Latino athletes represent in London Olympics 2012
By Julie Cortez, El Hispanic News
Portland, OR — Have you found yourself spending many an evening mesmerized by the athleticism, strength, grace, and determination of the athletes competing in the London Olympics since the games officially opened on July 27? They may seem super-human, but here’s a glimpse at a few of the very real people representing Team USA in the Games of the XXX Olympiad, which close Aug. 12.
Marlen Esparza, Boxing
Flyweight Marlen Esparza is making her Olympic debut, but is a six-time National Champion. She also won bronze at the 2006 World Championship and gold in the 2008 Pan American Games. Born in 1989, Esparza calls Houston, Texas, home. Making the U.S. Olympic team was one of her three main goals in life. The other two are to win gold at a world tournament and to finish college. She was student body president at Pasadena High School and graduated in the top 2 percent of her class.
Danell Leyva, Gymnastics
Danell Leyva, who specializes in parallel bars and horizontal bar, is competing in his first Olympics. He was born in 1991 in Matanzas, Cuba, but now lives in Miami, Fl. His mother and stepfather were both members of the Cuban national gymnastics team and his sister, Dayanis Mesa, is a Spanish television host.
Brenda Villa, Water Polo
Brenda Villa is competing in her fourth Olympic Games as an attacker for USA Water Polo. She was the 2008 USA Team’s Silver Medal-winning squad captain and is the most decorated athlete in the world of women’s water polo. She and the team also earned silver in 2000 and bronze in 2004. Born in 1980 in Los Angeles, Calif., Villa attended Stanford University and calls Commerce, Calif., home.
Tony Azevedo, Water Polo
Attacker Tony Azevedo returns for his fourth Olympics; he medaled for the first time in 2008 when USA Water Polo took silver. He and the team won first place in the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico. Born in 1981 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Azevedo now lives in Long Beach, Calif. Like his women’s team counterpart, Brenda Villa, he attended Stanford University.
John Orozco, Gymnastics
John Orozco is competing in his first Olympics after helping his team win gold in 2008 and 2010 at the Pacific Rim Championships and himself winning all-around gold at the Visa Championships in 2011 and 2012. Born in 1992 in the Bronx, New York, Orozco currently resides in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Diana López, Taekwondo
Featherweight Diana López returns to the Olympics for the second time; she won bronze in 2008. Her three older brothers — Jean, Steven, and Mark — have also medaled in the World Championships and/or in the Olympics, and Steven is also competing in London this summer. Born in 1984 in Houston, she now resides in Sugar Land, Texas. Upon finishing her undergraduate degree, López intends to pursue a master’s in education.
Steven López, Taekwondo
Welterweight Steven López is a three-time Olympics medalist as he enters his fourth Olympic Games. He is coached by his older brother, Jean, who is currently head coach of both the U.S. National Team and U.S. Olympic Team. His sister, Diana, is also competing in the London Olympics. He was born in 1978 in Sugar Land, Texas, and now lives in New York City.
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