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Best of 2017: Adriana Diaz and Jose Luis Ortiz, athletes of the year in Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico's Adriana Diaz is the nation's first table tennis athlete to qualify for the Olympic Games. (Photos of Adriana Díaz supplied by her father and coach, Bladimir Díaz, Credit: APDPUR)
by Hiram Vega Perez, President APDPUR

SAN JUAN, December 21, 2017 - The young table tennis player Adriana Díaz, the first Puerto Rican in the history of the sport to qualify for the Olympics Games, and whose honors this year include the ITTF Pan American Senior Championships in Cartagena, Colombia, the U-21 ITTF World Tour Czech Open Championship and the Slovenia Open U-21 Championship, was chosen as the female athlete of the year by the Puerto Rican Sports Journalists Association - APDPUR. Díaz, aged 17, is enjoying a brilliant career at international level and was the representative of the Table Tennis Federation at the Olympic Dinner organized by the Puerto Rican Olympic Committee.

The ‘Jockey’ José Luis Ortiz (Photo: APDPUR)

The ‘Jockey’ José Luis Ortiz won the APDPUR award of male athlete of the year. Ortiz earned the highest prize money in Puerto Rico with a total of $27,029,345. He was the first Puerto Rican laureate of the Eclipse Award in the USA, the biggest prize in horse racing. His success rate is impressive: he finished on the podium in 53% of his competitions, with a win rate of 19.3% (264 wins). He was also the winner of the ‘Belmont Stakes’ with ‘Tapwrit’, the winner of the ‘Breeders Cup Junior’ with ‘Good Magic’, and winner of another eleven Grade I Classics and a champion at several of New York’s racetracks.

Puerto Rico's baseball team brought unity to the nation at a crucial time. (Photo: APDPUR)

The Puerto Rican baseball team, who finished runner-ups at the World Baseball Classic, were the winners of the team of the year award. The performance of ‘Team Rubios’ captured the nation’s imagination and fostered a sense of unity and purpose. In every corner of Puerto Rico thousands of people dyed their hair blond to show solidarity and patriotic pride. The world took notice of Puerto Rico’s results and ‘la Isla del encanto.’ ‘Team Rubios’ united the country.

The winning athletes and teams were chosen by the Puerto Rican Sports Journalists Association.

The above prizes are awarded to athletes and teams competing under the flag of the 41 countries accepted by the Pan American Sports Organization (ODEBO), that practice summer or winter sports recognized by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), or other sports of sufficient international interest; and whose performances show extraordinary talent throughout the sporting year in competitions where they represent their country.

In addition, these athletes are Puerto Rico’s candidates for AIPS America’s most outstanding athletes.

The AIPS America Executive Committee will announce the winners on Wednesday, December 27.

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