I was in Mexico during the 2004 Athens Olympics. It was strange. Rather than have several athletes considered favored in marquee sports, Mexico only had a few. I was so used to seeing the US on top of the podium and in the medal standings. But Mexico, not so much.
In 2004, the hype was all about Ana Guevara, a sprinter favored to win the 400 meter dash. While out dancing one Friday night, everyone in the club stopped to watch one of the preliminary heats. Everyone cheered loudly and ordered celebratory shots when Ana won that heat. On the day of the final in 400 meter, my cousin woke me up cheers of “¡Vamos, Ana!” Almost all Olympics commercials featured Ana. It was pretty exciting. But Ana didn’t win gold, she won the silver. Belem Guerrero, from Ciudad Neza south of Mexico City, surprised everyone with a silver in cycling’s point’s race. Finally, the last two silver and bronze medals were won by siblings Oscar Salazar and Iridia Salazar in taekwondo.
I wondered if Mexicans watched athletes like Oscar de la Hoya (aka the Golden Boy) and if they claimed them. I wonder if Mexicans will claim Henry Cejudo, the son of undocumented immigrants from Mexico City. He was born in LA and moved around with his mother and siblings.
Henry just won the gold medal in the 121-pound freestyle wrestling event. He reminds me a little of Oscar de la Hoya, especially posing with the US flag draped around his shoulders.
Will he be the new Golden Boy?
Photo credit: Elizabeth Dalziel/AP