Colombia, Argentina and Cuba finish their participation pleased; for Mexico and other Latin American countries, a taste of failure.
Colombia left the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with the satisfaction of having done a good job after winning eight medals, three gold, two silver and three bronze. Argentina left as well with its job practically done, with a few exceptions but proud of the fact that it matched its best performance of three golds and one silver since London 1948, while Puerto Rico, Venezuela and Mexico were not as lucky to win the coveted prize.
The triple jump podium, with an enhanced Hispanic flavor
Two women were indeed the stars of the Rio 2016 Games for Colombia: Caterine Ibarguen and Mariana Pajon. The first one, for improving her silver medal in London 2012 in triple jump and being able to stand at the top of the podium in Rio. The second one, for winning a gold medal for the second time in an Olympic Games in the BMX event. Actually, this cycling event was one of the best for the Colombian delegation, with the bronze won by Carlos Alberto Ramírez in addition to his teammate Pajon’s. In addition, Colombia won gold in weightlifting with Oscar Alberto Figueroa; a silver medal in boxing with Yurberjen Herney Martínez and another in judo with Yuri Alvear, as well as two bronze medals with Ingrit Lorena Valencia in boxing and Luis Javier Mosquera in weightlifting. Colombia was in Rio with one of the largest delegations of Hispanic countries and closed these Games on a high note, due to the fact that their 148 athletes went back home with 8 medals.
Argentina had a good performance in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, considering the level of medals won, three gold and one silver, something the country had not achieved since London 1948.
The first gold was in judo, won by Paula Pareto, followed by sailors Santiago Lange and Cecilia Carranza, while the silver medal was won in tennis by Juan Martin del Potro, who lost in the final against Great Britain’s Andy Murray.
In both field hockey and tennis, favoritism had not influenced the first Games held in South America. Los Leones of hockey played against difficult rivals, such as Germany in the semifinals with a 5–2 score and Belgium in the final, where the Argentines won 4–2. Del Potro provided one of the most emotional moments for Argentina after defeating Djokovic and Nadal on his way to win the silver medal in Rio 2016. (Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)
In tennis, Del Potro arrived in the competition with disadvantage, due to his lack of recent competitions after a series of wrist surgeries. Therefore, it was a surprise when the “Tower of Tandil” defeated in his first match the number one seed, Serbian Novak Djokovic and in the semifinals, Spanish Rafael Nadal.
Disappointments included football, due to the fact that the team did not go past the first round and the women’s hockey team Las Leonas, who were not able to win a medal. In athletics, performances in some events were not as expected.
The emotional note was given by the basketball team, which was eliminated in quarterfinals by the powerful Dream Team. It was the farewell match of the “Golden Generation” that won gold in Athens 2004.
Boxing gave Cuba its best moments in Rio 2016. Cuba took boxers to compete on the 10 men’s divisions and its goal was to improve the two gold medals won four years ago. Cuba won one more, but the country was disappointed to see Roniel Iglesias lose – one of the champions in London – as well as a couple of world champions. The gold medal won by Robeisy Ramirez in bantamweight (-56 kg) and the gold medal won by Arlen Lopez in middleweight (-75 kg) contributed to make the Caribbean country close its performance in men’s boxing in the Rio Olympic Games with three gold medals, one more than in London 2012. Another gold medal had been won by Julio La Cruz in light heavyweight (-81 kg).
In addition, Cuba won two other gold medals in wrestling, by Mijain Lopez Nuñez and Ismael Borrero Molina. Cuba also won two silver medals (Idalys Ortiz in judo and Yasmany Daniel Lugo Cabrera in greco-roman style wrestling) and four bronze medals (Denia Caballero in discus throw, Erislandy Savon, Jorge Alvarez and Joahnys Argilagos in boxing).
In total, the 107 Cuban athletes went back home with 11 medals and the Cuban delegation left Rio with an enhanced sports potential, even though it did not win a medal in one of its other strong events: beach volleyball.
Monica Puig, national heroine of Puerto Rico. The country won a single medal in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games but it tasted like victory to it – the medal won by tennis player Monica Puig, who defeated German Angelique Kerber to become the first woman of the country to win an Olympic gold medal. This may seem a small reward for a country that went to Rio with one of the largest delegations in its Olympic participation, with 40 athletes competing at the Carioca city.
No gold medal for Mexican athletes in these Games, which will not go down in history as one of the best for the country. Mexico took 126 athletes to Rio, but was only able to win three silver medals and two bronze medals, being left out of the podium in sports of great tradition in Mexico, such as archery. Diving, a sport in which Mexican athletes usually win medals, only provided on this occasion one silver medal, won by German Sanchez in the 10 m platform. In addition, Mexican medal winners included Maria Guadalupe Gonzalez, who won silver in race walking (20 km), Misael Uziel Rodriguez, bronze in boxing, Ismael Marcelo Hernández, bronze in modern pentathlon and Maria del Rosario Espinoza, silver in taekwondo.
The country did not achieve a great result either in these Games, due to the fact that it hoped for much more than the three medals won in Rio. Their greatest joy was the silver medal won by triple jumper Yulimar Rojas, in an event with Hispanic flavor won by a Colombian athlete. In addition, Yoel Segundo Simon won bronze in boxing, as did Stefany Hernandez in women’s BMX.
The medal count for Latin American countries is closed by the Dominican Republic, thanks to the bronze medal won by Luisito Pie in taekwondo, a sport that is providing great moments to Hispanic athletes.