The Tokyo 2020 Games were the transition for Mexico.
The ambition of the Mexican delegation was high on the part of the sport's leaders, but for most of the athletes it was their first time in an Olympic tournament.
Ana Guevara, head of sport in the country, raised the expectations of medals to a dozen.
The final result was four bronze medals and seven fourth places.
The old administrative disorder of the sports federations, the low resources for sports and the pandemic hit a Mexican representation that took pride from the wounds.
The bronze medal rewards a daring Mexico at the Olympic Games
Promising Alegna González debuts at the Olympic Games with a fifth place for Mexico
Tokyo 2020 is far from being Mexico's worst performance. In Paris 1900, Rome 1960, Tokyo 1964 and Atlanta 1996 only one bronze medal was harvested. In Helsinki 1952, Munich 1972 and Barcelona 1992 he won a silver medal in each of the editions. For this year's Olympics, 163 athletes attended, the most in 50 years. For the first time there was participation in events such as trampoline gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, women's wrestling and softball, a team that finished fourth in its Olympic debut. The country was excited after shining in the 2019 Pan American Games where they won 37 golds and 136 medals in total, the best participation in their history. And then came the coronavirus storm.
“It was not easy for Mexico. The pandemic made everything difficult. When an athlete prepares for a world-class event, many years are at stake. Everything is planned. I spoke with many athletes and they tried to maintain a good attitude under the circumstances. They trained where they could. In swimming it was even more difficult because the facilities were closed. On an emotional level it affected. There are athletes who felt alone, as they told me, they trained alone, with a coach and through video calls, ”says María Teresa Ramírez, the historic Mexican swimming medalist during the Mexico 68 Games.
“Guevara had said that Mexico was going to do very well.
Obviously he set the goal of beating Rio [five medals].
She is responsible, but if they had been won then we would say that the 11 medals would have been for her.
And it doesn't go that way.
There are many variables in the environment, ”explains Katy López, a specialist in Olympic sports in Mexico.
“We are so reluctant not to accept our condition.
We want athletes to do everything, without giving them anything.
This is not about making him want to, it is about preparation, ”says López.
Weightlifter Aremi Fuentes after winning the bronze medal in Tokyo 2020 LUIS ACOSTA / AFP
Mexico, without a national sport plan
The structural problems of sport in Mexico go through the head first. In Mexico there is no Sports Secretariat, as there is in the great powers such as China or the United Kingdom. The National Commission for Physical Culture and Sports (Conade) depends on the Ministry of Education. Sport is not a state priority. The budget is the great issue of each Administration. For the Olympic year and in the midst of the crisis, 5,351 million pesos (250,000 dollars) were allocated, 107.5 million less than in 2020. At the beginning of the government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, the intention was to gradually increase support. “Poor budget, poor results; Coarse budget, size results. There are countries that, based on their budget, had a total turnaround, this implies a growth path ”,Guevara told this newspaper in an interview at the beginning of 2020. "It has to be a decision of the Executive and legislative power to give a more important connotation to sport through the budget," mentions Daniel Aceves, Olympic medalist in Los Angeles 1984.
Another problem is the management of the different sports federations.
"Many of the leaders are unaware of the executive matters of the administration in sports, maybe they were good athletes, coaches, but ...", adds López, also a journalist for
El Heraldo de México
The Mexican Cycling Federation left Jessica Salazar out of the Tokyo call, a medal promise, due to an "administrative" error.
The Swimming Federation left athletes in limbo three weeks before qualifying.
In the case of football, detached from all economic problems and supported by a lucrative League, he won a bronze that crowned his best prospects.
The Mexican soccer team after the medal ceremony.THOMAS PETER / Reuters
The Mexican government eliminated 109 public trusts last October, including the Fund for High Performance Sports (Fodepar).
“Trusts lent themselves to being petty cash, to a lot of administrative misunderstandings.
A lot happened at Fodepar.
The Taekwondo Federation inflated the prices of plane tickets, gave scholarships to people who were neither athletes nor coaches.
If from 1998 to 2020 the trust was able to operate and the best medal harvests were produced, there was something good to rescue ”, considers Katy López.
The authorities assured that the resources for the sport were assured.
The sights are set on Paris 2024
The Mexican diving team attended the Games with a competitor for each event in the Olympic program, something that had not happened. The divers Alejandra Orozco and Gabriela Agúndez were the only ones to hang a medal. The pairs of Carolina Mendoza and Lolita Hernández; Kevin Berlin and Diego Balleza; Juan Celaya and Yahel Castillo finished in fourth place. A commendable job given the deployment of talent from China and the UK during the competitions. Except Castillo, the others debuted. Veteran Rommel Pacheco and rookie Aranza Vázquez finished sixth in their trials. Alone, Agúndez, 21, finished fourth in the grand final. Diving, like gymnastics, is a sport subject to the discretion of the judges.
Mexico said goodbye to its great medalists such as Paola Espinosa and Germán Sánchez, in diving, and María del Rosario Espinoza in taekwondo. The three, already veterans, failed to qualify. The turn was for the youth. In taekwondo, hopes were with world medalists Briseida Acosta and Carlos Sansores. The big Mexican stars aimed to be one of the strong bets. The jolt came strong when both were eliminated in the first round.
Alexa Moreno became the best Mexican gymnast of all time.
Moreno, bronze in the 2018 World Cup, was a hope for his country in horse jumping.
In her test she finished fourth, one tenth of third place.
Her story meant a rebirth after being attacked in Rio 2016 for her physique.
Weightlifter Aremi Fuentes, at 28, won a medal after an endurance test.
The president of her federation, Rosalio Alvarado, called her “fat” when she was looking for her pass to the Games and left her out of a Pan-American tournament, key to her preparation.
Gabriela Agúndez and Alejandra Orozco, bronze on the 10-meter platform Dmitri Lovetsky / AP
The marcher Alegna González, one of the promises of the Latin American march, competed in her first Games at the age of 22 and finished fifth in her test. “Finishing in the top 10 is a big step, especially for the youngsters. Many people do not see that part, they only see the medals ”, he commented to this newspaper. Jorge Orozco, 21, finished fourth in sport shooting in his first experience. Tonatiú López and Paola Morán managed to reach the semifinals in the 800 and 400 meters after years without having Mexican representatives in athletics.
“This is the sport, if you are not on the podium it seems that you did not work.
I know it's cruel.
This work has to be traced.
We have to be more reflective, not everything is the fault of the athletes, they expose themselves and it is a teamwork ”, considers María Teresa Ramírez.
The change of post in Mexican sports has already begun, three years after Paris 2024, despite all the uncertainty.
Mexico won four bronzes.
Alejandra Valencia and Luis 'Abuelo' Álvarez won it in archery in mixed teams.
Alejandra Orozco and Gabriela Agúndez hung the medal on the 10-meter platform in the synchronized mode.
Aremi Fuentes lifted the weight of his life to win the medal in the 73 kilogram test.
The Mexican soccer team, led by Jaime Lozano, beat Japan 3-1 to add its second medal in the Olympic Games.
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