcia and German Sanchez won a silver.

Mexico's gold medal was won in soccer. This was an especially sweet triumph for several reasons: (1) Mexicans love soccer; (2) they beat Brazil 2 to 1 to win the gold medal; and (3) the game took place on the second to last day of the Olympics.  So it was a great way to go out, in London's famous Wembley Stadium, beating the Brazilian team.

Back in Mexico, the fans went wild and headed for the streets of various cities to celebrate.  In Mexico City, the Ángel de la Independencia monument was the gathering place of thousands of celebrants.  When the multitudes arrived, vendors were already on the scene, hawking, among other things, t-shirts reading México Campeón Londres 2012.

On August 15th, after the Olympics were over and the Mexican athletes had returned,  President Felipe Calderon and his wife Margarita received nearly all of the Mexican medal-winners at Los Pinos.  There the medalists were congratulated, treated to a meal, and photos were taken.  President Calderon called them examples for Mexican youth and handed out checks.

You always want to do better, but the Olympics are very competitive and Mexico was able to win more medals than the games four years ago.  In fact, Mexico's 2012 medal count was its second best in history, surpassed only by the 1968 Olympics, which were held in Mexico City.  In those games Mexico won 9 medals, including 3 gold medals.

The 2012 Olympic Games are now history, and we say congratulations -- ¡felicidades! -- to the Mexican Olympic Team.

The next Summer Olympics are scheduled for 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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Allan Wall, an educator, resided in Mexico for many years.  His website is located at http://www.allanwall.info/.


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