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Colombia’s Top 5 Stars in Rio 2016

Colombia’s Top 5 Stars in Rio 2016

Posted by Miguel Ernesto on April 13, 2016

Four years ago, Colombia was totally paralyzed after the spectacular victory achieved by Mariana Pajon in the final of BMX, in London. It was the second Olympic title in the history of Colombian sport and it helped that country finish 38th in the medal count. Now, in Rio Olympic Games, will Colombian athletes be capable of improving that result? The number of medals is likely to go up, but it seems difficult for the delegation to win two gold medals.

Colombia participated in its first Olympic Games back in 1932, in the edition organized by Los Angeles. Ever since, it has only missed the Helsinki edition of the Games, in 1952, although the country has seen its best results in the most recent editions. All in all, the Colombian athletes have obtained 19 medals, two of which are golden, six medals and 11 bronzes. With these numbers, that country is ranked sixth in Latin America, surpassed by Cuba, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico and the Dominican Republic. Weight lifter Maria Luisa Urrutia was the other champion, in Sidney 2000.

Weight lifting and cycling are Colombia’s strongest sports, since the South American athletes have won four medals. Only two Colombian athletes have been on the podium more than once: marksman Helmut Bellingrodt, who got the silver in Munich, 1972, and Los Angeles, 1984, and wrestler Jackeline Renteria, with bronze in Beijing, 2008, and London, 2012.

As for Rio 2016, Colombia is going to participate with its biggest delegation ever, since 116 athletes are already qualified in 16 sports, a figure that has left the 104 that attended London. In an effort to encourage the athletes, the Colombian Olympic Committee has promised a 110 million pesos prize for each champion; 80 million for silver medalists and 60 million for bronze medals.

Who are Colombia’s main medal hopes at the Brazilian city? 

Mariana Pajon

The champion in London 2012 has a tattoo that shows the five Olympic rings. Pajon had a great 2015 and she has said that she dreams about holding her title in Rio.

Last year, Pajon won several stages of the BMX World Cup, held in Holland, Manchester, Belgium, Argentina and France. The score obtained in these events crowned her world champion. She was the favorite to win in Toronto Pan Am Games, but she had an accident in the final, so she was out of the podium. If everything flows correctly at the Brazilian city, she could stand out as the only Colombian athlete with two gold medals in Olympic Games.

Caterine Ibargüen

Ibargüen has been the most stable athlete in her sport over the past four years. She finished second in London, since she was defeated by Kazakh Olga Rypakova; but she hasn’t failed a competition ever since. For example, she won the World Championship in Moscow, in 2013, with a 14.85 meter jump and she held the title in Beijing World Championship in 2015, with 14.90 meters. Moreover, Ibargüen stood out in Toronto Pan Am Games, with her 15.09 meter jump. In Rio, she will undoubtedly be the favorite to be on top of the podium.

Fernando Gaviria

21-year-old Gaviria is one of Colombia’s main candidates to win a medal in Rio. This cyclist is excellent in route and track, especially in the last one as he has been a junior and senior champion.

In 2015 Gaviria won the Omnium in the Cycling Track World Championship, held in Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, Paris; he later prevailed in the same specialty in Toronto Pan Am Games, where he also collected the gold in team pursuit and he held the world crown this year by winning the Championship carried out at London’s velodrome.

For Rio Olympic Games, he is certainly going to be the benchmark athlete in the Omnium, a very-complex multiple test that combines sprint and resistance.

Jossimar Calvo

The young gymnast, who is only 20 years old, is presently ranked in the world top ten. His 2015 didn’t finish in the best way, since he wasn’t close to his best results in Glasgow World Championship, but experts think he’s likely to win a medal in Rio.

In Toronto Pan Am Games, Calvo wrote his name in the history of Colombian sports, by becoming the first athlete to win three titles in the same edition of the Pan American Games. At the Canadian city, he was victorious in parallel bars, fixed bar and pommel horse.

Jackeline Renteria

The 30-year-old wrestler is one of the two Colombian athletes that have won two medals in Olympic Games. In her first Olympic competition, Beijing 2008, she defeated Rumanian Ana Paval for the bronze. Four years later, in London, also fighting for the third position, she prevailed over Ukrainian Tetyana Lazareva.

Renteria presently looks forward to conquering her third medal and, although she wasn’t very active in 2015, she did show she’s in great shape by winning the Pan American Championship that took place in Brisco, United States, where she fought in the 60 kilogram division.

Other medal options

Yuri Alvear

In her third Olympic Games, this judoka is going to do her best to be back on the podium. In Beijing 2008, when she was only 22 years old, she finished seventh; afterward, she got the bronze in London by defeating Chinese Fei Chen.

During her long career, Alvear has won four medals in World Championships, 2009 - 2015; moreover, she has collected three medals in Pan Am Games, 2007 - 2015. She got the bronze in Toronto.

Soccer Team

The under-23 Colombian team surprised everybody with the victory against the United States, which helped it qualify to Rio. The team will go there with three players that are older than 23 and Radamel “the Tiger” Falcao is one of the options. If the Colombian executives get three strong reinforcements, the team could fight for a medal in the Olympic Games.

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