Mónica’s Golden Dedication to Puerto Rico
Editor’s note: The following was written by Carlos Morell Caballero, an attorney at law and sports writer. Has earned a degree from Syracuse University and a J.D. from Universidad Interamericana of Puerto Rico, where he founded the Sports Law Affairs Association. He also served as associate director of the university’s Law Review.
With the greatness that characterized her run at the Olympic Games, Mónica Puig Marchán gave Puerto Rico’s Olympic Team its first gold medal in the history of the games. Her medal was awarded after beating four players who are ranked among the top 20 tennis players of the world, including two ranked in the top five. Also, Mónica became the lowest-ranked player to have reached the final and won it.
With her victory, Mónica now joins Charlotte Cooper (1900), Dorothea Lambert (1908), Marguerite Broquedis (1912), Suzanne Lenglen (1920), Helen Wills (1924), Steffi Graf (1988), Jennifer Capriati (1992), Lindsay Davenport (1996), Venus Williams (2000), Justine Henin (2004), Elena Demetieva (2008) and Serena Williams (2012) as one of the all-time winners of the event (tennis was not played in the Olympics from 1924 until 1988). Furthermore, with this gold medal, Puerto Rico joined Great Britain, Russia, West Germany, France, Belgium and the United States as the only countries to have earned a gold medal in the women’s singles.
Mónica’s historic effort reminds us that defining what is to be Puerto Rican, or for that matter defining what any nationality is, cannot be a product of a mechanical analysis. After all, she is the daughter of a Cuban father and a Puerto Rican mother, and although she was born in Puerto Rico and great part of her family lives on the island, she was raised and developed as a tennis player in the mainland U.S.
Interestingly enough, now Spain is “claiming” her, too, since her grandparents are from Catalonia. These variables, however, were never an obstacle for Puig Marchán to establish since the beginning of her career that, as a Puerto Rican, her conviction was to represent Puerto Rico. With that in mind, she always obtained a medal representing Puerto Rico when participating in games the Central American, Pan American and now the Olympic games.
When representing Puerto Rico, she has wept, emotionally dedicating her victories to the island. Additionally, whenever losing a competition she would also end up teary-eyed, seeming to feel that she has failed Puerto Rico. The deep pride Mónica feels in representing Puerto Rico has led her to constantly wear the national uniform, even when playing in tournaments that do not necessarily increase her ranking in the tennis world.
By observing Mónica’s words and actions throughout her career, it is clear that she has given everything for Puerto Rico as an athlete. Thank you, Mónica, for giving us so many emotions during your historic participation during the Olympics in Río de Janeiro. That Gold is fully yours.