The island nation of Puerto Rico has had some of the athletes competing in the world of sports. The island has had great boxers, track and field, basketball teams, Judokas -- all participating in the Olympics since 1948. Since then, the island has won eight medals: six bronze and two Silver. However, it took a 22-year-old, slim, 5'7'' women to make history and bring the first ever Olympic gold medal to the island.
If there had been any bets taken in Las Vegas on the chances of Monica Puig, a relatively unknown person in the Tennis circuit, winning the gold in the Rio Games, those odds would have been over 1,000 to 1. Ms. Puig is ranked 37 by the World Tennis Association (WTA) and she was matched up in a pool against the worlds best, including Serena Williams (who lost in her third match).
Monica was the underdog in practically all her matches going up against players ranked much higher -- some among the top ten in the world. After winning her first two victories, she reached the third round to face off against, Spain's Garbiñe Muguruza, ranked fourth in the WTA. Muguruza had recently defeated Serena Williams in two sets in the French Open. Therefore, all bets were against Puig. Newspapers in Spain were writing the match off as an easy win for their national champion against an unknown from Puerto Rico.
Unfortunately, someone forgot to tell Puig, who defeated Muguruza in two sets and set the tennis world, and fans, wondering: who was Monica Puig, and probably where is Puerto Rico? Monica stated in a post-game interview after defeating Muguruza that she came to play hard, looking to win a medal, and felt proud wearing her jacket with the Puerto Rican flag on it so that other athletes could see her flag.
After beating Spain's favorite, she placed into the quarterfinals against a very formidable German, Laura Siegemund. She won that match and moved on to another powerful opponent, Petra Kvitová from the Czech Republic, ranked fourteenth by the WTA. Kvitová has won seventeen career singles titles including two Grand Slam titles at Wimbleton. Kvitová is the current top-ranked Czech and the second highest ranked left-handed player in the WTA behind Germany's Angelique Kerber, who Monica defeated for the gold.
We salute Monica Puig for her valor and tenacity to bring a gold medal to her island, and to help prove what many in the stands were chanting during her finals match: "Si se puede."
For an entire week, the island of Puerto Rico forgot about the negative news and pain of the worst financial crisis in their history and all eyes from all sectors were united in the pride of watching this young athlete bring home a Gold and make history for an island that could use all the good news it can get.
She has also given much hope to many young athletes in knowing that in sports anything is possible and rankings are just that, rankings, which cannot measure the quality of an athlete who has a lot of "GANAS."