From the moment the athletes marched into the Olympic Stadium wearing blue and white and waving flags excitedly, to now, just nine days later, Argentina has been well represented. Despite having only one medal, the athletes have competed with ferocity and heart, holding their heads high in the glory of personal bests, even in the despair of Olympic defeat.
Back here in Argentina it’s been an exiting week as individual events and team sports have brought out a nationalist in everyone. But for all those that couldn’t catch the events because of work, here’s an inside scoop on how Argentina has performed so far and what to expect in the final week of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
A Medal at Last
After nine days, almost 50 events, and numerous Olympics athletes, Argentina finally earned it’s first London 2012 Olympic medal.
Juan Martin Del Potro fought his way onto the podium after defeating Serbia’s Novak Djokovic in the bronze medal game on 5th August in men’s singles tennis.
“I know everybody in Argentina was following this match, trying to give me the power to play my best tennis. I really appreciated that. I think this is a gift for all our country,” said the 23-year-old in an interview with ESPN.
“I’m the happiest man in the world at this moment. After a really sad day two days ago [losing the semi final to Roger Federer], it’s not easy to recover and to play these kinds of matches. But I had energy in my body, in my heart, and that helped me face this big challenge.”
Del Potro defeated Djokovic in two sets 7-5 and 6-4 surprising many fans, sports analysts and even Federer himself.
“I don’t think many were favouring [Del Potro] to win that match. That was a great, great effort,” said Federer. Federer lost the gold medal match and settled for silver after losing to Great Britain’s Andy Murray.
With the bronze, Argentina has finally got on the medalboard.
One of the most encouraging moments of the past week was Lauro German’s personal best in the men’s shot put on 3rd August. No, he didn’t medal, in fact not even close, but when he threw his personal best for all the world knew he had won gold. His face broke into a smile as he pumped his fists into the air again and again after his 20.84ft throw.
The throw landed him in sixth place almost exactly a foot behind the leader Tomasz Majewski of Poland. But as he blew a kiss into the TV, his happiness and pride obvious, it couldn’t help but make you smile. Here was an athlete who, despite not medaling, was immensely proud of his achievement and so was everyone else.
Another bright moment for Argentina was when Federico Molinari secured his spot in the men’s rings final, a first for an Argentine gymnast.
“I never dreamed I’d get here. I just wanted to be an Olympian and now I’ve gotten through to a final stage, it’s incredible. I remember when I was little I would watch the Olympics on VHS, and now I’m here,” said Molinari to reporters.
The 28-year-old gymnast received a 15.333 to place him in seventh place. He didn’t end up with a medal at the final earlier today, but leaves satisfied with a great achievement.
Unfortunately, there was also quite a bit of disappointment in the first week as well as success.
The women’s beach volleyball team was unable to make it through to the knock out phase after losing all three of their games, ending in last place behind the USA, Spain, and the Netherlands.
Medal hopeful Paula Pareto is also going home empty handed after being defeated in the quarterfinals of women’s 48kg Judo by Japan’s Tomoko Fukimi.
Argentine table tennis player Liu Song was unfortunately beat in the second round by Slovenia’s Bojan Tokic, the loss meant his early elimination from the Olympic tournament.
Finally, sailing medal hopeful Julio Alsogaray failed to qualify for the medal race of men’s laser after finishing just outside the top ten athletes. Alsogaray finished in 11th place meaning he missed the Olympic finals by one spot.
The men’s handball also just fell short in a do-or-die game against Tunisia earlier today, losing 25-23 in a thrilling encounter.
Despite some disappointment, Argentina still has some very exciting team sports to look forward to in the upcoming week.
The women’s field hockey team is still topping pool B at London 2012. ‘Las Leonas’ currently sit in first place with three wins and one loss for a total of nine points.
The women started the tournament by pulverising South Africa 7-1 but then failed to avenge their Pan-American championship game loss against the United States. The US beat the women 1-0. Argentina however, bounced back and defeated New Zealand 2-1 and Germnay 3-1. With a win against Australia today at 5:15 pm (BST-4hs) the women will cinch first place and play the third place team in pool A in the first game of the knock out stage. Las Leonas are still very much in the running for the gold medal.
Sebastian Crismanich, one of Argentina’s strongest golden promises still has yet to compete in the 80 kg category of Taekwondo.
He qualified by defeating the two-time Olympic champion Steven Lopez. Lopez is a five-time world champion and has won Olympic gold in 2000 and 2004, with a bronze in Beijing in 2008. Crismanich also grabbed the gold medal at the Pan-Am Games in Mexico in 2011 and is a big medal contender in London. He takes to the mat on 10th August.
The men’s basketball team is also proving to be a medal threat again this year. The Beijing bronze medalists sit in second place of group A with three wins and one loss. The men defeated Lithuania, Tunisia, and Nigeria but fell to the giants from France. Unfortunately, Argentina’s biggest game is next as they take on the undefeated and golden favourite, team USA. With a loss Argentina will most likely drop to third place and be forced to play the winner of group B, which is usually the strongest team of the group. Although a win is not impossible, the men will be very hard pressed to beat the US team of NBA superstars today at 6:15 pm.
Finally, the Argentine men’s volleyball team is on their way to qualifying for the knock out round of London 2012.
Right now the men sit in fourth place with two wins and two losses; the top four teams qualify. They defeated both Australia and Bulgaria, who was undefeated until they met Argentina, but lost to Italy and Poland. With a win against Great Britain today (match starts 12:45pm, BST-4), the men can punch their ticket to the next round.
The win against Bulgaria not only acted as a team confidence builder but also proved that the Argentines aren’t going anywhere and can play with the best.