The Jewels of Latin American Sport
By Yasiel Cancio Vilar
Usain Bolt (63 votes)
The fastest man on the planet did it again. For the third consecutive time, Usain Bolt won the sprinting Olympic gold medals - 100, 200 and 4x100 meter relay, standing out in Prensa Latina’s Sports survey, ‘Encuesta’.
The impressive power of the 30-year-old Jamaican bolt made him the top scorer of the traditional poll with six awards following his achievements in 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2015 and now in 2016.
As winner of this survey he broke the tie he had with the mythical Cuban high jumper Javier Sotomayor (5), who holds the world record in his specialty since 1993, at 2.45 meters.
At this edition, Bolt was chosen by 63 of the 113 survey participants from 20 countries that gave their vote to Encuensta, founded in 1964. Among its winners have also appeared Diego Armando Maradona, Teófilo Stevenson, Alberto Juantorena, Ayrton Senna, Iván Pedroso, Sammy Sosa, Lionel Messi, Ronaldinho Gaucho, Ana Fidelia Quirot, Mireya Luis and Marlene Ottey.
Behind the sprinter from reggae land were Argentinian tennis player Juan Martín del Potro (29), silver medal winner in Rio 2016 and winner of the Davis Cup in his country, as well as Cuban wrestler Mijaín López ,17, who, amazingly, won his third Olympic gold in August.
Caterine Ibargüen (45 votes)
The outstanding 32-year-old Colombian jumper was the undisputed queen of the triple jump at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, with a jump of 15.17 meters and, for the fourth consecutive year, led the Diamond League.
These successes gave Ibargüen 45 votes, making her a winner of the 53rd edition of the Prensa Latina poll, which she also achieved in 2011, 2014 and 2015. This brought her at the level of legendary Cuban runner Ana Fidelia Quirot (1989, 1991, 1995, 1997), as top winners of the survey with four awards.
The beautiful Colombian athlete, current world monarch in her specialty, beat two-time Jamaican Olympic champion for the 100 and 200 meters, Elaine Thompson, who got 15 votes, and Puerto Rican tennis player Mónica Puig (13), who was also a winner in Rio 2016.
This year was special for Ibargüen as she dominated six of the seven rounds of the triple jump in the Diamond League Monaco 14.96, Doha 15.04, Rabat 14.51, Rome 14.78, Lausanne 14.76, Brussels 14.66), but mostly, because she won her first Olympic gold medal, her dream, as she recently stated.
La Canarinha (53 votes)
Brazil’s men’s soccer team won the poll for the first time in the last six years, capturing the Olympic title in Rio 2016 and first place in the qualifiers for the Russia World Cup.
Led by FC Barcelona star Neymar Jr., the Brazilian team settled one of its historical debts with soccer, after defeating Germany and obtaining its first Olympic title, adding it to its five world championships obtained in Sweden 1958, Chile 1962, Mexico 1970, United States 1994 and Japan and South Korea 2002.
Without a doubt, this huge win at the legendary Maracaná stadium in Río de Janeiro, and the positioning in first place for the qualifiers, motivated 53 voters to pick the team. This represented the eighth time in which the Brazilian soccer team was selected as the best in Latin America and the Caribbean, after 1994, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2002, 2005, and 2009.
After six years of absence the Brazilian team returned to occupy first place in the survey and was named Best Male Team. The Chilean team was in second place this year, receiving 20 media votes which were mostly inspired by the win at the Centennial America’s Cup, held in the United States last June.
Following these were the men’s hockey teams from Argentina (10) and Brazil’s indoor volleyball (8), both Olympic champions.