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Maria del Rosario Espinoza celebrates the gold medal in Beijing 2008 – from twitter.com

article by Giovanni Manenti

If you examine the Mexico’s Olympic medal table, the three main disciplines are made up of diving with 15 laurels, followed by boxing with 13 and athletics with 11although in terms of gold the latter stands out having seen one of its representatives climb to the top step of the podium on three occasions.

From an analysis referring vice versa to sex, the relationship of male superiority is embarrassing to say the least, given that of the total 73 medals won, only 19 belong to the female sectorwho has also redeemed himself since the beginning of New Millennium, given that from the Sydney 2000 Games up to Tokyo 2020, the girls have won 17 laurels against the 15 of their compatriotsa period in which they also obtained what, to date, are the only two gold medals out of the 13 in total for their country.

He takes steps to break this taboo weightlifter Soraya Jimenez – which we have already discussed – that to the “End of the Millennium Games” is stated in the category up to 58kg. of weight liftingonly to have to wait another 8 years to see another Mexican athlete with a gold medal around her neck.

And, even in this case, in one discipline which, in theory, is ill-suited to “fair sex” and that only fromSydney 2000 edition was included in the Olympic programmeafter having made its first appearance only as a demonstration sport at the Seoul 1988 and Barcelona 1992 Games, aka taekwondo.

She who is “allowed” to challenge, with excellent results, a typically South Korean sport Maria del Rosario Espinoza, born on November 27, 1987 in La Brecha, a town of just over two thousand souls located in the state of Sinaloadaughter of a fisherman and a housewife, who “fall in love” of this martial art starting to practice it from the tender age of just 5 years.

This allows it to “skip ahead”, so much so that it makes it his own the title, just 15 years old, at the Pan American Junior Championships which took place in 2003 in Rio de Janeiro in the category up to 59 kilograms, and then not incurring any embarrassment when he goes up to the seniors, as evidenced by his statements to the “German Open” 2005 and 2007, like the “French Open” 2006, so as to present itself with the intention of asserting its qualities to the World Cup which takes place in mid-May 2007 in Beijing.

In the Chinese capital which will host the Olympics the following year – even though the world championship tournament will be held atChangping Gymnasium” –, the not yet 20 year old Mexican turns his first masterpiece, namely managing to get the better of the South Korean Lee In-jong in the final of the middleweight category (up to 72 kg.)a circumstance which places her among the small group of favorites for gold ahead of the 2008 Games.

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An appointment to which the 20-year-old Maria del Rosario presents herself after having also won the “Austrian Open“, with the Olympic program to include, compared to the World Championships, only four categories instead of the eight of the World Championships, circumstance that forces the Mexican to compete in the maximum weights, limit set for those exceeding 67 kilos of weight.

Con a structure of 1.73 meters and 70kg., Espinoza is preparing for her Olympic debut in the tournament that starts on August 23, 2008 on the platforms ofBeijing Science and Technology University Gymnasium” of Beijing, comforted by the fact that, three days earlier, in the men’s flyweight category, compatriot Guillermo Perez gave his country its first gold in taekwondo.

With only 16 athletes registered, the formula is quite simple, that is, with the participants in face each other through direct elimination until the semi-finalsfrom which the challengers for the gold arise, while the two defeats go to the repechage with the athletes who were overtaken by the two finalists in the previous rounds for the awarding of the two bronze medals.

For the Mexican the debut took place with the Tunisian Khaoula Ben Hamza, who she handled (4-0) with easeas they continue, among the favourites, the Brazilian Natalia Falavigna, world champion in 2005 and world championship bronze the previous year, and, above all, the Chinese Chen Zhong, reigning Olympic champion having established herself both at the Sydney 2000 Games and four years later in Athensas well as becoming world champion in the latest heavyweight edition.

In the second round, equal to the quarter-finals, the Espinoza wins 4-2 over the Swede of clear Polish origins Karolina Kedzierskataking off in the second round after the first had ended 1-1, while the sensational was recorded elimination of the home athlete by the 25-year-old British Sarah Stevenson, in her third participation in the Gameswho reversed the outcome of the match during the third and final round, winning 2-1.

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Having reached the threshold of the final, the last obstacle for the Mexican is the British which he faces after the first semi-final had recorded the victory by superiority decreed by the judges of the Norwegian Nina Solheim against Falavignagiven that the “score” at the end of the three rounds it was 2-2.

No problem, vice versa, for the Espinoza getting rid of her opponent (4-1). and is preparing to “enter history” when at 8.15pm local time she gets on the tatami to face the Norwegian who, make no mistake, is none other than Cho Mee-Sunborn at the beginning of August 1979 in Dusan, South Korea, and adopted, together with her twin sister, by a Norwegian couple at just 7 months of age.

What we could have predicted as a balanced match turned out to be the opposite in a fairly easy statement for Espinoza who, after a first round of study, scores a first point in her favor in the second and then concludes with a 3-1 which awards Mexico the second gold of specialties which will also remain the last of the entire event.

La Espinoza, reached the pinnacle of the discipline with the two greatest triumphs (world and Olympic) that an athlete can aspire tocontinues to maintain itself at the highest levels, despite subsequently failing to replicate these feats, proving itself to be an opponent not to be taken lightly.

Member of the Mexican Army with the rank of Auxiliary Corporal of Physical Education and Sports – a necessary role to be able to train as best as possible like many other athletes in your country –, Espinoza also attended the economics course at the “University of Valley of Mexicowhile from a purely competitive point of view, after a period of obscurity, comes back into vogue on the occasion of the London 2012 Games, where he has the honor of acting as flag bearer.

In fact, it was eliminated round of 16 of the 2009 World Cup by Lee In-Jong and the other South Korean Oh Hye-ri in the quarterfinals two years later in Gyeongju, on the platforms of the “Exhibition Centre London” the now 25 year old Mexican lost 6-4 in the quarterfinals of the Olympic tournament to the Serbian Milica Mandic who then wins the gold medal, a circumstance which allows her to access the repechages, where the 4-2 victory over the Cuban Glenhis Hernandez ensures her the bronze.

Awaited by its fans on the occasion of the 2013 world championship event which takes place in Puebla, Mexico, Espinoza sensationally exits the scene in the first rounddefeated 11-8 by the Greek Marina Dimitropoulou, in a tournament won, ironically, by Hernandez herself, and better luck is not her participation in the subsequent ones 2015 World Championships in Chelyabinsk, Russia, although the path was much more dignified, surrendering only in the quarterfinals 5-2 against the Chinese Zheng Shuyinthen overcome in the final by Oh Hye-ri.

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However, there are athletes who “the Olympic air” from a “something extra”, and here, on the occasion of Rio de Janeriro 2016 Games– metropolis where, if you remember, the Mexican had won her first important victory at the age of 15 –, the brilliance that seemed lost suddenly returns to emerge, trimming a comfortable 4-1 to the Philippine Kirstie Alora and therefore qualifying for the semi-finals thanks to the narrow success (3-2) sulla morocchina Wiam Dislam.

Opposed to the American Jackie Galloway, the Espinoza played a very balanced match which did not see either of the two athletes score a point, but was preferred by the judges due to superiority and thus guaranteed at least the silver medalwhile for the gold she has to contend with the 22-year-old Chinese Zheng, who got the better of Britain’s Bianca Walkden in extra time.

In the final act, it is the Chinese to control the operations and, after taking a minimal advantage in the first round, decidedly turns the match to her advantage in the third and final round by winning 4-1 who still gives the Mexican hers third Olympic medal, having collected all three metals, representing approximately half of the 7 overall medals conquered by Mexico in taekwondo at the Games.

The excellent performance in Rio de Janeiro ensures that Espinoza continues the activity, which sees her protagonist in the two subsequent editions of the World Championships, bronze in 2017 in South Korea – surrendered in the semi-final with a clear 15-6 against the home favorite Oh Hye-ri, who was also defeated in the final round by Mandic – and silver two years later in Manchester, defeated in the final with a score (22-2) such as to allow no repeats by South Korean Lee Da-bin.

In summary, apart from the successes in continental tournaments and championships, Maria del Rosario Espinoza can boast a palmares that consists of a gold, a silver and a bronze at both Olympic and world championship levels and therefore, is there perhaps someone who can challenge her legitimate title of “regina messicana of taekwondo”?

Raise your hand if you have the courage

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