Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic Games have been a historical edition for such countries as Argentina and Colombia, since their results were excellent. On the other hand, the host, Brazil, headed the ranking of the region’s countries in terms of medals, but it was far from the initial forecasts. Moreover, Cuba and Mexico didn’t win as many medals as expected.
When the Olympic fire is about to go out, we review the best performances delivered by Latin American athletes and teams in Rio 2016. Which one do you think is the most outstanding of all?
FIVE ATHLETES WHO WON’T FORGET RIO 2016
Santiago Lange (Argentina, Gold in Sailing)
A year after having undergone lung cancer surgery, Argentinean Santiago Lange was great in Rio and won the gold medal, along with Cecilia Carranza, in the sailing Nacra 17 category.
54-year-old Lange competed in his sixth edition of the Olympic Games and he had already conquered two Olympic bronzes, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008.
“I never pictured myself participating in the Games in this moment of my career. I thank my sons, Yago and Klaus, who pushed me to be here,” he said. Half a lung was removed from this athlete during the cancer-related surgery.
Mijain Lopez (Cuba, Gold in Greco-Roman Wrestling)
Nobody could stop wrestler Mijain Lopez, the “Cuban Hercules”, in Rio, so he won his third Olympic gold in a row. The superiority shown by this powerful athlete, who competes in the 130 kg division, was so overwhelming that his rivals couldn’t even score a point against him. The most amazing moment was eyed during the final fight, against Turkish Riza Kayaalp, when the Cuban athlete applied a tremendous technique.
Five-time world champion Lopez joins a select group made up of seven wrestlers that have conquered three crowns in Olympic Games.
“I kept my word. I said I would dance samba in Brazil and I did it. I’m proud to have matched the three Olympic gold medals obtained by late Teofilo Stevenson and great Felix Savon,” Lopez expressed.
Thiago Braz da Silva (Brazil, Gold in Pole Vault)
Brazilian Thiago Braz da Silva, 22 years old, surprised everybody in athletics by going beyond the 6.03 m mark, thus establishing a new Olympic record and giving favorite French Renaud Lavillenie the silver medal.
5.93 m had been the best Brazilian jump to date, but he took it 10 cm away and wrote his name in the sixth spot of all time in pole vault.
Lavillenie was affected by the setback and booing, so he dared to compare Brazilian fans to Nazis. “That’s not a good image for the Games. I’ve done nothing to the Brazilian public. They were also against Jesse Owens back in 1936. We have to deal with that,” he said. After a lot of criticism, the French athlete apologized for having issued such comments.
Mariana Pajon (Colombia, Gold in BMX)
25-year-old Mariana Pajon won her second Olympic title in BMX and strengthened her position as the queen of this sport. Moreover, she became the first Colombian athlete to be on top of the podium twice in the same Olympic event.
“Twice already, this is great. I had a good race, I was feeling like home with more power than Medellin World Championship, so there was a lot of energy around me,” Pajon said after the race.
Catherine Ibargüen (Colombia, Gold in Triple Jump)
The best triple jumper over the past lustrum conquered in Rio the only title that was missing in her career. During four years, Colombian Catherine Ibargüen was unbeatable: she won two world crowns (Moscow 2013 and Beijing 2015) and she stood out in the Diamond League, but she couldn’t forget the setback suffered back in London 2012, where she finished second.
In Rio, at the age of 32, Ibargüen prevailed over her rivals and jumped to the Olympic top with 15.17 meters.
TWO UNSTOPPABLE LATIN AMERICAN TEAM IN RIO
The Lions of Argentina (Gold, Field Hockey)
This great team made history by winning something the famous female Lions haven’t achieved: the first Olympic gold medal for Argentina in this sport.
The performance of Carlos Retegui’s team was impressive, since in the previous edition of the Games, back in London, this team finished in the 12th spot.
Since the semifinal, when they left Germany behind, which had won the crowns in 2008 and 2012, the Lions showed they were inspired and, led by Pedro Ibarra, they defeated Belgium in the final, 4 – 2.
Brazilian Couple Made up of Alison Cerutti and Bruno Schmidt (Gold, Beach Volleyball)
The best beach volleyball couple of the world caught the eyes of thousands of enthusiasts gathered at spectacular Copacabana beach. Alison Cerutti and Bruno Schmidt delivered a superb game and beat Italian Paolo Nikolai and Daniele Lupo in the final, 2-0.
In terms of beach volleyball, Brazil is the number-one country around the world; however, the South American nation won its last Olympic title in this sport 12 years ago, in Athens 2004, when Emanuel Rego and Ricardo Alex Santos got the gold medal.