Sat, 31 Jul 2021

Olympics preview: Argentina's top gold medal hopes

Xinhua
22 Jul 2021, 11:44 GMT+10

TOKYO, July 22 (Xinhua) -- Five years after winning three gold medals in Rio de Janeiro, Argentina has brought its third-biggest squad ever assembled for an Olympic Games to Tokyo 2020.

Some 178 athletes will compete in 27 sports as the South American country seeks to build on its cumulative total of 74 Olympic medals (21 gold, 25 silver and 28 bronze). Xinhua looks at some of Argentina's top gold medal chances.

PAULA PARETO (JUDO)

Pareto will be defending the gold medal that she won in Rio de Janeiro in the women's judo under 48kg division. A qualified doctor, Pareto says she is fit and motivated after recovering from a hernia operation in October 2019.

At 35, this is likely to be the final chapter of Pareto's Olympic story, which also includes a bronze medal at the 2008 Games in Beijing.

"It's special because I'm almost certain that this will be my last competition so I'm enjoying every moment 100 percent," she told reporters here.

SANTIAGO LANGE AND CECILIA CARRANZA (SAILING)

The sailing pair will also be defending the gold medal they won in Rio five years ago in the Nacra 17 class. This will be 59-year-old Lange's seventh appearance on the sport's biggest stage. Lange and Carranza are one of seven Argentine sailing teams competing in Tokyo. They have been chosen as the country's flag bearers for the opening ceremony at the Olympic Stadium on July 23.

"I have great respect for all Argentine athletes and to be our ambassador at the Games is very special. It makes me very proud to do it together with Cecilia," said Lange, a lung cancer survivor.

MEN'S HOCKEY TEAM

Eight members of the Argentine men's hockey team that surprised everyone by winning gold in Rio will be present in Tokyo. However, there are concerns about a lack of competition over the past 18 months as a result of lockdown measures that left them unable to play.

Los Leones, who had never won an Olympic medal prior to their gold in Rio, have been drawn in the so-called group of death here alongside Spain, Japan, Australia, India and New Zealand.

WOMEN'S HOCKEY TEAM

Despite featuring on the medals podium in four consecutive Olympics from 2000 to 2012, the Argentine women's hockey team is still searching for its first gold medal at the Games. A mostly youthful squad will be led by seasoned veterans Maria Noel Barrionuevo, Delfina Merino and Belen Succi. Barrionuevo said she is fully fit again after a bout of COVID-19.

"I was very ill, with a lot of pain in my legs and unable to taste or smell," the 37-year-old told reporters. "I've recovered now, but the global situation is very sad."

Las Leonas (The Lionesses) have been drawn in the same group as New Zealand, Spain, China, Japan and Australia.

MEN'S RUGBY SEVENS

The Pumas finished sixth in Rio de Janeiro and are an outside chance for a medal here despite being drawn in the same group as New Zealand and Australia.

The squad will be led by veteran scrum-half Gaston Revol and includes Marcos Moneta, Ignacio Mendy and Lucio Cinti, who were members of the team that won gold at the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires.

Santiago Gomez's men will begin their Olympic campaign against Australia on Sunday (July 25).

MEN'S FOOTBALL

The Albiceleste's hopes of winning a third Olympic gold medal have been hit by a series of injuries and the refusal of some clubs to release their players.

But manager Fernando Batista has still been able to call upon Atletico Madrid defender Nehuen Perez, Brighton forward Alexis Mac Allister and Cadiz goalkeeper Jeremias Ledesma, the squad's only overage player.

Argentina have been drawn in the same group as Spain, Egypt and Australia. The top two teams from each group will advance to the competition's last eight.

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