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Colombians Celebrate Unexpected Silver Medal

This post is part of our special coverage London 2012 Olympics.

On Saturday, July 28, Rigoberto Urán, 25, became the first Colombian to win a medal in the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London. He finished second at the men's road race final, behind veteran cyclist Aleksandr Vinokurov from Kazakhstan. Norwegian Alexander Kristoff won the bronze medal.

Urán, who belongs to Team Sky, was registered at the last minute [es]. He and Vinokurov left the peloton 10 km before the end and Urán turned his head while he was leading, but his legs “said” otherwise: Vinokurov outmastered him in the sprint and won. Urán's silver medal is the first in cycling and the twelfth overall for Colombia in Olympic history.

Most reactions were positive. Alexander García (@aguardientosky) [es] mentioned Urán's medal was not even considered likely:

@Aguardientosky: Realmente sólo se esperan medallas para Colombia con Ibargüen, alguna en las pesas y tal vez Pajón. Lo de Urán fue sorpresivo.

@Aguardientosky [es]: Actually only [athlete Catherine] Ibargüen, some [people] at weightlifting and maybe [BMX world champion Mariana] Pajón are expected to get medals for Colombia. What Urán did was surprising.

Rigoberto Uran (Colombia). Image by Flickr user Sum_of_Marc (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Some were frustrated that Urán turned his head, like Giovanni Hernández (@Gihernandez77) [es]:

Gihernandez77: Me da la impresión que perdió la medalla de oro por estar pendiente del pelotón de atrás. Pero muy bien!!!

Gihernandez77 [es]: I have the impression that he lost the gold medal because he was paying attention to the peloton behind him. But he was great!!!

User La de la foto (@Fulania) [es] joked:

@Fulania: Miró hacia atrás pensando que lo iban a atracar. Pura costumbre colombiana.

@Fulania [es]: He looked behind thinking he was going to be robbed. Pure Colombian custom.

But Federico Arango (@siempreconusted) [es] highlights the merits of the winner:

@siempreconusted: A Uran le ganó un viejo zorro, un monstruo como Vinokurov muy muy difícil de vencer en una definición así.

@siempreconusted: Urán was beaten by an old fox, a monster like Vinokurov is very very hard to beat in such kind of definition.

And José Ángel Báez (@joseangelbaez) [es] adds:

@joseangelbaez: Urán no perdió por mirar para atrás. En un mano a mano, en el sprint, siempre perderá con Vinokourov que es más rápido.

@joseangelbaez [es]: Urán didn't lose because he looked behind. At a head to head, in the sprint, he will always lose to Vinokurov who is faster.

Daniel (@Da5_12) [es] tweeted about the cyclist's origins:

@Da5_12: Rigoberto Urán no es cualquier pati-hinchado. Vendía lotería y, a los 14 años, los paracos le mataron el papá. Ese man es un ganador. Punto.

@Da5_12: Rigoberto Urán is not some swollen-footed. He used to sell lottery and, when he was 14, paramilitaries killed his dad. That guy is a winner. Period.

Andrés Sánchez (@tropicalia115) [es] mocked the dumb questions posed by sports reporters and commentators on television:

@tropicalia115: J.H. Bonice: “¿Y qué comía Rigoberto Uran?”. Mamá de Rigoberto: “Pues lo mismo, la misma comida de siempre”. +10 para la señora Urán.

@tropicalia115: J.H. Bonice (refering to Caracol TV's Javier Hernández Bonnett): “And what did Rigoberto Urán eat?” Rigoberto's mom: “The same thing, the same food he always had”. +10 for Ms Urán.

Aníbal Pérez (@anibaljpg) [es] compares the money Coldeportes (the state-run Colombian Institute of Sports) will award Urán for his silver medal with the annual salary of the former secretary of the Senate:

@anibaljpg: Urán se gana 73 millones por una medalla de plata que le costo matarse entrenando muchos años, Emilio Otero 360 millones al año… calculen

@anibaljpg: Urán wins COP 73 million [it will actually be almost COP 80 million [es] (€36,000 or USD44,200)] for a silver medal which cost him training many years, Emilio Otero (former Senate's secretary) COP 360 million (€163,000 or USD200,000) a year… do the math

Olympic men's road race: Alexandre Vinokourov heads Colombian Rigoberto Uran. Image by The Department for Culture, Media and Sport on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

But not everyone was satisfied. Daniel Arango (@stultaviro) [es] tweeted:

@stultaviro (1, 2): ¿Hay algo más deprimente que un segundo lugar? O primero o último. (…) Mientras no asimilemos que la única opción es ganar, seguiremos siendo nada en el deporte mundial.

@stultaviro (1, 2): Is there anything more depressing than a second place? Either first or last. (…) As long as we don't assimilate the only option is to win, we'll continue being nothing in world sport.

In the same vein, Túrin Turambar (@Turint) [es] writes:

@Turint: Si algún día entrenamos mucho con apoyo estatal y cambiamos la mentalidad perdedora de q una medalla plata está bien, ganaremos otra de oro

@Turint: If someday we train a lot with state support and change our loser's mentality claiming a silver medal is okay, we'll win another gold one [referring to Colombia's only Olympic gold, won by weightlifter María Isabel Urrutia at Sydney 2000].

Adolfo Zableh wrote [es] on his blog La copa del burro:

Imposible fue no emocionarse al verlo en el podio, pero yo sentí más rabia que alegría, porque se esforzó y quedó cerca, pero igual acá celebramos como si un segundo lugar fuera lo máximo, cuando no lo es. Preferimos perder porque nos da miedo ganar, y para acabar con eso sería bueno empezar a reconocerlo.

[It was] impossible not to get excited as I watched him on the podium, but I felt more anger than joy, because he did his best and finished close, but anyway here we celebrate as if a second place was the best thing, when it isn't. We prefer to lose because we're afraid to win, and in order to end with that it would be good to start recognizing it.

Urán himself posted a picture of himself with his team mates on Twitter [es] as he returned to the hotel. Later he wrote:

@UranRigoberto: Colombianos si se puede , todo es posible con dedicación disciplina . Gracias por ese apoyo se les quiere . pic.twitter.com/HisbhdEr

@UranRigoberto [es]: Colombians, we can do it, everything's possible with dedication [and] discipline. Thank you for your support, love you. pic.twitter.com/HisbhdEr

Colombia sent 104 athletes (46 men and 58 women) to London 2012, its biggest olympic delegation ever.

This post is part of our special coverage London 2012 Olympics.

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