When the Olympic Games begin today, most Colombians will be cheering for the 147 athletes wearing the tricolor, but here in La Arenosa, we’ll be rooting a little more for the athletes below.
The squad formed by four Barranquilleros and one Sabanalarguero will represent our department in the biggest sports competition in the world. Two athletes, two footballers, and one boxer will be trying to emulate Helmut Bellingrondt, the Barranquilla native who was the first one ever to win Olympic medals for Colombia.
Here’s a who’s who of our athletes in RIO:
Anthony José Zambrano De la Cruz This eighteen-year-old will be competing in the Athletics Men’s 4 x 400m relay. His best score in this competition is 3:01.32, achieved this year at the Athletics Meeting in Medellin. At the moment he is ranked 159 at the 400 meters men’s rank (All-Athletics.com).
Brigitte María Merlano Pájaro This Barranquilla native will be competing in her second consecutive Olympics Games in the 100 meter Women’s hurdles event. Her qualifying score was 12.94 at the Colombian National Athletics Championship held this year in Medellin. On her first Olympics appearance in London, she finished 24th on the 100 meter hurdles with a time of 13.21. Her personal best in this event is 12.12 (wind: -0.1 m/s) and was set in Caguas, Puerto Rico in 2012.
Juan Carlos Carillo As a Young boxer, this Currambero won a silver medal for Colombia at the 2010 Singapore Youth Olympic Games in the 75 Kg category. This year he made his first Olympic team after beating the Polish fighter, Jerzy Tryc in the qualifying Championship held in Venezuela. In Rio, the twenty-three-year-old will be competing in the Light Heavyweight Men’s Boxing category at 81 Kg.
Colombian National Team Tweet (@FCFSeleccionCol) Video: Teo Gutierrez (middle) from Barranquilla, with the Men´s Olympic squad cheering for the “Chicas Superpoderosas” the Colombian Women´s Football Team.
Teofilo Gutierrez One of Colombia’s biggest stars, this 31 year old striker is 1 of only 3 players over 23 who will be allowed to play in Rio. Wearing the “Amarilla”, he has scored 16 goals (15 with Absolute and 1 with the Olympics), including one in the 2014 World Cup opening game against Greece. He has won two cups in Turkey with Trabzonspor; one in Mexico with Cruz Azul; two in Argentina with River Plate; one in Portugal with Sporting Lisboa; the South American Cup, and the Libertadores Cup also with River Plate; scoring a total of 146 goals in 330 games.
Andrés Felipe Roa This Sabanalarga native is the other footballer from the department conforming to the under 23 Colombian squad. The offensive midfielder qualified for the Olympics with Colombia after finishing second in the South American U20 event, and later beat the US male team in a two-legged play-off. Despite his early career the twenty-three-year-old has already won three titles in Colombia: the Postobón Tournament in 2013 with Uniautónoma F. C.; the Colombian Super League in 2014, and the Aguila League in 2015, both with his current team, Deportivo Cali. Combining first and second division he has scored 20 goals in 130 appearances.
The Rio Games officially begin today (August 5th). However, some athletic competitions, such as Women’s Football, began as early as August 3rd.