PANAMA CITY, Panama – Keep an eye on these Panamanians at the London Games:
Carolena Carstens, Glen Ellyn, Ill., U.S.A., taekwondo: Carstens, 16, will be among the youngest athletes competing in London. Carstens, who was born in the United States to a Panamanian mother, became involved in the sport at age 4. At 14, she was competing in international events. She earned an Olympic berth by reaching the semifinals of the 49-kilogram (108-pound) class at last year’s Pan American Olympic Qualification Tournament in Querétaro, Mexico.
Juan Huertas, Panama City, boxing: Huertas, 20, made an impression at the pre-Olympic trials in Brazil last May, winning his first preliminary fight in the lightweight division against Haiti’s Stephen Saint, 21-5, before losing to Mexican Ángel Gutiérrez, 14-8. It’s the first time in more than 40 years Panama will send a boxer to the Olympics.
Alonso Edward, Pedro Miguel, 100- and 200-meter dashes: Edward, 22, won gold in the 100-meter and 200-meter dashes in 10.29 seconds and 20.45 seconds, respectively at the South American Championship in Lima, Peru, in 2009. He also placed second in the 200-meter dash in 19.81 seconds at the Athleticism World Championship in Berlin, Germany, that year. He broke his own marks, in Hutchinson, Kan., in May 2009 when he finished the 100 in 10.09 seconds and 200 in 20.34 seconds.
Omar Simmonds, Coclé, judo: Simmonds, 31, will compete in the 81-kilogram (178-pound) class. He received a wild card from the International Judo Federation to participate in the London Games.
Andrea Ferris, Chorrera, long-distance runner: Ferris, 24, ranked atop the International Association of Athletic Federations ranking in 2010 in the 800-meter run after winning gold at the IX Central American Games in Panama City in April of that year. She also won gold at the XIV Ibero American Games in 2010 in Cádiz, Spain, and gold at the 2010 Grand Prix in Belém, Brazil. She has nine siblings, five of them athletes.
Edgar Crespo, Panama City, swimming: Crespo, 23, will compete in the 100-meter breaststroke after placing 53rd in the event at the Beijing Games in 2008 in 1:03.52. Crespo won gold in the event at the Central American and Caribbean Games in Puerto Rico in 2010.