The postponed 2020 Tokyo Olympics are currently in full swing. Testing their abilities against the world’s most elite competitors are 10 Panamanian athletes: 6 women and 4 men competing in 5 sports.
How Panama Is Doing In The 2020 Tokyo Olympics
Team Panama is participating in athletics, Judo, swimming, road race, and boxing. This is the third time in history that Panama has sent more women than men to the Olympics.
Gianna Woodruff, representing Panama in the women’s 400 meters hurdles, ran an impressive race on Aug. 2, placing second in the semifinals round two, behind Team USA’s Sydney McLaughlin.
Unfortunately, the other Team Panama athletes who have competed so far did not advance beyond the first round. Nonetheless, sending such a large team of world-class athletes is a big boast for the small country.
Panama’s neighbors in Latin America already have several medals under their belts…
How Latin America Is Doing In The 2020 Tokyo Olympics
In Group A of the men’s soccer tournament, Mexico defeated France, catching the attention of the world. Mexico’s win was especially impressive because the French team was previously a frontrunner, predicted to dominate. The results—4 to 1 in favor of Mexico—were broadcast in news headlines globally, and threw Mexico into frontrunner status.
Team Ecuador won their second-ever gold medal in men’s road race. Richard Carapaz’s win gave Ecuador its third medal in history and catapulted Carapaz into the global spotlight.
His family’s reaction to his win was posted on social media site TikTok and immediately went viral. The family members can be heard shouting and crying with joy and pride in the background from their home in Ecuador.
Italo Ferreira of Brazil won the first-ever gold medal in surfing, a sport added to the Olympics this year. Due to the fall of Tropical Storm Nepartak, surfing quarterfinals, semifinals, and medal matches were crammed into one day. Despite the chaos, Ferreira rose to the top.
The gold medalist is a fisherman’s son from a small coastal town in Brazil. His family couldn’t afford a surfboard, so he taught himself using a Styrofoam lid from the cooler his dad stored fish in. Ferreira’s story proves that with commitment and hard work, anyone is capable of achieving their dreams.
Women In The 2020 Tokyo Olympics
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics have seen several records set by women and girls from Latin America…
Venezuela’s Yulimar Rojas won a gold medal and set an Olympic and world record in women’s triple jump. The first Venezuelan woman in history to win a gold medal, Rojas jumped 15.67 meters, breaking the previous record of 15.39 meters.
In an interview, she said that it was always her dream to be the first female gold medalist from her country. In 2020, Rojas was chosen as the Best Female Athlete of the Year by World Athletics.
Robeilys Peinado, also representing Venezuela, will advance to the championship round of women’s pole vault, after having placed first in her bracket of the semifinals.
This year’s youngest Olympic competitors arrived at the podium for skateboarding—two 13-year-olds and one 16-year-old. Rayssa Leal, a 13-year-old girl from Brazil, earned a silver medal… a shockingly impressive feat for such a young person.
The Track Record Of Latin America In The Olympics
At the time this article was written, Latin American and Caribbean countries held 10 medals, with Brazil in the lead with 5 (1 gold, 2 silver, 2 bronze), Ecuador in second place with one 1 medal, Colombia in third with 1 silver, followed by Mexico with 2 bronze, and Cuba with 1 bronze.
Latin American nations have historically been successful at the Olympics. Cuba had its debut at the 1900 Paris Olympics and has since swept up 226 medals. It holds the world record for the most medals won at any Olympic Games, earning 31 in Barcelona in 1992.
Brazil is famous for boxing and Judo, holding 109 medals between the two sports. It has earned 129 medals since 1920. The country is also home to two women’s soccer stars: Marta and Formiga. The latter has competed in seven Olympic Games, while the former holds a record for scoring in five. Marta has also been recognized in Tokyo for scoring two goals against Team China.
Argentina is the third Latin American country with the most Olympic medals, at 74. Team Argentina performs best in boxing, but has also excelled in sailing, men and women’s hockey, and basketball. Argentina holds four medals in soccer and has won the most Olympic matches in this sport out of any Latin American nation.
The feats of the Latin American teams at the Olympics are even more impressive when you consider the socio-political context of these countries…
There are athletes who have overcome extreme obstacles like poverty, violence, lack of money for equipment and limited or no access to training facilities, and the damage and loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which the region still continues to battle.
These athletes have demonstrated admirable determination and perseverance.