Puerto Rican Olympic Delegation Receives Island’s Flag
SAN JUAN – The Puerto Rico delegation competing at the 31st Olympic Games was given the island’s flag Saturday during an event held at the Olympic Village in Salinas. The athletes are now set to represent the island in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, from Aug. 5 to 21.
On behalf of wrestler Jaime Espinal, silver medalist in London’s 2012 Olympics and the island’s flag bearer in Rio, volleyball player Áurea “Aury” Cruz, champion at the 2014 Central American and Caribbean Games in Veracruz, was handed the Puerto Rican flag by Gov. Alejandro García Padilla for the opening parade Aug. 5 at the Maracanã Olympic Stadium.
Espinal, who is training stateside ahead of the games, addressed those present via a video broadcast by the Puerto Rico Olympic Committee (Copur by its Spanish initials).
“It means a lot to me to be this delegation’s flag bearer,” he said, adding he can’t wait to take the flag and represent the island.
Puerto Rico’s 18th olympic participation will be through 41 athletes, two fewer than sent to Athens in 2004 and far exceeding its 1964 participation in Tokyo, which had only 33 athletes.
It will be the first time women (27) outnumber men (14). Puerto Rico will participate in 14 sports, in 26 individual events and one group event (women’s volleyball).
The delegation comprises Javier Culson (400-meter hurdles), Celiangely Morales (200-meter dash), Beverly Ramos (marathon), Wesley Vázquez (800 meters), Andrés Arroyo (800 meters), Diamara Planell (pole vault), David Smith (high jump), Jasmine Quinn (100-meter hurdles), Grace Claxton (400-meter hurdles), Luis Joel Castro (high jump), Eric Alejandro (400-meter hurdles) and Alysbeth Félix (heptathlon).
As well as Jeyvier Cintrón (boxing, 52 kilos), Yarimar Market (50-meter rifle three positions and 10-meter air rifle), swimmers Vanessa Garcia (50-meter dash) and Erik Risolvato (50-meter dash), cyclist Brian Babylon, diver Rafael Quintero (10-meter platform), and equestrian Lauren Billys.
Also, Franklin Gómez (freestyle wrestling, 65 kilos) and Jaime Espinal (freestyle wrestling, 86 kilos); in taekwondo, Crystal Weekes (+67 kilos); table tennis, Adriana Díaz and Brian Afanador; tennis player Monica Puig; María Pérez (judo, 70 kilos) and Melissa Mojica (judo, +78 kilos).
In weightlifting, Lely Burgos (48 kilos); triathlete Manuel “Manny” Huerta; and the women’s volleyball team, with Áurea Cruz, Karina Ocasio, Vilmarie Mojica, Natalia Valentín, Yarimar Rosa, Debora Seilhamer, Shara Venegas, Alexandra Oquendo, Lynda Morales, Diana Reyes, Stephanie Enright and Daly Santana.
The first group of athletes leaves for Brazil on July 31. The flag will be hoisted at the International Center of the Olympic Games on Aug. 4.