Costa Rica’s Olympic athletes arrived home this week from Beijing with no medals, but warm receptions all the same.
The undisputed star was 400-meter sprinter Nery Brenes, who notched a 45.36 second run to win Heat 3 of the men’s 400-meter, propelling him into the semifinal.
In that race, Brenes ran a national record time of 44.94 seconds, posting the 10th best time of the 24 runners and making his goal of finishing under 45 seconds.
But only eight runners advanced to the final. Brenes’ time fell just 0.12 seconds behind the final wild card qualifying time.
Although he didn’t make it to the finals, local daily Al Día still hailed Brenes as “our hero,” lauding him for having one of the 10 fastest times in the world. Brenes has reiterated that his quest to be the fastest in the world is not over.
Kristopher Moitland, who also represented Costa Rica in the 2004 Games in Athens, Greece, competed in the 80-kilogram division of the men’s tae kwon do event, but did not make it past the semifinals.
Tico 20-kilometer racewalker Allan Segura finished 39th out of the 49 athletes who finished, with a time of 1:27.10, eight minutes behind the gold.
Swimmer Mario Montoya placed 50th of 57 swimmers with a time of 1:52.19 in the qualification heats for the men’s 200-meter freestyle. U.S. star Michael Phelps eventually won, snagging one of his record eight gold medals in a single games with a world record time of 1:42.96.
Marianela Quesada finished eighth of eight in her women’s 50-meter freestyle heat with a time of 28.11 seconds. German Britta Steffen eventually won gold in 24.06, an Olympic record.
Marathoner Gabriela Traña finished 68th among the 69 finishers and 82 total competitors with a time of 2:53:45. Romanian Constantina Tomescu won with a time of 2:26:44.
In the cycling road race, Henry Raabe and 53 others were eliminated in a field of 143, as race leaders lapped them before they could cross the finish line.
Federico Ramírez was similarly eliminated from the men’s cross-country individual mountain bike race, one of 21 bikers in the field of 48.
Ramírez said after the Games that people should evaluate the athletes’ performances through “new values” and without the expectation of winning a medal.
“This wasn’t a failure,” he said.
–Holly K. Sonneland