Things That Matter

11 Remarkable Accomplishments by Latinos in Sports

Sports have a way of bringing people together from all backgrounds. But this wasn’t always the case, especially for minorities who have been fighting for a seat at the table since the late 1800s. Thanks to trailblazers like Esteban Bellan and Judd Castro who led the way for Latino players in U.S. sports, Latino players represent upwards of 28% in Major League Baseball. Unfortunately, representation of Latinos across other sports remains staggeringly low and although Latinos still remain a minority within professional athletics, their achievements are nothing from ordinary.

The Best Female Athlete of 2018

“I am struggling to stand up because my legs are shaking so much” were Caterine ibarguen’s words when she was named the World Female Athlete of the year by the IAFF. Colombian born, Caterine has won two Olympic Medals and multiple world championships on triple jump, and shows no signs of stopping.


Credit: Instagram @llano7dias

Catherine’s success is a combination of her 3.6ft long legs, her  slim body, the concentration she puts on every of her jumps (in which she rarely commits faults) , the speed she is able to achieve, and her arm technique. The best jump she has achieved was in Monaco, where her legs took her 50.22 ft long. Can’t wait to see more of her!

Credit: Instagram @triplecibarguen

The First Latino Inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame

Before Roberto Enrique Clemente Walker became the first Latino inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, he led an astonishing personal and professional career. Walker ranks among the best players of all time with 15 All-Star games and two World Series Championships with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Credit: Twitter @TheBuccosFan

He received the National League MVP award in 1966 followed by the World Series MVP in 1971. During the off-season, Clemente participated in charity work in Latin America and the Caribbean. The baseball legend died at a young age in a plane crash while he was delivering earthquake aid to Nicaragua. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame following his tragic death in 1973.

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Laurie Hernandez Steals Our Hearts and Wins Gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics

One of the youngest gymnasts to earn a spot on a U.S. Olympic team, sixteen-year-old Laurie Hernandez became an American sweetheart during the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janiero. Not only was she part of the gold-medal winning team better known as the “Final Five”, she also was a silver-winning medalist on the balance beam.

Credit: Instagram @lauriehernandez

Hernandez stayed in the spotlight when she competed on season 23 of Dancing with the Stars where she was the show’s youngest winner. After taking time off after the summer Olympics, Hernandez is ready to start competing again and plans on debuting her comeback in 2019.

Credit: Instagram @lauriehernandez

Anthony Robles with Three NCAA All-American Wrestling Championships and Two ESPY Awards

Despite being born with only one leg, Anthony Robles has overcome various obstacles to become a legend in the wrestling world. Robles finished as a 3-time All-American and the 2011 NCAA National Champion while wrestling for Arizona State University.

Credit: Instagram @arobles125

Robles continued on to win two ESPY awards in 2011; one for the best male athlete with a disability and the award for perseverance. Although his days on the mat are behind him, he continues to inspire others as a motivational speaker, wrestling analyst for ESPN and the Pac-12 Network, author, and a Nike Athlete.

Credit: Instagram @arobles125

Holding the Title of #1 Female Golfer from 2007-2010

Mexican professional golfer Lorena Ochoa Reyes, played on the U.S.-based LPGA tour from 2003-2010 where she was ranked the #1 female golfer from 2007-2010. Ochoa is considered the best Latin American female golfer of all time and her legacy became official when she was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 2017.

Credit: Twitter @TheOldeFarm

Her achievements don’t stop there and in 2008 she became the host of a new annual LPGA event, the Lorena Ochoa Invitational. Proceeds from this tournament held at her original home course, Guadalajara Country Club, support the Lorena Ochoa Foundation that operates a primary school in Guadalajara for underprivileged students.

Credit: Instagram @efemerides_de_famosos

First Latino to Own a Major Sports Team in the United States

Arturo “Arte” Moreno became the first Latino to own a major sports team in the U.S. when he purchased the Anaheim Angels in 2003. Since then, he’s signed on several premium players, seen three consecutive winning seasons for the club from 2007-2009, and ushered the team to 6 American League Western Division wins since 2004. Now, Moreno has his eyes set on winning a World Series with the Anaheim Angels.

Credit: Twitter @LETNetworks_

His legacy doesn’t stop with baseball, Moreno is a professional businessman putting his marketing degree to good use as the Chief Executive Officer of the company Outdoor Systems. The Moreno family are also philanthropists and with the Moreno Family Fund, they help at-risk youth find stability and the resources they need to succeed in life.

Credit: Instagram @dj_zack_morse

Amy Rodriguez with Two Gold Soccer Olympic Medals and a World Cup Title

Amy Rodriguez has unarguably left her mark on the sport of soccer. With an Olympic gold medal in 2008 and 2012 and a World Cup title in 2015, she has overcome major injuries and effortlessly juggled motherhood all while scoring some of the most important goals in U.S. Women’s National Soccer history.

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After taking a year off to recover from a torn ACL, Rodriguez took the field once again this year playing for the Utah Royals FC in the National Women’s Soccer League as a forward. Rodriguez was unsure if she would return the same player she was before her injury, but thanks to her persistence and dedication, she has provided a solid performance for the team.

Credit: Instagram @amyrodriguez8

Colombian Football Player Becomes Head Coach of the Houston Dynamo

Retired Colombian football defender Wilmer Cabrera became the first Latin American head coach of a U.S. national team when he was hired by the Major League Soccer Houston Dynamo. In Cabrera’s first year, he took the Dynamo from last place in the division to the conference final in 2017.

Credit: Instagram @datosamericanos

Don’t take our word for it, Cabrera was honored by Sports Illustrated as one of the 30 most influential Hispanics in sports in 2017.  Cabrera and his Dynamo players are giving it their all this year and there is no telling where his career might take him.

Credit: Instagram @wilmerc13

Rebecca Lobo Inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame

As a former women’s basketball player in the WNBA, Rebecca Lobo officially went down in history when she was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame as part of the class of 2010. Lobo’s achievements started early when she became the youngest member of the U.S. Women’s Olympic Basketball Team to win a gold medal in 1996.

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Lobo completed a successful and inspiring seven-year WNBA career as a center with the New York Liberty, Houston Comets, and Connecticut Sun. Lobo retired in 2003 and joined ESPN as a WNBA and women’s college basketball reporter and color analyst.

Credit: Instagram @thefullcourtpress

Juan Manuel Fangio With Five World Titles on the Speedway

Juan Manuel Fangio, better known as El Chueco (“the bowlegged one”) or El Maestro (“the master”), was a leading figure in the sports formative years. The Formula One “Godfather” won five championships between 1951 and 1957 with four different teams (Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz, and Maserati).

Credit: Twitter @QuickClaw46

Winning 24 of the 51 Grands Prix he competed in, Fangio was a leader of the sport during a time where peril was inevitable. Regardless of several major accidents and close incidents, Fangio still holds the highest winning percentage in Formula One.

Credit: Instagram @f1.historia

The First and Only Swimmer to Represent the United States in Five Olympic Games

Five-time Olympic swimmer and 12-time medalist Dara Torres is the first and only swimmer to compete in five Olympics. Age ain’t nothing but a number for Torres who became the oldest swimmer to ever compete in the Olympic games at the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008.

Credit: Twitter @BostonGlobe

Although she no longer competes, Torres still holds the U.S. record for the 50m freestyle. She continues to be a role model for others as a top-selling author, motivational speaker, model, and TV personality.

Credit: Instagram @thebarmethodfresnoclovis

Emanuel Ginobili With Four NBA Titles and One Olympic Title

Emanuel Ginobili, better known as Manu to his fans, is an Argentine retired professional basketball player. His 23-season professional career began with seven seasons in Argentina and Europe. He continued his impressive career with the San Antonio Spurs where he won four NBA championships and was named an All-Star in 2005 and 2011.

Credit: Instagram @manuginobili

With his recent retirement from the sport, he’s still only one of two basketball players to receive a EuroLeague title, an NBA Championship, and an Olympic Gold Medal. He plans on staying close to the team and the franchise and contributing to the Spurs in anyway that he can.

Credit: Instagram @manuargginobili

This Team Of Synchronized Swimmers With Down Syndrome Were Denied Access To A Pool For Fear Of Contaminating Other Swimmers

Entertainment

This Team Of Synchronized Swimmers With Down Syndrome Were Denied Access To A Pool For Fear Of Contaminating Other Swimmers

sirenasespeciales / Instagram

Sirenas Especiales (Special Mermaids) is giving girls with Down Syndrome in Mexico a chance to show off their athletic abilities in synchronized swimming. The team and program were organized by Paloma Torres, a former synchronized swimmer from Peru, after she studied educational psychology. Her thesis was on the cognitive benefits of synchronized swimming. With that and a little patience, Sirenas Especiales was born.

Sirenas Especiales is tearing down the stigma and misinformation about people with Down Syndrome.

Credit: sirenasespeciales / Instagram

Coach Paloma Torres knew that people with Down Syndrome are often very creative and flexible. Those two characteristics are perfect for synchronized swimming so she knew that it would be a great idea to get a group of girls together.

However, Torres and Sirenas Especiales immediately faced pushback from local pools in Mexico City because of the girls’ Down Syndrome.

Credit: sirenasespeciales / Instagram

“I had to find a swimming pool where we could organize regular practices. At first, I couldn’t find anywhere. One pool even refused entry to my swimmers, saying that they might contaminate other swimmers! It was really disheartening at first — both for me and for the girls’ parents,” Torres told France24. “Finally, I found the Alberca Olímpica Francisco Márquez pool, which is located in southern Mexico City. I’ve been training the group there since 2011.”

The team overcame the initial mistreatment from local pools and have been competing in national and international competitions.

Credit: sirenasespeciales / Instagram

Their Instagram is filled with photos of the team holding medal from the various competitions they have participated in. They’ve competed all over Mexico and were recently at the PanAm games to cheer on Mexico’s national synchronizing team.

The team continues to grow with more girls and boys wanting to participate in synchronized swimming.

Credit: sirenasespeciales / Instagram

Torres currently trains about 20 swimmers between 14 and 30. There are three boys who are part of the team and 17 girls, according to France24. It seems clear that the swimmers enjoy their chance to show off their own athletic abilities.

The sport is doing more than just giving them something to do.

Este día tan especial Sirenas Especiales darán entrevista en Capital 21 Canal 21 en TV abierta, no se lo pierdan a las 10:35am en VIVO!!!!! FELIZ DÍA MUNDIAL DEL SINDROME DE DOWN Edith Perez Rocio Hernández Martínez Paloma Torres Montserrat Vega Triny Turcio Blanca Olivia Fontes Machado Araceli Vazquez Loredo Beatriz Mendoza Castañón China Li Lourdes Castellanos Daniel Perez Martinez

Posted by Sirenas Especiales on Tuesday, March 21, 2017

This sport helps participants improve their concentration and memory,” Torres told France24. “However, most importantly, this activity helps them integrate socially. They participate regularly in competitions both nationally and internationally, which sometimes include swimmers without disabilities. Our team has won about 50 medals. They become more social and their work is applauded. It’s also important for their families because some of them don’t think that these girls will make something of their lives.”

One thing Sirenas Especiales is doing to changing the narrative around disabilities one synchronized swim at a time.

Credit: Sirenas Especiales / Facebook

The swimmers are showing everyone that you can do anything you set your mind to. There is nothing that can keep them from participating in the sport that they love and enjoy.

Congratulations, swimmers.

We can’t wait to see what you do next.

READ: The Internet Was Having A Collective Sob Fest After A Video Of Young Disabled Man’s Reaction To Getting His First Job Goes Viral

Simone Biles Slayed During The U.S. Gymnastics Championships And Made History Twice And Here’s Why It’s A Big Deal

Entertainment

Simone Biles Slayed During The U.S. Gymnastics Championships And Made History Twice And Here’s Why It’s A Big Deal

To say, American gymnast, Simone Biles can’t practice her athletic art form under pressure is to completely misunderstand her strength. The 22-year-old from Colombus, Ohio, has already accomplished what many can’t even fathom. This week the Olympic gold medalist made history on the competitive mat just a couple of days after she confronted the USA Gymnastics for failing to protect her, and more than 150 women, from a sexual predator. 

On August 11, Simone Biles landed perfectly after doing a triple-double at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships in Kansas City. 

Let us break down what that actually means because it truly is a thing of beauty. Biles successful jumped into the air and completed two flips and three full twists and stuck the landing. She tried to do this exact move on Friday but failed on the landing. This time, however, Biles landed it amazingly. She’s the first woman to have ever completed this move. 

This move is no easy fete for the 4’8 gymnast. As someone on social media noted, Biles, at the peak of her jump, is close to 10 feet off the mat, which is two feet higher than the high jump world record. Insanity!!

On Friday, she also made history by pulling off a double-double dismount off the balance beam. 

That means she did two twists and two somersaults like its no one’s business. All of these historic firsts garnered Biles a record-tying sixth all-around title at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships. So who could possibly have the same title as Biles? No one in the past several decades, that’s for sure. In the 1940s and 1950s, American gymnast Clara Schroth Lomady also received the same honor of sixth all-around. 

After her historical landing, Biles was quite pleased with her performance. 

Credit: Instagram/@simonebiles

“That feeling when you make history…. twice,” she said on Instagram. And this is all build-up to the main event. Biles, of course, is headed to Tokyo next year for the 2020 Olympics, where’s she’s naturally going to add on to her gold medals, but no pressure. (!!!)

Her incredible routine is quite impressive when you consider that the star athlete is competing for organizers who were enablers in her own sexual abuse.

Last year, a Michigan judge sentenced Dr. Larry Nassar, a physical therapist, 40 to 175 years in prison for sexually abusing more than a hundred gymnasts some were as young as six years old. The abuse lasted for decades, and Biles was one of his victims. 

On August 7, Biles told reporters that it was the U.S. Gymnastics Championships and other institutions that assisted Nassar in his abuse by protecting him.

“You had one job. You literally had one job, and you couldn’t protect us,” Biles said in her addressed statement to USA Gymnastics, according to CNN. ‘It’s hard coming here for an organization, having had them fail us so many times. We had one goal. We have done everything that they asked us for, even when we didn’t want to, and they couldn’t do one damn job.”

Despite Biles’ horrific abuse she endured, her moves on the mat show her incredible strength and dedication to the sport.

Credit: Instagram/@simonebiles

The Texan native said she wasn’t sure if she’d succeed in those now-groundbreaking landings. She said, however, that she was striving for ultimate perfection, even if that meant failing the first time. Sounds like she’s a firm believer of the motto, “if at first, you don’t succeed, pick yourself up and try again.” 

“I feel like I compete for perfection,” she told the Olympic Channel days before her competition, “so whenever I don’t do that, it really irritates me.” 

Biles also told the network that she doesn’t even think about her titles and records until someone brings it up to her in conversation. Talk about humble. If Biles doesn’t do the bragging, her friends and fans will do it for her. 

Several fans, including celebs, touted her magical moves on Twitter.

As for the future of gymnastics in the U.S., and their beloved athletes, Li Li Leung, the president, and chief executive of USA Gymnastics, told CNN, that understand they are to blame for their part in their abuse and are doing everything they can to change the culture of silence. 

“One of our goals is for our athletes to feel comfortable in speaking up and sharing their opinions, and we are listening to what they have to say,” Leung said. “We will continue to work hard to demonstrate to Simone and all of our athletes, members, community, and fans that we are working to foster a safe, positive and encouraging environment where athlete voices are heard.” 

Now on to the Olympics!

READ: We’re ‘Un Poco Loco’ Over This Mexican Gymnast’s ‘Coco’ Floor Routine And Charro-Inspired Outfit

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