12 Famous Athletes From Guatemala Who Shocked the World
Get ready to discover 12 extraordinary and famous athletes from Guatemala who have shocked the world!
If you’re into soccer and other sports, you’re probably passionate about seeing your country excel at international soccer championships, or at the Olympics in one or several athletic disciplines. Tony Jeffries, Usain Bolt, Frank Lampard, Michael Phelps, Alex Morgan are highly known names.
But have you ever heard of Carlos El Pescado Ruiz or Erick Barrondo?
Every country has their own share of remarkable and famous athletes. Some countries may have more than others, but it doesn’t change the fact that we admire these extraordinary men and women who make an unforgettable impact in the world of sports.
Let me present to you 12 outstanding athletes from Guatemala who’ve not only inspired an entire country, but the world, to be better and bolder.
Why Celebrate Famous Athletes from Guatemala
Athletes carry the hopes, dreams, and pride of their countries on their shoulders. What’s more, when they achieve unprecedented victories in their sports field, it’s no surprise the whole nation goes wild and celebrates them as national heroes.
Guatemala is one of these nations. While it’s a marvellous country filled with magical history, it has suffered and powered through many issues, including volcanic eruptions, poverty, political corruption, lack of education, and human rights violations.
It’s no wonder that sports and admirable athletes are a comforting escape from the nation’s hardships.
The athletes in the following list have uplifted Guatemala with their sportsmanship and athletic pursuits.
Here are 12 Guatemalan athletes who have made our country proud worldwide!
1. Erick Barrondo
Sport: Race walk
Erick Barrondo is a 30-year-old (1991) Guatemalan race walker. He is the only Guatemalan ever to achieve a medal in the olympics. This makes him one of the most famous athletes from the country. Before this, Barrondo had been champion for different events in 2010 and in 2011. He even set a new junior world record while racing 10 kilometers in 40 minutes and 38 seconds. But only die-hard fans knew that!
In 2012, when the Olympics in London began, nobody knew who Erick Barrondo was.
Naturally, the Olympics are the most important sporting event in the world (alongside the soccer World Cup), and it reaches a large percentage of the world population. I was one among the many Guatemalan spectators whose hopes reached the sky as the narrator on TV started to get adrenalized about a potential victory for the country.
The moment Erick Barrondo crossed that finishing line and accounted for our first (and only so far) silver medal ever was a historical event.
Many of us Guatemalans were marked by it forever.
2. Charles Fernández
Charles Fernández is a famous athlete from Guatemala born in 1995.
The Guatemalan pentathlete has been practicing pentathlon since he was 14 years old. He got his inspiration from his father, who also practiced the sport. He participated in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and in the Rio 2016 Olympics as well, where he finished in the top 15. He is the second best Latin American pentathlete and he gained recognition as the best junior pentathlete in the world in 2015.
He has won gold medals at the Panamerican Games, and Central American and Caribbean games. He has also won championships in Cairo, Rio de Janeiro and Budapest. Charles has grown greatly in the last few years, and he is becoming prominent among the best athletes from Guatemala.
3. Carlos El Pescado Ruiz
Carlos Ruíz, also known as El Pescado (the fish), is a 41-year-old retired soccer player. He is a living legend and Guatemalans recognize him as the greatest Guatemalan soccer player there is. He played for several teams in the MLS (Los Angeles Galaxy, F.C. Dallas, Toronto F.C., Philadelphia Union and D.C. United). He scored 184 in 343 soccer matches.
The most important thing about his career is having become Guatemala’s top scorer after playing for the national official soccer team for 18 years. By 2016, he had scored more international goals than Cristiano Ronaldo. He scored 68 goals in 133 matches in which he represented Guatemala internationally.
4. Ana Sofía Gómez
Ana Sofía Gómez is a 25-year-old former Guatemalan artistic gymnast. This Olympic athlete from Guatemala has uplifted her country since she was only 15 years old. Gómez won a silver and a gold medal at the 2011 Panamerican games. One year later, she represented Guatemala in the London 2012 Olympics. How many 16-year-olds can say they have been to the Olympics?
Her last medal was bronze, back in 2015 when she was 19 years old. She represented Guatemala at the Rio Olympics in 2016, but unfortunately didn’t qualify to the finals. She is one of the most famous athletes from Guatemala because of her young age and her evident talent in gymnastics. She announced her retirement in January 2017.
5. Adriana Ruano
Adriana Ruano is a 26-year-old Guatemalan shooter. She is the first Guatemalan female shooter to ever qualify for Guatemala in the Olympic games.
In addition, Ruano is a great example of mental strength. When she was very young she started training in gymnastics, similar to Ana Sofía Gómez. She knew that she wanted to be a gymnast and compete in the Olympics.
Sadly, at the age of 16, she suffered a back injury, which kept her from participating in gymnastics forever. The dream seemed broken.
A year later, though, she started practicing shooting—which is one of the few sports in which she would not suffer from any complications that could affect her back. She accomplished her qualification for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic games, where she is currently representing Guatemala. Talk about girl power!
6. Kevin Cordón
Kevin Cordón is a famous athlete from Guatemala. He is 34 years old, and is known internationally since he is about to compete in his fourth Olympic games. That’s right! He hasn’t stopped competing since the Olympics took place in China in 2008.
In London 2012—what a year for Guatemalan athletes!—he demonstrated an incomparable talent and skill when he became one of the best 16 badminton players in the world, and moved directly into the quarter finals. The year prior, he was in the top 8 for the Badminton World Cup in England.
He is one of the famous Guatemalan athletes to have won the most medals in the Central American and Caribbean games in 2006, 2010, 2014 and 2018.
7. Juan Ignacio Maegli
Juan Ignacio Maegli is one famous Guatemalan athlete who, just like Kevin Cordón, has competed in 4 Olympic games straight since Beijing 2008. Maegli also won the ICSA Coed Dinghy National Championship with Charleston College in the United States.
Maegli has not only excelled in sports but has also been helpful in his home country, where he has followed his father’s footsteps. Juan Estuardo Maegli, Juan Ignacio’s father and the president of the Guatemalan Sailing Federation, founded a scholarship program in which he grants young sailors who live around Lago Amatitlán with full scholarships. Some of them become part of the Federation and represent Guatemala in larger competitions, according to ESPN. That is one admirable way of helping out Guatemala through sport!
8. Doroteo “Mateo” Guamuch Flores
Doroteo Guamuch Flores is without a doubt the most famous athlete from Guatemala. Besides the celebrated stadium in Guatemala City, there’s also an avenue named in his honor (which is not close to the Stadium). Flores was born in 1922 and died in 2011, so he is now a legend.
He was the winner of the 1952 Boston Marathon, and up until today he is the only Guatemalan (and one of the only two Spanish speakers) to have conquered such victory. Colombian Álvaro Mejía won in 1971.
Flores shocked the world not only by running the 21 miles in 2 hours 31 minutes and 53 second but by beating the second place by five minutes. His resounding triumph at the marathon that year is why he is the most famous Guatemalan athlete so far.
9. Lester Martínez
Lester Martínez is a famous athlete from Guatemala who was born in Petén in 1995. He is now a professional boxer who fights in the super middleweight division. He shocked the world by becoming the first Guatemalan boxer to win the WBO Latino Super Middleweight title in December 2020, after having defeated the Mexican Uriel González in Mexico. Martínez currently holds an undefeated professional record of 7-0.
In his amateur years, he also became the first Guatemalan to ever win a medal (silver) in the AIBA (International Boxing Association) World Championship. Additionally, he became the first boxer to win a gold medal for Guatemala—after 68 years without victories—in the Central American and Caribbean Games.
10. Gisela Morales
Gisela Morales is one of the best Guatemalan swimmers in history. She competed in the 2004 Olympics in Athens where she was the flag-bearer for Guatemala, and again in the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. She won two bronze medals in the 2003 Panamerican games, and Gold and Silver medals in the Central American and Caribbean Games in 2010. She represented Guatemala in the 2011 and 2015 Panamerican Games as well.
She also competed for Auburn University, and the University of Texas while she attended college in the U.S.
Morales also seems to have a great work-ethic, and believes that medals are but an additional price to recognize her athletic effort since in reality the competition is against herself.
11. Raúl Anguiano
Raúl Anguiano is a paralympic athlete from Guatemala born in 1975. He won the first and only golden medal for Guatemala in the Parapanamerican Games in Lima in 2019. He was born with a hematoma on his forehead which resulted in a slight brain paralysis which prevents him from properly controlling the right part of his body.
He has always played against other badminton players who do not have any physical difficulties, which has helped him enhance his athletic skills and sport strategies. At 28, he retired from playing badminton until he discovered Parabadminton.
He has represented Guatemala in over 50 tournaments, and has been acknowledged as the best para-athlete of the Americas. He is also a five-time Panamerican Champion, having earned medals in 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018.
12. Julio Rueda
Sport: Wheelchair tennis
Julio Rueda is a paralympic athlete from Guatemala, and also an engineer. In 2008, he suffered an accident when his car ended up at the bottom of a cliff near Antigua Guatemala. He damaged his spine and couldn’t walk again.
Rueda, however, found the strength to keep going in wheelchair tennis. In 2017, he was the second best wheelchair tennis player in Latin America and the 24th worldwide. That same year, he won two tournaments, one in Barranquilla, Colombia, and another one in Chile.
He is 39 years old and he still plays wheelchair tennis today. Unfortunately, he wasn’t able to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics this year.
¡Dale Guate, vamos!
Go Guate, go!
I hope you enjoyed this article about famous athletes from Guatemala as much as I did while writing it. Athletic culture is magnetic and how we see athletes as our modern heroes makes us feel proud of where we come from.
Would you like to learn more about Guatemala’s history of sport? Sign up for a free Spanish class with one of our friendly Guatemalan teachers. You will have the opportunity to converse about whatever topic interests you, be it athletes from Guatemala, or the country’s overall culture.
Empower yourself to engage in a fun and enriching conversation in Spanish today!
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