(1980: The Olympic Champion Maria Colon of Cuba in action during the Javelin event at an athletics meeting in Los Angeles, USA. Mandatory Credit: Tony Duffy/Allsport)

8 Latino athletes who made Olympic history

Whether you’re an Olympics fanatic or just enjoy watching the highlights – there is always that one moment or athlete story that stands outs above the others.

With less than a week before the 2012 London Olympics, here is a list of Latino athletes who have earned a spot in Olympic history.

John Carlos, Sprinter, 1968 Olympics

8 Latino athletes who made Olympic history carlos people NBC Latino News
It was off the track, that sprinter, John Carlos, made his mark during the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games. While standing on the podium to receive the bronze medal for the 200-meter event, he and his teammate, Tommie Smith, raised their fists in the air in support for civil rights in the United States. The image capturing their “silent protest” led to numerous honors, documentaries, and monuments around the world. Carlos went on to be a high school track and field coach and was inducted into the USA Track and Field Hall of Fame in 2003.

Joaquin Capilla, Diver, 1984, 1952, and 1956 Olympics

8 Latino athletes who made Olympic history diver people NBC Latino News
Mexican diver, Joaquin Capilla, is the only Latino to ever win an Olympic gold medal in diving. As part of the Mexican Olympic team, Capilla earned four medals from the 1948, 1952 and 1956 Olympic Games. Mexican President Felipe Calderon recognized the diver with the National Sports Award in 2009. Capilla retired after his third and final competition in 1956 and passed away, at the age of 81, in 2010.

Maria Colon, Javelin, 1980 Olympics

8 Latino athletes who made Olympic history maria colon people NBC Latino News

Winner of an Olympic gold medal at the age of 22, Maria Colon is the only woman to ever win an Olympic gold medal for Cuba. As part of the Cuban Olympic team for the 1980 Moscow Games, Colon, opened the javelin competition with a record-breaking distance of 66.8m throw, which earned her the gold medal. She was denied the opportunity to defend her Olympic title for the 1984 and 1988 Games due to an Olympic boycott by the Cuban government.

Pablo Morales, Swimmer, 1992 Olympics

8 Latino athletes who made Olympic history pablo morales people NBC Latino News
Pablo Morales had all the reasons and the drive to become an Olympic gold medalist during the 1992 Spain Olympic Games. Among his achievements, Morales is known to be the longest World Record holder for the 100-meter butterfly, holding the title for nine years. Morales was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame and Museum in 1998 and is currently the head coach of the women’s swimming and diving team at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Oscar de la Hoya, Boxer, 1992 Olympics

8 Latino athletes who made Olympic history oscardlhoya people NBC Latino News
Known as the “Golden Boy,” Oscar de la Hoya was among the most successful American boxers during the 90’s. During the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain, de la Hoya earned the gold medal after defeating Marco Rudolph of Germany. The “Golden Boy” was the first fighter to win titles in six different weight classes and became an inspiration to Olympic hopefuls, like Joseph Diaz, Jr. among others.

Trent Dimas, Gymnastics, 1992 Olympics

8 Latino athletes who made Olympic history trent dimas people NBC Latino News
The New Mexico native, Trent Dimas, was the first American to win an Olympic gold medal in gymnastics outside American soil. Dimas failed to make the 1988 Olympic Games, but four years later, went on to win the gold medal during the 1992 Olympic Games in Spain. After retiring from gymnastics, he went on to coach and serve as goodwill ambassador for the sport. He was inducted into the U.S.A. Gymnastics Hall of Fame in 2002.

Carlos Arroyo, Basketball, 2004 Olympics

8 Latino athletes who made Olympic history puerto rico basketball team people NBC Latino News
The pressure was undeniable and the odds were against the 2004 Puerto Rican Basketball Olympic team. During the 2004 Games, the Puerto Rican Basketball Olympic team defeated the U.S. basketball “Dream Team” for the first time in history, with an unforgettable score of 92-73. Among the team, was point guard Carlos Albert Arroyo Bermudez, who was seen as the breakthrough athlete of the game. Even though the team didn’t go on to win any medals, it was that win which elevated Arroyo’s career in the NBA. Arroyo went on to play with the Detroit Pistons and the Orlando Magic.

Dara Torres, Swimmer 1984, 1988, 1992, 2000, and 2008 Olympics

8 Latino athletes who made Olympic history daratorres people NBC Latino News
Some have called her a middle-aged miracle, and she has 12 Olympic medals to prove it. With four gold, four silver, and four bronze medals, Torres has proven to be an international Olympic sensation for the past two decades. After having reconstructive knee surgery and giving birth to her first daughter, Torres returned to the 2012 Olympic trials in hopes of making a splash once again during the London Games. Her Olympic career came to an end, this summer, after coming in fourth place and not qualifying during the 2012 Summer Olympic Trials.

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