As with many countries, Peru holds its top athletes in high esteem. Every major bank wants them to endorse their products, and you’ll frequently see a toned athlete sitting uncomfortably in the spotlight on television, being interviewed by a selection of cheery presenters. If you’re heading to Peru for a vacation, here are some well known athletes that you can discuss with a proud Peruvian, who will probably be delighted that you know about some of their greatest achievers.
Juan Carlos Bello is more popularly known as Johnny Bello for his expertise in swimming. He learned how to swim at the age of seven and from 1965 to 1973 dominated the four major styles of swimming, winning many medals in South American and Pan-American swimming contests. He participated in the Olympics in Mexico in 1968 and in Munich in 1972. He was also a sports leader, being president of the Peruvian Sports Federation Swimming Club and is currently Vice-President of the Peruvian Sports Swimming Federation, in charge of the Committee on Open Water Swimming. He ran for the presidency of the Peruvian Olympic Committee in 2009.
Teofilo Cubillas, a former player of football (or soccer) is widely regarded as one of South America’s best football players of all time. Having excellent technical ability, Cubillas played midfield and had a powerful shot with which he used to terrify goalkeepers. He was known as a free kick specialist, and scored 515 goals in his entire career, placing him seventh in the ranking of the World Cup all-time scorers with ten World Cup goals. A poll by the IFFFHS voted him the 48th best football player of the twentieth century and Pele named him as one of the 125 greatest living football players in his 2004 FIFA list. In February 2008 the All Star First team of South America selected him as a member of the previous 50 years.
The Volleyball Player
Volleyball is a big deal in Peru, and Cecilia Tait is known as Peru’s most talented volleyball player and one of the best players in the history of volleyball. She made her debut in the sport at the age of 18 at the Pan American Games in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She also participated with the Peruvian national team in three Summer Olympics, finishing fourth in 1984 and won a silver medal at the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul. At the World Championship in 1982 she won a silver medal and added a bronze to her trophy cabinet in 1986. In 2005, she was inducted into the Volleyball Hall of Fame and in 2000, she was elected to Congress in Peru.
Peru’s location as a world class surfing destination was confirmed when it produced a surfing World Champion. Sofía Mulánovich Aljovín, born in Lima, is the first Peruvian surfer ever to win an ASP event, let alone the World Title. On 27th July 2007, she was inducted into the Surfers Hall of Fame for it’s 10th Anniversary Celebrations, the first South American to have achieved this goal.
With a few of these famous names under your belt, you should be able to relate to the majority of sports aficionados and get into some interesting conversations, giving you a great opportunity to get a unique, insiders point of view on your Peru Vacation.
Gary Sargent is the Managing Director of the tour companies Escaped to Peru and has lived in South America since 1998. Gary is passionate about Peruvian life, people, customs and places. Visit Gary’s website for more Peru travel advice or to book Peru vacations.read more