Donovan Carrillo Makes Mexican History by Reaching Figure Skating Finals at Winter Olympics

2022 Beijing GamesDonovan Carrillo has skated his way into the annals of Mexican sports history…

The 22-year-old Mexican figure skater, the first figure skater to compete at the Winter Olympics in 30 years, has advanced to the free skate after an impressive short program at the 2022 Beijing Games.

Donovan CarrilloHe’s the first Mexican skater to reach the finals, and he’s done so despite never having trained on professional rinks.

His short program on Tuesday set to the songs “Black Magic Woman” and “Shake It” by Santana won him an overall score of 79.69. Towards the end of his performance, Carrillo skated with his hands over his heart.

“This is for my family and all Mexico,” he said.

Donovan CarrilloBorn in Zapopan, Jalisco, Carrillo has said his training has been difficult. His family struggled to pay for his lessons and, at times, to find practice facilities. He’s known for training at a shopping center rink during public sessions.

Mexico hadn’t had a figure skater compete at the Winter Olympics since the 1992 Albertville Games when Riccardo Olavarrieta and Diana Encinas fought for gold. On Tuesday, Donovan Carrillo ended the country’s dry spell by competing in the men’s short program in Beijing.

“Many people told me during the beginning of my career that this was a crazy dream,” Carrillo said. “People were always laughing or telling me it wasn’t possible for a Mexican to qualify.”

Carrillo hopes his history-making performance at the Olympics encourages other athletes from Mexico.

“My message to the Mexicans who will be watching me at the Olympic Games through their screens is that no matter the hardships that may present themselves to you, work hard and never give up,” he said in Spanish in the Olympic Channel‘s Winter Tracks video series.

Carrillo is scheduled to compete against 23 other skaters in the free skate program on Thursday.

Richard Torrez Jr. Gives USA First Olympic Medal in Super Heavyweight Division in 30+ Years

Richard Torrez, Jr. was thisclose to gold, but still made history with silver…

The 22-year-old Mexican American amateur boxer lost his super heavyweight gold medal bout to Uzbekistan’s Bakhodir Jalolov, who was heavily favored going into this Olympics to win gold.

Richard Torrez Jr.

Torrez, who had a strong run to the final, did better than the last time he met Jalolov, when he was brutally knocked out by the Uzbek in 2019. He had a solid game plan of careful pressure, bursts of attack, and staying very low, as he was giving up a lot of height and reach to Jalolov in the first place, and looked to make it as tough as possible for Jalolov to establish an easy rhythm with the jab and set up power shots.

Richard Torrez Jr.

Torrez did win the majority in the first round, taking three of five cards, but Jalolov found his rhythm in the second, landing good shots every time Torrez got one in and then some. The length of Jalolov, combined with the fact that he’s also very good and not simply tall, was just too much.

Torrez’s silver medal is the first medal the U.S. has had in this division since Riddick Bowe’s silver in 1988.

Richard Torrez Jr.

But the denial of gold means that Andre Ward in 2004 remains the last U.S. men’s gold medalist in boxing.

The Team USA men did claim three silver medals this year. Along with Torrez, silvers went to lightweight Keyshawn Davis and featherweight Duke Ragan.

Fernanda Garay & Brazil Claim Silver in Women’s Volleyball at Tokyo Games

2020 Tokyo GamesIt’s a silver lining for Fernanda Garay

The 34-year-old Brazilian professional volleyball player and her Brazil teammates lost to Team USA in the gold medal match of women’s volleyball tournament at the 2020 Tokyo Games, settling for the silver.

Fernanda Garay & Team Brazil

Brazil lost the match in straight sets to the Americans, 21-25, 20-25,- 14-25.

Garay was a member of the Brazil team that won the gold medal at the 2012 London Games.

Fernanda Garay

It’s the first-ever Olympic gold for Team USA.

After the match, Garay recognized the strategic superiority of the Americans on the court, but asserted that the Brazilians gave their all.

Fernanda Garay & Team Brazil

“I think our preparation was the best possible, we knew the difficulty of this game, as it is an Olympic final. We knew that they would give their all, I have no doubt that we also gave our all. Maybe strategically they were able to play better than us, they were very aggressive on the serve, and we had to keep holding and behind the score many times. I’m very proud of our group, of what we’ve done so far,” she told TV Globo.

“They had more adversity than us, who managed to impose themselves in more games, this may have strengthened them at this time. We had no doubt that we could have a great game, they were better, and that’s what sport is all about. One hour is gained, another is lost. Unfortunately, today was our turn to feel defeat, and it hurts like hell, but I’m really proud of what we’ve done. We fought a lot and left everything on the court”, she added.

Garay confirmed that this final was her last Olympics, taking the opportunity to exalt the group with whom he lived in recent years.

“It’s terrible now, because we couldn’t win. But the sport is like that, it was great to be with this group all this time. I enjoyed every moment with these girls, I am very proud of them. A group that came discredited and strengthened in times of difficulty, I return home proud of everything we’ve done and where we’ve come from”, she concluded.

Justine Wong-Orantes Helps Lead Team USA to First Olympic Gold in Women’s Volleyball at Tokyo Games

2020 Tokyo Games

It’s the golden hour for Justine WongOrantes

The 25-year-old half-Mexican American professional volleyball player, widely regarded as one of the world’s best female return specialists (libero), and her Team USA mates defeated Brazil in the women’s volleyball competition to claim historic gold at the 2020 Tokyo Games.

Justine Wong-Orantes

The Americans dispatched their rivals 25-21, 25-20, 25-14 to win Olympics gold for the USA women’s volleyball for the first time.

Wong-Orantes was named Best Libero at this year’s Games.

Wong-Orantes and Jordan Larson were stars for the American team as they ripped through the tournament in Tokyo, saving their best for last, with Larson finishing it off with 12 kills against Brazil, which had stood in America’s way on past attempts to stand atop the medal stand.

Team USA Volleyball

Larson had won silver at the 2012 London Games and bronze at the 2016 Rio Games. Now she has the complete set, while it’s a first gold for Wong-Orantes in her Olympic debut.

On June 7, 2021, US National Team head coach Karch Kiraly announced Wong-Orantes would be part of the 12-player Olympic roster for the 2020 Summer Olympics.

With very minimal international Team USA experience, Wong-Orantes would lead the Olympics in serve reception percentage, on the way to helping the USA capture a first-ever gold medal in dominating fashion.

Diana Taurasi Becomes First Latinx Basketball Player with Five Olympic Gold Medals

2020 Tokyo Games

Diana Taurasi is one of America’s Golden girls…

The 39-year-old Argentinian American professional basketball player and teammate Sue Bird have set a new Olympic record, alongside s the basketball players, men or women, with five gold medals.

Diana Taurasi & Team USA

Taurasi, Bird and their Team USA mates defeated Japan 90-75 in the women’s basketball final at Saitama Super Arena at the 2020 Tokyo Games, clinching a seventh straight Olympic gold medal for the U.S.

It was their 55th consecutive Olympic win.

Diana Taurasi & Sue Bird

“It’s been a tremendous journey,” Taurasi said. “It’s 20 years of sacrifice, of putting everything else aside and just wanting to win. It’s never easy playing on this team, the pressure, but this group found a way to win, and I am just happy that this group got to enjoy it.”

That’s an impeccable tour of Athens, Beijing, London, Rio de Janeiro and now Tokyo as they showed off a global desire for winning and longevity that has defined the program. Likely playing in their final game with the national team, Bird and Taurasi made the first two baskets and then symbolically handed it off to the younger generation to carry it home.

Brittney Griner capped off a memorable Olympic run with her best game in Tokyo, putting up 30 points on 14-on-18 shooting, to lead the offensive attack. It was the most points ever in a gold-medal game for an American, besting Lisa Leslie‘s record of 29. But the young star was more thrilled she helped Bird and Taurasi get their fifth.

“Anyone who knows me and knows [Taurasi] knows how much I look up to her,” Griner said. “Even on the court I am still in awe. Like, yo, I get to play with Diana Taurasi. So to be a part of this, her fifth, it means everything to me, honestly.”

But is Taurasi ready to try for number six?

“See you in Paris,” Taurasi said during an interview with NBC Olympics after the gold medal game.

Taurasi then walked away from the interview, leaving the NBC crew to ponder if they were breaking news just after the big win.

Cuba’s Andy Cruz Claims Gold in Men’s Lightweight Boxing at Tokyo Games

2020 Tokyo Games

Andy Cruz is officially an Olympic gold medalist…

The 25-year-old Cuban boxer defeated Team USA’s Keyshawn Davis by split decision to claim the gold medal in the men’s lightweight boxing competition at the 2020 Tokyo Games.

Andy Cruz

In a re-run of the 2019 World Championships, the 22-year-old American was forced to take silver after a split decision favored Cruz, who is also the reigning Pan-American champion.

Davis had set a quick pace from the opening bell by going out on the attack with Cruz biding his time before hitting the target. The top seed went back to his corner at the end of the round ahead by four judges.

Andy Cruz

The story reversed in the second round when Davis, buoyed on by the vocal support of his team in the Kokugikan Arena, landed a series of blows on Cruz to win all 10s from the judges.

There was everything to play for the in third round. Davis was a constant threat, but Cruz replied with killer jabs and by the end both raised their arms in celebration.

There was an agonizing wait for the result before it was announced that Cruz had won 4-1 and the Olympic title. The judges had preferred his ability to defend himself and reply with less frequent shots. On his way to final, he had demolished Australia’s Harry Garside 5-0 in the semifinal, and in the earlier rounds Brazil’s Wanderson de Oliveira 4-1 and Great Britain’s Luke McCormack 5-0.

“I’m very happy because I could reach my goal. It was my goal to reach gold and I accomplished that,” said an elated Cruz after the bout.

Davis, who took silver, also reacted positively to the fight: “I feel like it was a great fight. It was moving so fast, I barely remember it. But I felt like it was a 3-2 decision, it was a good technical fight, I think the fans loved it.” On winning a silver medal, he added: “Everything was worth it, man. Even though it’s a silver medal, I still learned a lot about myself in this tournament, leading up to the silver medal. I think I’m a better fighter now.”

The bronze medals were awarded to Garside and Armenia’s Hoyhannes Bachkov, who Davis had beaten in the semifinal 5-0.

Brazil’s Beatriz Ferreira Claims Silver at Tokyo Games

2020 Tokyo Games

Beatriz Ferreira may not have claimed the gold, but she’s still an Olympic medalist…

The 28-year-old Brazilian boxer lost her gold medal bout in the women’s lightweight boxing division at the 2020 Tokyo Games by unanimous decision to Ireland’s Kellie Harrington.

Beatriz Ferreira

Harrington weathered a punishing opening round in which she was caught off-balance by one of Ferreira’s many flurries, who was up on three of the five judges’ scorecards after the first three minutes.

But Harrington made technical adjustments, switching to southpaw and boxing behind her jab expertly to control the distance, with Ferreira often swinging at fresh air as she lost the second round on every card.

Beatriz Ferreira

Ferreira showed improvements in the final round but absorbed a big left hand from Harrington, while the pair traded big shots in the final few seconds before embracing each other at the final bell.

Harrington was once again favored by all five judges in the final round and was announced as the winner on every scorecard.

Devin Booker & Team USA Beat France for Men’s Basketball Gold at Tokyo Games

2020 Tokyo Games

It’s a first taste of Olympic gold for Devin Booker

The 24-year-old half-Mexican American professional basketball player, who plays for the Phoenix Suns, and his Team USA mates held off France 87-82 on Saturday to win the men’s basketball title at the 2020 Tokyo Games — ending a summer that started with sputters but closed with celebration.

Devin Booker

Nothing about the summer was easy for Team USA, including the gold-medal game.

The Americans expected nothing less.

And in the end, their Olympic reign lives on.

Devin Booker

Kevin Durant scored 29 points and joined Carmelo Anthony as the only three-time men’s gold medalists in Olympic history.

“Every championship is special, and the group you’re with is special, but I can be honest and say this is the most responsibility I’ve ever felt,” said U.S. coach Gregg Popovich, who adds this gold to five NBA titles he’s won as coach for the San Antonio Spurs.

Team USA Men's Basketball

“You’re playing for so many people that are watching, and for a country, and other countries involved. The responsibility was awesome. I felt it every day for several years now. I’m feeling pretty light now and looking forward to getting back to the hotel.”

Wine was awaiting, and so was a hero’s welcome from the U.S. women’s team — which plays for gold of its own Sunday — when the men returned to the team hotel. Later Saturday night, after Australia defeated Slovenia for the bronze, Popovich and the team returned to the arena for their gold medals. One player would drape the prize over another’s neck, then they watched the U.S. flag get raised and “The Star-Spangled Banner” blare for them one more time.

“Everybody was questioning us,” U.S. forward Draymond Green. “This is special.”

Durant sealed the win with two free throws with 8.8 seconds left, making the outcome academic. The lead was five, France’s final possession was irrelevant, and it was over. The U.S. players gathered for a hug at midcourt, Durant, Green and Bam Adebayo wrapped themselves in American flags, Popovich had a long hug with his assistants and the journey was complete.

Hebert Conceição Notches Rare Olympic Knockout to Claim Gold in Men’s Middleweight Boxing at Tokyo Games

2020 Tokyo Games

It’s a knockout Olympic performance for Hebert Conceição

The 23-year-old Brazilian boxer became the fifth men’s middleweight boxer all-time to win Olympic gold via a knockout during his men’s middleweight middleweight boxing match at the 2020 Tokyo Games.

Hebert Conceição

In an exciting bout, Conceição knocked down Oleksandr Khyzhniak of Ukraine in the third round after losing each of the first two rounds to his opponent.

Hebert Conceição

The other four men’s middleweight boxers to win a gold medal via a knockout were Charles Mayer of the United States at the 1904 St. Louis Games, Floyd Patterson of the United States at the 1952 Helsinki Games, Gennadi Schatkov of the Soviet Union at the 1956 Melbourne Games, and Vyacheslav Lemeshev of the Soviet Union at the 1972 Munich Games.

Hebert Conceição

Conceicao became the second Brazilian boxer all-time to win Olympic gold. The first was Robson Conceição, who won the gold medal in the men’s lightweight division at the 2016 Rio Games.

Aleix Gomez Helps Lead Spain to Men’s Handball Bronze Medal at Tokyo Games

2020 Tokyo Games

It’s the bronze age for Aleix Gomez

The 24-year-old Spanish handball player scored eight goals to help lead Spain to the bronze medal in the men’s handball tournament at the 2020 Tokyo Games.

Aleix Gomez

Spain equaled its best finish in men’s handball with its 33-31 win over Egypt.

Eight years after winning the world championship on home soil, Spain finally picked up its first Olympic medal since the 2008 Beijing Games, capping a series of tight games that included one-point wins over Germany and Norway in group play and another one-goal win against Sweden in the quarterfinals.

Spain Handball Team

Denmark beat Spain 27-23 in the semifinals.

Spain led 19-16 at the half but never led by that many again. Egypt got its first tie at 21-21 and never got the lead but kept moving back into a tie, with the latest at 28-28 with six minutes to play.

Egypt finally fell behind by two after that but cut it to one once again with 34 seconds to play. Needing a turnover to tie, Egypt instead conceded a goal to Raul Entrerrios with seven seconds left, icing the game for Spain.

Aleix Gomez led Spain with his eight goals.