Since 1945, the Dominican Republic has been building up its Olympic dreams. Thanks to the dedication of those who’ve strived to organize the national sport system, the harvest has begun: from the bronze medal of Pedro Julio Nolasco in Los Angeles 1984 to Félix Sánchez’s double gold in Athens 2004 and London 2012 and Luisito Pie’s bronze medal in Rio 2016.

Convinced that our youth needs role models and leaders who inspire them to become a better version of themselves, in 2009 INICIA created an investment program for high-performance athletes along with the Dominican Olympic Committee, which later became Creating Olympic Dreams (CRESO). Glories, produced by sports journalist Dionisio Soldevila and photographer Ricardo Piantini Hazoury, collects the feats of the Dominican men and women who have inspired us to finally see the podium as a place within our reach.

OUR DOMINICAN GLORIES

Track and field Félix Sánchez

After reaching the top spot in the Santo Domingo Pan American Games in 2003, the dream of Athens 2004 was up on his list. He took over the race from his first hurdle jump, and with a time of 47.68 the musical notes written by José Reyes were played for the first time on Olympic soil. In London 2012, three jumps away from the finish line, he realized that Javier Culson and Angelo Taylor were farther behind his calculations. He crumbled on the floor as he crossed the line, took out the photo of his grandmother he had hidden under his uniform, and kissed it.

Atletismo Félix Sánchez_

Boxing Félix Díaz

Díaz was such a small boy that the neighborhood bullies would use him as a human piñata. At age 10, tired of being such a vulnerable target, he stepped onto the Club Natalio Jiménez in Sabana Perdida for some boxing classes. He showed such dexterity in defending himself and hitting hard that his fists didn’t just speak back to the kids of La Javilla, but to everyone else around the world: in 2008, almost 25, he brought back a gold medal from the ring in Beijing.

Boxeo Félix Díaz

Taekwondo Gabriel Mercedes

Bayaguana’s Parque Central often sees many shoeshine boys fighting for the best spot to capture the largest amount of foot traffic. Circa 1991, a 12-year-old boy would literally kick his way through; it mattered a lot to him, as the six pesos he made in the morning, before going to school, helped feed a family of seven children. In 2008 that kid, now an adult, used those same kicks to fight his way through an Olympic silver medal.

Track and field Luguelín Santos

Although his sports career began as he ran sometimes with broken sneakers, other times barefoot and nearly always in a state of malnourishment, seeing Félix Sánchez’s Greek gold made Luguelín dream big. Minutes before his final race in London 2012, his childhood hero had achieved one of track and field’s most astounding comebacks. When it was his turn to cross the finish line, his spectacular 44.46 seconds gave the country a silver medal.

Taekwondo Luisito Pie

For the child of Haitian immigrants, born and raised in Bayaguana —“the Dominican boondocks,” as he calls it— , dreaming of an Olympic medal was an act of boldness. And yet, after winning the silver award in the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games, that dream suddenly didn’t seem so far away. In fact, it came true the summer after: his bronze reward in Rio de Janeiro made him the sole Dominican medal winner of those games.

Boxing Pedro Julio Nolasco

In the Los Angeles 1984 games, the fighter from La Romana beat Yugoslavian athlete Ljubiša Simić, Uganda’s John Siryakibbe and Puerto Rico’s John John Molina. In the fight for bronze, Nolasco wasted no time and beat the Seoul out of South Korea’s Sung-Kil Moon in a quickly defined encounter. And there it was: the first Olympic medal for the Dominican Republic, who welcomed him home as a great sports hero.

Boxeo Pedro Julio Nolasco_

Track and field Alberto Torres De La Mota

In October of 1964, the La Vega-born athlete traveled to Tokyo to become the first and only Dominican until then to represent his nation in the Olympics —the country’s economic situation didn’t allow for a larger delegation. In his debut, he finished sixth on his first heat, which left him out of the next round of races… but still assured him a spot on the Dominican Sports Hall of Fame, where he was immortalized in 1979.

Weightlifting Yudelkis Contreras

Her reasons to lift weights in her local sports complex were simple: she wanted to get a curvier body and also wanted something to distract herself with after school. Well, life has its own funny way of writing punchlines: that skinny girl’s aesthetic concerns in 2001 later became a career that led her to several Pan American gold medals and would even lift her close to Olympic glory.

Halterofilia Yudelkis Contreras

Weightlifting Beatriz Pirón

In 2014, Beatriz brought back gold and silver from the Central American and Caribbean Games held in Veracruz. In Toronto’s 2015 Pan American Games, she gained a bronze medal thanks to a total lift of 175 kilograms. Then came two golden medals and a silver one at the 2016 Pan American Powerlifting Cup in Cartagena. And then, in Rio 2016 she came so, so close to making history: she finished fourth, barely a kilo away from the bronze medal.

Halterofilia Beatriz Pirón

Track and field Juana Arrendel

When she returned to the field in the Central American and Caribbean Games held in San Salvador in 2002, she rose to 1.97 meters, breaking the record established by Cuban long jumper Silvia Costa 16 years earlier. That same year she added another gold medal to her collection, with a 1.95-meter jump in San Antonio, Texas. And yet, the golden medal she cherished the most was the one she gave her own country at home, during the 2003 Pan American Games in Santo Domingo.

Atletismo Juana Arrendel

Weightlifting Wanda Rijo

During the 1998 Central American and Caribbean Games in Maracaibo, she became the first Dominican athlete to bring back three gold medals from that event. A year later, during the Winnipeg Pan American Games, she lifted 100 kilograms in the snatch and 120 in the clean jerk: her combined 220 kilograms gave the country its first Pan American gold medal for a female athlete.

Halterofilia Wanda Rijo

Gymnastics Yamilet Peña

In 2009 she took part in the first preparatory event for the next Olympic cycle, the Central American and Caribbean Games of Mayagüez. After beating the competition in the qualifying stage, the tiny gymnast made two spectacular leaps on her way to the final: a handspring with half twist and a full twist off, making it to the top of the scoreboard. Two days later, on the fight for the podium, all everyone could talk about was how the gold was hers to lose.

Gimnasia Yamilet Peña

Volleyball The Caribbean Queens

The Volleyball Palace at the Juan Pablo Duarte Olympic Center was packed to the brim. The entire country was following the action on both sides of that net: for a whole decade, no other sports event beat the ratings of the final game against Cuba in the 2003 Pan American Games. It was 25-16, 25-17, 14-25 and 26-28 until the last set ended on 15-13, favoring the Dominican players. That night, it became official: the Caribbean Queens hailed from Quisqueya.

reinas_del_caribe

Volleyball The new heirs

The new Caribbean Queens didn’t make it to Rio de Janeiro 2016, after losing their first five games at the pre-olympic event that took place in Japan that year. But they keep at it: a little while later they rose to the top of the World Grand Prix in Bulgaria and the Pan American Cup in Santo Domingo. Thanks to a productive structure that smoothly allows for generational substitutions, they gained their ticket back to the taraflex for the Tokyo Olympics in 2021.

Voleibol Las herederas

Tennis Víctor Estrella

To Estrella, 2011 was a year of highs, as he won his first individual Challenger in Medellín, having beat Colombian player Alejandro Falla in the finals, and getting a bronze medal in the Pan American Games in Guadalajara. That feat gave the country the first and only Pan American medal in men’s tennis in its history.

Tenis Víctor Estrella

Boxing Yenebier Guillén

In 2008 she brought back a set of two golden medals from an equal number of Central American and Pan American competitions. Three years later, during the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, she clearly beat the former world champion, Brazilian boxer Roseli Feitosa. During the fight for the gold medal she fell behind Canadian fighter Mary Spencer, leaving her with a silver reward.

Boxeo Yenebier Guillén
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OLYMMPIC MEDAL LIST

Gold

Silver

Bronze

Alberto Torres de la Mota

Track and Field

Porfirio Veras Mercedes

Track and Field

Alberto Torres de la Mota

Track and Field

José L’Official

Track and Field

Miguel Núñez

Track and Field

Radhamés Mora

Track and Field

Rafael Domínguez

Track and Field

Luis Soriano

Track and Field

Rolando Gómez Suardi

Track and Field

David Soriano

Track and Field

Ramón Silfa

Weightlifting

Eliseo Pérez

Weightlifting

Pisandro Miniño

Weightlifting

Martín Cuello

Boxing

Ignacio Espinal

Boxing

Porfirio Donato Cartagena

Boxing

José Leal

Cycling

José Eugenio Defran

Wrestling

Onésimo Rufino Gómez

Wrestling

Salvador Antonio Pérez

Diving

Domingo Lorenzo Conde

Shooting

Riad Yunes

Shooting

Agustín Santana

Shooting

David Carrasco Zapata

Shooting

Bonifacio Canto Sanfeliz

Shooting

Juan Chalas Jiménez

Judo

Carlos Socias

Judo

Luis Emilio Berroa

Weightlifting

Riad Yunes

Shooting

Domingo Lorenzo Conde

Shooting

Divina Estrella

Track and Field

Francisco Solís

Track and Field

Félix Raúl López

Track and Field

Eleoncio Mercedes

Boxing

Francisco Sánchez

Boxing

Jorge Amparo

Boxing

Jesús Sánchez

Boxing

José Vallejo

Boxing

Gustavo de La Cruz

Boxing

Gerardo Suero

Track and Field

Marisela Peralta

Track and Field

César Jiménez

Diving

Reynaldo Castro

Diving

Andrés Tena

Boxing

Mario Rodríguez

Weightlifting

Pedro Julio Nolasco

Boxing

Laureano Ramírez

Boxing

Abraham Mieses

Boxing

Jesús Beltré

Boxing

Virgilio Frías

Boxing

Jesús Herrera

Boxing

Ángel Beltré

Boxing

John Adams

Judo

Desiderio Lebrón

Judo

Modesto Castillo

Track and Field

Felicia Candelario

Track and Field

Divina Estrella

Track and Field

Antonio Molinario

Sailing

Ximena Carias

Synchronized Swimming

Maribel Solís

Synchronized Swimming

Servio Tulio Severino

Wrestling

Jesús Beltré

Boxing

Melvin De León

Boxing

Emilio Villegas

Boxing

Pedro Sainz

Boxing

Pedro Frías

Boxing

José Saizozema

Boxing

Juan Núñez

Track and Field

Evaristo Roberto Ortíz

Track and Field

Modesto Castillo

Track and Field

Cristian Rivera

Weightlifting

Frank Pérez Cepeda

Weightlifting

Francisco Guzmán

Weightlifting

José Miguel Guzmán

Weightlifting

Gilberto García

Judo

Mario Álvarez Soto

Table Tennis

Raymundo Fermín

Table Tennis

Blanca Iris Alejo

Table Tennis

Héctor Julio Ávila

Boxing

Fausto del Rosario

Boxing

Victoriano Damián Sosa

Boxing

Agustín Castillo

Boxing

Rafael Romero

Boxing

César Ramos

Boxing

Altagracia Contreras

Judo

Eleucadia Vargas

Judo

Gilberto García Piña

Judo

Ekers Ernesto Raposo

Judo

Ángel Cueto

Wrestling

Ulises Valentín

Wrestling

Equipo Nacional

Baseball

Juana Arrendel

Track and Field

Julio Luciano

Track and Field

Adalberto Méndez

Track and Field

Joan Guzmán

Boxing

José Pérez

Boxing

Miguel Mojica

Boxing

Johnny Nolasco

Boxing

Gabriel Hernández

Boxing

Dulce María Piña

Judo

José Geraldino

Judo

Francis Figuereo

Judo

Ulises Valentín

Wrestling

Alfonso Serrano

Wrestling

Blanca Iris Alejo

Table Tennis

Joelle Schad

Tennis

Félix Sánchez

Track and Field

Carlos Yoelín Santa

Track and Field

Yovanny Lorenzo

Boxing

Jerson Ravelo

Boxing

Juan José Ubaldo Cabrera

Boxing

Juan Carlos Jacinto Jiménez

Judo

Vicbart Geraldino

Judo

José Geraldino

Judo

José Eugenio Vásquez

Judo

Eleucadia Vargas Reyes

Judo

Guillermo Cabrera

Swimming

Wanda Rijo

Weightlifting

Plaiter Reyes

Weightlifting

Félix Sánchez

Track and Field

Carlos Yoelín Santa

Track and Field

Juan Sainfleur

Track and Field

Arismendy Peguero

Track and Field

Julio Vidal

Track and Field

Fior Vásquez

Track and Field

Antonio Sidé

Track and Field

Juana Arrendel

Track and Field

Juan Carlos Payano

Boxing

Argenis Méndez

Boxing

Félix Díaz Guzmán

Boxing

Isidro Mosquea

Boxing

Juan Ubaldo Cabrera

Boxing

Juan Carlos Jacinto

Judo

José Eugenio Vásquez

Judo

José Boissard

Judo

Modesto Lara

Judo

Vicbart Geraldino

Judo

Gabriel Mercedes

Taekwondo

Julio Dujarric

Skeet Shooting

Wanda Rijo

Weightlifting

Lin Ju

Table Tennis

Nieves Xue

Table Tennis

Hansel Ramírez

Wrestling

Félix Díaz Guzmán

Boxing

Gabriel Mercedes

Taekwondo

Yudelkis Contreras

Weightlifting

Félix Sánchez

Track and Field

Carlos Yoelín Santa

Track and Field

Arismendy Peguero

Track and Field

Pedro Mejía

Track and Field

Yoel Tapia

Track and Field

Mariely Sánchez

Track and Field

Yon Soriano

Track and Field

Argenis Méndez

Boxing

Juan Carlos Payano

Boxing

Winston Méndez

Boxing

Roberto Navarro

Boxing

Gilbert Castillo

Boxing

Lin Ju

Table Tennis

Nieves Xue

Table Tennis

Qian Lian

Table Tennis

Johenny Valdez

Table Tennis

Raúl Aguayo

Sailing

Jacinto Ayala

Swimming

Julio Dujarric

Skeet Shooting

María García

Judo

Juan Carlos Jacinto

Judo

Teófilo Diek

Judo

Félix Sánchez

Track and Field

Luguelín Santos

Track and Field

Lavonne Idlette

Track and Field

Mariely Sánchez

Track and Field

Carlos Jorge

Track and Field

Yoel Tapia

Track and Field

Winder Cuevas

Track and Field

Gustavo Cuesta

Track and Field

Dorian McMenemy

Swimming

Nicholas Schwab

Swimming

Junior Castillo

Boxing

William Encarnación

Boxing

Wellington Arias

Boxing

Beatriz Pirón

Weightlifting

Yudelkis Contreras

Weightlifting

María García

Judo

Lin Ju

Table Tennis

Yamilet Peña

Gymnastics

Sergio Piñero

Shooting

Gabriel Mercedes

Taekwondo

Equipo Nacional

Women’s volleyball

Luguelín Santos

Track and Field

Juander Santos

Track and Field

Ana José Tima

Track and Field

Mariely Sánchez

Track and Field

Gustavo Cuesta

Track and Field

Stanly Del Carmen

Track and Field

Yancarlos Martínez

Track and Field

Yon Soriano

Track and Field

Christopher Valdez

Track and Field

Mayobanex De Óleo

Track and Field

Youndry Andújar

Track and Field

Máximo Mercedes

Track and Field

Luis Charles

Track and Field

Héctor Luis García Mora

Boxing

Leonel De Los Santos

Boxing

Diego Milán

Cycling

Yvonne Losos de Muñiz

Equestrian

Wander Mateo

Judo

Beatriz Pirón

Weightlifting

Yudelkis Contreras

Weightlifting

Luis Alberto García

Weightlifting

Dorian McMenemy

Swimming

Johnny José Pérez

Swimming

Luisito Pie

Taekwondo

Katherine Rodríguez

Taekwondo

Moisés Hernández

Taekwondo

Víctor Estrella

Tennis

Eduardo Lorenzo

Shooting

Yessica Camilo

Archery

Find our comple annd updated olympic medal list in the eBook version of Glories: Going for the gold.

The Team

Ricardo Piantini Hazoury

Photographer and editorial director

Dionisio Soldevila

Sports journalist

Nathanael Pérez

Sports journalist

María De Moya

Doctor in Communications

José Chez Checo

History advisor

Koco Toribio

Illustrator

Xavier Batista

Illustrator

Sahira Fontana

Art director and designer

Tatiana Fernández Geara

Documentary filmmaker

Pablo Páez

Translator

Marie Benzo

Translator