Is This Puerto Rico’s Year to Go for the Gold?

Puerto Rico has fielded a team at the Olympics since 1948 but has never won a gold medal.  The U.S. territory has won silver and bronze medals, but only in boxing, not in any other sport.

This year all that may change.

Javier Culson was the top qualifier in the 400 meter hurdles with a time of 48.33 seconds, just ahead of the United States’ Kerron Clement (48.48 seconds). The Puerto Rican Athlete of the Year in 2010, Culson also competed in the 2008 Olympics.  The final 400 meter hurdles Olympic competition will be held on Monday, August 6th.

With 25 athletes in the games, Puerto Rico may have more headliners before the end of the London Games. Puerto Rican Olympic athlete Tommy Ramos came in 6th in the qualifying rounds for men’s gymnastics on the rings, with a score of 15.50.   His teammate Melissa Mojica beat the first-ever female Saudi Olympic competitor in judo in just 82 seconds, leaving with no medal but with a certain place in history.

Puerto Rican athletes can compete for the United States as well as for the Puerto Rican team.  In fact, the only Puerto Rican athlete to take home a gold medal from the Olympics is Gigi Fernandez, who won the women’s tennis doubles competition in both 1992 and 1996 with partner Mary Joe Fernandez.

The presence of Puerto Rico in the Olympic games is stirring up controversy — in comments if not in the news reports. Puerto Rico at the Olympics 2012 author “Casals” started it in the comments on his/her own articles, responding to a remark about the “entities” in the Olympics with, “You are saying my country is not a country? Wow! Puerto Rico has the right to exist! We are a country even if you do not like it! 515 years of history and counting!”

A spirited discussion followed. Puerto Rico, which is is sometimes referred to as a commonwealth, is in fact a territory of the United States.

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