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Rivera Morales fueled Olympic dream in 2013

By Steve Rivera - Dec 28, 2013

Life these days is good for Luis Alberto Rivera Morales. In fact, it's good to be Rivera Morales these days.

Why not? 2013 has been very, very good to him.

 

The Mexican native is being hailed as a hero in his native Mexico, just a month or so removed being awarded Mexico's biggest athletic prize - the National Sports Award.

 

The United States has the Sports Illustrated Sportsman of the Year; Mexico has this. ¡Felicidades!

 

It's given to the best of the best from Mexico. It's an honor reserved for athletes like Ana Gabriela Guevara, Lorena Ochoa and Adrian Gonzalez. Notably, yes, Rivera Morales is one of them. Not a shocker there. He's among the elite of the elite and has made the country proud, being a huge factor in track and field's world stage.

 

"It feels great to be recognized as the best athlete in Mexico because it reflects that your results do not only impact your family but it impacts a whole nation," he said.

 

His potential success is unlimited. But should - could? - be amplified in March when he participates in the World Indoor Games in Poland in March.

 

Until then, let's review Rivera's recent past when he leaped to a personal best 8.46 meters in Kazan, Russia at the Summer Universiade. It was good enough to win the event. A month later he won a bronze medal at the World Championships in Moscow, Russia, becoming the first Mexican to win a field event at the event, according to the IAFF.

  

"It's been the best year in my sporting career so far," he said.

 

Indeed.

 

At the age of 26, there's still plenty of gas left in the tank. In fact, the last couple of years - most notably last year - it was a blast of experience and excitement. Clearly, memories of a lifetime were made - with more to come.

 

It's also a case where dreams do come true if you work hard to make them happen. Rivera Morales did exactly that where he has won more than a handful of Mexican national titles in the long jump and a couple in the triple jump.

 

"It was great to be able to compete against the best guys in the world," he said. "To execute good at the competition gave me the confidence I need to overcome the obstacles in future competitions."

 

And isn’t that what it's all about? Confidence, although athletic ability has a lot to do with it, too, at the extremely top level. Rivera Morales is there. Mexico has found its next athletic icon.

 

He just happens to be an accidental long jumper who found his way to fame and athletic stardom via Agua Prieta, a border town near the small town of Douglas, Ariz.

 

In fact, it was there when someone saw his gifted physical and athletic abilities while on the soccer field. The sport was one of his first loves. They saw that he had potential and said, why not try the triple jump? Later, it became why not try the long jump?

 

He was a hit from the beginning, impressing from his first event. He later moved to Central Arizona College (in Casa Grande, Ariz.) where he helped lead the school to a national junior college title. He then landed at the University of Arizona where he had a sound, solid career.

 

"As a kid I only enjoyed and did track for fun," he said. "As I grew up, I started believing that I was able to compete at the Olympic Games."

 

And he did, being the first Agua Prieta native to participate in the Games. That accomplishment made him proud; made him humble. It also gave him a thirst for me.

 

 "It was great (growing up in Agua Prieta because it gave me family, friends, a house," he said. "Just being able to give something back to this town is great."

 

There's a chance he could give back more in 2016. He continues to prepare for the 2016 Games in Brazil. By then, he'll be 29 years old.

 

 "That is the main objective," he said about the Games. "However, we are three years from that point, and we really need to be focus on each year development."

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