While the United States will be battling China for medal supremacy at the 2012 Olympic Games, Mexico will have more modest ambitions, hoping to improve on its 2008 showing in Beijing of two golds and one bronze.
Mexico will send 102 athletes to compete in the games, which take place in London from July 27 to August 12 – a notable increase on the 85 that took part in Beijing 2008.
Mexico’s delegation will be dwarfed by the United States’ 530-member team and China’s 396 competitors. Great Britain will send out 542 athletes for its third Olympics on home soil (1908, 1948, also in London). Canada’s team numbers 277.
The opening ceremony kicks off on Friday, July 27, 3 p.m. (Central Time) at the Olympic Stadium in Stratford, East London. It’s expected to last until midnight local time. (The ceremony will be broadcast on both Mexican free-to-air networks, Televisa and TV Azteca, as well as NBC.)
The show’s artistic director, film director Danny Boyle (“Slumdog Millionaire”), says the “Isles of Wonder” ceremony is inspired by William Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” and will be about a land recovering from its industrial legacy.
The budget for the ceremony, 42 million dollars), is less than half Beijing spent in 2008.Jalisco will be the best represented state in Mexico’s delegation at the games with 22 athletes, including eight members of the Olympic soccer team. In contrast, only eight athletes from this state took part in Beijing 2008.
A further 15 sportsmen and women from Jalisco will represent Mexico in the Paralympics, which take place from August 29 to September 9.
Tapatio archer Juan Rene Serrano is arguably Jalisco’s best known representative. He competed in the last two Olympic Games – coming fourth in Beijing – and won a silver medal in the Guadalajara 2011 Pan American Games.
Diving offers perhaps Mexico’s best chance of winning a medal and there are six divers from Jalisco among the delegation. Perhaps Mexico’s greatest gold medal chance falls to Paola Espinosa in the individual and synchronized 10-meter platform diving competitions.
Tae-kwon-do is another sport in which Mexico has enjoyed success in recent Olympics. After winning gold in Beijing in the 67 kilos and above category, Maria del Rosario Espinoza will be hoping to become the first Mexican to mount the winners podium in two successive Olympics. Espinoza will also carry the Mexican flag in the opening ceremony.
There’s plenty of incentive for Mexican competitors to win medals. Gold medal winners for Mexico be well rewarded to the tune of 500,000 pesos (38,000 dollars), plus, of course, the prospect of a wealth of private endorsements in the future.
Another local with a realistic shot at a medal is Tecalitlan-born Marco Fabian, the Chivas de Guadalajara midfielder who has scored 12 times in just 10 appearances for Mexico’s under-23 soccer team this year.
Mexico’s soccer team is favored to reach at least the Olympic quarter finals but can expect tough opposition from the likes of Spain and Brazil as the tournament progresses.
Bernardo de la Garza, director of Mexico’s Sports Commission (Conade) said he cannot promise medals for Mexico in London but expects Mexican athletes to reach at least 20 finals.
De la Garza predicted 24 gold medals for Mexico in the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara and the nation went on to win 42 – its best ever showing.
Mexico has averaged 2.7 medals per Olympic Games since it began competing. (Mexico won a bronze medal in the polo competition in Paris 1900, its first appearance at the games.)
Although most events of the games are being staged in the Olympic Park and at other venues in the British capital, outlying regions will host some event, including Weymouth on the south coast, where the sailing competition will be held.