London 2012: Argentine athletes to watch
By Dialogo July 25, 2012
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina – Keep an eye on these Argentines at the 2012 Olympic Games:
Georgina Bardach, Córdoba, swimming: This 28-year-old swimmer has taken home gold medals from the Pan American Games in Santo Domingo (2003) and Rio de Janeiro (2007), always in the 400 meter medley. She also won a bronze medal at the Athens Games (2004) and the World Swimming Championships in Moscow (2002).
Manu Ginóbili, Bahia Blanca, basketball: Argentina’s best basketball player of all time is a star player for the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs. An icon of the “golden generation” of Argentine basketball, he was on the team that won gold at the Athens Games (2004) and bronze in Beijing (2008). Argentina lost a friendly match to the U.S., 86-80, in Barcelona, Spain, on July 22, but Ginóbili, 34, remains optimistic. “We took a step forward, which is always positive when you’re about to start a tournament,” he said. Missing from coach Julio Lamas’s lineup will be forward Fabrício Oberto, who did not travel to London for personal reasons.
Juan Martín del Potro, Tandil, tennis: Del Potro, 23, is Argentina’s best tennis player and ranked ninth by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP). He won the US Open in 2009. Del Potro is known in Argentina as the “Tower of Tandil,” after his hometown.
Paula Pareto, Buenos Aires, judo: Pareto, a 26-year-old Buenos Aires native, took home a bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics (2008) and gold at the Pan American Games in Guadalajara (2011) in the 48-kilogram (105-pound) and under category. Pareto, the first Argentine judoka to win an Olympic medal, also studies medicine in Buenos Aires.
Walter Pérez, La Matanza, cycling: Pérez won a gold medal in Beijing (2008) alongside Juan Curuchet in the Madison race (200-kilometer doubles). He also won the Pan American Games in Santo Domingo (2003) and Rio de Janeiro (2007). Now 37, Pérez trains seven hours a day with the hope of once again winning a medal in his fifth Olympics.
Liu Song, Guangxi, table tennis: Born in China, Liu moved to Argentina in 1995, following her parents, who had opened a laundry business in Buenos Aires in 1990. She became a naturalized Argentine citizen in 1998 and quickly became the best table tennis player in the country. She is a four-time Latin American champion, and she won the Pan American Games in Guadalajara (2011). Song, 40, hopes to win gold in London.