Admit it. You're all giddy for the Olympic's opening ceremony. You can still feel the deep bass of the drums, the mind-blowing synchronization of the 2,008 drummers, the lights flickering as their palms hit the surface of the instrument--all counting down to the world's biggest international sports event (yes, even bigger than the FIFA World Cup): The 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Now it's London's time. And while you're all wondering how the Brits will manage to top the Chineses' spectacle, you should also be thinking about the competition (make sure you TiVo that part too).
In 2008, the Associated Press found that only 4 percent of Beijing's Team USA was Hispanic. Well we're hoping that's about to change. Here are 13 Latino Olympians we recommend you keep your eye on in London.
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London's Calling! And it's for you.
FACTS, STATS, AND QUOTES FROM YOUR FAVORITE LATINO OLYMPIANS IN LONDON:
Team USA: Steven and Diana Lopez
For them the Olympics are a family affair. In 2008, all three siblings took on the taekwondo event and medaled (Mark won the Silver in Beijing but did not qualify for London). This will be Diana's second olympics, but Steven--with five world titles under his belt--is fighting for his fourth Olympic medal. "My parents, who came from Nicaragua to the U.S. -- who would have ever thought that they would have American kids on the Olympic team?" Diana told <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/sports/olympics/london/taekwondo/story/2012-07-15/steven-lopez-back-for-gold-london-olympics/56238462/1" target="_hplink">USA Today.</a> "That's the epitome of the Olympic dream." Country of Origin: Born in New York, Nicaraguan Parents Sport: Taekwondo Olympic Debut: Sydney 2000 (Steven), Beijing 2008 (Diana) Medals: Steven won the gold at the Sydney Games and the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Both Steven and Diana won the bronze at Beijing in their individual events.
Team USA: Brenda Villa
Villa has been on the U.S. Olympic Team since 1998 and is currently the most decorated athlete in her sport. At 32, she's said London 2012 will be her last Olympic appearance. "There's almost a peace to knowing that it's the last one and that's it," she told <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/london-2012-us-team-captain-brenda-villa-taking-last-shot-at-olympic-gold-in-water-polo/2012/07/21/gJQAc9TvzW_story_1.html" target="_hplink"><em>The Washington Post</em></a>. "You don't want any regrets." Country of Origin: Born in Los Angeles, Mexican Parents Sport: Water Polo (Captain) Olympic Debut: Sydney 2000 Medals: Silver (Sydney & Beijing), Bronze (Athens) Photo: Brenda Villa of the US, right, attempts to pass the ball as Hungary's Rita Keszthelyi blocks her arm during their international Women's Inventional Water Polo event, preliminary round, at the London 2012 Olympic water polo pool in London, Thursday, Mayd
Team USA: Joseph Diaz Jr.
Diaz Jr. began boxing to defend himself against a school bully. At 19, he is the youngest member of the U.S. boxing team. The Mexican-American's parents are both currently unemployed, and the boxer says they are his main motivation during competition. "The thing that motivates me the most is just getting my family, with all their finances, helping them out," Diaz Jr. told the <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2012/may/07/sports/la-sp-oly-boxing-diaz-20120508" target="_hplink"><em>Los Angeles Times</em></a>. "Getting my mom and dad a new house. So I just think about getting the gold medal, think about helping my family out, think about the future that I'm going to have if I just stick to it." Country of Origin: Born in East Los Angeles, Mexican Parents Sport: Boxing Olympic Debut: London 2012 Medal: N/A Photo: Joseph Diaz Jr. of the US Boxing team poses for pictures during a photo session during the 2012 Team USA Media Summit on May 15, 2012 in Dallas,Texas.
Team USA: Danell Leyva
Is the all-around gold medalist in Parallel Bars for the 2011 World Championships in Tokyo. Leyva was introduced to the sport by his parents who were both gymnasts for Team Cuba. His step-father, Yin Alvarez, is currently a coach for Team USA. "This is big because I wanted to be an Olympian myself," Alvarez told <a href="http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/06/30/2876707/miamis-danell-leyva-takes-gymnastics.html" target="_hplink"><em>The Miami Herald</em></a>. "Danell represents all Cubans who came to America and made a new life and are proud to be Americans." Country of Origin: Cuba Sport: Gymnastics Olympic Debut: London 2012 Medal: N/A Photo: Danell Leyva competes on the rings during day 3 of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Team Trials at HP Pavilion on June 30, 2012 in San Jose, California.
Team USA: Marlen Esparza
The Mexican-American is a six time national champion and a bronze medalist for the 2006 World Championships. The 2012 London Olympics will be the first to include Women's Boxing, making Esparza (in blue) the first Hispanic women to represent Team USA in boxing. "It's an honor, and it's very exciting to showcase our sport," Esparza told <em><a href="http://www.chron.com/olympics/article/Boxer-Esparza-stays-calm-before-Games-storm-3725321.php" target="_hplink">The Houston Chronicle</a></em>. "A lot of people are going to open up their eyes and see what women bring to the sport of boxing. It should have happened a long time ago." Country of Origin: Born in Houston, Mexican Parents Sport: Boxing Olympic Debut: London 2012 Medal: N/A
Team Honduras: Brandon Escobar
He's a Team USA member at heart, but Escobar (in blue) will wrestle for Team Honduras, where his parents are originally from. He is wrestling as one of the world's top nineteen 55kg freestyle wrestlers, and will be the first Honduran wrestler to compete in the Olympics. "I'm showing what the United States has," Escobar told <a href="http://www.newsday.com/sports/olympics/ex-suffolk-wrestler-on-honduras-olympic-team-1.3801145?qr=1" target="_hplink">Long Island's <em>Newsday</em>.</a> "I'm representing Honduras for my family, but mostly, I'm showing what I've learned here [in the U.S.], where the competition is much better." Country of Origin: Born in Long Island, Parents from Honduras Sport: Wrestling Olympic Debut: London 2012 Medal: N/A
Team USA: John Orozco
The Bronx bred gymnast won the U.S. Men's Junior National Title three years in a row, his first at the age of 15. In August 2010, <em>Sports Illustrated</em> listed him as one of their 16 "Stars of Tomorrow." Growing up, the <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203986604577253784132239316.html" target="_hplink">socio-economic struggles</a> his family faced motivated him to succeed in the sport to help his family. "I want to take them to places they've never dreamed of going," Orozco told the <a href="http://articles.nydailynews.com/2011-02-17/local/28622315_1_john-orozco-artistic-gymnastics-bars-and-horizontal-bar" target="_hplink">Daily News</a>. Country of Origin: Born in New York, Puerto Rican Parents Sport: Gymnastics Olympic Debut: London 2012 Medal: N/A Photo: Orozco competes on the pommel horse during day 3 of the 2012 U.S. Olympic Gymnastics Team Trials at HP Pavilion on June 30, 2012 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Team USA: Amy Rodriguez
The 25 year old forward for the U.S. National Team played during the 2011 FIFA Women's World Cup, where the team reached the finals against Japan. Rodriguez stepped in for an injured Abby Wambach during the 2008 Olympics, and in London she will be playing to defend the Gold. "You have to be prepared to step up at any time," Rodriguez told the <a href="http://articles.latimes.com/2008/aug/05/sports/sp-olyrodriguez5" target="_hplink">LATimes</a> before the 2008 Olympic Games. "And I'm ready to do that. Abby is irreplaceable, but I know and my teammates know I have something to bring to the game, and I plan on doing that in my own way." Country of Origin: Born in Beverly HIlls to a Cuban father Sport: Soccer Olympic Debut: Beijing 2008 Medal: Gold (Team) Photo: Forward Amy Rodriguez #8 of the United States fires a shot on goal against Canada during the first half on September 17, 2011 at LiveStrong Sporting Park in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images)
Team USA: Leo Manzano
The 27 year old runner specializes in the 1500 meters event, and came in first during the London 2012 Olympic Trials. In Beijing, Manzano failed to place in the top three of his event. Earlier this year the Mexican native became the <a href="http://www.leomanzano.com/about/bio" target="_hplink">USA Indoor Champion</a> in the 1,500 meter. "I do represent the U.S., but I also feel like I represent the Hispanic community," Manzano told <a href="http://latino.foxnews.com/latino/sports/2012/07/23/mexican-immigrant-turned-us-olympic-track-star/" target="_hplink">FoxNews Latino</a>. Country of Origin: Mexico (Naturalized U.S. Citizen since 2004) Sport: Track & Field Olympic Debut: Beijing 2008 Medal: N/A
Team USA: Sarah Robles
Though she's considered to be the "Strongest Woman in the United States," her journey to London was not an easy one. Robles's story of fighting poverty and body-image issues on her way to the London games has resonated with thousands of people since appearing on <a href="http://www.buzzfeed.com/jtes/the-strongest-woman-in-america-lives-in-poverty" target="_hplink">BuzzFeed Shift</a>. "You can get [a] sponsorship if you're a super-built guy or a girl who looks good in a bikini," Robles told BuzzFeed Shift. "But not if you're a girl who's built like a guy." Country of Origin: Born in California, Mexican ancestry (<a href="http://www.zonafranca.mx/latinos-en-londres-2012-sarah-robles-sus-bisabuelos-paternos-de-oaxaca/" target="_hplink">great-grandparents</a> on her father's side) Sport: Weightlifting Olympic Debut: London 2012 Medal: N/A Photo: Robles successfully snatches 114 kilograms during the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Women's Weightlifting on March 4, 2012 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Team USA: Manuel Huerta
Huerta won the silver medal at the 2011 Pan American Games, but his story began in 1997 when he arrived to the United States. During the London 2012 Olympic Trials, Americans needed to finish in the top nine of the race to qualify--Huerta came in 9th place, sending him off to his first Olympic games. "I came to the U.S., and it opened its door and gave me all the support I needed," Huerta told the <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/05/sports/olympics/us-triathlete-huerta-left-cuba-to-pursue-olympic-dream.html?_r=1" target="_hplink">NYTimes</a>. "Now I'm going to go to London and represent it." Country of Origin: Cuba (Naturalized U.S. Citizen since 2004) Sport: Triathlon Olympic Debut: London 2012 Medal: N/A Photo: Huerta of the USA reacts to his 9th place finish and Olympic birth during the 2012 ITU World Triathlon San Diego Elite Men's Race on May 12, 2012 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
Team USA: Giuseppe Lanzone
Lanzone's <a href="http://www.nbcolympics.com/athletes/athlete=giuseppe-lanzone/index.html" target="_hplink">interest in rowing</a> was sparked by his father (former rower) at the age of 12. Three years later his mother moved the family to the U.S. and in high school the Peruvian athlete began to row competitively. In Beijing, him and his team finished in 9th place, but took the bronze medal at the 2009 Rowing World Cup. Currently, Lanzone is signed with Wilhelmina Models and was chosen as the ambassador for the 2008 and 2012 <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/2012-heavy-medal-london/post/us-olympic-uniforms-spark-fury-in-congress/2012/07/13/gJQABvJmhW_blog.html" target="_hplink">Ralph Lauren Olympic collections</a>. "There was a lot of hype going into the Olympics; it's the biggest stage for rowing," Lanzone told the <a href="http://www.fairfaxtimes.com/article/20120711/SPORTS/707119417/1061/rowing-straight-to-london&template=fairfaxTimes" target="_hplink">FairFaxTimes</a>. "A few weeks prior to that we were at World Cup and we ended up in third place. But the Olympics is a different thing; everybody brings their best game there. The difference between medal contention and finishing in ninth is a couple of seconds." Country of Origin: Peru (Naturalized U.S. Citizen in 2006) Sport: Rowing Olympic Debut: Beijing 2008 Medal: N/A Photo: Lanzone rows with the United States eightman crew as they practice in Oakland, Calif.
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