Cuban-American Danell Leyva proudly represented the United States at this year’s Olympics in Rio. Although team USA didn’t make the podium during the team event, Leyva still walked away with silver medals in the individual parallel bar and horizontal bars routines.
A photo posted by Danell J Leyva (@danelljleyva) on
To cap off his Olympic career, during the men’s exhibition night, Leyva decided to have some fun and perform half of his horizontal bars routine…shirtless.
In fact, it was a suggestion by his teammate Sam Mikulak. Mikulak thought it would make men’s gymnastics more popular. “People make fun of us for wearing tights. But if they saw how yoked we are, maybe that would make a difference.”
Mission accomplished. After seeing Leyva perform shirtless, the crowd went wild.
In 2016, Mexicana Alexa Moreno traveled to Rio de Janeiro to compete for her country in the Olympics. Mexico rooted for her as she impressively competed in the uneven bars, floor exercise, beam, vault and more, earning 31st place. Meanwhile, instead of being deeply impressed by her skills, Mexican Twitter trolls body-shamed her. Not for long. Some people around the world rallied to her defense and pointed out her superior athleticism.
In fact, Mexico just awarded Moreno with the Premio Nacional del Deporte, naming her the best non-professional athlete in the entire country.
In a video shared to Twitter, gymnast Alexa Moreno thanked her supporters.
“Thank you for this recognition and thanks to all who have supported me on the way to get here,” she captioned the video. “Today, I was informed that I was the winner of the Premio Nacional del Deporte. I’m very shocked. The truth is that I didn’t imagine this would happen at all,” she told her fans in the video. “It’s a huge surprise. It’s very gratifying. Yes, I’m very, very happy. There’s nothing else to say but thank you to everyone. I want to thank everyone who has been a part of my journey. There’s been an entire circle of people around me. It’s not just me. It’s not just my job. I want to thank all the people who believed in me, for believing in me. Thank you very much.”
Moreno is the first Mexican woman gymnast to medal at a world championship.
Moreno became the first Mexican woman to medal at a world championship just last year, when she earned bronze on vault. Last month, Moreno competed in the 2019 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in Stuttgart, Germany. Her performance on vault qualified her for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo!
Moreno’s supporters emoji-clapping all over Twitter.
“HONOR TO WHOM HONOR IS DUE,” tweeted sports journalist Jocelin Flores in Spanish. “Alexa Moreno, the first Mexican to climb the podium of the World Artistic Gymnastics Championship, is the winner of the 2019 National Sports Award, Non-Professional category.” One mother tweeted at Moreno to say in Spanish, “Congratulations! You are a great role model for the children of the country.”
“The most deserved,” tweeted Twitter user Sebastián, “I think she’s already established herself as the best Mexican gymnast of all time.”
When the haters were hating, some people were creating beautiful illustrations of Moreno.
Moreno signed up for gymnastics when she was just 3-years-old. “Mexico needs people who prove that everything is possible,” Moreno told CCTV America in 2016. “You need to believe in yourself and fight to be able to do things that no one has ever done before.” Moreno is just 4’11” and 99 pounds. As the haters started deleting their tweets, Alexa Moreno went viral for all the fan art her inspirational performance generated.
We hope all the Mexican niñas are watching and being inspired by Moreno.
“I can’t believe the criticism and bullying of #AlexaMoreno,” one Mexican woman shared to Instagram, along with a video of her routine. “I see this routine and I applaud it, it excites me, it inspires me. This girl is a champion and an example to follow. I was a gymnast and BELIEVE ME it is very difficult to reach that level in this country where the support for gymnastics is almost nil. How can it be that instead of being proud and encouraging we are the first to trash her?!?! What kind of country are we? How do we intend to train valuable athletes if we are the first to throw them down?!?!”
Even though Moreno did nothing to achieve her beauty, we have to say, she’s so beautiful.
Of course, we should all be talking about how 23 years of regimented, back-breaking athleticism has made her Mexico’s best gymnast. That takes the kind of athletic work that many of us will never know. Moreno is also “drop-dead gorgeous” as my mom would say. Not that it matters.
Felicidades a la favorita de México!
We are rooting for you, Moreno! The medal that qualified her for the 2020 Olympics scored at a 14.508, less than one point behind the infamous U.S. gymnastics gold champion Simone Biles. Mexico has never taken home a medal in gymnastics. With Moreno competing on behalf of México, we’re high-key rooting she becomes the first Mexican to climb up on an Olympic podium to medal in gymnastics. Let the haters hate. Mexico loves you, Moreno, and so do we.
Latin American and U.S. Latino athletes have given the Spanish and Portuguese-speaking world countless moments of joy, pride, and hope. Latin American sportswomen and men usually come from disadvantaged backgrounds so their stories of pride and success inspire us even more. It would be almost impossible to enumerate all the triumphs achieved by Latin American athletes, but we are listing some of the most memorable ones. Sí se puede!
When Diego Armando Maradona scored the infamous but glorious goal known as “La mano de Dios” (“The hand of God”) June 22, 1986, Estadio Azteca in Mexico City, in a quarterfinals game against bitter rivals England
This has got to be the single most controversial moment in World Cup history. Argentina was facing England in the quarterfinals and Maradona jumped to hit the ball with his head. But thing is, he actually hit it with his hand and the ball penetrated the net. The English were of course appalled, but this event remains one of the most memorable in the long history of joy and drama of the Argentinian national team. We got to also remember that there was some bad blood between Argentina and England at the time, a product of the Falklands War.
When Ana Gabriela Guevara excelled in an Olympic event that was uncharted territory for Latina athletes 2004 Olympic Games, Athens, Greece
Ana Gabriela Guevara, who is now a very controversial politician, gained notoriety for scoring a silver medal in the 2004 Athens Olympic Games. She competed in 400m, a test that Mexican track athletes don’t generally excel. But she proved that she is one of a kind.
When Mexican boxing legend Julio César Chávez pulled off a miracle and knocked out Meldrick Taylor in the last few seconds of their championship unification fight March 17, 1990, Las Vegas, Nevada
In a rare encounter, the world’s two best boxers met for a unification fight. Both were unbeaten and Chávez was heralded as a national hero in his native Mexico. The fight was as tough as it gets, with both boxers sustaining enormous amounts of punishment. With 17 seconds left on the clock and behind in the scorecards Julio César connected with a massive right hand. The contest was stopped with two seconds left: a boxing miracle of the highest order.
When Fernando Valenzuela became a baseball hero and an icon of Mexican-American pride and excellence 1981-1986
Fernando “El Toro” Valenzuela became an icon of Latino sportsmanship after an excellent 1981 season with the Los Angeles Dodgers. He was one of the first Mexicans to break into the mainstream in the United States. He inspired and continues to inspire, millions of paisanos. He was an All-Star in each season of his incredible 1981-1986 run.
When Gabriela Sabatini demonstrated that Latinas can excel in the tennis court US Open, 1990, Womens’ Tennis champion!
Tennis is a perilous sport for Latin Americans because it is mostly dominated by the United States and Europe. But Sabatini showed that Latino girls can be ace too! She won the U.S. Open in 1990, defeating the German Stefi Graf. Una dama del deporte blanco en toda la extensión de la palabra.
When Colombian dynamo Nairo Quintana reached the stars on his bike Since 2012
Nairo Alexander Quintana Rojas is perhaps the greatest Colombian cyclist of all time. That is a big claim considering the long and glorious history of the sport in Colombia. Quintana is known for his sustained attacks during steep hills: when most of his adversaries struggle, he has his best performance. He was won multiple stages of the Tour de France and the Giro di Italia.
When Felipe “Tibio” Muñoz swam toward a gold medal and got a whole country celebrating after some pretty traumatizing events 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City
Prior to the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City, Mexicans had experienced a traumatizing event when the army attacked a group of students and civilians who were protesting at the Tlatelolco Square. The country was split emotionally and politically. But then came “El Tibio” and at least for a brief moment, the country was united behind a young man who swam his way to a gold medal. The memory of his accomplishment is still brought up today when thinking of the greatest sporting moments in Latin American history.
When Ecuadorian athlete Jefferson Perez won an Olympic gold medal in the Atlanta Olympic Games Atlanta Olympic Games, 1996
Ecuador doesn’t have a strong Olympic team, and medals have been few and far in between. That is why Jefferson Perez is a standout in the sporting history of this proud South American nation. During the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, Perez did the unthinkable. As Rihannon Walker writes in The Undefeated: “Ecuador’s Jefferson Pérez, Russia’s Ilya Markov and Mexico’s Bernardo Segura struggled to find separation from one another as they neared the finish of the 20-kilometer walk at the 1996 Olympics. Then Pérez began to take advantage of having the youngest legs of the trio and powered himself into the lead. As a crowd of 85,000 waited to see who would be the first to appear at Olympic Stadium, Pérez made a dramatic solo entrance and finished in 1 hour, 20 minutes and 7 seconds to become the youngest gold medalist in the 20-km event at 22. His victory also secured Ecuador’s first Olympic medal.” Just wow, a moment to remember forever.
When Teófilo Stevenson reigned supreme in amateur boxing. Viva Cuba! 1972, 1975, and 1980 Olympic Games in Munich, Montreal, and Moscow
In the 1970s Muhammad Ali was the greatest name in heavyweight boxing, but he was perhaps not the best. Many believe that amateur legend Teofilo Stevenson of Cuba would have beat the great Ali. But, alas, Cuban boxers were not allowed to turn professional and a fight between the two never materialized. Stevenson’s amateur career extended 20 years, from 1969 to 1986. He won a total of three gold medals, un logro extraordinario.
When “Las espectaculares morenas del Caribe” Cuban female volleyball team captured the world’s imagination and won three consecutive Olympic gold medals Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000 Olympic Games
This group of amazing Cuban ladies totally dominated volleyball for three Olympic Games, and then won the bronze in their fourth attempt. Puro Cuba!
When Costa Rican swimmer Claudia Poll surprised everyone and became a national icon Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games
This amazing woman was born in Nicaragua but later became a Costa Rican citizen. She won a gold medal in the Atlanta Games (a big year for Latino athletes!) and is considered the greatest sports figure in the history of the Central American nation. She also won two bronze medals in the 2000 Sydney Olympics. A true force of nature.