On ESPN’s Los Capitanes, the Pan American Diving Queen Paola Espinosa revealed that a presidential commitment will allow the Mexican diving delegation to compete in its country’s colors and even wave the flag should an athlete medal at Rio 2016.
“I think that we are going to be able to represent Mexico at the Olympic Games,” she stated. “Now there will be no problem. That’s what I think.”
Espinosa’s statements come amidst tension after the International Swimming Federation (FINA)’s decision to suspend the Mexican federation for “not fulfilling contractual obligations concerning the cancellation of the 2017 FINA World Championships in Guadalajara.” FINA penalized Mexico for withdrawing, after a vote by domestic politicians decided that a $100 million budget for an aquatic competition could not be justified given the country’s current economic climate.
The ban has so far failed to deter Mexican athletes, who defend their country no matter what. “We carry Mexico in our hearts,” said Fernanda González, one of Mexico’s top swimmers. “I represent Mexico not only in swim meets. My everyday actions and thoughts are the result of the country I was born in. I love my country, I love the people of Mexico, and I’d rather Mexico not waste 5 million dollars in sanctions, but use it instead to improve education, health, and athletes preparation. The people of Mexico can be sure that I will be representing Mexico in Rio very proudly, even if I can’t wear the flag on my cap,” said Lili Ibáñez, another swimming standout.
According to Espinosa, Alfredo Castillo, the director of Mexico’s National Commission for Physical Culture and Sport (CONADE), met with President Enrique Peña Nieto and select athletes to discuss the issue at hand. “[Castillo] was the one who said it there, so this is why that I have this information. EPN told us that Alfredo and CONADE are going to do everything possible” to ensure that fines are paid on time and athletes have what they need to succeed.
For her part, Espinosa is convinced that she can win gold in Rio this summer (she won Bronze at Beijing 2008 and silver at London 2012). “That’s what I aim for, what I want, what I’ve dreamt of my whole sporting career. These are already my fourth Games and I want a gold medal.”
What remains to be seen is whether or not she will wear the flag on her cap.