Aida Roman and Mariana Avitia win silver and bronze for Mexico

Mexican archer Aida Roman won the silver medal in Woman's Individual archery after loosing a tense sudden-death shoot-off to Korea's Ki Bo Bae. 18-year-old Mariana Avitia beat American veteran Khatuna Lorig 6-2 in the bronze match. These are the 3rd and 4th metals for Mexico in the London 2012 Olympics. 

Daniel Corral has already made history as the first Mexican Olympic gymnast to advance to a final in an Olympic competition. Corral placed 8th in the men’s parallel bars qualification with an impressive score of 15.433, earning him a spot to compete for the gold next week. The twenty-two year old from Baja California won gold in the 2011 Pan American Games in both the parallel bars and the pommel horse. His coach, Oscar Aguirre, believes that he and Corral have a very proactive relationship, and their understanding of one another’s personalities will aid their efforts. Aguirre stressed that they are never losing sight of getting Corral up on that podium. Corral’s work thus far in London is a ground-breaking step towards his goal of medaling in the 2012 games.

Corral is happy for getting the opportunity to compete in the final, but is still maintaining focus for the next event. The gymnast will be fighting for gold against several world class competitors, including China’s Li Xiaopeng.

Coverage of the final will be on Tueday, August 07th at 9:00 am. Be sure to watch Daniel Corral make history as the first Mexican gymnast in the finals.

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Professional polo players Chucho Solorzano, Antonio Madrazo and Gustavo Galvan from Mexico joined Robert Do, President of Solena Fuels, and former Argentine professional polo player Marcos Bignoli and their teams. Here, Chucho Solorzano talks about the event that Arturo Sarukhan, Ambassador of Mexico to the United States, says, "Combines sports, cultural and the support for the Arts."

For pictures of the event, go to MexicoToday/Flickr

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On Saturday, June 23, the Cultural Polo Foundation hosted international polo players at the inaugural Cultural Polo Cup. The Cultural Polo Cup was created to promote cultural awareness and raise funds for artistic, cultural and educational foundations in the Washington, D.C. area. The foundation selected the Mexican Cultural Institute as the inaugural charitable recipient -- watch the interview with the cultural attaché and director of the Mexican Cultural Institute exclusively on MexicoToday. 

For pictures of the event, go to MexicoToday/Flickr

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Mexican Boxer Oscar Valdez shines in Olympics

Oscar Valdez, Mexico's top boxing hope at the London Olympics, is getting a lot of attention for both his athleticism and self-confident attitude. During a recent media event the young Mexican boxer said he has what it takes to defeat the 2011 world amateur champion in his division, Cuban Lazaro Alvarez.

"I know I can beat Alvarez; in the last Pan American Games he was better than me and beat me in the final, but I've studied him. I know his style and I can defeat him," the 21-year-old batamweight told Efe.

So far during the 2012 London Olympics Valdez has been on fire. In just his first match, Valdez beat India’s best amateur, Shiva Thapa. Many expected this to be a close match, but Valdez made quick work of his opponent and out scored him in all three rounds. 

Valdez is an incredible boxer and has the credentials to back up his confident statements. Following his 2008 Olympic appearance at just 17 years old, he went up to featherweight and won the AIBA Youth World Championship. The tournament was held Guadalajara and he showed the experience  gained beating his opponents from Barbados, Uzbekistan, Kazahkztan, Ukraine and Russia. Then kept his winning streak going by winning bronze at the 2009 World Amateur Boxing Championships in Milan. Valdez explained that he has improved even further since his last major tournament.

"I've matured since I won the bronze medal in Italy. I was 18 years old then and now I'm 21 and I feel stronger.”

The amateur boxer said the London Games would be his last Olympics before turning to be a professional.

In Mexico's Olympic history, boxing has produced more medals for the country than any other sport. Mexico has won two golds, three silvers and seven bronzes in boxing, although it has not captured a single Olympic boxing medal since Cristian Bejarano's bronze at lightweight in the 2000 Sydney Games, a drought Valdez is intent on ending.

"I want to end that. I have the quality and I'll give everything I have," Valdez said.

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Espinosa and Orozco win silver medal in synchronized platform

Mexican divers Paola Espinosa and Alejandra Orozco follow in the steps of their male counterparts by winning Mexico's second silver medal in Synchronized 10m Platfrom. 

Synchronized diving duo Iván García and Germán Sánchez made history today by winning the silver medal in Men's Synchronized 10m Platform. This was the first time Mexico participated in this competition. 

Chichen Itza, the Pre-Colombian City built in the Mayan civilization

The historic significance of Chichen Itza – the Pre-Columbian city built during the Mayan civilization – is manifested throughout Mexico, and is considered one of the country’s richest cultural landmarks. 

Now, five commemorative coins featuring Chichen Itza are available for purchase through the Bank of Mexico. 

The coins are being circulated to raise awareness around the cultural wealth of the historic Mayans, particularly with regard to architecture. The Ruins of Chichen Itza are one of the most frequently visited sites in Mexico, and have remained a symbol of Mexican architectural style that continues to be influential to this day. 

This is not the first time that Chichen Itza’s significance has been recognized through coin collecting. Previously, a series of gold and silver coins called “the Maya Collection from the Pre-Columbian Series” proved to be a great success. 

The new coins will have images of Chichen Itza monuments such as the Pyramid of Kukulcán. "These coins will continue spreading awareness of the richness of Mayan culture and architecture," the bank said. "The coins should be popular with both collectors and the general public due to their beauty and cultural significance." 

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Any photographers ideal destination of Chiapas State

Chiapas state, one of Mexico’s most beautiful and photographic destinations, is also one of the country’s best-kept secrets. Travel photographer Michele Westmorland recently toured Chiapas state to document some of its hidden treasures.

The southernmost state in Mexico, Chiapas is known for its tropical climate and lush vegetation, historic architecture and rich cultural sites.

Michele started chronicling her trip in the tiny village of Tapijulapa, which is recognized for its charming and historic architecture. She then moved on to Palenque, a Mayan archeological site.

Another spot not to be missed in Chiapas state is the lush Lacandon Jungle. If you’re a nature buff, you’ll enjoy hiking through the jungle – with waterfalls, local animals and birds, and gorgeous landscapes – it offers a scenic look at Mexico that will leave even the most seasoned traveler breathless.

The last stop of the photo excursion was San Cristobal. The city is known for its strong Spanish influence, which is still noticeable throughout town. San Cristobal is a prime spot to find a variety of vibrant colors and interesting architecture, fresh cuisine and rich cultural pride.

From its cities to the sweeping scenic views, Chiapas state has something to offer every tourist, and maintains a much more relaxed feel than some of the more touristy destinations within Mexico.

“We ate incredible local cuisine and strolled the town meeting many new friends,” Michele said about her time in Chiapas state. “However, the best part of my short time there was to discover a magical, fascinating and very photogenic place just a short hop away in Mexico. Chiapas State begs to be photographed.”

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Mexican and Peruvian Colonial-era artifacts have recently gone on display in Mexico City’s Chapultepec Castle. The exhibition features 170 pieces including paintings, sculptures and textiles from the 15-19th centuries. "Contested Visions in the Spanish Colonial World" is a joint project by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History. The intention behind the exhibit is so visitors can compare and see how the two cultures are different.

“There are parallels between the way that both places were governed,” says Ilona Katzew of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, “but the differences between the objects are notable. Each has its own personality and we hope that visitors can discover that during their visit.”

“There’s no relationship between the indigenous people of Mesoamerica and those of the Andes,” says Salvador Rueda of the National Museum of History in Chapultepec Castle, “They are two distinct civilizations. Often times you had two distinct vice-royalties; the vice-royalty of Peru was the most important of the Spanish empire. Later, in the 18th century, the vice-royalty of ‘New Spain’ became the most important. They’re two distinct kingdoms with different customs.”

The exhibit will be on display in Mexico City until October 7, 2012.

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Christian Cota, Mexican Fashion designer, inspired by French art

Christian Cota, a Mexican fashion designer, draws inspiration from his studies in art as well as his Latin American culture. Cota says that he incorporates “the tonalities that have to do with Mexico: the sun, the sunset, the forest, the desert, the sea.  My colors are always inspired by them.” In contrast, Cota brings in elements inspired by the Impressionist movement including the contrast between light and shadow.

Cota first studied art in Paris, where he fell in love with painting, but worried that something was missing. While in Paris, Cota found inspiration from the designers around him.

“I saw Balenciaga in Paris and saw what could be done in the world of fashion, above all with technology: you could do art and turn it into a business. It struck that companies like Prada and Balenciaga do not only design, but also create new tissues and textures.” 

Cota decided the fashion industry could provide an intersection between business and creativity, which propelled him to launch a fashion line that has received praise internationally.

From the beginning, Cota has stayed true to his roots. He says that Latin America plays an important role in his creations, which are characterized by strong colors with a lot of patterns.

Cota realized that he had reached a turning point in the fashion world during the autumn-winter 2010 fashion show when Vogue editor Anna Wintour arrived. She toured his collection, and Cota made an impression. After the show, Anna Wintour backed Cota as a designer and from there, he began to get more involved with the Council of Fashion Designers (CFDA). 

Cota, along with 11 other emerging designers, recently joined the Fashion Incubator Programme of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA). The CFDA will provide these designers with a showroom in the Fashion District, a workshop, training and advice -- every step that Cota takes will be advised by fashion experts. 

While his fashion line has a strong presence in high-end department stores and a celebrity following, he believes that with the help of the CFDA, he will be able to find a balance between the creative and the entrepreneurial side of the fashion industry. Joining the CFDA may be what Christian Cota needs to continue to grow his fashion line and gain global recognition.

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Peter Davies, an Australian writer and teacher, recently finished embarking on a 7 month journey of a lifetime. The idea behind the endeavor was to experience the assorted aspects of Mexico City through its weaving metro lines underground. During his journey, Davies passed through approximately 147 stations within the Mexico City Metro system. MexicoToday.org had a chance to speak with Davies about his experience and the many people and things he encountered along the way. Davies described the interior of the trains as “mobile marketplaces”, containing all the vivacity and culture of Mexico in an incredibly condensed and active space.

The Mexico City Metro, for Davies, was an all-encompassing underground society with people from all walks of life and ages. Along the way he met students, lawyers, doctors, musicians, street performers, poets, and the homeless underground in an environment that beautifully belonged to all of them equally. The Metro in a sense was like “a great stage”, where all those without a platform of expression could congregate to be heard, seen, and appreciated. Musicians come from all over to make music with guitars, bamboo flutes, bongo drums, and even coins in cans. This is the true spirit of Mexico. The Mexico City Metro contained all the soul, energy, and variety of the actual city and gave Davies a glimpse into the true culture of Mexico, both ever changing and ever inspiring. Davies saw Mexico City as a lively city full of contemporary art galleries and museums (his favorite being the Mexican Antique Toy Museum at Obrera), and at the same time a historical city full of tradition and cultural importance.

By taking the metro to the extremities of Mexico City, Davies reflected on what he learned about the city, its history, and its people. One of the aspects of the city that surprised him the most, however, was the complete openness and friendliness of the people as a whole. He described Mexico City as an inviting place full of life, where “people live harmoniously.” Davies went on to say, “What surprised me is the diversity of this place. Mexico City is full of quirky surprises all over the place. Mexico City is an extremely vibrant, diverse, modern city with a whole range of different stuff going on in contemporary art and music. Mexico City has more museums than any other city in the world. Perhaps that is one of the things people might not know.”

When asked about his favorite neighborhood in Mexico City, Davies spoke about the Roma district on metro line #1. “It travels through Chapultepec which is a museum district and has a really big park. Then it goes through Roma which is a really bohemian district, and then goes through the Centro which is fantastic for architecture fans.” The Roma district attracted the attention of some of the most influential writers of the Beat Generation like Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. Today, the neighborhood still contains an artistically bohemian allure to it that sets it apart from the rest of the city. Davies also reflected on the countless possibilities that exist in Mexico City, from the street art, to the street vendors, to the architecture, to the beautiful parks. He especially noted the importance of food in Mexico City. “Tacos de carnitas which are pork tacos are really nice, with freshly baked tortillas and juicy meat. I eat tacos on every corner, which is one of the many wonders of Mexico’s street cuisine.”

As something to take away Davies stated, “One thing I have worked in communicating through my project and I would like people to take away from it is the need to break down the misconceptions about Mexico. Enjoy this country’s wonders and, come to Mexico and experience it yourself!” Although no plans have been officially made to tackle another metro system in a different city, Davies is open to the idea in the future.

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Mexico's beloved lucha libre are bringing professional wrestling to Mexico’s poorest neighborhoods, orphanages and prisons.  Known as The Caravan Super Tarin traveling wrestling show, these dedicated performers give free performances to those who don't have the money to buy a ticket to see a professional wrestling event at one of Mexico City's big arenas.

The matches serve a dual purpose: to entertain residents and to provide an opportunity for lesser-known or young wrestlers to catch the eye of a promoter.

"I have dreams of wrestling with the great ones, but I've been at it for three years and haven't received the opportunity," the youngest wrestler, 16-year-old Black Fury said from behind his mask, insisting on keeping his street identity a secret.

The Caravan Super Tarin is one of the larger street wrestling troupes that play Mexico City's working-class neighborhoods and one of the few that give shows free of charge. The leader of the caravan is Rafael Rojas Tarin — or Super Tarin — who heads the street vendors association that sponsors the shows.

Wrestling is the second-most popular sport after soccer in Mexico, so the turnout for these events is tremendous. Yet, despite the large audiences, the lucha libre get by on very little. The wrestlers get into their costumes in tiny spaces, sitting on packing crates or in the homes of locals. A show can feature 70 wrestlers. Sometimes fans will even bring the wrestlers plates of food as payment to show their support and appreciation.

The impact of the lucha libre in Mexico goes beyond that of other countries, incorporating Mayan mythology and becoming a recurring theme in its movies and culture. Wrestlers campaign with politicians and fight for low-incoming housing projects and other social causes. 

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