Spanish-Surnamed U.S. Medal Winners: 5 Out Of 208
August 13, 2012, 06:30 AM
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Here's the kind of statistic that nobody else counts: on NBC's list of 208 American Olympic medal winners, I find five Spanish surnames, or 2.4%. That's compared to approaching 20% of the relevant age cohort is Spanish-surnamed.

1. Leo Manzano won the silver in the men's 1500m run, which is traditionally a glamor event

2. Women's water polo veteran Brenda Villa won a gold  — As a loyal California, I've tried hard to like water polo, but it's not much of a TV sport, to say the least.

3. Marlen Esparza won a bronze in women's boxing - no comment

4. Danell Leyva, a Cuban, won a medal in men's gymnastics all-around, which is cool. Men's gymnastics is awesome (here's Epke Zonderland's triple release routine), although it lacks the car-crash fascination of women's gymnastics.

5. Amy Rodriguez, who is a Cameron Diaz-style half Cuban, won a gold with women's soccer.

A bunch of other medal-winners with non-Hispanic surnames are part Hispanic, such as swimmer Ryan Lochte, whose mother is Cuban, and basketball player Carmelo Anthony whose mother is Puerto Rican. But, if you sum up all the fractions, it comes out to about the same thing as just counting surnames.

This is a particularly low percentage because Californians are traditionally so over-represented on the U.S. Olympic team.

Anyway, this points out a theme that I've been bringing up for a decade or more, which is the remarkable lack of high achievers among the Hispanic Tidal Wave.