There is a question that loops every four years. Why is Mexico not a sports power if there are more than 126 million inhabitants? From the offices of those in charge of sports they point to a lack of order and vision of the country. And, of course, that there is interest and investment from the Government in turn. The Mexican delegation that will travel to Tokyo will be the third largest (163 athletes) only below the performances of Mexico 1968 (275) and Munich 1972 (174). The youth will set the pace with a group of Mexican athletes who seek to close their sport cycles on the podium.
The great challenge for Mexico is to win a dozen medals. The head of Mexican sports, Ana Guevara, has ensured that the country can aspire to win between five and ten medals. The best participation was in the home Games, in 1968. The Olympic joust, which meant a turning point, was punctuated by the massacre of the Tlatelolco students. In the competitions, the Mexicans shone with nine medals: three golds, three silvers and three bronzes. The second best participation of a Mexican delegation occurred in London 2012 with eight medals.
Mexico’s sights are set on the sports in which it has shone: diving, archery and taekwondo. In addition, he hopes to surprise in softball, baseball and soccer. The gymnast Alexa Moreno, fifth in the world ranking, will seek to gain a place in the all around in which she will compete against Simone Biles. Moreno won the bronze in the World Cup in 2018. In athletics Tonatiu López (23 years old) has raised expectations after breaking the national record of 1: 43.44 in the 800 meters. Alegna González (22 years old), the pearl of the march, makes her debut on the big stage after surprising in the youth world championships and will seek to fill the gap left by Lupita González, the former world champion suspended for doping. Briseida Acosta is the greatest Mexican fighter in taekwondo. At the age of 27, she won the ticket to María del Rosario Espinoza, the only Mexican to win three Olympic medals in three different cycles. In rowing, Kenia Lechuga (27) wants to climb to the top three places. In hammer throwing, Diego del Real (27) is a solid candidate.
The Mexican representation had taken flight in the 2019 Pan American Games where they won 37 gold, 36 silver and 63 bronze medals, an unprecedented result for the country. The health emergency brought everything to a halt in 2020. “More than one of us lost motivation due to the pandemic,” said Mexican gymnast Ruth Castillo at the flag ceremony. Some athletes trained on their own, as in the case of Alegna González or Crisanto Grajales for triathlon; others agreed to join the health bubble held at the facilities of the High Performance Center in Mexico City. Authorities began vaccinating Mexican athletes in March, although some, such as diver Juan Celaya, were vaccinated in the United States because it was their training base there.
The Olympic Games in Japan will mean the end of the cycle for Mexican veterans. Among them are the divers Rommel Pacheco, who will become a federal deputy for the conservative PAN after four Games, and Yahel Castillo, with three Olympic cycles. In archery the experience will be given by Aída Román, who has not been absent from the Olympic tournament since 2008. Horacio Nava also joins him in the 50-kilometer march, with four Olympians on his resume. Paola Espinosa, a Mexican diver and winner of two Olympic medals, did not qualify for her last Games in a technical control carried out by the authorities.
One of the important features of the Mexican team is the role of women. Since Sydney 2000 when Soraya Jiménez won gold in weightlifting, the women’s sport has gained strength with 15 medals won in the last 20 years. For Tokyo there will be 66 athletes who will compete.
Mexico, with an average age of 27, is aiming for the top in the most atypical Olympic Games.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.