Sports News Lifestyle & Culture
Food & Good Eating
Real Estate Sales
Real Estate Rentals
Tourism & Things To Do Hotel's Directory About Us
Professional's Directory Classified Ads
Sports news  local and from the wires

Speed, who is a coach at the University of Louisville in the U.S. state of Kentucky, is training athletes at the National Gym.
- Sport Institute photo -

Published Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Louisville University coach trains
athletes in the country

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Even though it has been a difficult year for professional cheerleading public events due to the closure of gyms and academies, as a preventive measure to prevent the spread of covid-19, the Cheer and Dance Federation of Costa Rica, FECAD, carried out workouts led by James Speed ​​for coaches and members of the professional cheerleading teams.

According to the federation, Speed, who is a coach at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, United States, is training athletes at the National Gym in San José Province.

"The Cheer and Dance Federation of Costa Rica made a great effort to bring Speed ​​and we are satisfied with the work he did," Laura Alán, president of the federation said.

Following all sanitary guidelines and with the approval of allowing contact in small bubbles, members of the national cheerleading teams were trained by Speed ​​in techniques to improve their skills, the Federation said in its statement.

"It was a great experience, having a person here in the country with a lot of knowledge and also happy to see our teammates again after such a long time, this encourages us to continue forward," NAME Campos, member of the National team of cheerleading said.

The coaches of the professional cheerleading teams in Costa Rica also had their time with Speed, received theory and practice to refresh concepts and improve this sport.

The trainings were attended by trainers from Santa Cruz in Guanacaste Province, Puriscal, Los Santos y Desamparados area of ​​San José Province and Jacó Beach in Puntarenas Province, among others.

According to the federation, due to the pandemic, the teams are unable to train for the entire year, because the school year was suspended and currently substituted by virtual lessons. Due to the government's strategy to minimize the impact of the pandemic, several teams are forced to stop their public presentations and some of them had to close their facilities. Also, all public events and technical training that the federation had scheduled were canceled.

Part of the training directed by Speed ​​can be seen on the Sports Institute Facebook page.

What other international coaches could provide training for athletes in Costa Rica? We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to

The goal of the program is to create an opportunity to develop a different sport, make Tortuguero an international venue for
the practice of Olympic rowing and, at the same time, generate development in the community and reactivation of tourism.
- Sport Institute photo -

Published Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Authorities bet on rowing to promote
tourism in Tortuguero

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Ministry of Sports developed a project to promote rowing in Tortuguero in the Caribbean area of ​​Limón Province.

The popular sport of rowing, also known as Crew, involves propelling a boat (racing shell) on water using oars.

The characteristics of the rivers and channels that flow into the Caribbean Sea allow a project to be promoted to turn the area into the cradle of Olympic rowing in Costa Rica, according to Hernán Solano-Venegas, Minister of Sports.

The goal of the program is to create an opportunity to develop a different sport, make Tortuguero an international venue for the practice of Olympic rowing and, at the same time, generate development in the community and reactivation of tourism, the Institute of Sport said in its statement.

The rowing promotion plan includes actions such as the hiring of Juan Carlos Reyes, winner of Olympic Rowing in Central American, Pan American and Pre-Olympic Games to train coaches and athletes of this sport during 2021.

The initial proposal was for the coach to start training this year, however, due to the pandemic, his arrival had to be postponed.

Also, the Rowing Federation of Costa Rica donated four boats and equipment for the practice of this sport that will be kept under the Municipality of Pococí.

The National System of Conservation Areas, Sinac, opened an area within the new facilities of Tortuguero National Park so that boats can have easy access to the rivers.

In September, the Ministry of the Environment invested $1,864,371 in the construction of the Tortuguero park rangers' facilities.

The new center covers a total area of ​​1,800 m2, which includes park ranger and volunteer shelters, a multipurpose room, warehouses and a dock.

The park is located on the Caribbean Coast in Limón Province. It covers an area of ​​77,032 acres (31,174 ha) with a large variety of biological diversity due to the existence within the reserve of 11 different habitats, including rainforests, mangrove forests, swamps, beaches, and lagoons.

Park tickets can be purchased on the SINAC website, beginning Dec. 10. A tutorial on how to purchase tickets can be found on the SINAC YouTube Channel.

What other activity should the tourism authorities do to increase tourism in Tortuguero? We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to

The health guidelines have been authorized by the Ministry of Health and will apply at all beaches.
-  A.M. Costa Rica illustrative photo -

Published Friday, October 30, 2020

Surfers must comply with health
guidelines to avoid covid-19 contagion

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Costa Rica Surf Federation, which is made up of more than 400 members, has developed sanitary guidelines to avoid increasing the contagion of covid-19 among people who practice surfing.

According to the federation, these guidelines have been authorized by the Ministry of Health and will apply at all beaches where this sport is practiced.

Among the main preventive measures that surfers must comply with are:

• Before going surfing, check with the tour operators in the area that are affiliated with the federation if there are quotas and time restrictions for practicing this sport.

• Maintain a social distance of at least 1.8 meters between surfers.

• Go to the beach with your social bubble and avoid meetings with other people.

• Comply with personal hygiene measures such as constant hand washing and use of a facial mask in public areas.

• The equipment used for surfing must, like the board and accessories, be constantly disinfected.

According to Randall Chávez, president of the federation, a significant number of tourists choose the beaches of Costa Rica to train or receive surfing lessons. "In addition, our surfers serve the country as a lifeguard, protecting the safety of tourists who come to visit our beaches."

The designated pandemic hours for beaches work the same as the ban-on-driving rule. For example, on weekdays from Monday through Friday, visiting beaches are allowed from 5 a.m. until 10 p.m. On weekends, Saturdays and Sundays, beaches are open from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. These rules apply nationwide.

Last month the Save The Waves Coalition announced
Hermosa Beach, located in Garabito Canton, Puntarenas Province, has officially been approved as the next World Surfing Reserve, WSR.

According to the organization, the decision made by the Vision Council, a governing body of surf and conservation experts appointed by Save The Waves, was made during the Global Wave Conference on February 14 in Gold Coast, Australia.

The beach is the epicenter of surfing in Costa Rica. Every year they host surfers from around the world who seek out the renowned waves at the beach break, the coalition said in its statement.

Hermosa Beach will join the growing network of World Surfing Reserves across the globe including:

• Malibu and Santa Cruz in California, U.S.

• Ericeira in Portugal.

• Manly Beach in Australia.

• Huanchaco in Peru.

• Bahia Todos Santos in Baja California, Mexico.

• Punta de Lobos in Chile.

• Gold Coast in Australia.

• Guarda do Embaú in Brazil.

• Noosa Heads, Australia.

The place is moving forward with the development of its stewardship plan and will be formally dedicated as a World Surfing Reserve in 2021.

Due to the impacts of covid-19, Save The Waves is delaying the application process in 2020 for the next World Surfing Reserve nomination and will make a call for submissions in 2021.

According to the Tourism Institute, 17% of tourists who visited the country by air between 2017 and 2019 practiced surfing as part of the activities carried out during their stay. Surfers on average stay 17 days and spend $122 per day.

Should authorities continue regulating beach hours?  We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to

At the Limón Stadium, approximately $1,073,000 will be invested in repairs and maintenance of the synthetic field, the electrical system,
the soccer field and the dressing rooms. - A.M. Costa Rica wire services photo-

Published Monday, August 31, 2020

Investment of more than $6 million
for sports facilities in Limón

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Ministry of Sports announced on Friday that despite the economic crisis due to the pandemic, approximately $6,456,962 will be invested in improvements and construction of sports facilities in Limón Province.

According to Hernán Solano-Vengas, Minister of Sports, the investment involves a series of projects financed with resources from the Costa Rican Sports Institute and the Rural Development Institute. "The goal is to guarantee real access to opportunities for sports, recreation and physical activity," Solano said.

According to the institute, the capital would be invested in the following projects:

• At the Limón Stadium, approximately $1,073,000 will be invested in repairs and maintenance of the synthetic field, the electrical system, the soccer field and the dressing rooms.

• In the Cariari sports park, $3,024,338 will be invested in repairing ramps for wheelchairs, sidewalks, rainwater system, lighting, park area, electrical system, soccer field, handball field, beach volleyball area, an amphitheater, reconstruction of trails, construction of elevated wooden access to the park's pools, remodeling of offices, reconstruction of the Casona, shower modules, among others.

• At the Apa Blu Presbere Sports Gym, approximately $828,332 will be invested in the construction of a gym.

• In the Guacimo gym, the Bribri Territory Development Association donated the land, and the ministry will invest approximately $840,094 to rebuild the gym.

• At the Pococí Sports Center, approximately $672,075 will be invested in improvements to the facilities, the swimming pool, the athletic track and the lighting system.

• In the Suretka park, in Talamanca, approximately $18,482 will be invested in the purchase and installation of 13 exercise machines.

However, due to the spread of the covid-19, restrictions are in place restricting access to public parks and outdoor gyms by closing all facilities under orders by the Ministry of Health.

Do you think investing millions in public sports sites should be a priority during the pandemic?   
We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to

Published Monday, August 31, 2020

A free platform to improve
sport fishing

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Costa Rican Fisheries Institute announced the free platform called "PezCa" that provides oceanographic information to improve the knowledge needed for the regulated fishing and sporting fish sector.

According to the institute, the platform will allow users to learn about the main species for fishing, current regulations, access to online purchase of sport fishing licenses, among other data.

The platform allows access to data such as the distribution of sea surface temperature, chlorophyll concentration, anomalies in sea level, direction and intensity of marine currents, among other data,” said Daniel Carrasco, president of the institute.

The application also provides alerts about the conditions of the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon, the presence of red tide, or the ban on fishing periods and zones.

The platform can be downloaded for Android and iOS from their website.

What other types of improvements could the authorities make to increase the sport fish sector?
We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to 

Published Monday, June 29, 2020

Celebrate the male soccer
league final at home

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Due to the increase in cases of covid-19, authorities call on soccer fans to celebrate the male major league final game at home. No parties. Avoid crowds. Respect social bubbles. No congregating on the streets.

"It is the responsibility of each person to face the pandemic, that is why we call on the fans of the teams to see and enjoy the game with them social bubbles and from their homes," said Hernán Solano-Venegas, Minister of Sport.

The big game will take place tonight at 8:30 p.m. at the Ricardo Saprissa Stadium in the Tibas District, in San José Province. The final tonight between the first division teams of Liga Deportiva Alajuelense and Club Deportivo Saprissa is known as the classic game of the championship.

The game will be live streamed at Saprissa team Facebook page or Liga Deportiva Alajuelense Facebook page.

According to the ministry, the teams, players, and staff of the major league soccer teams have followed the sanitary guideline for prevention measures issued by the Ministry of Health.

Fans are urged to also maintain those precautionary measures in their own homes.

Regarding the women's soccer league, which kicked-off on Saturday at the Municipal Stadium in Perez Zeledon, the inaugural match was between the Sporting FC teams against Suva Sports.

Sporting FC won by a score of 8 to 1 goals.

The second game of the tournament was held on Sunday between the teams Dimas Escazú and Herediano, with the result of a 1 to 1 goal draw.

Tomorrow’s game between the teams of Saprissa and Coronado will take place at 6 p. m. at the Saprissa team stadium in the Tibas District. The game can be reached at Saprissa women's team Facebook page.

Should authorities allow other athletic championships to be played during this time? 
We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to 

Published Monday, June 1, 2020

Sports motorcycling can
resume activities

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Ministry of Sports authorized the implementation of the sanitary measures of the Ministry of Health for the activation of competitive motorcycling, making this activity the first motorsport in the country authorized to return to the slopes for the development of its practices.

According to the Ministry, 600 accredited riders such as Motocross, Enduro, Cross Country, High Displacement Moto and Speed Moto, will be able to return to their training on the 9 tracks located in Puriscal, Corralillo de Cartago, Sabanilla de Alajuela, San Mateo, Santa Ana, San Carlos, Guácimo, Pérez Zeledón and Parque Viva.

Among the measures that motorcyclists must comply with are constant hand washing, different schedules for people at risk, a prior appointment for the use of the tracks, application of social bubbles in the case of spectators, use of face masks inside the facilities, among others.

According to the Federation of Motorcyclists, the process to reactivate the facilities of this type of sports activity began in early May.

"We have developed an arduous and a joint effort between us and the office of the Minister of Sport for the development of these guidelines that will allow us to return to practice, after two months of suspension," said Marco Cercone, president of the Federation.

According to the sports ministry, there are 14 types of sports that have already started their return from training.

Among other details, pilots must abide by the protocol called Specific Procedures Guide for the implementation of the sanitary provisions of the Ministry of Health, for the practice of its modalities as follows:

• Motorcycles must abide by driving ban regulations based on their license plate.

• When entering the facilities where the practice will be carried out, drivers must comply with the guidelines of hand washes with soap and water, otherwise, there should be an alcohol gel dispenser available.

• Each pilot must bring a personal cleaning kit.

• Within the facilities of the training track, there will only be 25% of the capacity of entry of people.

• Only the staff and pilots accredited to the federation with one person as a companion belonging to their social bubbles can enter the tracks.

• The coordination and designation of the training schedule will be by appointment. For this, the drivers will have to communicate with those responsible for the training track.

• There will be no contact between people to enter the track and during the waiting spaces between each training shift, both pilots and those responsible for the administration of each track. They will also not be able to share motorcycles, sports equipment, tools, drinks or food.

• Drivers who have symptoms of fever, cough, stuffy nose, a sore throat will not be able to enter the tracks.

Another sport recently authorized to reopen activities was the soccer championship.

The Ministry of Health authorized contact sports such as soccer to resume competition but behind closed doors.

As of May 16, the professional soccer championship resumed. However, despite this authorization, only the men's soccer league is holding its championship because the Soccer Federation canceled women's soccer championship and the minor leagues.

Should authorities also allow women soccer championship? We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to

Published Thursday, April 30, 2020

First virtual basketball league tournament fundraiser to help covid-19 victims

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Costa Rican Basketball Federation announced on Wednesday, the first national basketball tournament NBA2K, which will be played on virtual platforms on Saturday, May 2.

According to the Federation, the original idea of creating the championship is of two experts in international basketball, Tony Alemán and Rubén Alfaro, who designed the Tica-NBA2K league tournament.

"Our collaboration has consisted of formalizing the tournament, seeking the support of the government and disseminating through coaches and players to encourage participation, all this while waiting to raise the largest amount of funds for the benefit of those most in need," said Rubén Alfaro, one of the organizers of the championship.

The game can be played on video consoles by people who donate  ₡1,000 colones (about $1.76).

According to Franklin Martinez, president of the Federation, the tournament has two goals. First, to promote the game of basketball and second to raise funds to benefit many individuals and families affected by the pandemic in Costa Rica.

The Sports Ministry informed that the funds raised from the championship will be donated to the government's "With you we can" campaign. The donations received in this campaign will be used by the Emergency Committee to deliver food to poverty-stricken families who have been affected by the economic crisis caused by the covid-19 epidemic.

People who participate in the championship can register via an online form TORNEO NBA2K20 site.

In addition to helping with donations, championship participants can win prizes that include basketballs, jerseys, discount certificates and official NBA memorabilia.

The campaign "Con vos podemos" was developed by the government on April 15 and will run until April 30. The motto, roughly translating to "with you we can" was created to collect donations and help people who have been affected by the covid -19.

People who are not interested in playing in the basketball tournament, and still want to support the campaign can make donations by texting Movistar, Claro or Kölbi lines.

Donations can be made from cell phones with amounts ranging from ₡2000 to ₡5000, approximately $3 to $9.

Each company has specific guidelines to send money through their mobile network. Check with your service provider before texting a donation.

Cell phones with Kölbi can make donations by texting the codes 5613 to donate ₡2000, 5614 donate ₡ 4000, and 5615 donate ₡5000.

In the case of cell phones with Movistar and Claro lines, the person must send a message with the word DONAR to the codes: 2030 to donate ₡1000, 2031 to donate ₡2000, 2032 to donate ₡4000 and 2033 to donate ₡5000.

In English, “donar” translates to “donate.” The donation via text will only function sending “DONAR.”

According to the first lady Claudia Dobles, who introduced the fundraising campaign, with the money raised, basic supplies such as food and hygiene kits will be purchased and delivered to families living in poverty.

"Due to this difficult time we are going through, we see the solidarity that distinguishes us as Costa Ricans," first lady Dobles said. "It is important for people to know that "Con vos podemos" campaign is an official and safe way to make donations."

All purchases of food and supplies will be bought from local farmers and community shops to help improve the local economy. The supply packages will be delivered to families by members of the National Emergency Commission.

People can make their donations through bank accounts listed on the government website Electronic transfers are recommended to avoid going to the bank. All banks receive electronic transfer donations, said the government.

What other sport federations could host a tournament fundraiser for people affected by the covid-19 crisis?  We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to

The team will do training in the sports park today before the friendly match that starts tomorrow at 3 p.m. Costa Rica time.
 / Costa Rican  and the U.S. Soccer Federation courtesy photo.

- Published: Friday, January 31, 2020-

Costa Rica men's soccer team vs. the U.S. Saturday

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Costa Rican Soccer Federation announced that the men's soccer team traveled on Thursday to California for the game against the U.S.A. which will take place Saturday at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Los Angeles.

According to the federation, the team will do training in the sports park today before the friendly match that starts tomorrow at 3 p.m. Costa Rica time.

Coach Rónald González reported that this match is part of the team's training before the Federation International Soccer Association games in March. The official games eventually determine which teams will occupy slots for the World Cup in 2022.

According to the U.S. Soccer Federation, the game will be broadcast Saturday at 3:55 p.m. ET on ESPNNews, UniMás and TUDN and also at the U.S. Soccer’s official Facebook site.

"Kicking off a big year for the U.S. Men’s National Team program, a young USMNT squad wraps up the month-long January Camp when it faces  Costa Rica," said the federation in its statement.

Before the match between the men's teams, the women's soccer team will face Haiti at Compass Stadium today in Houston at 5 p.m. Costa Rican time.

This game is part of the pre-Olympic phase that gives the qualification to participate in the Tokyo 2020 world games representing the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association.

Before facing Haiti, the women's team played against Panamá, winning 6 to 1. Before that the team played against Rice University women's soccer team, winning 3 to 0.

Both games will be televised on local channels, and the score will be published in the National Football Federation Facebook page.

Costa Rican soccer team coach Jazmín Elizondo chose a strong base of experienced players such as Shirley Cruz, Gloriana Villalobos, Melissa Herrera and Raquel Rodriguez, among others.

"We are happy with this list of players, and also with all those who were in the whole process," said coach Elizondo. "The new ones we summoned were presented with the opportunity and they came, they did well and we consider that they enter the profile that we want from the players for this tournament. ”

The women's soccer team won a bronze medal at the 2019 Pan American Games, the multi-sport event governed by the Panam Sports Organization, which was held in Lima, Peru, from July 26 to Aug. 11.

The team defeated Paraguay 1-0 at minute 82 when Daniela Cruz scored a goal.

Have you seen the male or female national soccer team game? We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to

Before the big game, there will be a special presentation of the top national teams of the Costa Rican league.
/ National Football League courtesy photo.

- Published: Friday, January 31, 2020-

Super Bowl LIV festival on Sunday

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The Costa Rica Football League invites fans to celebrate at the Super Bowl LIV festival that will take place at the Oxigeno Mall, Heredia, at noon Sunday.

The Costa Rican league will celebrate the National Football League championship encounter between The San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs, which will take place in Miami, Florida later in the day.

In Costa Rica, in addition to the transmission of the pre-game activities on a giant screen, there will be a demonstration of game techniques such as tackling, passes, and blocks, as well as sales of Costa Rican league souvenirs, food and beer.

Before the big game, there will be a special presentation of the top national teams of the Costa Rican league, which are the Lions, Bulls, Pumas, Jaguars, Vulcans and Pirates.

"This is an activity never seen before and completely free for the whole family enjoyment," said the league in its statement.

After the game will be the official launch of the new uniforms of the Costa Rican team for this season.

Also, there will be the official presentation of the five Costa Rican players who were selected to be part of Team America that will participate in the Flamingo Bowl Feb. 29 in Miami.

Costa Rican players Javier Cañas, Juan Campos, Yefry Arboine, Luis Álvarez and Danny Herrera will play alongside athletes from the American leagues, MIFA Football and Lexfa Arena Football Mexico, among others.

The Costa Rican league will also announce the participation in the next Panamerican Bowl that will take place in May in Ecuador.

In December the Tico football team won the first place trophy at the second edition of the Latin Bowl that took place in Nicaragua.

The final score against team Nicaragua was 29-22. Nicaragua took second place in the tournament.

"In 11 years of practicing this sport we had never had such a united team, and this is the result of this triumph," said the Costa Rican Football League in its statement. "We have given the opportunity to even two minor players who project to future, also; athletes from Liberia and Turrialba which are two new teams in the country were taken into account. ”

The Costa Rican Football league also invited American-style football fans to support and enjoy the National Championship of Professional Teams that will begin in March.

A.M. Costa Rica will be published the dates of games of 2020 championship as it sets by the Costa Rican Football league.

Have you seen any of the Costa Rican Football League games in Costa Rica?  We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to

Costa Rica is in the qualifier's A Group along with the national teams from Haiti, Panamá and the U.S.
/ National Football Federation and Rice University courtesy


-Published: Friday, January 24, 2020

Women National Soccer Team face Rice University today

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The National Women's Soccer Team of Costa Rica plays today against Rice University in an exhibition match at 6 p.m. local time at the Owls' Holloway Field in Houston, Texas.

The Costa Rica National Team is there for the 2020 CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying matches later this month where trip to the Summer Olympics in Japan will be on the line. Costa Rica is in the qualifier's A Group along with the national teams from Haiti, Panamá and the U.S.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for Rice student-athletes, getting a chance to compete against an international team that could very well be playing in the Olympic Games later this summer," said coach Brian Lee. "The exhibition is right at the very start of our off-season training program, but we welcome this unique challenge. Having the match in front of our fans at Holloway Field will add extra level of excitement for our team."

Costa Rican Jazmín Elizondo chose a strong base of experienced players such as Shirley Cruz, Gloriana Villalobos, Melissa Herrera, Raquel Rodriguez, among others.

"We are happy with this list of players, and also with all those who were in the whole process," said coach Elizondo. "The new ones we summoned were presented with the opportunity and they came, they did well and we consider that they enter the profile that we want from the players for this tournament. ”

The Costa Rican team traveled to Houston Tuesday for the training game against Rice before facing the Panama team Tuesday.

The match will be televised on local channels, and the score will be published in the National Football Federation in the following link.

The women's soccer team
won  bronze medal at the 2019 Pan American Games, the multi-sport event governed by the Panam Sports Organization, was held in Lima, Peru, from July 26 to August 11.

The team won by Daniela Cruz scored the goal at minute 82, with which Costa Rica defeated Paraguay 1-0.

Which team in Costa Rica could compete in the United States?
We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to


According to the federation, this is the first time in the history of surfing in Costa Rica that a woman won in this competition. / National Surf Federation courtesy photo.

-Published: Monday, January 13, 2020

Costa Rican surfer wins championship in China

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rican surfer Brisa Hennessy won the Women Qualifying Series 5,000 Corona Open, WQS championship, which was held in Riyue Bay, Hainan Island, China, last week.

“Since I arrived at this place, I felt a tremendous connection with the wave. This victory is very special for me for another good year I want for me, ” said Brisa Hennessy in a statement by the National Surf Federation.

According to the federation, this is the first time in the history of surfing in Costa Rica that a woman won in this competition.

According to the federation, Hennessy won after beating Vahiné Fierro of Tahiti, who was "the promise of the French Olympic team who was only 0.14 points to reach the Tica."

Hennessy won with a score of 12.00 points versus 11.86 for Fierro after a heat of 30 minutes.

Hennessy already has obtained a place for Tokyo 2020 Olympics. However, there are 12 remaining places for five men and seven women and an opportunity for more Costa Rican team surfers to qualify by competing in the World Cup.

In December, Hennessy received the recognition of her breakthrough performance of the year by Surfer Magazine. The recognition as a representative of women surfers came after Hennessy qualified for the Olympic Games.

Surfer Magazine, founded in 1960 by John Severson, is specialized in worldwide news on this sport.

"Brisa is the only Hispanic American, and she also qualified for another year, thanks to her effective role in the second world division," said the federation in its statement.

This achievement is the first not only for Costa Rica in the sport of surfing but the first for Central America, said the federation. According to the federation, in addition to Hennessy, only two other Latin Americans surfers, both from Perú, managed to qualify.

The 2020 Summer Olympics, commonly known as Tokyo 2020, is the international multi-sport event that is scheduled to take place from July 24 to Aug. 9 in Japan.

Jan. 8, the federation announced that the government has put forward Costa Rica as one of the countries seeking to host the next surfing world championship, International Surf Association 2020 World Cup.

The government authorities are in the process of finding the budget that will finance the ISA World Cup that would take place for the first time in Central America, said the federation.

The government is among the five countries that have been nominated. The others are El Salvador, Spain, Australia and Japan. The winner will be announced by the International Surf Association this month.

According to the federation, the government has been meeting during these first days of the year, to find the possible support among public organizations for this event, which will be seen live by more than 4 million people around the world.

In August deputies of the Legislative Assembly voted in the first round in favor of bill No. 21.241 to declare the third Saturday of October as Surf National Day, in addition to declaring this sport as a public interest.

The law also authorizes to the Costa Rican Sports Institute and the Costa Rican Tourism Institute to take action and promote activities whose purpose is the commemoration of the Surf National Day.

According to data provided, congress also noted that in 2016, Costa Rica hosted the Surf World Games in Jacó Beach, Puntarenas Province.

Also in August 2009 the first Surf World Championship, organized by the Costa Rican Surf Federation, was held in Hermosa Beach, also in Puntarenas.

What could the government do to support professional surfers in the country?
We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to

The recognition as a representative of women surfers came after Hennessey qualified for the Olympic Games.
A.M. Costa Rica wire services photos.


-Published: Monday, December 9, 2019

Costa Rican surfer awarded as breakthrough performer

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The surfer and member of the national surf team, Brisa Hennessy, received this weekend the recognition of breakthrough performance of the year by Surfer Magazine.

The recognition as a representative of women surfers came after Hennessey qualified for the Olympic Games.

Surfer Magazine, founded in 1960 by John Severson, is specialized in worldwide news on this sport. In the men's category, recognition was given to Barron Mamiya, a junior professional surfer from Hawaii.

The 2019 surfer awards winners list can be reached at

According to the Surf Federation, Hennessy received an award that places her among the best surfers, such as Carissa More, Italo Ferreira and Jamie O'Brien, among others.

This month, Hennessy qualified for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

According to the federation, Hennessy will compete in Tokyo against 20 women surfers in the competition that will take place in July 2020.

"Brisa is the only Hispanic American, and she also qualified for another year, thanks to her effective role in the second world division," the federation said in its statement.

This achievement is the first not only for Costa Rica in the sport of surfing but the first for Central America.

According to the federation, in addition to Hennessy, only two other Latin Americans, surfers from Peru, managed to qualify.

The 2020 Summer Olympics, commonly known as Tokyo 2020, is the international multi-sport event that is scheduled to take place from July 24 to Aug. 9 in Japan.

In August, the deputies of the Legislative Assembly voted in the first round in favor of bill No. 21.241 to declare the third Saturday of October as Surf National Day, in addition to declaring this sport as a public interest.

According to Deputy Melvin Núñez-Piña, "600,000 people a year bring surfboards to the country. This is a great market, these surfers rented a car, booked hotels, or cabins, go to restaurants, and buy surfboard waxes. It benefits the economy and brings a lot of money to Costa Rica."

The law also authorizes to the Costa Rican Sports Institute and the Costa Rican Tourism Institute to take action and promote activities whose purpose is the commemoration of the Surf National Day.

According to data provided by congress, in August 2009 the first Surf World Championship, organized by the Costa Rican Surf Federation, was held in Hermosa Beach, in Puntarenas.

"According to estimates, it generated local commerce profits of $1.5 million," said congress in its statement, adding that 100,000 people attended the first Surf World Games.

Seven years later, in 2016, Costa Rica once again hosted the Surf World Games in Jacó Beach, Puntarenas.

Besides declaring the National Surf Day, what else should the government do to increase the level of professional surfers in the country?
We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to

-Published: Monday, November 25, 2019-

Costa Rican athletes compete in
ISA World Stand Up Paddle

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Three Costa Rican athletes, Marcel Oliveira, Valeria Salustri and Michael Gutierrez are competing in the 2019 Surf City El Salvador ISA World SUP and Paddleboard Championship, which is taking place this week in El Salvador.

According to the Surf Federation, the three athletes will compete in the distance and technical category in six of the nine World Cup competitions.

"Basically, they are the top three of the current national ranking of Costa Rica," said the federation in its statement.

161 athletes from 27 countries are set to represent their flags and compete in the  paddleboard championship.

According to the ISA, World Championship 2019 will mark the eighth edition of the competition, this year taking place on the picturesque coast of El Sunzal.

The competition kicked off Sunday afternoon, crowning the first World Champions of the event in the stand up sprint races.

“It’s going to be an amazing word championship,” said Fernando Aguerre,  the ISA president who was unable to attend due to a broken leg. “We are working together to place El Salvador where it belongs as a mecca of surf tourism."

The schedule for the competition is as follows"

Monday: long distance races.

Tuesday: Technical race preliminary rounds, team relay preliminary rounds and team relay final.

Wednesday: Technical race finals.

Thursday through Sunday: Stand up surfing.

The closing ceremony for the competition also is Sunday.

The 2019 Surf City El Salvador ISA World SUP and Paddleboard Championship can be viewed live on from now to Sunday.

On Nov. 5, the Surf Federation reported that the Costa Rican junior surf team finished participation in a World Junior Surfing Championship 2020, in 13th place in the general record.

According to the federation, after eight days of competitions, the national team reached 13th place of the 44 teams that competed in the World Cup that took place in Huntington Beach, California, from Oct. 26 to Nov. 3.

"For the second consecutive year Costa Rica repeated the position in the table, just in the same place and with the same number of selections present for a Junior World Cup" said the federation in its statement.

Concerning the table of Latin American countries, the Costa Rican team positioned itself in the third-best place, behind Perú and Brazil.

Among the Costa Rican competitors with the best positions was Malakai Martinez in 11th place and Aaron Ramirez in 17th place. Both managed to enter the top 20 of the general table, said the federation.

According to data provided by the federation, the best positions that the national team has achieved was seventh place during 2016 and 2017.

The winners in the ISA World Junior Surfing Championship 2020 was the United States team. Second and third place went to Hawaii and Japan, respectively.

In Latin American countries, the winner team was Brazil. The second place in Latin American teams went to the selection of Perú and the third place went to the selection of Costa Rica.

Should authorities develop in the country more world championships in water sports to attract more tourism?   We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to

-Published: Wednesday, November 13, 2019-

680 athletes will compete in
the national gymnastics championship

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The National Olympic Committee announced the names of 680 athletes who qualified to compete in the national championship of artistic gymnastics, which will take place at the National Gym in San José.

According to the committee, athletes are those with the best records from 22 sports associations across the country in the national games that begin today.

The championship is divided into three levels.

Level XCEL rewards the best athletes with gold, silver, bronze and platinum medals, feminine and masculine.

The Youth category also rewards the best athletes with the three medals for both men and women.

And the third category is for school-age children, who will compete in the color levels, white, yellow, orange, and red, for boys and girls.

Artistic gymnastics will be qualified on various specialties. For men these are: parallel horizontal bars, fixed horizontal bars, rings, jumping colt, arched colt and ground. For women: asymmetric bars, balance bar, jumping horse and ground.

In accordance with the committee, the championship will be finished on Saturday at 6 p.m., when the closing event of the national games will take place.

The committee called on the public to support young athletes by attending the games. Admission to the National Gym in Sabana is free.

Sunday the committee announced the athletes who won 15 medals at the 2019 Central American Gymnastics games held in Guatemala last week.

According to the committee, athletes from Costa Rica won eight gold, one silver and six bronze medals.

In men's, the team category, the gold medal was won by Ian Victory, Ariel Villalobos and Andrés Girón, with one medal each.

Victory also won six other medals: gold in the category of artistic, bronze in the category of rings, bronze in the jump category, silver in the category of parallels bars, bronze in the category of horizontal bars and gold as the best individual athlete.

Andrés Girón won three medals. Gold in the jump category, bronze in the bar category and gold  in the team category.

The third medal-winning athlete was Ariel Villalobos with a gold in the horizontal bar category.

In female athletes, Francine Morales won a bronze medal in the beam category.

Another female athlete, Alejandra Cadavid, won a bronze in the bar category.

Seven countries besides Costa Rica competed in the championship: Guatemala, Cayman Islands, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, México, Nicaragua and Panamá, with a total of 87 gymnasts at the senior, youth and children levels.

Have you seen any of the Costa Rican athletes winners of medals in any local competition?  We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to

The event is held in commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.
/ U.S. Embassy courtesy photo.

-Published: Thursday, November 7, 2019-

The U.S. Embassy organizes
Saprissa Cup for Women 2019

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The U.S. Embassy with support from the Saprissa Foundation of the First Division professional soccer team, has organizes the sixth edition of the Saprissa Cup for Women 2019.

According to the embassy, the event is held in commemoration of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women.

The declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women, issued by the U.N. General Assembly in 1993, defines violence against women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life. ”

According to the embassy, the goal of this activity is to educate and raise awareness among girls and adolescents about the problem of gender violence and the tools to prevent it.

"In this edition, 320 girls and adolescents, between 11 and 15 years old, from various communities in the country, including Talamanca, will participate," said the embassy in its statement.

The event will be held Saturday from 8 a.m. to 2 p. m., and will be based on the Goal Project Complex of the Costa Rican Football Federation, located in San Rafael de Alajuela.

The Saprissa Cup for Women 2019 is part of the follow-up to the "La Jugada de sus Vidas" project, which means the game of your life in Spanish.

The project began in March 2019, thanks to the alliance between the U.S. Embassy and the Saprissa Foundation.

"The project La Jugada de sus Vidas was created to inform and motivate girl and adolescent soccer players, coaches and women soccer managers to make this sport a tool for personal improvement and integral and academic development," said the embassy in its statement.

In March, the embassy developed the program Play like a Girl with more than 500 adolescents from Talamanca and San José participating.

"This program was created to strengthen cultural values and social skills, promote leadership and empower women," said the embassy in its statement. Special invitees to be part of the program were U.S. soccer players Amanda Cromwell and Kacey White.

The Saprissa Foundation and Spirit of America donated the soccer balls.

In November 2018, the Embassy donated 250 soccer balls to the Ministry of Public Security project La Mejenga and the Saprissa Foundation to encourage teamwork, goal setting and education.

The project La Mejenga, which means the game is Spanish, was developed by the Ministry of Public Security.

The goal is organizing soccer games in high-risk communities and providing participants information on the dangers and risks of drug addiction, violence, and delinquency.

What other kind of sport could the embassy sponsor in Costa Rica? We would like to know your thoughts on this story. Send your comments to

Last-minute goal catapults Costa Rica to place in 2018 World Cup

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica erupted Saturday night after a late goal led to a tie for the national soccer team and a chance at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Expats may have noticed a lot of noise that night from cars honking to people shouting and horns blaring. Despite looking grim initially for the national team in its match against Honduras, Kendall Waston scored the last goal deep into injury time that allowed the Ticos to tie the game.

With that tie, the country placed itself into the ranks of other teams who qualified for the biggest tournament in soccer.

“Both goalkeepers remained spectators for much of an at-times feisty affair, before Honduras collected an unexpected breakthrough midway through the second half,” according to the officially issued by FIFA.

“That strike appeared it would be enough for victory in a disjointed contest, until Waston popped up for a dramatic 95th-minute equalizer. Bryan Ruiz crossed from the right and Waston rose high to power home a textbook header and send the local crowd into delirium.”

According to the rankings provided by FIFA, Costa Rica remains in second place with 16 points earned behind rival México, whose team has 21 points. The United States rounds off the top three by being in third place.

The first three teams in each division will qualify for the World Cup. The next round of games will begin Oct. 10, according to the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football.

Honduras will take on México, Panamá will face off against Costa Rica and Trinidad & Tobago will play the U.S. The Costa Rican team will travel to Panamá, according to the association’s schedules website.

Nos vemos
                en Rusia
Federación Costarricense del Fútbol photo     
The new bulletin for the World Cup tournament.

Waston celebrates
Federación Costarricense del Fútbol photo     
Kendall Waston celebrates after scoring last-minute goal.

This year’s World Cup will be hosted by Russia with the final round expected to take place in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium on July 15 after a total of 64 matches.

---October 9, 2017

                Rican sports
Casa Presidencial photo     
Athletics received a boon in funds but some don't think that's entirely accurate.
Increase in sports investments not completely true
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The administration of Costa Rican President Luis Guillermo Solís really wants to let people know that it cares about sports investment.

The government’s funds to athletics are funneled through the Instituto Costarricense del Deporte y la Recreación, or Icoder. Using the Banco Central to convert the investment to constant colones and eliminating the rise and fall of inflation, total investment reached 18,646 million colones. By comparison, the investment was 13,264 million colones during the previous administration of Laura Chinchilla.

6,427 million colones are direct contributions by the government to Costa Rican sports. The rest of the money comes from the Fondo de Desarrollo y Asignaciones Familiares, the tax on tobacco and the Instituto de Fomento y Asesoría Municipal.

The first fund is considered the principal instrument as to how public institutions contribute to the needs of living, education, health and social protection for both Costa Ricans and permanent residents.

It is considered a permanent fund, meaning that the resources are internal and also independent of the government except through a percentage of tax revenue. The latter institute is supposed to assist financing at the municipality level and arrange local budgets in a balanced way.

The contributions to the sports institute are broken down into a few categories: federations, the special Olympics, Olympic National Committee, the Central American Games, Mundial Femenino and scholarships.

By far, the greatest amount of money was allocated to the sport groups under Solís and more money divulged to the Olympics committee instead of the Special Olympics as the previous administration had done.

Scholarships for athletes, however, remain low at 961 million colones while the Special Olympics dropped in its available funding from 3,370 million colones to about 2,522 million colones. The announcement by the government has been called misleading by some.

Henry Nuñez Najera, the chair of the Olympic committee, left a scathing comment following the story’s publication on the president’s official Facebook page.

He said the president’s investments claim a raise in the budgetary funds to Icoder but this is really following a reduction by at least 42 percent in funds during the last three years to the Olympic committee and the national federations.

The information is not completely correct, he said. Nuñez respectfully asked the president in his comment for greater clarification on the actual nature of the budget.
Facebook photo      
Henry Nuñez Najera, head of the Olympic committee.

This money does not include the budget for those activities and organizations allocated to the Recreation side of Icoder. Sport revenues, how they are obtained and how much can seem different in Costa Rica by comparison to other countries like the United States and Canada.

Although there is a bill proposed by the Partido Libertario to allow tobacco and alcohol companies to advertise during sports events and sponsor athletic teams or organizations, that has been sitting in the legislature untouched.

At this point, those types of companies cannot advertise with, during, or on sports events and teams.

Despite the billion dollar business of world soccer leagues like FIFA and the popularity of soccer in the country, the Caja Costarricense de Seguro Social has sent A.M. Costa Rica lists of groups late on their payments. Many of those are sports federations and soccer teams.

With the government’s recent announcements of a fiscal and liquidity crisis, the same administration asking  the legislature “to pull the reins” on spending also presides over one of the self-proclaimed larger increases in funding to sports and recreation.

Advocates would argue that these activities should be encouraged for the betterment of a country and its citizens not only culturally but also in health and training skills.

Detractors would argue that these programs are non-vital and could drag the country’s finances further while also elevating the debt burden.

--August 23, 2017

Former NFL Pro Bowl punter dies in Costa Rica
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Officials from the Judicial Investigating Organization confirmed Thursday the passing of 52-year old Rick Tuten, a former Pro Bowl punter who played for ten years in the National Football League.

Agents said that Tuten was with a relative in an area around the Garabito canton that includes the popular tourist destination of Jacó.

The former punter who spent the majority of his career with the Seattle Seahawks was apparently experiencing some unknown health problems around 4 a.m. Tuesday.

A call was put in to the local Cruz Roja who responded and tried to treat him. However, the 52-year old was declared dead on site, the Judicial Investigating Organization said.
Reports say that Tuten is survived by his wife and three children.

His body has since been transferred to the Morgue Judicial for autopsy. The official cause of death has not yet been made public.

“Known during his playing days as “Bootin’ Tuten,” Tuten enjoyed a 10-year career in the NFL, including seven years in Seattle from 1991 through 1997,” a statement from the Seattle Seahawks team said.
Seattle Seahawks archive photo                           
Rick Tuten during his days at Seattle.

“Tuten led the NFL with a 45.0 yard-per-punt average in 1995, and twice led the league in total punting yards. He earned Pro-Bowl honors in 1994, and Tuten later earned a Super Bowl ring with the St. Louis Rams in his final season in the NFL.”

--June 16, 2017

Clásica Atlética race attracts 1,000 runners for 12-kilometer run
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A strong step and agile strength was what allowed Javier Fernández to finish first in the 12-kilometer Clásica Atlética del Tecnológico de Costa Rica this past Sunday.

The race included the participation of more than 1,000 runners  from all over the country for its 22nd installment that goes around Cartago Centro, according to the Tecnológico de Costa Rica. 12 kilometers is around 7.5 miles.

The event is in celebration of the creation of the institute and is often a big event for the town that was once the capital of the country.

Tecnológico was established as the second state university of the country. It was founded in June 1971, organizers said.

According to reports from the institute, Fernández took the lead from the start against second-place finisher Abraham Serrano.

Serrano is a former participant in the U.S. Boston Marathon. By the time the competitors reached Barrio El Molino, there was little competition left for Fernández who took a comfortable lead to tour the main avenues of Cartago before finishing at the institute.

He clocked in at 38 minutes, 58 seconds, race officials said.

Tecnológico de Costa Rica photo
Javier Fernández jogs his way to the finish line.

This represents the third time that the runner has won this race. Parallel to the competition was the woman’s section of the race. Norma Rodríguez sprinted in the final part of the race to take a close first-place finish from Andrea Corazzari, organizers said. The timing between the two competitors was a difference of 12 seconds by the final count. Ms. Rodríguez clocked in with a time of 48 minutes, 34 seconds.

The event is more than a race, however, a fair is held with food, handicrafts, cultural events and the blowup playgrounds for kids, organizers said.

--June 12, 2017

Costa Ricans off to compete in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu championship
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

A group of six Costa Ricans are going to Long Beach, California, this Thursday to compete in the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu World Championship.

The competition will last over a period of four days and include fighters participating in various categories, organizers said. The championship is organized by the Federación Internacional de Jiu Jitsu Brasileño in partnership with the U.S. Jiu-Jitsu Federation.

The championship is expected to host teams from five different continents. This type of martial art is a combat sport of Japanese origin that focuses primarily on melee fighting on the ground.

The idea is to use techniques designed to immobilize and pin one’s opponent down regardless of size or strength. The combat techniques apparently date back to the Kodokan school of judo and were first brought to Brazil by Mitsuyo Maeda and other judo masters, organizers said.

Brazilian Jiu-jitsu has a system of bet ranks similar to many other martial arts from Japan like judo and Aikido. Alci Cleiton, the head trainer and black belt with the Academia Alliance Costa Rica, said that participating in the championship represents the growth of martial arts in Costa Rica. "In recent years we have noticed a flowering of this type of sports in the country,” he said.

Daniel Hernandez
Servicios Periodísticos Globales S. A. photo 
Daniel Hernández, member of the Costa Rican team.

“A clear sign is the growth in the number of academies that exist throughout the area. Now we have better chances to excel in events of first quality such as the World Cup.”

According to the international federation’s website, first place is currently held, in the men’s and women’s section respectively, by Leandro Lo and Mackenzie Der. In addition to bragging rights, both competitors received a $15,000 prize for their award.

--May 29, 2017

Costa Rican ballplayer wins training contract with the Houston Astros
By Rommel Téllez
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Last Thursday, Bryan Solano lived a life changing moment at Antonio Escarré baseball park in Barrio San Cayetano, San José.

That day, he sign up his training contract with the Houston Astros, an absolute milestone for any Central American baseball player seeking to play in the big leagues.

His two trainers, Carlos Leyva and Álvaro Montalván had long prepared the 19-year old ballplayer for this moment. In fact they took him to Nicaragua for the last year and a half in order to improve his pitching skills.

Under their guidance, Solano was able to throw a ball from 87 miles per hour to at least 92. An achievement that was possible thanks to his hard work in the Major League Baseball Developing Academy based in Nicaragua.

As of now, Solano will move to the Dominican Republic. He should start his training there on April 15 and then continue his practice with the local summer team. He has to pass three different training stages before playing under the lights at Minute Maid Park, the Astros official stadium.

"Contracts do not have a specific expiration date. It will depend on the player if he stays or not, his training could be terminated for poor performance, bad behavior or other reasons." said Montálvan.

Solano was born and raised in Cieneguita, one of the most violent cities in Limón. Growing up, he lost his father at the age of 14.

After witnessing the struggles of his single mother to raise him and his three brothers, he realized that success was not an option but a requirement.

He started in the world of baseball at the age of 11, coached by a man named Ricky Lacwood. Lacwood allowed the kid to play in several positions until Solano figured out that he wanted to be a pitcher.

"It's not easy, but if you want to go far in life, you have to sacrifice yourself and work hard," he said in an interview to the Federación Costarricense de Baseball.

"The signing of Bryan Solano, a young player who started from a very young age in this exciting sport, is the prize he deserves for his efforts while playing for the national baseball selection in the national games,”said Vladimir Murillo, president of the Federación Costarricense de Baseball.

Bryan Solano
Federación Costarricense de Béisbol photo    
Bryan Solano and his mother celebrate the agreement.

“We feel proud and the whole country too. This will make more organizations pay attention to our country because there is so much talent here," Murillo added.

The Astros did not make the decision overnight, they followed Solano’s performance for several months, when he finally convinced the scouts.

"Bryan is a right-handed pitcher who throws many strikes and keeps low balls. He has good speed, keeps a line that oscillates between 90 and 92 miles. His slider moves between the 79 and 80 miles with good rotation," said Locadio Guevara, the baseball scout that promoted the hiring of Solano.

"The key to success is to persevere and excel in what I do. This is a job and you have to take it seriously and responsibly,” Solano said during an interview with the baseball federation.

According to records from the Federación, a total of 14 Costa Ricans have played in major league baseball in the past 57 years.

The first one was Danny Hayling, who made it into the L.A. Dodgers back in the 50s, then Huey Howden, who was signed by the Cleveland Indians in the 60s helped clear the path for younger generations.

Those players included: Antonio Paddyfoot and Alex Torres for the Cleveland Indians, Manuel Zúñiga for the Boston Red Sox, Juan Villalobos for the Pittsburgh Pirates, Alejandro Hueda and Alexander Flores for the Toronto Blue Jays, Harry Fernández who played for Toronto and Seattle, Jeffrey Spencer for the Atlanta Braves, Berny Granados for the Colorado Rockies, Antony Fage for the New York Mets, and Erick Zamora and Sebastián Martínez for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

-- April 3, 2017

49ers quarterback  Kaepernick finds himself to be the center of controversy
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. national anthem takes about two minutes to sing. The decision by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to spend that time sitting on the bench Friday night instead of standing along with other players and fans has reverberated for far longer.

It continued to be a topic of conversation Monday with reporters at the White House and practice sites around the National Football League asking for reactions, and many of the responses supporting Kaepernick's desire to highlight the treatment of African-Americans while also expressing a wish that he chose another way to do it.

“I certainly don’t share the views that Mr. Kaepernick expressed after the game in explaining his reasoning for his actions, but we surely all acknowledge and defend his right to express those views in settings that he chooses," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. "That’s what he’s done and even as objectionable as we find his perspective, he certainly is entitled to express them.”

Kaepernick, who is the son of a white mother and a black father, said he will not "stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color."

He said he will stand again when the country represents people the way it should, and specifically cited police brutality as an example of something that has to change in the United States.

"There's people being murdered unjustly and not being held accountable," Kaepernick said. "People are being given paid leave for killing people. That's not right. That's not right by anyone's standards."

Those comments drew criticism from San Francisco's police union. In a letter Monday to the NFL and the 49ers, San Francisco Police Officers Association President Martin Halloran said Kaepernick had a total lack of sensitivity and an incredible lack of knowledge about police shootings.

The quarterback's former coach, Jim Harbaugh was among those who said they think he was seeking change in the wrong way.

"I support Colin's motivation. It's his method of action that I take exception to," Harbaugh tweeted.

The issue was one that brought no shortage of opinion on social media with users posting opinions ranging from denouncing Kaepernick as disrespectful to the military to comparing his stand to earlier outspoken sports stars such as Muhammad Ali.

NFL icon Jim Brown, who played in the 1950s and 1960s, told the NFL Network that what is important is talking about the issues of the country, not Kaepernick himself. He said the discussion is like going back in time to his era and cited athletes such as Ali, John Wooten and Bill Russell as "champions of freedom, equality and justice for all human beings."

New Orleans Saints safety Kenny Vaccaro told ESPN he disagrees with the manner of Kaepernick's protest, but that it did make a statement.

"I mean, everybody's talking about it, obviously, now. And I think that's the point," Vaccaro said.

San Francisco 49ers photo
Quarterback Colin Kaepernick

Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh was among those who said he understood Kaepernick's actions.

"I think it's an individual choice. At the same time, I think it's a duty of ours as leaders, especially with young kids, to make a good, proper announcement if we feel the need to, and I think that's what he's doing."

One person who was not a fan of the athlete's actions was Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who himself has campaigned on a slogan of "Make America Great Again" while repeatedly bemoaning the state of the country.

"I think it's a terrible thing," Trump said Monday. "And you know, maybe he should find a country that works better for him. Let him try, it won't happen."

Trump's comments came a day after Kaepernick called him openly racist.

Kaepernick led the 49ers to the Super Bowl in 2013 where his team lost to the Baltimore Ravens. He stood stoically that night as pop star Alicia Keys sang the anthem.

He has struggled on the field in recent seasons to the point of battling for a starting spot this year. Kaepernick says he is ready to accept any consequences that may come from his protest.

"There's a lot of people that don't want to have this conversation," he said. "They're scared they might lose their job. Or they might not get the endorsements. They might not be treated the same way. Those are things I'm prepared to handle."
-- Aug. 30, 2016

Team USA men and women route opponents for basketball gold medals
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The U.S. men's basketball team overpowered Serbia, 96-66, to win the last gold medal awarded at the Rio Olympics. And the U.S. women took their sixth Olympic gold medal in a row.

While the U.S. men came into Sunday's championship game undefeated in seven games in Rio, Serbia had lost to the Americans in preliminary group play by only three points.

In the first quarter of the gold medal match, it looked like it might be another close game. The Serbians held the lead a number of times in the early going, but just as the quarter ended, NBA superstar Kevin Durant hit a 3-pointer to give Team USA a 19-15 lead.

Then in the second quarter, Durant took over the game, knocking down four more jump shots from long range.

“I just woke up, I guess,” said Durant.” My teammates were supporting me. They were cheering me on along the way, and everybody was encouraging me, and I just went out there and had fun with the game. And when I'm smiling out there and screaming, and beating my chest - showing emotion - that's really when I'm lost in the game. And I just tried to go out there and be who I am.”

Durant scored 18 of his game high 30 points in the second quarter, finishing the first half with 24, as the Americans led 52-29. They were never threatened after the intermission, and in the fourth quarter even held a 41-point advantage. Their 30-point margin of victory is the largest of any men's Olympic basketball final.

Team USA women basketballers finished off a dominating performance Saturday, beating Spain in the championship match, 101-72.

Heading into the final, the U.S. women had been overpowering in Rio, winning their previous seven games by an average margin of about 40 points. The high-scoring game against Spain was the sixth time in their eight Olympic contests in Rio that they had scored more than 100 points.

“Obviously, it was an incredible tournament for us,” said U.S. coach Geno Auriemma. “It wasn't as easy as sometimes it looked. Because of our depth and because of the experience that we have on our team, we were able to separate ourselves.

“You can talk about the 100-point games and the margin of victory, but we played out butts off. I mean we really did,” added U.S. team captain and guard Sue Bird. “I don't think I've ever been around a group that's this talented and also played this hard.”

Ms. Bird has been playing for the U.S. National Team since 2002 and this is her fourth Olympic gold medal.

In the first quarter, Spain stuck with the Americans and the two teams traded the lead several times before the U.S. managed a 21-17 advantage at the end of the period.

Ms. Bird hit a 3-pointer to start the second quarter and the U.S. slowly pulled away, taking a 49-32 lead at the half. The margin grew to 35 points early in the fourth quarter at 84-49, and from there the Americans coasted to victory.
-- Aug. 22, 2016

U.S. woman sweep the three Olympic medals in the 100 meter hurdles
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Brianna Rollins led Team USA to the first ever sweep of medals in the women's 100 meter hurdles Wednesday night after she and two teammates secured the top three spots.

To close out competition Wednesday night, Ms. Rollins launched a dominating performance, crossing the finish line with a time of just 12.48 seconds. Her teammates, Nia Ali and Kristi Castlin, weren't far behind, logging times of 12.59 and 12.61  to take all three spots on the medal podium.

After the race, Ms. Rollins called her relationship with her two teammates like a sisterhood.

“I’ve known these girls for years. I’m so grateful and blessed that we were able to accomplish this together,” she said.

Women’s track and field events occupied most of the Olympic primetime line-up Wednesday night, with medals also handed out in the long jump and the 200 meter sprint.

In a shocking upset, reigning champion American Brittany Reese lost to teammate Tianna Bartoletta, who took the gold medal on her final jump of 7.17 meters. Reese had to settle for silver after she couldn't make it past the 7.15 mark.

Serbia’s Ivana Spanovic, who recorded the best jump in qualifying rounds earlier this week, took bronze with a 7.08 meter jump.

Elaine Thompson of Jamaica took home her second gold medal in Rio after she narrowly edged out reigning world champion Dafne Schippers of the Netherlands in the 200 meter sprint. Ms. Thompson won the women’s 100 meter sprint Saturday.

Ms. Schippers, who stumbled coming off the line, couldn't manage to make up the lost time and lost to Ms. Thompson by just a tenth of a second, clocking a time of 21.88 to Thompson’s 21.78. Torie Bowie of the U.S. won bronze.

Elsewhere in Rio, China continued its domination of the ping pong table, sweeping the Olympic table tennis championships when world number one Ma Long and teammate Zhang Jike beat Japan 3-1 in the men’s team gold medal match. China had already won gold in the men’s singles and both the women’s singles and team tournaments. Germany beat South Korea for the bronze medal.

Laura Ludwig and Kira Walkenhorst of Germany beat Brazil’s Bárbara Seixas and Agatha Bednarczuk two sets to none to give Germany its first ever gold medal in women’s beach volleyball. Ms. Seixas and Ms. Bednarczuk were the second Brazilian team to face defeat in the sand Wednesday after Americans Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross defeated Brazil’s other women’s team in the bronze medal match.

In earlier competition, Daniyar Yeleussinov defeated Uzbekistan's Shakhram Giyasov and became the fourth straight boxer from Kazakhstan to win the Olympic welterweight gold medal. Yeleussinov, who suffered a vicious cut in his semifinal bout, used some sharp lefts to rattle Giyasov and win 29-28 on all three scorecards.

Kazakhstan boxers Serik Sapiyev and Bakhyt Sarsekbayev won the last three welterweight gold medals.

In badminton, Tontowi Ahmad and Liliyana Natsir of Indonesia took gold in the mixed doubles against Chan Peng Soon and Goh Liu Ying of Malaysia. Ahmad and Ms. Natsir got to Wednesday's gold medal match in Rio by beating Olympic champions Zhang Nan and Zhao Yunlei of China.

The U.S. men’s basketball team dominated Argentina 105-78 to secure a spot in the semifinal round later this week.

Jamaica’s star runner Usain Bolt qualified for the 200 meter sprint after logging a time of 19.78 in Wednesday’s semifinal. Bolt already has one gold medal in Rio after he won the 100 meter race Sunday. U.S. sprinter Justin Gatlin who had been the fastest over 200 meters so far this year, failed to qualify for the final.
-- Aug. 18, 2016

Women to star in track and field events, including sprints, this evening
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Women’s track and field events will occupy most of the Olympic primetime line-up tonight with medals being handed out in three high profile events.

Reigning champion American Brittany Reese will kick things off at 8:15 p.m. when she defends her long jump title against teammate Tianna Bartoletta and Serbia’s Ivana Spanovic, who recorded the best jump in qualifying rounds earlier this week.

Elaine Thompson of Jamaica, who won the women’s 100 meter sprint Saturday, looks to earn another gold in the 200 meter event at 9:30 p.m.

Ms. Thompson will face stiff competition from a pair of American runners, Tori Bowie, who matched Ms. Thompson’s time of 22.13 in the semifinals, and Deajah Stevens, who finished about a second shy of Ms. Thompson’s time. Should Ms. Thompson win the race, she would best Usain Bolt as the first Jamaican to win a 200 meter sprint.

The women’s 100 meter hurdles final will close out the night. Americans Brianna Rollins and Kristi Castlin look to battle each other for the top spot, but first they must get through the semifinal round, which will be held just two hours before the final.

They took first and second place in the first round competition earlier this week.

London 2012 champion American Ashton Eaton will also defend his title, as the men’s decathlon starts competition this morning with the 100 meter sprint. Athletes will continue the 10-sport contest throughout the day, with events held in the long jump, shot put, high jump and 400 meter race. The event will conclude Thursday night.

The women’s beach volleyball competition will wrap up Wednesday night when Brazil takes on Germany in the gold medal match at 11 p.m. Brazil’s Bárbara Seixas and Agatha Bednarczuk put an end to American Kerri Walsh Jennings’ hopes for a fourth gold medal Tuesday night after beating the American team in straight sets and handing Ms. Jennings her first ever loss in an Olympic beach volleyball match.

Team USA will take on a different Brazilian team, composed of Larissa Franca and Talita Antunes, in the bronze medal match at 9 p.m.

China will look to sweep the Olympic table tennis championships when world number one Ma Long and teammate Zhang Jike square off against Japan in the men’s team gold medal match. China has already won gold in the men’s singles and both the women’s singles and team tournaments. South Korea will play Germany for the bronze medal.

Other medal events include women’s sailing, both men’s and women’s boxing and taekwondo, as well as women’s wrestling. In total, 16 gold medals will be handed out today.

U.S. gymnast Simone Biles won her fourth gold medal of the 2016
Olympic games in the floor-exercise competition Tuesday.

Ms. Biles, who is 19 years old, has given one of the best performances ever by a gymnast in the Olympic Games. Monday, she took a bronze medal in the balance beam event, a disappointing outcome, given that no woman has ever won five gold medals in a single Olympics.

Teammate Aly Raisman, seen as Biles' chief competition, took the silver medal.

In track cycling, which wrapped up competition Tuesday, Britain's Jason Kenny took the gold medal in the keirin, his third in the Rio Olympics.

Brazil took the gold medal in men's beach volleyball Tuesday, beating the Netherlands in a tie breaking third set. The final round of the popular sport filled the stadium with 12,000 dancing, cheering, raucous Brazil fans, which Brazil player Alison Cerutti said added to the pressure to win. Once he and partner Bruno Schmidt had secured their victory, Alison fell face-first into the sand in celebration.

In Greco-Roman wrestling, Armenia's Artur Aleksanyan took gold, beating Cuba's Yasmany Lugo Cabrera 3-0. Turkey's Celk Ildem and Iran's Ghasem Rezaei took the bronze medal.

Canada’s Derek Drouin won the men’s high jump final at a height of 2.38 meters, beating out silver winner Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar who couldn’t get past the 2.36 meter mark. Bogdan Bondarenko of Ukraine failed twice to pass the 2.38 meter jump before passing and raising the bar to 2.40 to try and win gold. He failed to make the jump and ended up with bronze.

And Brazilian police said Tuesday they have not been able to find witnesses to the reported robbery at gunpoint of U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte and several teammates, an incident that took place late Saturday or early Sunday morning after the completion of the Olympic swimming events.

The four U.S. swimmers say they were robbed at gunpoint by men dressed as police as they returned from a party at the French swim team's hospitality house in an upscale Rio neighborhood. Authorities say the police were not called to the scene when the robbery occurred and only began investigating when reports of the event appeared in local media.

Lochte, who said one of their assailants held a gun to his forehead, has moved out of Olympic housing and employed 24-hour security.

The swimmers said they had been drinking and could not remember details about the taxi they took back to their housing that night.

Also Tuesday, The International Olympic Committee announced it has stripped Russia of a gold medal awarded in the 2008 Olympics in the women's 4x100 sprint relay. The committee said one of the runners, Yulia Chermoshanskaya, tested positive for two steroids in a reanalysis of her doping samples from the Beijing Olympics. She and the rest of her teammates have been ordered to return their medals.
-- Aug. 17, 2017

Bolt, Miss Biles and, of course, Phelps again get Olympic gold medals
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The fastest man in world has won an unprecedented third straight Olympic gold medal in the men's 100 meter dash.

Jamaica's Usain Bolt came from behind to take the gold Sunday night in Rio de Janeiro, overcoming a poor start to catch American sprinter Justin Gatlin, who finished second for a silver medal.

A huge crowd watching the race on a large screen in Bollt's hometown of Kingston erupted in joy as he crossed the finish line in 9.58 seconds, short of the world record.

Canada's Andre de Grasse finished third and will take home a bronze medal.

A few minutes earlier, South Africa's Wade van Niekerk set a world's record in the men's 400 meter final finishing first in 43.03 seconds, beating his two top contenders Kirani James of Grenada and LaShawn Merritt of the United States.

In all, 22 gold medals were at stake Sunday in 12 sports.

British golfer Justin Rose, a fixture at major championships in his homeland and the United States, won the gold medal in the sport's return to the Olympics after a 104-year hiatus. Rose edged Swede Henrik Stenson on the last hole, tapping in a short birdie putt while Stenson bogeyed to finish two shots back and capture the silver medal. American Matt Kuchar won the bronze medal.

Simone Biles captured her third gold medal of the Rio Games, becoming the first American female gymnast to win three golds in the same Olympics. In the vault final, she finished ahead of silver medalist Maria Paseka of Russia and bronze medalist Giulia Steingruber of Switzerland.

The Sunday action started with the women's marathon, in which Jelagat Sumgong of Kenya claimed the gold medal with a time of 2 hours, 24 minutes, 4 seconds. The silver medal went to Kenyan-born Eunice Kirwa, who represented Bahrain, while the bronze was claimed by world champion Mare Dibaba of Ethiopia.

Ms. Sumgong, the first Kenyan to win the event, provided her country its first gold of the Rio Games on a sunny day just hours after American swimmer Michael Phelps won his 23rd Olympic career gold medal. It was his fifth of the Rio Games, in what may be the final race of his Olympic career.

The most decorated Olympian in history swam the third leg of the 4x100-meter medley relay, coming from behind to pass Britain and give the U.S. the lead going into the final leg.

The first leg of the relay, the backstroke, turned out to be a world-record time by American Ryan Murphy, and that pushed the U.S. team toward an Olympic record time for the complete race.

The U.S. women's 4x100-meter medley relay also won gold
Saturday, the nation's 1,000th gold medal in Summer Olympics history.

And on the final day of swimming competition in Rio, Italy's Gregorio Paltrinieri earned gold in swimming's most grueling race, the men's 1,500-meter freestyle. Connor Jaeger of the U.S. took silver.

Earlier, Pernille Blume of Denmark held off American Simone Manuel to win the 50-meter freestyle.

On the track, Jamaican Elaine Thompson took gold in the women's 100 meters in 10.71 seconds, ending a bid by her countrywoman, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, to win the sprint event at three straight Olympic Games. American Tori Bowie took silver, just ahead of Ms. Fraser-Pryce.

The long jump crown went to American Jeff Henderson, earning the gold on his sixth and final jump.

British runner Mo Farah was tripped by American training partner Galen Rupp on the 10th lap of the men's 10,000-meter race, but recovered to successfully defend his Olympic title.

In the heptathlon, Belgium's Nafissatou Thiam beat out defending champion Jessica Ennis-Hill of Britain in a competition that went down to a matter of seconds in the last event.

Elsewhere in Rio, Iran's Sohrab Moradi took gold in men's 94-kilogram weightlifting, the country's second weightlifting victory in two days,and Russia won its fourth fencing gold, crushing Ukraine in the women's team sabre event.

Puerto Rican tennis player Monica Puig won the first Olympic gold medal for the U.S. territory in any sport Saturday, beating Germany's Angelique Kerber at women's singles in a big upset. Puig was unseeded, while the second-seeded Kerber won the Australian Open in January and was runner-up at Wimbledon in July.

Meanwhile, Russian long jumper Darya Klishina is fighting her suspension from the games, saying the doping allegations against her are politically motivated.

Previously, Ms. Klishina had been the only Russian track and field athlete exempted from a blanket ban on Russian-trained athletes implicated in a state-sponsored doping scandal. Ms. Klishina has trained the past three years in the U.S. state of Florida and was subjected to non-Russian drug tests.

But reports say her name has surfaced in a lawyer's report on the scandal, putting the International Court of Arbitration for Sport under pressure to rule on her case before the long jump competition starts Tuesday.

U.S. gymnast takes gold and continues country's dominance of the sport
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

American Simone Biles is now officially the best gymnast in the world.

Ms. Biles on Thursday won the women's individual all-around contest, while her teammate Aly Raisman took the silver medal. Russian Aliya Mustafina took the bronze.

The 19-year-old Ms. Biles is now the fourth-straight American woman to win the all-around title and fifth overall, while taking her place as the greatest gymnast of her generation and perhaps of all time.

U.S. swimming phenom Michael Phelps earned his 22nd career gold medal in the 200 meter individual medley Thursday night.

Phelps, who already has won three gold medals in Rio, swam in the lane next to American teammate and longtime rival Ryan Lochte. Lochte didn't fare as well as Phelps, coming in fifth after falling behind in the final freestyle leg of the race.

Kosuke Hagino of Japan, who previously won the 400 meter medley race, took second, and China’s Wang Shun came in third.

Phelps's wins gave him his fourth straight individual medley title at the Olympics.

Just around 30 minutes after winning gold in the 200 meter medley, Phelps was back in the water for a semifinal race in the 100 meter butterfly. Phelps took second in the heat, behind only Laszlo Cseh of Hungary.

American swimmer Simone Manuel tied for gold in the 100 meter freestyle, sharing the title with Penelope Oleksiak of Canada, after both swimmers touched the wall at exactly 52.70 seconds. Sweden's Sarah Sjostrom came in third with a time of 52.99.

China continued its dominance on the ping pong table, as Ma Long, the best table tennis player in the world, beat his teammate, Zhang Zike in the championship Thursday night. The win marked the third straight time the Chinese team has won both gold and silver at the Olympics.

In other medal action Thursday, Lukas Krpalek of the Czech

Republic won the men's judo gold medal in the 100-kilogram division after defeating Azerbaijan's Elmar Gasimov, the world number two. After trying multiple times to throw Gasimov in the five-minute fight Thursday, Krpalek finally managed to flip his opponent in the last 30 seconds for an instant victory. The two embraced after the final and saluted the crowd together.

It is the Czech Republic's first gold medal in judo.

The men's bronze medals were won by Cyrille Maret, who turned 29 Thursday, and Japan's Ryunosoke Haga.

American Kayla Harrison successfully defended her Olympic judo title in the women's 78-kilogram division, after beating France's Audrey Tcheumeo in a tense final. With just six seconds left, Ms. Harrison caught Ms. Tcheumeo's arm in an armlock, and forced Ms. Tcheumeo to tap out in submission, automatically winning the contest.

The women's bronze medals were won by Brazil's Mayra Aguiar and Slovenian Anamari Velensek.

The Fiji men’s rugby team won the country’s first-ever gold medal after handily defeating Great Britain in the championship rugby sevens match 43-7. Rio marks the first time rugby has been played at the Olympics since 1924.

Britain won the first gold medal of the track cycling program at the Rio Olympics, rallying past New Zealand in the final of the men's team sprint by the slimmest of margins.

The squad of Philip Hindes, Jason Kenny and Callum Skinner trailed their rivals when their second and third riders dropped away, but Skinner was able to make up the difference.

They finished in a time of 42.440 seconds, lowering the Olympic record that the Kiwis set in the previous round.

Ethan Mitchell, Sam Webster and Ed Dawkins stopped the clock in 42.542 seconds.

The French team of Gregory Bauge, Francois Pervis and Michael D'Almeida rallied on the final lap to swipe bronze from the Australian team.
-- Aug. 12, 2016

Team USA continues to dominate swimming events at the Río Olympics
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Wednesday marked the fifth day of the 2016 Rio Olympics, and with medal rounds in several high-profile sports, it proved to be an eventful one.

Led by Olympic veteran Michael Phelps and rising star Katie Ledecky, Team USA continued its dominance in swim events Wednesday with Ms. Ledecky winning another gold medal and Phelps securing the top spot in the 200 meter individual medley heading into Thursday’s final.

Ms. Ledecky anchored the women's team in the 4x200 meter freestyle relay final, an event Team USA won during the 2012 London Olympics, and helped the team to win the gold medal.

Trailing Australian swimmer Emma McKeon when she entered the water for the last leg of the race, Ms. Ledecky quickly closed the gap and blew away the rest of the field, turning in a split time almost two and a half seconds faster than her next-fastest teammate.

The win gave Ms. Ledecky her third gold medal of the Olympic Games.

Nathan Adrian took home a bronze medal for Team USA in the men's 100 meter freestyle event, finishing less than a tenth of a second behind silver medal winner Pieter Timmers of Belgium. Australia’s Kyle Chalmers won the gold.

Phelps, fresh off wins for his 20th and 21st gold medals, and teammate Ryan Lochte took the first and second spots, respectively, in the men's 200 meter individual medley qualifier, with their sights set on winning medals in the final on Thursday. Lochte and Phelps were half of the team that won the 4x200 meter freestyle relay Tuesday.

Dmitriy Balandin of Kazakhstan pulled off a stunning upset in the men's 200-meter breaststroke on Wednesday night, putting his central Asian country on the swimming medal stand for the first time ever.

Mireia Belmonte Garcia gave Spain its first gold medal of the Olympics after she won the women’s 200 meter butterfly. Ms. Garcia also gave Spain its only other medal during the Rio Olympics earlier this week when she took bronze in the 400 meter individual medley.

Brazil avoided embarrassment in front of its home fans Wednesday night as it was finally able to score in the Olympic tournament, beating Denmark 4-0 to advance to the quarterfinals. Brazil previously went through two disappointing scoreless draws to Iraq and South Africa, two teams largely seen as inferior to the Brazilian powerhouse.

Defending champion Kohei Uchimura of Japan took home another gold medal in gymnastics after he barely edged out Ukraine’s Oleg Verniaiev by less than a point, 92.365 to 92.266. Max Whitlock of Great Britain won the bronze medal.

Both men and women competed in road cycling medal events Wednesday despite rain and wind. In the women's individual time trials, defending champion Kristin Armstrong of Team USA took the gold.  Swiss cyclist Fabian Cancellara won gold in the men's time trials.   Both riders are set to retire after the Rio games.

Team USA leader Carmelo Anthony became the highest scoring player in U.S. Olympics basketball history after the team survived a game against a feisty Australia squad. Anthony scored a game-high 31 points to give the Americans a 93-86 win over Australia in a game that was close until the very end.

China's Ding Ning avenged her loss in the London Olympics to countrywoman Li Xiaoxia, taking gold over Li in the women's table tennis finals and extending China's supremacy in the sport.

Third-ranked Aron Szilagyi of Hungary beat upstart American fencer Daryl Homer to win gold in men's sabre. Despite the loss, Homer earned the second silver medal for the U.S. men's fencing team in Rio.

--Aug. 11, 2016

U.S. swimmers continue to rake in the Olympic gold medals
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Day four of the Olympic Games in Rio ​saw U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps net two more gold medals, bringing his career total to 21. He narrowly won the 200 meter butterfly and anchored the men's 4x200 meter freestyle relay team.

Phelps, the most decorated athlete in Olympics history, was able to knock off arch rivall Chad le Clos of South Africa with a final time of 1:53.36. Le Clos, the defending champion, faded out down the final stretch and eventually placed fourth, behind Japan’s Masato Sakai, who took second, and Tamas Kenderesi of Hungary, who took third.

Another star of the U.S. team, Katie Ledecky, won her second gold medal of the games by winning the 200 meter freestyle.  She also won gold Sunday in the 400 freestyle, beating her own world record in that event.

Ms. Ledecky, who dominated in the 200 and 400 meter races could become the first Olympian since Debbie Meyer in 1968 to sweep the freestyle category should she win the 800 meter race scheduled for Saturday.

Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszu won her third gold medal and set a new Olympic record Tuesday after she glided to victory in the 200 meter individual medley with a time of 2:6.58. She had previously won the 400 meter individual medley on Saturday and the 100 meter backstroke Monday.

The U.S. women's gymnastics team took gold for a second consecutive Olympics. The team gave retiring national team coordinator Martha Karolyi a fitting send-off in the Olympic finals, putting on a two-hour display of precision and class. Its score of 184.897 was more than eight points clear of silver medalist Russia.

Japan secured a stunning 14-12 victory over New Zealand in the first game of the men’s rugby sevens tournament. New Zealand is a 12-time world series champion and widely regarded as one of the

top contenders to win one of the first-ever rugby medals awarded at the Olympics.

In tennis, defending Olympic champion and top singles seed Serena Williams was knocked out of the tournament in a 6-4, 6-3 loss in the third round to Ukraine's Elina Svitolina.  Ms. Williams made more than three dozen unforced errors, including eight double-faults, five of them in one game. Now the 2012 London gold medalist in singles and doubles is finished in Rio. She and her sister Venus lost in the first round of doubles.

It was another Olympic diving gold for the Chinese. Chen Ruolin and Liu Huixia won the women's 10-meter synchronized platform title Tuesday, making China 3-for-3 in the competition so far. The Chinese have never lost the event at the Olympics. Chen earned her third consecutive gold medal in 10-meter synchro, having won in 2008 and 2012 with different partners. Malaysia earned silver with 344.34 points. Canada took bronze with 336.18.

American Travis Stevens won a silver medal in the men's 81-kilogram division in judo, losing to Russia's Khasan Khalmurzaev in the final. The bronze medals were won by Sergiu Toma of the United Arab Emirates and Takanori Nagase of Japan.

Top seed Slovenian Tina Trstenjak won the women's judo gold in the 63-kilogram division, following in the footsteps of fellow Slovenian and London Games champion Urska Zolnir, who is now on her coaching team. After pinning second-seeded Clarisse Agbegnenou of France to the mat for 20 seconds, just two minutes into the fight, Ms. Trstenjak scored an automatic ippon victory. The women's bronze medals were won by Yarden Gerbi of Israel and Anicka Van Emden of the Netherlands.

South Korean Sangyoung Park stormed back to score the final five points and take gold in men's epee Tuesday, in a matchup of the youngest and oldest fencers in the field. Park, just 20, beat 41-year-old Geza Imre of Hungary Imre 15-14. Top-ranked Gauthier Grumier of France won the bronze.
-- Aug. 10, 2016

U.S. swimmers continue their Olympics dominance at Río games
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Two Team USA swimmers set new Olympic records Monday night while winning gold medals in breast stroke and back stroke events.

Ryan Murphy, 21, won the men's 100 meters backstroke race with a time of 51.97 seconds, a new Olympic record, but just short of the world record of 51.94 set by compatriot Aaron Peirsol in 2009 before non-textile bodysuits were banned from competition.

Murphy’s win continues U.S. domination in the event Americans have displayed in six successive Olympics dating back to Atlanta in 1996.

19-year-old Lilly King took the gold medal in the women's won gold in the women's 100-meter breaststroke with a time of 1:04.93, another new Olympic record. The win for Ms. King became personal after she struck up a bit of a rivalry with Russian Yulia Efimova, 24, during the preliminary rounds.

The two engaged in some back-and-forth finger-wagging and dirty looks during the semifinals of the event, but Ms. King refused to back down and after the race had some choice words for Ms. Efimova, who took second place.

Ms. Efimova, the reigning world champion, was jeered after winning her heat in the 100-meter breaststroke preliminaries after serving a 16-month suspension for doping and then testing positive this year for the now-banned pharmaceutical meldonium.

She and six other Russian swimmers were initially banned from the Rio games following reports from the World Anti-Doping Agency identifying a state-sanctioned doping scheme for Russian athletes.  The Olympic International Committee reinstated her and several other high-profile Russian swimmers in the past week.

American swimming star Katie Ledecky smashed her own world record in the 400 meter freestyle event Sunday at the Rio Olympic Games.

The U.S. men's swimming team won a gold medal in the 4x100

relay. Michael Phelps, who gave the team the lead swimming a fast second leg, earned his 19th gold medal as the most decorated athlete in Olympic history.

Phelps took second place in the men's 200 meter butterfly semifinals, where he holds the world and Olympic records.

Adam Peaty of Britain also set a world record for the men's 100 meter breaststroke with a time of 57.13 seconds to win gold.  Earlier, Sweden's Sara Sjostrom broke the world record in the women's event.

Ibtihaj Muhammad, the first U.S. Olympian to compete while wearing a hijab, made her Olympic debut during the fencing competition.  She won her first match but was eliminated in her second bout.

Growing up black and Muslim in the U.S. state of New Jersey, 28-year-old Ibtihaj Muhammad says she loved sports, but often struggled to find her place.

Ms. Muhammad began fencing in 1999 at the age of 13. She set her sights on the American national team in 2007 when she realized there were no minorities represented. In 2011, Ms. Muhammad became the first female Muslim athlete to represent the United States.

She is ranked second in the United States and 12th worldwide.

Rugby made its Olympic debut as well. The top four women’s sevens teams are set to compete for gold medals, among them Canada, Britain, Australia, and New Zealand.

The U.S. men's basketball team, a 119-62 winner over China on Sunday, defeated Venezuela 113-69 Monday.

The U.S. women's basketball team routed Senegal 121-56 in the opening round of competition on Sunday and defeated Spain 103-63 Monday.

-Aug. 9, 2016

U.S. swimming star sets a new freestyle record and wins gold in Río
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

American swimming star Katie Ledecky smashed her own world record at the 400 meters freestyle event Sunday at the Rio Olympic Games.

The 19-year-old swimmer touched the wall in a time of 3 minutes 56.46 seconds, knocking nearly 2 seconds off the record to earn her first gold medal of the 2016 Summer Games.

Adam Peaty of Britain also set a world record for the men's 100 meters breaststroke with a time of 57.13 seconds to win gold.

The U.S. men's swimming team won a gold medal in the 4x100 relay. Michael Phelps, who gave the team the lead swimming a fast third leg, earned his 19th gold medal as the most decorated athlete in Olympic history.  Americans regained the title in the event after the French took gold in 2012 in London.  France came in second Sunday.

Defending champion Serena Williams of the U.S. battled high winds Sunday to reach the Olympic tennis second round, defeating Australia's Daria Gavrilova 6-4, 6-2, while organizers were roundly criticized for allowing play in conditions described as ugly.

In women's doubles, Serena and sister Venus Williams had their hopes for a fourth gold dashed when they lost to Lucie Safarova and Barbora Strycova in the first round. It was the Williams sisters' first loss as a doubles team in Olympic competition. Together they won 15 previous matches and took the title in 2000, 2008 and 2012.

Winds up to 25 kilometers an hour forced a 90-minute postponement of Sunday's matches at the Barra complex in Rio de Janeiro. Top ranked Brazilian Thomaz Belluci, who opened at center court, said the competition marked "the first time of my life that I played in such terrible conditions."

At other events, media helicopters were grounded during the women's cycling competition, and rowers were ordered to stay off the water after competitors complained high winds that capsized a boat Saturday should have forced postponement Sunday as well.

In other action, reigning world champion swimmer Yulia Efimova of Russia was booed after winning her heat in the 100-meter breaststroke preliminaries, after serving a 16-month suspension for doping and then testing positive this year for the now-banned pharmaceutical meldonium.

She and six other Russian swimmers were initially banned from the Rio games following reports from the World Anti-Doping Agency identifying a state-sanctioned doping scheme for Russian athletes.  The Olympic International Committee reinstated her and several other high-profile Russian swimmers in the past week.

Day two of the Rio Games was also a day for the U.S. gymnastics women's team to make its debut.

Former Olympic champion Gabby Douglas received high scores in Sunday’s qualifying event, but will not compete in the all-around final to defend the gold medal she won in 2012.

Although Ms. Douglas scored well, she still finished in third place. Teammate Simone Biles led the way scoring 62.366, two more points than teammate Aly Raisman who will compete with Biles in the all-around final.  Only two gymnasts per country are allowed to compete in the final.

“I would have loved to go out there and defend my tittle, but I’m not disappointed. It’s been an amazing ride,” Ms. Douglas said.

The U.S. women's basketball team routed Senegal 121-56 in the opening round of competition.

Meanwhile, Kosovo judo fighter Majlinda Kelmendi won the gold medal for the women's 52-kilogram division Sunday, giving her Balkan nation its first-ever Olympic medal.

And Spanish cyclist Joaquim Rodriguez, who finished fifth in Saturday's competition, has announced his retirement, saying he has fulfilled a lifelong ambition to compete in the Rio games. 

The 37-year-old won three stages of the Tour de France in July, confirmed on Twitter that Saturday's race would be his last.
- Aug. 8, 2016

Twitter wins auction for rights to air Thursday night NFL games
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell announced Tuesday morning on Twitter that the social media platform outbid several other companies for the rights to stream Thursday Night NFL games.

"This fall Thursday Night Football will be streamed live . . . so fans will see more of this," Goodell said in a Tweet.

Twitter was in a hotly contested bidding war with other media giants like Facebook, Amazon and Verizon, which is in the final year of a sponsorship deal with the NFL that pays the league about $250 million per year. But Twitter proved the victor in the battle for NFL streaming rights, the terms of which were not disclosed.

"Twitter is where live events unfold and is the right partner for the NFL as we take the latest step in serving fans around the world live NFL football," Goodell said in a statement. "There is a massive amount of NFL-related conversation happening on Twitter during our games and tapping into that audience, in addition to our viewers on broadcast and cable, will ensure Thursday Night Football is seen on an unprecedented number of platforms this season.”

The deal comes at a pivotal moment for Twitter, which has seen its user base plateau at around 320 million users and advertising revenue that falls well short of competitors like Facebook and Instagram.

Investors have been putting pressure on Twitter to raise revenue after the company’s stock dropped in value by more than 66 percent over the past year. After news of the deal broke early Tuesday morning, Twitter shares rose by more than 3.5 percent.

With the move, the NFL joins a growing trend in entertainment of moving away from traditional cable and broadcast television in favor of Internet platforms.

With more people turning to Internet and mobile-based media for their video content, the NFL is hoping to capitalize on the potential to reach new advertisers and viewers.

"This is about transforming the fan experience with football. People watch NFL games with Twitter today," Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said in a statement. "Now they'll be able to watch right on Twitter Thursday nights."
— April 6, 2016

Spanish skills help Utah man manage top soccer team
By Rommel Téllez
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Nearly every Tico  who follows soccer loves David J. Patey.

Patey happens to be the president of Club Sport Herediano, one of the oldest and most cherished soccer teams of the country.

However, it's not just because of his position that he's even been called a savior by the local media. His success recipe also includes an impressive command of  the Spanish language and a chunk of good luck.

Born in Jerusalem and raised in Utah by Canadian parents, the loan broker is a devout Mormon and father of five.  In 2003, he and his wife decided to move to Costa Rica to master the language of Cervantes, with which he got in touch for the first time when he was 13.

“Back then, I could count from 1 to 17 and say ‘Hola, como estas.’” he remembered.

For two years the couple lived in Escazú and then returned to the U.S. After a few months they noticed their children were losing the language they had learned.

“At that point we decided to return to Costa Rica and stay permanently. We were lucky enough to sell our property in the U.S. just a little before the housing crisis started. That was a blessing.” said Patey.

Once settled, Patey continued his business of “marrying lenders and borrowers,” as he put it. He cared little about soccer, a sport that would change his life.

Oct. 27, 2012, a rumor spread in media outlets. A Gringo investor would come to the rescue of the Club Sport Herediano, a 92-year-old team struggling to survive under a pile of debt and legal battles.

“Two friends and business partners had asked me to be the administrative manager of the team,” recalled Patey. “I said yes as long as it would not hurt my privacy. That shows how naive I was at the time. I expected privacy in a country where soccer is a religion.”

Less than 24 hours later he held his first press conference and found himself overwhelmed by dozens of reporters, photographers and sports personalities. His Spanish and people skills impressed some reporters who believed that someone had trained him before the event.

“A few days later, those reporter put me to the test. They gave me a paper with several Costa Rica slang sentences. Not only did I answer them all right, but gave them examples of
synonyms for those same sentences” Patey said with a big 
David Patey
A.M. Costa Rica/Rommel Téllez                         
David J. Patey in the Heredia stadium.

smile. Sopa de muneca (Knuckle sandwich), sopapo en la jupa (a strike on the head) and no me chingue mae (don't bother me) are some examples of the pachuco, slang Spanish, they asked him, he recalled.

After that, his stardom broke loose. Everybody liked him and, as Patey himself confirms, the appropriation of the Costa Rican culture smoothed things out.

Under his administration the team attained financial stability and was able to pay its players decent wages. He also decided that, whenever possible, weekly games would be played on Saturday nights, so he and the team could have Sundays off.

“A priest came to me and said that because of the move, the Mass attendance had considerably increased,” Patey adds.

Nowadays, Patey still isn't a soccer super fan,  but at least understands how it works and actually enjoys watching the games. He encourages other foreigners to pick a team, buy the correct T-shirt and go to the stadium. “That's all it takes for you to start liking it,”

Patey is also in the car dealership business. He works with the french company Peugeot and likes to mediate among conflicts. That's in part because he does not consider soccer a profitable activity. Rather he said he is in this industry inspired by the passion of players and fans.

“I am very happy. I am the popular Gringo and I live in the best country in the world. I am not planning to change this” he said.

— April 4, 2016

World cricket stars will promote sport by bringing teams to United States
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Two teams of cricket players will compete in three U.S. cities in November. Organizers hope Americans will learn more about the sport and begin watching it and even playing it.

The first match will be played Nov. 7 in New York at Citi Field, followed by matches Nov. 11 at Minute Maid Park in Houston, and Nov. 14 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angles.

Two famous cricket stars, Sachin Tendulkar and Shane Warne, will captain the teams, which will include some of the best international players from the past 25 years.

Tendulkar and Warne are known by millions throughout the world, but almost no one in the United States has heard of them.

In 2012 Tendulkar was on the cover of Time magazine, which called him The God of Cricket and said he was “the world’s most famous sportsman” and “the world’s best athlete.”

Both Tendulkar and Warne retired from professional cricket in 2013.

Tendulkar recently told the magazine he believes Americans will become fans once they see cricket played.

“You’ll only learn things if you give them a try,” he said. “Americans are used to watching baseball, and it’s very similar to that. If Americans can start coming to the stadium, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them” begin to watch cricket.

Warne said he hopes the exhibitions will answer such questions as: “What’s all the fuss about? Why is it the second-most-popular game in the world? What’s so special about this game?”

At the games, players will teach Americans how to play, and spectators will receive small books telling them about the sport.

Football, what Americans call soccer,  has for many years been the most popular sport in the world. Cricket is the second-most
 popular sport. From Harare to London to Islamabad, many people follow cricket like a religion. Players gain fame and launch political careers in Pakistan and India.

The International Cricket Council, the sport’s ruling organization, said its Web site had more than 26 million visitors, the highest ever, during the World Cup world tournament earlier this year. The council says more than 1.5 billion people watched the World Cup on television.

Cricket officials believe the sport could become more popular in the United States. With an increasing number of immigrants to the country from South Asia, the Caribbean, Australia and New Zealand, cricket is becoming better known. But it still competes with basketball, American football, ice hockey and baseball.

(Costa Rica has it  own cricket league, thansk in part ot immigrants to the Caribbean from Jamaica.)

It is believed cricket began in England. The sport is similar to baseball: Both are played with a bat and a ball, for example, and there are batters, outs and pitches. A pitcher in baseball is called a bowler in cricket.

But baseball and cricket are also very different from one another. In baseball, when the batter hits a home run, they touch all of the bases and return to the team’s bench. In cricket, when a batsman hits a home run they continue to bat until they are out or until a set number of pitches are completed.

Like baseball, the team that scores the most runs wins the game.

For many years, cricket matches lasted for days. But now, most games are played in one day. In India, the game is sometimes played in just three to four hours. This popular version of the game is known as Twenty20.

That is the version of the game that the two teams will be playing in cities throughout the United States.
— Oct. 26, 2015

Tennis world mourns Mike Davies

By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The tennis world is mourning the loss of Mike Davies, a former British Davis Cup player-turned-administrator who died Tuesday at 79. The International Tennis Federation said Davies died after a battle with illness.

Davies was the top-ranked British player in the 1950s and had a career record in Davis Cup play of 24-13 from 1955 to 1960. He also was a significant figure in ushering the sport into the professional era in the 1960s and 70s.

Born in Wales in the mid-1930s, Davies reached the fourth round at Wimbledon as an 18-year-old and was men's doubles runner-up in 1960. But then he turned professional, which at the time meant he couldn't play at any of tennis' traditional tournaments.

As tennis commercialized in the late 1960s, Davies played a major role in running the rebel World Championship Tennis circuit, funded by the oil magnate Lamar Hunt, which challenged the traditional tour. He became one of those dynamic characters the tennis establishment hated.

In his time, he headed both the Association of Tennis Professionals and the International Tennis Federation. But perhaps his greatest claim to fame is as the man who cemented the 90-second time limit for players to change ends after every two games, and the replacement of the white tennis ball by the more TV-friendly yellow ball. He also introduced the 30-second time limit between points.
— Nov. 4, 2015
U.S. baseball highlights

Bike race start
ties up traffic

The Vuelta a Costa Rica came to the downtown Tuesday, Dec. 23, and the traffic tieup was spectacular.  This is the bike race in nine stages.

Tuesday was number eight, and the athletes had to travel from San José to  San Isidro del General, some 126.8 kilometers. As the racers started, Avenidas 7 and 8 as well as adjacent calles were closed to traffic for two hours. Motorists were directed to Calle Blancos.

The first stage was Dec. 14. There are eight national teams and six international ones. The final race is Christmas Day.
A.M. Costa Rica/Gabriela Vega Barrantes

Italian cyclist Nibali, as expected, is the winner of the Tour de France
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

Italian cyclist Vincenzo Nibali is the winner of this year's Tour de France.

The 29-year-old Sicilian held on to the yellow jersey as the overall leader for 19 of the 21 stages, winning four of them, and finished in the main pack of racers Sunday down the Champs Elysées in Paris.

His margin of victory over runner-up Jean-Christophe Peraud of France was 7:37.  Frenchman Thibaut Pinot was third, 8:15 behind the winner, meaning two French riders made the podium for the first time since 1984.
This year's three-week race began with three stages in Britain and covered more than 3,600 kilometers.

Nibali is the first Italian to win the Tour de France in 16 years, and only the sixth rider to win all three Grand Tours, in France, Italy and Spain. After widespread scandals in the sport involving illegal drug doping, Nibali called himself a flag-bearer of anti-doping.

Dutch cyclist Marianne Vos won a separate, one-day women's Tour de France on an 89-kilometer course on the Champs Elysées.

The top finishing American in the men's race was Tejay Van Garderen in fifth place, 11:44 behind Nibali.

Little paca gets a great role in the national sports games
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

The country's favorite rodent has been selected to be the official mascot of the  Juegos Deportivos Nacionales this year.  The sports events are being held in the southern zone, which is a break with tradition.

The mascot is the paca (Cuniculus paca) or, as they are called in Spanish, tepezcuintles, They are a gentle, fruit and nut munching forest animal, But the mascot looks a bit more active. He is called Terpez. The games will be in San Vito, Ciudad Neily and Golfito this year.

The mascot was unveiled Monday at the legislature by  Jorge Angulo Mora, who represents that area. The designer was identified as  Pablo Castillo.

Next year the games, which involve many high schoolers, will be in San Carlos,  Los Chiles, Upala, Guatuso and Zarcero.

— July 23, 2013
Mascot will be presented officially in August

Hockey is alive and well in Parque la Sabana despite lack of ice
By Cody Gear
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

On any Saturday or Sunday passersby can’t help but to notice the abundance of activities taking place in La Sabana Park. Soccer takes a front row seat, but a closer look reveals sporting activities that are novel for Costa Rica. 

None is more novel than the group that plays hockey every Sunday morning. Who would think hockey in Costa Rica?

Although there has been a league that has played the sport on ice, this league is for roller hockey. Don Mora, the president of the Asociación de Deportivo Hockey Costa Rica, said that the sport took roots in 1993 and teams played in the Parque de Paz. After losing that venue to a bicycle club, the association obtained another site in Parque de Paz only to lose that to a tennis club.

Finally, in 2010 players were able to acquire a new site in La Sabana when a new skating facility was constructed. They have been there ever since. Mora said that it has taken time to rebuild interest in hockey and now have as many as 30 to 40 show up each Sunday to play.

Mora also said that on Saturdays at the same location they have a hockey clinic to teach children and other newcomers the game.  The clinic begins at 9:30 a.m. and is free of charge. Mora said that participants need to have only a pair of skates and a helmet to participate in the clinic.

The league officials are planning the upcoming season which is scheduled to start in late July or early August. They plan to have a rainy season and a dry season, which will begin in January. Mora said the league plan to have five or six teams by January. The upcoming season will be comprised of three teams. Anyone interested in playing or learning hockey should contact Don Mora at 

La Sabana Hocky
A.M. Costa Rica/Cody Gear
New rink is perfect for the game

Flag football continues to grow as a youth sport with limited contact
By Cody Gear
Special to A.M. Costa Rica

A big week in youth flag football concluded Sunday as the Spartans won a round robin tournament held in La Sabana Park. The tournament, which was hosted and sponsored by the Federation of American Football in Costa Rica, held the tournament to honor the National Sports Day in Costa Rica.

Preparation for the tournament began last week and was held adjacent to the Estadio Nacional in La Sabana. 

Paolo Vincenzi, who is a federation commissioner and the coach of the Spartans said it was a great opportunity for the curious to see what this sport looks like. Vincenzi said many are familiar with traditional tackle football but that flag football is a relatively non-contact sport.

The game is played using rules similar to tackle football with some minor exceptions. Instead of tackling the opponent, the removal of a “flag” from his flag belt signals the end of the play. Instead of the traditional 10 yards to gain a first down with four attempts, flag football only allows three attempts to make a first down with a longer yard to gain standard.

Expats living here know that children are playing tackle football at a very early age. Vincenzi said in the United States children are exposed to American football at a very young age. Through organizations such as Pop Warner as well as local community-based programs such as Grey Y (sponsored by the YMCA) and local governments via city or county recreation departments, kids in the States have opportunities that Costa Rican youngsters do not.

By the time youngsters in the States reach Junior high school they have received an excellent foundation in position techniques and a good understanding of the game, the coach said.
Photo by Cody Gear
Tournament was held in the shadow of the Estadio Nacional

Many go on to play high school and college football. For those who excel, universities in the United States offer scholarships which pay for a complete college education. Vincenzi said that with the sport spreading to other countries, the universities are now looking at talent in other places beside the United States.

Several major universities have given scholarships to players from Mexico, Germany, Haiti, and Great Britain. When asked if this could be a glimpse into the future where flag football could lead to a college scholarship, he said he didn’t know but his hope is that some deserving young man would be one day.

Vincenzi said there are currently seven flag football teams within the league. Flag football began here in 2009 with just four teams, he noted, adding that he hoped, the sport will continue to grow and that he encourages anyone who wants to participate with a current team or by forming a team is welcomed. Vincenzi can be reached through the federation Web site:
—April 9, 2013

El Salvador prevails in three-way U.S.-style football tourney
By Aaron Knapp
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Three teams from Costa Rica and El Salvador challenged each other in a football tournament in Cartago Saturday.

Yes, that’s American football, a sport that has been gradually gaining traction in Costa Rica and Central America for the past decade.

Although the El Salvador Caimenes triumphed over the two Costa Rican teams, the Costa Rican league looks forward to sending the best of its five teams to Nicaragua, next month for another international tournament.

Paolo Vincenzi, president of the American football federation of Costa Rica, said that many Costa Ricans enjoy watching and playing football.

However, unlike soccer where a ball is the only item necessary to play, football requires extra gear that is both expensive and hard to come by in Costa Rica. Vincenzi attributes these expenses as to what football has been slow to become popular.

“Everybody watches, but it’s complicated to get equipment, so not that many people play,” he said.

Football leagues began appearing in Central America about 10 years ago, but Costa Rica only began its league four years ago. Now, there are five major league teams, 10 minor league teams and the federation is now trying to get football in schools by training physical education teachers in the rules of the sport.

 Also to bring attention to the sport, the federation’s leagues play their seasons throughout the year and hold international tournaments, like the one in Cartago over the weekend. The major league season runs from February until May, and the minor league has two seasons in summer and winter.

This tournament was supposed to include other teams, including one from Nicaragua, but only El Salvador’s Caimenes, the Santo Domingo Saints and the hosts, the Cartago Dragons.

Jason Honey coaches the Dragons and has been a part of the team as a player and a coach for four years, ever since he heard an advertisement to play football on the radio one day while he was driving.

“I pulled the car over, I made the call, and I’ve been involved with federation ever since,” he said.

Although the Dragons are not the best team in the league, finishing in last place this season, Honey is confident that more experience will make his young, fast team a force to be reckoned with in the coming seasons. In addition he is building the program by getting younger people involved in the sport earlier.

“We have a lot of young players, very fast and very skilled,” he said. “We’re really working on the program for the youth.”

Costa Rica and El Salvador will meet each other again the last weekend of September in Managua, Nicaragua.

— Aug.27, 2012

 Seven surfers are candidates to win the nation's 2012 title
By Aaron Knapp
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica's best surfers and most avid surfing enthusiasts will descend on Playa Hermosa, Aug. 24 to 26, for the Federación de Surf de Costa Rica's 12th annual championships, which will decide who wins the national title for the year.

The main event of the Gran Reef Final is the open division championship, which pits 48 male surfers against each other. Some will be regulars looking for the title. They have been competing in the past six federation events this year, but the majority will be lesser-known surfers that come out  for $2,000 prize only awarded for winning the championship.

The federation expects the competition for the title at this final to be unprecedented, because unlike in previous years, seven competitors in the open division can potentially win the title if they win the championship.

“For the first time in history, if you want to win the national title you have to win the final,” said Carlos Enrique Brenes, federation spokesman.

Brenes explained that the federation awards points at each competition throughout the year, and which ever surfer has the most points at the end of the final wins the national title, as long as they have surfed in four federation events. Winning one of the six regular competitions in the national circuit earns a surfer 1,500 points and winning the championship earns 2,000.

One result of using this system is that a surfer can win several regular competitions and accumulate a lead in points that is too high for anyone to beat, ensuring that surfer will win the title regardless of their performance in the final.

This has been the case for every previous final, and would have been the case this year if the leader in points had not dropped out to participate in another competition in the United States.

This leaves seven surfers eligible to win the title, all of whom are less than 500 points apart, according to a press release for the event.

“This is the first time that seven people have the same chances of winning the title,” said Brenes.

These seven surfers are: Anthony Fillingim, Noe Mar McGonagle, Gilbert Brown, Ramón Taliani, Jefferson Tascón, Diego Naranjo and Maykol Torres.

In all there will be seven divisions all with heats and championships over the course of the weekend from the 24th until the 26th. These include the five competitions for men including the open (with 48 competitors at least 18 years old), the longboard (eight competitors), the junior (32 men ages 15 to 17), the boys (24 boys ages 12 to 15) and the groms, which is slang for young surfer (12 boys younger than 12 years old). There will also be two competitions for women, which include the women's open division (12 women over 18) and the women's junior (12 women ages 15 to 17).

All competitions will take place at Playa Hermosa, near Jacó, and anyone can watch from the beach free of charge.

Although the final matches will be Sunday, the federation will hold an end of the season party  Saturday night at the Hotel Morgan's Cove in Jacó, starting at 8 p.m. This party will feature live music by Sonámbulo Psicotropical and Pierre Monney, and costs 5,000 colons to attend, about $10

In other surfing news, the International Surfing Association has selected Venezuela to host this year's World Bodyboarding Championships Nov. 24 to Dec. 2, the first international surfing competition held there since 2002. The event will be on Margarita Island at Playa Parguito. The last association event in Costa Rica was in 2009, when it held the World Surfing Games also at Playa Hermosa.

— Aug. 10, 2012

 Costa Rica's runners fail to make the cut at Olympics
By Aaron Knapp
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Costa Rica’s hopes for medals in track and field competitions were dashed this weekend as the country’s three competitors failed to place well.

Nery Brenes, the Tico with the perceived best chance of bringing home Costa Rica’s first medal since 2000, was eliminated in the first round of the 400-meter sprint competition.

Additionally, Sharolyn Scott was eliminated in the first round of the 400-meter sprint with hurdles, and Gabriela Traña took 91st place in the women’s marathon on Sunday.

“I am a man of challenges, that when I fall I get up with more strength, and if you ask me if I will be in the next Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, I say yes, I'll be there,” said Brenes on his Facebook page Saturday.

Costa Rica has not won any Olympic medals before or since sisters Silvia and Claudia Poll  won medals in swimming at the 1988, 1996 and 2000 games.

Brenes placed 10th at the 2008 games, and many Costa Ricans had high hopes for Brenes after he took first place in the 400-meter competition at the World Indoor Championships in athletics in March. However, Brenes came fourth place in his heat and barely missed doing so in a time that would qualify him to move on to the semifinals.

Placing in the top three in an individual heat guarantees that the runner will move on to the semifinals, but three runners with the next best times who did not automatically qualify can move on as well.

In the end, Brenes had the fourth best time of those who did not automatically qualify, and finishing .04 seconds slower than the last qualifier.

In her first Olympic appearance, Ms. Scott competed in the 400-meter hurdles competition, for which the elimination rules are largely the same as Brenes’ competition, except that the top four finishers move on along with the four next best times.

Ms. Scott came in sixth in her hear and missed qualifying for the semifinals through time by three places and little more than half of a second.

Although Ms. Traña took 91st place, 23 people behind where she finished in the Beijing Olympic Marathon, approximately 40 more women competed this year, and she actually ran her it 10 minutes faster than she did four years ago.

Four of Costa Rica’s 11 Olympians still have yet to compete before the games conclude next Sunday. Leonardo Chacón, 28, will compete in the triathlon on Tuesday at 4:30 a.m. Costa Rican time. Heiner Oviedo, 23, will compete in Taekwondo Wednesday at 2 a.m. César Lizano, 30, will run the men’s marathon at 4 a.m.  Sunday, and Paolo Montoya will ride in the mountain biking competition at 6:30 a.m. Sunday.

— Aug.6, 2012

 Sunday provides a local warmup and the Euro Cup final
By Aaron Knapp
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Central Valley soccer fans were treated to back-to-back games Sunday morning and afternoon – first a local soccer match between Deportivo Saprissa and the Liga Deportiva Alajuelense, which was quickly followed by the Euro Cup final between Italy and Spain.

Although the game took place in Tibás in a stadium that was not even half-full, the far more numerous Alajuela fans rejoiced when La Liga took a 2-1 victory.

However aside from falling on the same day, the two games were markedly different in both importance and in the quality of the teams on the field.

fans at soccer game
A.M. Costa Rica/Aaron Knapp
Exuberance is the tradition at a fútbol match

Especially to an international audience, the first game served more as a warm up, as both La Liga and Saprissa seemed to struggle man to man for the ball with little team coordination. 

Both teams were rarely able to organize group attacks on the goal or effectively keep control of the ball.

“There just aren’t any tactics or strategies,” observed one American spectator, named Jayden, who aspires to soon join a European league. “They’re just making decisions that I wouldn’t make,” she added, trying to make sense of some decisions made by players on the field.

Additionally, this game was a friendly, pre-season match between the two arch rivals. And, consequently, the game has no effect on either team’s regular season record.

Despite the lackluster performances by both teams, the half-empty stadium and the low stakes of the match, fans of both sides came with more energy than is usually seen at any kind of sports game in the United States.

While the more relaxed fans gathered along the eastern side of the field where they could watch in the shade, the more loyal fans gathered behind opposite goals where there was no protection from beating sun.

On the north end of the stadium gathered the most boisterous La Liga fans who carried banners and came close to filling up their entire section of the stadium; on the south side were the Saprissa fans, notably smaller in number but making up for it by occasionally unraveling a giant Saprissa jersey.

Even though La Liga led most of the second half, neither team was able to take a comfortable position over the other.

“They’re okay… but if these teams played a professional team in Europe like Manchester…” said Ms. Jayden, trailing off. “Just wait until after,” added another nearby tourist on what good soccer-playing looks like.

However, the ineffective ball handling by both sides kept the fans watching until the end despite missing at least the first-half of the Euro-cup, in which every Spanish goal in the second half became a nail in Italy’s coffin.

Despite the bitter local rivalry, both sides quickly filed out of the stadium to watch the Euro Cup final, which was already well underway, and overall, fans of both local teams united to celebrate Spain’s decisive, 4-0 shutout over Italy.

—posted July 3, 2012

Weekend sports event tests systems of London's Olympic Park
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

London’s Olympic Park got its first major test last week when nearly 150,000 fans came out to see competitions in several sports. They were part of the final stages of preparations for the games, now fewer than 80 days away. The Olympic Stadium was opened with a flight of balloons, flashes of light and the cheers of its first large crowd, .

Crowds of enthusiastic sports fans streamed into the park for a series of events in the stadium and other venues.  They were treated to top level competition in several sports, ranging from water polo to field hockey.

But even as the events were going on, workers continued to put the finishing touches on the main stadium and other buildings in the Olympic Park.

One worker from Romania, who identified himself only as Vlad, says working on the Olympic Stadium is different from any other construction job he has had.

“The feeling is different.  I don’t know.  It’s something which I can’t explain.   The feeling is great, especially now before the test event.  Everyone is training. It can be like a one-time opportunity, once in a lifetime,” he said.

In less than three months, athletes from Vlad’s home country

 and from all over the world will be competing in the stadium, but for this test event there were only British university athletes.  

Still, some hope to make the Olympic team, including runner David Bishop. "That was the whole reason why I came.  I just wanted to get a feel of what it was like to run in here (to) give me the help and motivation for a couple more months to push on so I can get my time down and nail this trial," Bishop said.

For the London Organizing Committee Chairman and four-time British Olympic medalist Sebastian Coe, the test events were a chance to mingle with young athletes and to show off the fruits of seven years of work.

“We’re making sure that no stone is left unturned.  And that testing is across everything from security, through to our venues, tickets, spectator flows, mobility, our ability to test some of our park-wide operations, workforce, logistics, pretty important.  So a big moment for us,” Coe said.

Saturday’s friendly competition and celebrations were marred somewhat on Sunday, when a tabloid newspaper revealed it had helped a construction worker smuggle a fake bomb into the Olympic Park.  That provided evidence there is still work to be done, as officials hope to keep the focus during the games on images like a military wives choir, which helped get the stadium’s opening ceremony going.

Nicoya fish
Instituto Costarricense de Pesca y Acuicultura photos
These are just a small part of the many species that can be found in the Gulf of Nicoya.
Fishing institute provides a guide to the many fish in the ocean
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Ever run into a fish and no matter how deep you dig, you just cannot come up with a name?

Well, the government's Instituto Costarricense de Pesca y Acuicultura has a cheat sheet.

There is a very low likelihood of running into a fish at a neighborhood cocktail party unless it is on a plate. But fishing fans have the problem all the time.

The institute has been the subject of a lot of criticism, in part because of an apparent blind eye to shark finning.

However, the institute Web site had row after row of fish that might be raised commercially, like tilapia or that can be found in the Gulf of Nicoya.

Who knew that there were so many species there? Who knew that there were so many named corvina?
dream rainbow
Instituto Costarricense de Pesca y Acuicultura photo
This rainbow trout is one of the commercially raised species.

The institute site also has a number of useful links for fishing captains and others who know the regional fishing news, including red tides. The site also has a link to a NASA contractor that provides satellite shots. Such information is vital for predicting the weather.
— Originally published May 3, 2012

Nery Brenes led all the way to take home gold for Costa Rica
Special to A.M. Costa Rica
Published March 12, 2012
Nery Brenes led every step of the journey on his way to Costa Rica’s first medal at a World Indoor Championships,  and a championship record 45.11 seconds.

That took 0.15 off the previous 400-meter record set by Harry ‘Butch’ Reynolds, also the outdoor record holder at the time, in Toronto in 1993.

So a memorable day Saturday all round for the 26-year-old Brenes, who now has his country’s three best performances at a World Indoor Championships. The previous two were fourth-place finishes in the men’s 400 in 2008 and 2010.

The 400 meter contest at a world indoors is a race of attrition. Two rounds on the first day of competition tests everyone’s strength, especially as the semi-final results determine the lane draw and, with it, the favorable outside lanes on the banked track.

Kirani James, Grenada’s first outdoor World champion and the youngest-ever in Olympic and World Championships history, fared worst in this. For losing a gruelling semi-final battle with Brenes, James wound up in lane one, down the hill from his toughest rivals.

James was never in the hunt for the gold medal, unable to get into a good position with a lap to go and having to work hard
Brenes winning
International Association of Athletics Federations photo
Nery Brenes sets a record and gets the gold.

in the second lap to no avail. He finished a tired last in 46.21.

At least Brenes had the good grace to relieve him of the world lead as well (previously, James’s 45.19), thus leaving James with the consolation that his best might not have been good enough in any case.

Brenes can now turn his attention to outdoor championships where his best results are to have reached the semi-finals at the 2007 and 2011 World Championships and the 2008 Olympic Games. He also won the Continental Cup 400 in 2010, so perhaps he can garner further honors for Costa Rica in the Olympic arena.

American football league

features two games Saturday

By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

Supporters of American football in Costa Rica say that the sport is growing. The American Football Federation of Costa Rica has released a scheduled of games that lead up to Costa Rica's own Super Bowl in April.

The sport is definitely gaining growth and interest in Costa Rica and throughout Central America, supporters say.

The season started Feb. 4 at Estadio Cuty Mong, Desamparados, with a doubleheader.

Saturday the Bulldogs face the Raptors at 2 p.m., and the Rhynos face the Toros at Estadio Cuty Monge. This is the fourth week of competitions.

The league, which has mainly Costa Rican players, has been active since July 2009. The Bulldogs are the reigning champions.

The games are the real deal with full football gear and the hard hitting that has made the sport of great interest in latin America.

Daily postings with some in English can be found here:
— Feb. 24, 2012

football scvhedule

Costa Rica again sweeps Central American surfing tournament
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff

For the sixth year in a row Costa Rica was crowned king of the Reef Centroamérica Surfing Games this weekend in front of the Hotel Backyard at Playa Hermosa in Jacó.

Dozens of surfers from Panamá, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala came to compete at Playa Hermosa on the central Pacific Coast.

Costa Rican surfers finished first in all major surf competition categories including open, open women, junior, boys, longboard and a sub-16 boys category that was new to this year's event.

The country’s surf team as a whole finished with over 13,000

points, ahead of second place El Salvador which had just over 8,000 points. The following standings, in order, were teams from Guatemala, Panamá and Nicaragua.

Apart from medals and the prestige of representing their own countries, winners from the different categories of competition received $5,000 in prize money (2.5 million colons). José Ureña, presIdent of the Federación de Surf de Costa Rica, said that aN olympic-style event usually doesn't give monetary prizes to the surfers, only medals and trophies, but that it adds an individual incentive for the surfers.

The annual competition began in Costa Rica in 2006. Next year for the first time it will be held in Guatemala.

— Dec. 4, 2011

Trans-Atlantic boat race winner sets new course record
By the A.M. Costa Rica staff
Originally published Nov. 21
The Virbac-Paprec 3, as expected, arrived in Limón early Friday, completing the trans-Atlantic sailboat race first out of the field of competitors and breaking the standing record.

The two-man crew of Jean-Pierre Dick and Jérémie Beyou sailed for precisely 15 days, 18 hours and 15 minutes from the Le Havre, France, to the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica, a distance of more than 4,000 miles. They beat the previous course record set in 2009 by just more than one hour.

It is the third time Dick has won the trans-Atlantic race. His team finished as the overall winners as well as the first in their
 class of racing boats, defined by the International Monohull Open Class Association.

But boats continued to filter in during the weekend, their crews competing for first place positions in their respective categories. Sunday the first multi-hull boat, Actual, arrived to take the top spot in its much diminished field which began with six boats and finished with only two due to inclement weather in the early stages which forced many to leave the race.

As racers docked in Limón, they were awaited by festival-goers attending the Wa’apin gathering, which showcased Caribbean arts, crafts, music, food and culture. 

Olympic hopeful visits to give pointers to other gymnasts
By Andrew Rulseh Kasper
of the A.M. Costa Rica staff
Originally published Nov. 2
On a rare break from her rigorous routine, Costa Rican gymnast Mariana Sánchez was able to leave her training grounds in the United States for a brief sojourn in her home country to visit family, friends and young, aspiring gymnasts.

Though her past is highlighted with an ever-growing list of accomplishments and her future aspirations are to be a world-class athlete, Ms. Sánchez' demeanor was everything but braggadocios as she performed a routine with younger girl gymnasts Tuesday in Parque la Sabana. The 15-year-old even seemed a little nervous in the glaring spotlight before the media cameras.

But all the nerves disappear when she is focused on her gymnastics routine. Ms. Sánchez excels on the bars, although she said she prefers the floor routines, and her talent has brought herself and Costa Rica plenty of status in the gymnastics world with a career marked by top finishes in junior competitions.

Now Ms. Sánchez is focused on competing at the elite level. On a typical day she said she trains roughly eight hours total with school crammed in between workout sessions. Her gym is in Ohio where she lives with the family of another gymnast.

Her training is sponsored in part by Banco Nacional. The bank's marketing director, Mario Roa, said his organization would like to see her achieve her dreams and help put Costa Rica on the world map.

And one of the primary goals of her strict regimen is just that: an Olympic appearance, either in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro or next year in London. To compete in 2012 before she is 16, Ms. Sánchez needs a special exemption from Olympic officials.

“I'm preparing for London,” she said. “But I always have 2016 in Brazil to fall back on.”

She also is anxiously anticipating the opportunity to represent her country at the 2013 Central American games to be held in San José, where the taste of a home-soil victory would be sweeter than most.

Yet her taste for success has been a long-time coming. Ms. Sánchez has been training stateside for approximately two and a half years, but her desire to compete came long  before with her first competition at the age of 4.
A.M. Costa Rica/Andrew Rulseh Kasper
Ms. Sánchez balances a younger gymnast.

However, she claims her progression actually started in the womb and laughed that her mother, who owns a gymnasium and was a gymnast herself, was performing the sport while pregnant with her.

“She is impressive,” said one girl in the group of predominantly elementary school children as Ms. Sánchez performed a solo floor routine complete with flips and spins. And when the group of girls was asked if they wanted to be like Sánchez they all nodded their heads enthusiastically.

Ms. Sánchez offered them this piece of advice.

“Never give up and just follow your dreams, even if it's not gymnastics.”

Costa Rican
surfer wins
a gold medal

By the A.M. Costa rica staff

Costa Rican senior surfer  Craig  Schieber took first place Sunday, Oct. 23,  in the World Masters Surfing Championship  in El Salvador.

He won in the 50 and older class. The event is sponsored by the International Surfing Association. The gold medal was the first for Costa Rica in the 21 years the country has been participating in the event.

he overall winner was the United States with Brazil a close second. Costa Rica was in seventh place.

Schieber took costa Rican citizenship 20 years ago, said the surfing organization.

Fishing tourney will begin research race for tagged marlin
 Special to A.M. Costa Rica

Marlin are some of the most magnificent fish in the ocean, but several species are sadly in serious decline. That’s why the International Game Fish Association has partnered with leading scientists from Stanford University to create the Great Marlin Race – a conservation research program which combines the excitement of tournament angling with cutting-edge marine bio-logging science. The part-competition, part-research race has anglers and scientists alike waiting for the 58th annual International Billfish Tournament Sept. 4 to 11 in Puerto Rico.

In the days leading up to a billfish tournament, angling teams are invited to sponsor pop-up archival satellite tags to be placed on fish caught and released during the event.  Exactly 120 days after each tag is deployed, it automatically releases itself from the fish, and its exact location is determined by earth-orbiting ARGOS satellites.  

In a given tournament, the tag that surfaces furthest from where it was initially deployed wins the race for that tournament. The Great Marlin Race will last 12 months, encompass several tournaments, and deploy at least 50 tags on a variety of billfish species in the Pacific, Atlantic and Indian Oceans. The marlin whose tag travels the furthest of all will be recognized at the annual auction and banquet.

“The goal of the program is to learn more about the migration patterns of these magnificent fishes, and how they utilize th

open ocean habitat,” said Jason Schratwieser, Game fish Association research director, adding:

“We also envision giving open access to the tagging data so that it can be utilized by scientists around the world.”

Tags record information about depth, temperature and light levels, which can be used to study fish migrations and behaviors over the course of several months after they have been tagged.  These data, in turn, will help scientists to identify key habitat areas where large numbers of fish spend significant portions of time as well as the migratory corridors they use when they travel from place to place. Data from the tags will be processed and disseminated via Barbara Block’s lab at Stanford University in California.

Ms. Block pioneered the use of electronic tags on open ocean fishes in the early 1990’s. She was also one of the founders of the initial Great Marlin Race program, which was launched in 2009 in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Hawaiian International Billfish Tournament in Kona, Hawaii .
“We are really excited about this new partnership between our organization and Stanford University,” explains Paxson Offield, chairman of the IGFA and long-term supporter of the Great Marlin Race. “By pairing top-notch science with tournament angling, we hope not only to learn more about the biology of the animals, but also to engage our constituents – billfish anglers around the world – in helping to conserve them for future generations.”

 Six new events added for 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia
By the A.M. Costa Rica wire services

The 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics in Russia will have six new events, including women's ski jumping.

International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge announced in London Tuesday that the board also approved the addition of men's and women's ski halfpipe, mixed relay in biathlon and team events in luge and figure skating.  That means an extra 150 athletes will compete in the Russian Black Sea resort city.

Women's ski jumping had long campaigned to be in the Winter Games and even lost a legal battle for inclusion at last year's Vancouver Olympics. Rogge said the newest additions "are exciting, entertaining events that perfectly complement the

existing events on the sports program" and they "bring added appeal and increase the number of women participating at the games.''

Proposals for inclusion of slopestyle events in snowboard and freestyle skiing and a team Alpine skiing event were put on hold for further review.

In the new event of ski halfpipe, skiers score points for performing tricks and jumps on the same course used for the snowboard halfpipe.

The only remaining Winter Olympics event that does not have both male and female representation is Nordic combined, which features ski jumping followed by a cross country ski race.