SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — The city of Laredo, Texas, has its first Olympian.
Boxer Jennifer Lozano qualified for next year's Paris Olympics on Thursday by reaching the final of the women's 50 kilogram weight class at the Pan American Games.
The 20-year-old Lozano was dominant in the semifinal against Canada's Mckenzie Wright in Santiago, winning 5-0. After she received a mock ticket confirming her qualification for the Olympics, she pointed her right hand to the sky in an apparent tribute to her late grandmother, Virginia Cuevas Sanchez, her biggest inspiration.
Then, Lozano took the ticket to her mother, Yadhira Rodríguez, in the stands, and both continued to cry.
Laredo has about 230,000 residents and sits on the U.S. border with Mexico. Lozano said in a recent in interview that her city, a mix of poor and better off, is “very small, very closed-minded," and she wanted to overcome its machismo to thrive in sport.
Next year, both sides of the city will be pulling for the boxer nicknamed “La Traviesa” (The Troublemaker in Spanish). It will be a different scene compared with a few years ago, when she was bullied for being overweight and a Spanish-speaker.
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“We are going to Paris, baby. La Traviesa es de Laredo, Texas. We are ready for all of the world, we are going to the Olympics,” a tearful Lozano said in a mixture of English and Spanish. “Being the first Olympian from Laredo means a lot to me.”
She celebrated her Olympic berth with family members who traveled to Santiago to watch her compete.
"I am very proud to be Mexican-American,” said Lozano, who got into the sport as a young girl as she watched former Mexican boxer Jackie Nava fights with her grandmother.
Brazil's Caroline Barbosa de Almeida will be Lozano's rival for the Pan American gold medal.
Laredo could get a second Olympian in Paris. Boxer Emilio Garcia, who could not secure his spot at the Pan American Games, will have two more events to try to qualify for next year in the 63.5 kilograms category.
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