Puerto Rico’s Olympic Gold Medalists
Puerto Rico is an island nation that is struggling with unemployment, poverty, debt, and the Zika virus. And yet, its athletes are doing Puerto Rico proud at the Rio Olympic Games. Among them is Monica Puig, who won the nation’s first Olympic gold medal in tennis. She was in tears as she stood on the podium in Rio. Before the Rio Olympics, Puig had only one WTA title to her name, but she beat second seed Angelique Kerber in the women’s singles final.
Gigi Fernandez is a former professional tennis player from Puerto Rico. She is a popular figure in the world of tennis and has won several major tennis tournaments. Gigi Fernandez is a role model for women and young women alike. Her determination and drive to succeed have helped her win numerous tennis titles.
Fernandez played collegiate tennis at Clemson from 1982-83, earning All-American honors in singles and doubles. In addition, she advanced to the NCAA Division I Singles Championship, losing to All-American Beth Herr of the University of Southern California. Today, Fernandez has expanded her tennis teaching activities to include clinics with tennis greats Martina Navratilova and Tracy Austin. In 2016, she was awarded the Puerto Rican Athlete of the Century award.
In a time of debt, unemployment, and the Zika virus, it is especially touching that a Puerto Rican athlete can win an Olympic gold medal. For many in the nation, Puig’s success has given Puerto Rico’s people newfound pride and hope. Her triumph at Rio gave the nation its first Olympic gold. She was overcome with tears as she stood on the podium. While her previous WTA wins are limited to one, she was able to beat second seed Angelique Kerber to win the gold medal and put her country on the map.
Puig is the first Puerto Rican woman to win a gold medal in the women’s singles event. She has also become the first Latin American woman to win an Olympic gold medal. She is also the only unseeded woman to win a gold medal in the singles event since 1988. She has also beaten a number of top-ten players, and her achievements are impressive.
Madeline de Jesus
Madeline de Jess is a retired Puerto Rican track and field athlete. She competed in the women’s long jump and triple jump events, and holds personal bests in each event. Her best long jump mark was set on July 24, 1988, in Mexico City. In 1987, she finished fifth in the long jump at the Pan American Games.
The news of Madeline de Jesus’s injury led her to consult with her sister, Margaret, who had been watching the competition. Margaret was a sprinter, but did not qualify for the Olympics. The two sisters are identical twins.
Juan Evangelista Venegas
In 1948, Juan Evangelista Venegas, Puerto Rica’s first Olympic medal winner, made history in the London Olympics. Venegas, a bantamweight, won bronze in the Olympic boxing competition. Though he lost the silver medal to Giovanni Zuddas of Italy, Venegas’s bronze medal was the first medal won by Puerto Rico in Olympic competition. Venegas returned to his native island as a hero. He became a professional boxer in 1948.
As a child, Juan Evangelista Venegas was born in a poor neighborhood and had to learn to fight in order to survive. During the 1948 Olympics, he was part of Puerto Rico’s first Olympic team. Venegas also won the first Olympic medal for Puerto Rico. After he returned home, he turned professional. In his brief career, he won six bouts by decision and only lost two. Venegas died in the 1980s, but his legacy lives on in Puerto Rico.