afro latino athletes That are worthy to Watch At The Olympics

Maria Belford, a photographer and filmmaker from New York, recently took to Tumblr to create AFROLATINAS FUERTES, a long list of Afro Latino athletes who are killing it in a wide array of sports. Naturally, there are a few Olympic athletes tucked away in there. Here are a few of those athletes you should be watching this year in Rio de Janeiro.

Don’t let her sweet face fool you. Marcia Videaux is a global name in gymnastics and will be competing in all the gymnastics events in Rio.

Country: Cuba

Videaux is the Cuban gymnast to watch, for sure. She will be one of three Cuban women who will be competing in the gymnastics competitions at the Rio Olympics, and she is literally doing ALL of the events, including all-around. Earlier this year, Videaux proved that she is a force to be reckoned with when she won the vaulting event at the World Cup of Gymnastics in Anandia, Portugal.

Ángela Tenorio went from troubled teen to the fastest sprinter in Latin America.

Country: Ecuador

Tenorio is going to the Olympics to compete in the one event she totally dominates throughout Latin America. The Ecuadorian sprinter is currently the fastest woman in the 100 meter sprint in Latin America and will be competing in that event at the Rio games. She’s also going to run in the 200 meter sprint. Tenorio will be racing against fellow Ecuadorian sprinter Marizol Landazuri in Rio. Both women, among the fastest sprinters in Latin America, grew up labeled as problem youths and channeled that energy into running. It all paid off as they are definitely two women to watch this year at the Olympics.

Once described as “the little one,” Idalys Oritz is one judoka that is definitely making her name known on the mat.

Country: Cuba

Ortiz first fell in love with judo when she was very young. By 14, she had fully committed her life to the sport. That was when she first arrived at the national training center in Havana and decided to prove her stuff with other fighters. After a long tryout process battling women bigger and stronger than her, she remembers the instructor saying that “the little one stays.” After that, she has dedicated her life to winning — and she has more than 200 medals to prove it.

Déborah Rodríguez is going from best female athlete in her home country to challenging the best in the world.

Country: Uruguay

Rodríguez is one of the best sportswomen in Uruguay. No, seriously. In 2014, the track star was awarded the Gold Charrúas by the Círculo de Periodistas Deportivos, officially crowning her the best Uruguayan female athlete for the 2013-2014 season. This honor is made even grander when you learn that she beat out competitors in 38 different sports to be the best. Since winning that award, Rodríguez has been focused on training for the 2016 Rio Olympics. She won her spot in the women’s 800 meter sprint, and the last Ibero-American Championships show Rodríguez even has a knack for the 400-meter hurdles.

She was the first Colombian athlete to bring home a gold medal from the International Association of Athletic Federations competition. Now, Caterine Ibargüen is going to try to win the gold in Rio.

Country: Colombia

Ibargüen made history at the International Association of Athletic Federations competition in Moscow as the first Colombian ever to bring home the gold. Since then, she has been slaying on the track and earned herself a spot on the 2016 Colombian Olympic Track & Field team. Her specialty? The triple jump. She told El Heraldo that she never considered herself the best, but by qualifying for the Olympics, she at least knows that she’s not the worst.

This 4′ 11″ weightlifter dominated the Pan Am Games and will be looking to impress in her second Olympic appearance.

Country: Dominican Republic

At only 4′ 11″ tall, Pirón is a surprising force in the sport of weightlifting. Though she usually competes in the 48kg division, this Dominican lifter dominated the 53kg division during this year’s Pan Am Games and even took home two of the three gold medals for the competition. This will be her second Olympic appearance, so those competitive nerves, while still there, are not enough to deter this Dominican powerhouse from chasing her dreams.

Now that you’re done, go to AFROLATINAS FUERTES to check out the rest!

READ: 13 Celebs You Probably Didn’t Know Were Afro-Latino

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Katherine Díaz, Salvadorian Surfing Star and Olympic Hopeful, Died After Being Struck By Lightening

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Katherine Díaz, Salvadorian Surfing Star and Olympic Hopeful, Died After Being Struck By Lightening

Photo via isasurfing/Instagram

A tragedy born from a freak accident is rocking El Salvador’s athletic community today. On Friday, El Salvador surfing star and Olympic hopeful, Katherine Diaz, died after being struck by lightening. She was training for an Olympic qualifier.

According to reports, lightning struck and killed 22-year-old Katherine Díaz right after she entered the water at El Tunco beach.

“Katherine came over to hug her [friend], as soon as she finished hugging her, the noise was heard,” her uncle Beto Dia “She, the friend, was thrown by the force of the lightning strike too, the board threw me back. Katherine died instantly.”

According to NBC News, onlookers pulled Katherine Diaz to the shore and attempted to revive her, but by that time, it was too late.

Her family, of course, is mourning the loss of their loved one. “We were very close,” her sister, Erika Diaz said to a local publication. “Katherine was a girl full of energy, with a free spirit who made everyday feel worthwhile. Unfortunately, she left us.” But Erika said she is glad that her sister passed while doing what she loved the most–surfing.

Katherine Díaz had dedicated her life to the complicated and rewarding sport of surfing.

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A post shared by KATHERINE DIAZ (@katherinecook7)

Katherine Díaz Hernández had been surfing since she was 9-years-old. The 22-year-old was training to qualify for the 2021 Summer Olympics–the first time surfing would ever appear at the international games.

El Salvador’s surfing federation, FESASURF, released a statement lauding Díaz for her talent. “Katherine was a girl very passionate about sports, she was very motivated and happy for the event that was approaching.”

The International Surfing Association posted a tribute to Diaz on their Instagram page.

“Katherine embodied the joy and energy that make surfing so special and dear to us all, as a global ambassador of the sport,” they wrote. “She excelled at the international competition level, representing her country with pride at both the ISA World Surfing Games and ISA World Junior Surfing Championship.”

“We send our heartfelt condolences to Katherine’s family, the surfers of El Salvador, and to all those in the international surfing community whose lives she touched. We will never forget you.”

El Salvador’s surfing community has planned a “paddle-out” ceremony that is traditional in the death of a surfer.

According to Surfer Today, a paddle-out ceremony is “an ocean-based ceremony consisting of a mix of spiritual, metaphysical, and ritual actions that acknowledge, remember, and celebrate a fallen peer.”

“It’s a symbolic rite of passage that showcases traces of connection and separation, departure, and continuity.”

Katherine Díaz’s funeral services were on Saturday morning. The paddle-out ceremony will be held on Tuesday.

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Today, Puerto Rico Celebrates Emancipation Day–the Day When the Island Officially Abolished Slavery

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Today, Puerto Rico Celebrates Emancipation Day–the Day When the Island Officially Abolished Slavery

Photo via George W. Davis, Public Domain

Today, March 22nd marks Día de la Abolición de Esclavitud in Puerto Rico–the date that marks the emancipation of slaves in Puerto Rico. In Puerto Rico, enslaved peoples were emancipated in 1873–a full decade after the U.S. officially abolished slavery. But unlike the U.S. mainland, Puerto Rico celebrates today as an official holiday, where many businesses are closed.

The emancipation of Puerto Rican slaves was a very different process than the United States’. For one, the emancipation was gradual and over three years.

When the Spanish government abolished slavery in Puerto Rico 1873, enslaved men and women had to buy their freedom. The price was set by their “owners”. The way the emancipated slaves bought their freedom was through a process that was very similar to sharecropping in the post-war American south. Emancipated slaves farmed, sold goods, and worked in different trades to “buy” their freedom.

In the same Spanish edict that abolished slavery, slaves over the age of 60 were automatically freed. Enslaved children who were 5-years-old and under were also automatically freed.

Today, Black and mixed-race Puerto Ricans of Black descent make up a large part of Puerto Rico’s population.

The legacy of enslaved Black Puerto Ricans is a strong one. Unlike the United States, Puerto Rico doesn’t classify race in such black-and-white terms. Puerto Ricans are taught that everyone is a mixture of three groups of people: white Spanish colonizers, Black African slaves, and the indigenous Taíno population.

African influences on Puerto Rican culture is ubiquitous and is present in Puerto Rican music, cuisine, and even in the way that the island’s language evolved. And although experts estimate that up to 60% of Puerto Ricans have significant African ancestry, almost 76% of Puerto Ricans identified as white only in the latest census poll–a phenomenon that many sociologists have blamed on anti-blackness.

On Puerto Rico’s Día de la Abolición de Esclavitud, many people can’t help but notice that the island celebrates a day of freedom and independence when they are not really free themselves.

As the fight for Puerto Rican decolonization rages on, there is a bit of irony in the fact that Puerto Rico is one of the only American territories that officially celebrates the emancipation of slaves, when Puerto Rico is not emancipated from the United States. Yes, many Black Americans recognize Juneteenth (June 19th) as the official day to celebrate emancipation from slavery, but it is not an official government holiday.

Perhaps, Puerto Rico celebrates this historical day of freedom because they understand how important the freedom and independence is on a different level than mainland Americans do.

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