2016 wasn’t the best year for Mexican athletes. The 61st position on the medal board in Rio de Janeiro’s Olympic Games, with barely five medals, none of which was golden, clearly showed a serious backward step for the country. Despite the bad news, there were several athletes whose performance over the past twelve months was good. We now give you a ranking make by PanamericanWorld. Would you include any other athlete?
Maria del Rosario Espinoza (Taekwondo)
This great athlete became the first Mexican woman to win three medals in Olympic Games, since she got the silver in Rio in the +67 kg division of taekwondo. In her two previous participations in Olympic events, Espinoza was also on the podium: gold in Beijing 2008 and bronze in London 2012.
That’s how Espinoza joined diver Joaquin Capilla as the only Mexican athletes with three or more Olympic medals. “I don’t know if I can make it to Tokyo 2020, but I haven’t thought about retirement yet”, Maria del Rosario answered when she was asked in Rio about her possible farewell from active sports.
German Sanchez (Diving)
At the age of 24, this diver has already been on the Olympic podium twice. Four years ago, in London, he surprised everybody by winning the silver medal in 10-meter synchronized diving board, along with Ivan Garcia.
In Rio, with Garcia once again, he couldn’t obtain the same result and finished in the fifth position, but in 10-meter single diving board Sanchez scored 532.7 points and occupied the second step of the podium, only surpassed by amazing Chinese Aisen Chen.
Giovanni Dos Santos (Soccer)
This 27-year-old soccer player was the first one to join the Major League Soccer (MLS), because of his excellent performance with Los Angeles Galaxy team. The Mexican player scored 14 goals and delivered 12 assistances in the 28 games played, so he was the main star of the most media-hyped team in MLS.
Maria Guadalupe Gonzalez (Athletics)
This walker, who competes in the tough 20 km race, had shown since Toronto Pan-Am Games that she was one of the great candidates to win medals within the Mexican delegation to Rio. She got the gold at the Canadian city, with a Pan American record of 1:29:24, but “Lupita”, as she is called, knew that she should improve that time in order to fight for an Olympic medal.
The race in Rio was very intense because a trio of Chinese runners were working together to conquer the podium. “Lupita” took the lead, but she went down to the fourth position at the sixth kilometer. She later recovered and stayed between the first and third place. In the last two kilometers she did her best to leave Chinese Lu Xiuzhi behind and finished second, with 1:28:37, only two seconds after the Olympic champion, Chinese Liu Hong. “Lupita” Gonzalez wrote her name in the history of Mexican athletics by becoming the first woman to win a medal in Olympic walk.
Adrian Gonzalez (Baseball)
Another Mexican athlete stood out in a team from Los Angeles. Adrian “The Titan” Gonzalez was the undisputable fourth batter in the regular lineup of the Dodgers, who won the West division of the National League.
In his 13th season in MLB, Gonzalez finished with 18 HRs, 90 RBIs and 0.285. In his successful career in Major League, “The Titan”, wearing the uniforms of four teams (Texas, San Diego, Boston, Los Angeles) has shot 308 HRs, 1,954 hits and 1,146 RBIs, so he is building a huge dossier to enter the Hall of Fame, in Cooperstown.
Misael Rodriguez (Boxing)
This young boxer, 22 years old, surprised with his Olympic bronze in the 75 kg division. In Rio, Misael won three fights in a row and conquered the medal. His peak moment took place in quarterfinals, when he defeated Egyptian Hussein Bakr ABdin Hosam. He later fell in semifinals against Uzbek Melikuziev.
Ismael Hernandez (Modern Pentathlon)
Ismael Hernandez’s sports life hasn’t been easy at all. After winning the title in the Central American and Caribbean Games, Mayagüez, in 2010, the Mexican was positive in an anti-doping test, so he spent a year away from official events. He returned and tried to qualify for London Games, in 2012, but a fracture put an end to his Olympic dream.
Hernandez went to Rio Games in the 16th position of the world ranking, so few people thought he had any chance of winning; however, especially due to his horse riding performance, the Mexican athlete scored 1,468 points, so he went up to the third position, right behind Russian champion Alexander Lesun and Ukrainian Pavlo Tymoschchenko.