While sports continue to be a male-dominated field, we know women are taking the lead in growing the sport beyond its current fan base. Latinas have seen the largest growth in entrepreneurship and higher education, so we think it’s time Latinas are recognized for their talent in sports as well. In honor of Black History Month, we are taking a look at five Afro-Latinas who are making strides in the field of sports.
Yulimar Rojas, known as "la reina del triple salto," is a Venezuelan triple jumper who was the Olympic silver medalist winner in 2016, a three-time World Champion (2017 London, 2019 Doha and 2022 Eugene), and a three-time World Indoor Champion (2016 Portland, 2018 Birmingham and 2022 Belgrade). In 2022, she beat her own world record with a jump at 15.74 meters (yes, that’s over 51 feet!) When asked about breaking her record, she said, “This is proof that dreams do become reality.” Keep an eye out for this mujer because her goals include making the jump to 16 meters, and we know she’ll get there!
We know rooting for Team USA in soccer can be hard, but only if you’re cheering for the men’s team. The women's US team is a force to be reckoned with, and with the addition of Catarina Macario as a midfield player, we foresee Team USA continuing to be a powerhouse. Born in São Luís, Maranhão, Brazil, Macario has now become the first player born outside of the USA to have never played for her birth country and qualify to play for the USWNT.
Beyond being a sitting volleyball player for Team USA, Nicky Nieves is an outspoken advocate for mental health and limb-different individuals like herself. Nieves is a gold medalist winner from the 2016 Paralympic Games and is also the creator of Limitless People Inc, a non-profit with a goal to bring volleyball, sitting and standing to all. Nieves proudly identifies as an Afro-Latina, recognizing that she is a Black Puerto Rican.
With several accolades, including winning medals at the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympic games, the most notable judoka from Cuba is Idalys Ortiz. Ortiz has competed in several competitions, gaining international recognition for her performance. In 2014 she was named the top female athlete in Cuba, and in 2020 she won the silver medal in the women's +78 kg event at the Olympics held in Tokyo, Japan. She attributes her success to her hard work. She spends seven hours a day training, and that includes fighting men due to the few women in her weight category.
Marcia is a Cuban artistic gymnast widely known for being an all-around strong competitor. On the vault, she won the gold medal at the 2015 Pan American Games and the silver at the 2018 Pan American Championships. She won the team, all-around, and floor exercise titles at the 2018 Central American and Caribbean Games, as well as the silver medals on the vault and uneven bars. Scrolling through her Instagram, you’ll find an unassuming young woman who is not only proud to represent her country but also to take her family and friends along the journey.