Panama is a small country located in Central America with a geographical area of 29,157 square miles and a population of 3.3 million people. There are several theories about the origin of the name “Panama”. Some believe that the country was named after a commonly found species of trees. Others believe that the first settlers arrived in Panama in August, when butterflies abound, and that the name means “many butterflies” in an indigenous language. The best known version is that a fishing village and its nearby beach bore the name “Panamá”, which meant “an abundance of fish”.
Panama has the third or fourth largest economy in Central America and it is also the fastest growing economy and the largest per capita consumer in Central America. In 2010 Panama ranked 4th among Latin American countries in terms of the Human Development Index, and 54th in the world.
Even though Panama has a relative small population, it has been the cradle of world stature athletes like Mariano Rivera, Carlos “Caliche” Ruiz, Carlos Lee, Roberto “Mano de Piedra” Durán, Laffit Pincay, Ismaél Laguna and many others. The list would fill several bucketfuls of digital ink, mind you. Two other names also stand out significantly in the sports arena, (e.g. Lloyd LaBeach and Irving J. Saladino).
Lloyd LaBeach was the first Panamanian to win an olympic medal. In 1948, Lloyd Barrington LaBeach won two bronze Olympic medals at the Summer Olympic Games held in London England, the first Olympic medals for Panama. He finished third in the 100 and 200 meter sprints. LaBeach timed 10.4 seconds on the 100 meter dash and 21.2 seconds en the 200 meter dash. History almost forgot that in 1948, LaBeach was the third fastest man in the world.
On August 18, 2008, Irving Jahir Saladino Aranda made history by winning the first Olympic gold medal for Panama after jumping 8.34 meters in Beijing, China. Later on during the day, Panama went wild. It was the first time this small Central American country had received an Olympic gold medal.
Edward Loo, a Panamanian artist, decided to dedicate a scene to glorify the accomplishments of the athletes of Panama during this year’s Independence Day activities. He included two feminine figures dressed in red and blue—the colors of the Panama flag—flanking a strong masculine subject which symbolizes the Panamanian athlete. The head of the subject is a glittering sphere, representing the world. The scene is vibrantly patriotic and means a lot to the inhabitants of this small and proud nation located in the middle of the world.
Last Sunday I went specifically to capture this nationalistic scene created by Edward Loo to share with the readers of Lingua Franca. Here it is, a deserved homage to our Panamanian athletes. Here we go.
- A patriotic scene created by Edward Loo to pay tribute to our Panamanian athletes. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
- Photograph of a scene in Panama City created by artist Edward Loo to glorify the Panamanian athlete. Photo by ©Omar Upegui R.
Notice the Panamanian flag at the bottom of the picture. Photo ©Omar Upegui R.
To close this post, I will shout from the bottom of my heart: Viva la independencia de Panamá! Vivan los atletas Panameños! (Long live the independence of Panama. Long live the Panamanian athletes.) Good Day.
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