Monday, September 26, 2022

Mónica Puig Gets Puerto Rico its First Olympic Gold Medal

By on August 13, 2016

Monica Puig, of Puerto Rico, tosses her racquet and celebrates after winning the gold medal against Angelique Kerber, of Germany, during the final round at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Monica Puig, of Puerto Rico, tosses her racquet and celebrates after winning the gold medal against Angelique Kerber, of Germany, during the final round at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

SAN JUAN — “La Borinqueña” was heard for the first time ever in an Olympic medal ceremony after Puerto Rican tennis player Mónica Puig beat Germany’s Angelique Kerber, clinching the gold.

On Saturday, Puig capped her awe-inspiring run at the 31st Olympiad in Rio de Janeiro by winning the final 6-4, 4-6, 6-1. For more than two hours, she caught the attention not only of nearly every single Puerto Rican, but also the rest of the world.

For an island battered by a deep, long-lasting fiscal and economic crisis, along with all the negative news that has come with it, it is a much welcomed collective relief for an island marked by divisiveness.

“This is for [Puerto Rico]. They are going through some tough times right now. They needed this and I needed this,” she told an NBC reporter after the match.

Germany's Angelique Kerber returns to Monica Puig of Puerto Rico in the gold medal match of the women's tennis competition at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Germany’s Angelique Kerber returns to Monica Puig of Puerto Rico in the gold medal match of the women’s tennis competition at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Kerber, who dropped her first set in Rio, was attended after the end of each set by her medical staff due to back problems, but was able to come back to start the next one. She fought to stay in the game, but the Puerto Rican was just determined to finish the feat.

The german player is the reigning Australian Open champ and is currently ranked second by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA). The Puerto Rican sits at No. 34.

On Friday, Puig beat 11th-ranked and two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitová of the Czech Republic, 6-4, 1-6, 6-3, securing her spot in the final. For her part, Kerber beat Madison Keys of the United States in the other semifinal, 6-3, 7-5.

Puig became the first Puerto Rican female athlete to secure an Olympic medal for the island. Puerto Rico had won two silvers and six bronzes at past Olympics, but had never clinched the gold.

“Never wake me up from this dream im living!!! Going for #gold tomorrow!!!” Puig tweeted after her semifinal match.

In the first two rounds, Puig beat Slovenia’s Polona Herzog and Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who is ranked 14th by the WTA. Then she routed (6-1, 6-1) Spanish Garbiñe Muguruza, ranked fourth in the world and reigning French Open champion, to advance to the quarterfinals, where she beat Germany’s Laura Siegemund with the same score.

“When I’m playing in the WTA, it’s more like I’m playing for myself — my job, let’s say,” she had told The Associated Press. “Here, it’s not really my job. It’s for my country, and I think nothing in the world can compare to that. It’s the most special feeling when you put on your colors of your country and you’re walking around the Olympic Village and everybody looks to see your country on the back of your shirt.”

Monica Puig, of Puerto Rico, returns to Angelique Kerber, of Germany during their final round match at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Monica Puig, of Puerto Rico, returns to Angelique Kerber, of Germany during their final round match at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Monica Puig of Puerto Rico returns to Germany's Angelique Kerber in the gold medal match of the women's tennis competition at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Monica Puig of Puerto Rico returns to Germany’s Angelique Kerber in the gold medal match of the women’s tennis competition at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Monica Puig, of Puerto Rico, celebrates after winning the gold medal against Angelique Kerber, of Germany, during the final round at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Monica Puig, of Puerto Rico, celebrates after winning the gold medal against Angelique Kerber, of Germany, during the final round at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Monica Puig of Puerto Rico cries after winning the gold medal of the women's tennis competition at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Monica Puig of Puerto Rico cries after winning the gold medal of the women’s tennis competition at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Fans cheer during a final round match between Monica Puig, of Puerto Rico, Angelique Kerber, of Germany at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Fans cheer during a final round match between Monica Puig, of Puerto Rico, Angelique Kerber, of Germany at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Monica Puig, of Puerto Rico, celebrates after winning the gold medal against Angelique Kerber, of Germany, during the final round at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

Monica Puig, of Puerto Rico, celebrates after winning the gold medal against Angelique Kerber, of Germany, during the final round at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

 

 

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