Colombia’s medal haul at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games was officially one gold medal and two bronze medals. For the cyclist pair Brandon Rivera and John Rodriguez, it was a great success, as the two took gold in the combined cycling race.
The event tested their skills in mountain bike, BMX and road racing, and although they they did not win any of the events, the duo were the most consistent overall and claimed the title in the final road race.
‘The escarabajos’ confirmed Colombia’s status as the hottest nation in cycling right now, fighting off the Danish and Dutch teams to claim the top place.
Rivera commented: “We came to Nanjing to win, I have always dreamed of an Olympic gold medal and now I already have one, we did it in a team and I am thankful to John [Rodriguez] that we made it, this is a very important start of my career.”
Both youngsters are hoping to be part of Colombia’s mountain bike squad for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Colombia’s cycling prowess comes as no surprise, but it was not their only success; Natalia Yopasa won the bronze medal in Taekwondo, albeit with a limited field, the 17-year-old won the quarterfinals in the under-63kg category against Malaysia before being ousted against later winner Iran.
Andrés Caicedo, found the same success in weightlifting in the under-69kg tournament, even though the 17-year-old did not initially qualify amongst the top three. The qualifying ranking did not hold him back and he took convincingly the bronze medal behind Russia and Bulgaria.
In other disciplines, performances were not as expected, especially for flagbearer Joshua Berrio, who was one of the favourites in 110m hurdles, but his hopes were dashed when he hit a hurdle and fell, destroying his podium chances.
President of the Colombian Olympic Committee, Baltazar Medina praised the delegation for the performance. In a post-Olympics press conference he stated: “Colombia has a lot of talent and we will keep working hard with them to get them to the highest level in future Olympic games.”
By Freek Huigen