It’s that time of year again. Time to stare at your television for two weeks as the world’s most gifted
abdominals athletes compete for the title of Olympic Champion. Yes, another four years has come and gone, and once again you are not competing at the games. You watched Athens on TV and you swore you would give track practice a better go, you watched Beijing on TV and saw Michael Phelps and you swore that you would too would do 500 or at least 5 crunches a day, you watched London on TV and saw the Spice Girls reunite and thought: well there’s still time to be a backup dancer at least. You took one look at Ryan Lochte and you swore that in four years time you too would carry your nation’s flag into the stadium with the best, with the brightest, with the Ralph Lauren clad and tell your grandchildren that you did a shot-ski with Picabo Street. Look at that rhythmic gymnast. How hard could be it?
Harder than you thought. You are 28 now. There will be no Olympics for you, not even as a rhythmic gymnast, not even as a backup dancer. But fear not, you can still sit down in front of your television with a bag of Cheetos resting upon your light beer belly and marvel at the sight of tiny elves hurtling through the air in pretzels.
Here’s your rundown on the argentine olympians who will be competing in Rio in a few short weeks, because whether this is your adopted or your birth country, there should always be a reason to sing “Vamos,Vamos Argentina.“
The History Lesson
Argentina has an illustrious history at the olympic games — it was one of the twelve founding countries of the International Olympic Committee back in 1894 and the only one from “Ibero-America”. We have participated in every one of the games since 1900 except for 1904, 1912, and again in 1980 because Argentina supported the USA’s boycott of the games in Russia. Ah the catfights of yesteryear, not really sure what that was about, I slept through most of high school history. Google it!
Our medal count since the games’ inception in 1896 is at a very respectable 70, twenty-four of which are in…wait for it… boxing! It would be much higher but sadly, polo was cut in the 1936 from the Olympiad — probably because other nations were jealous of our gold medals and definitely not because a sport played by those who grew up riding to prep school on a thoroughbred “Pride of San Isidro” is a tad bit too inaccessible.
Though our medals come largely from boxing, perhaps the most memorable moment came from Beijing when a 21 year old, mulleted Leo Messi led Argentine football to gold and glory against Nigeria in the 2008.
Rio & the Athletes
The games kick off on August 5th with the Opening Ceremony at the legendary Maracanã stadium in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The opening ceremony, always a spectacle, will be directed by Fernando Meirelles, the man who brought us City of God and The Constant Gardener. So… by the end of the ceremony be ready to retreat solemnly to your room and reflect on institutionalized corruption as a single silent tear runs down your cheek and you vow fight for the people via a strongly worded Facebook post. You’ll move past that feeling when you see the athletes parade into the stadium and think to yourself “Who is that?”
The 36 year old Olympic veteran and basketball player has the honor of carrying the flag during the opening ceremony. Scola has played in the NBA (The US’ Basketball Association) for 11 years and played for the Argentine national team when they won gold in 2004 in Athens and bronze in 2008 in Beijing. Scola is a native of Capital Federal, where the power forward conspicuously stands out on the calle at 6 foot 9 inches. You’ll know him when you see him.
María Gabriela Díaz
cooler than you a 35 year old BMX rider — and one of the most decorated women in the history of the sport. Though most tune into the Olympics to watch Michael Phelps: the Life Story in Seven Parts, maybe reconsider that and watch the cyclists make like Evel Knievel and afterwards promise yourself that this is the year you will learn how to parallel park. Dreams!
During her storied career, Díaz has won three gold medals at the Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI) championship and a gold at the Pan American games, this will be her second Olympics after Beijing.
Paula Pareto is a 30 year old from Buenos Aires Province who will be competing in Judo in Rio. An aspiring soccer player as a child, Paula switched over to Judo at the age of nine and has been winning championships ever since. Pareto won the bronze medal in Beijing in a dramatic match that required judicial review. This time around, she comes to the Olympics as a world champion, winning a gold medal in 2015. In her free time she earned her degree in medicine from University of Buenos Aires. Paula, she’s just like us! You can follow her at the games on twitter.
The freestyler will be making his second Olympic appearance after his London debut. The 26 year old from Casilda is one to watch; he won 10 medals at the South American Games and a bronze at the world championships in 2015 — the first for Argentina ever at the swimming meet. He is already in Rio and tweeting with his fellow teammates. Fact: Team Argentina is looking good in those uniforms.
Juan Martín Del Potro
Do you not know who this is? Educate yourself son! Beloved tennis champion Juan Martín Del Potro will be returning to compete at the games after winning bronze back in 2012. Del Potro has been plagued by injuries in recent years but remains famous for his defeat of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal to win the championship at the 2009 US Open and for ranking among the best in the world and numero uno in our hearts.
And there you have it. Get into the games! Stock up on protein powder! Be inspired to attempt a single pull up! Lie back down! Never do a pull up again! And don’t miss the rest of the Argentine squad: entire basketball and rugby and field event teams full of world class athletes rocking the white and the sky blue. So block off your calendar for August 5—21 and raise a glass of Fernet Cola to the athletes.