Mexico says goodbye to Olympic gold medal winner

Published: 30th March 2013 10:21 AM  |   Last Updated: 30th March 2013 10:21 AM   |  A+A-

Soraya-Jimenez_AP
By AP

Family and friends of weightlifter Soraya Jimenez held a private ceremony Friday to say their last goodbyes to the first Mexican woman to win an Olympic gold medal.

Jimenez's loved ones walked by a casket with her body at a funeral home in Mexico state where her remains were cremated. She died Thursday of a heart attack at age 35.

"I, like the rest of the Olympic family, believe that Soraya will live in our minds and our hearts forever," said Carlos Padilla Becerra, president of the Mexican Olympic Committee.

Jimenez won the gold medal in the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney, Australia in an achievement that was unexpected and surprising.

She was a gold medalist in the Central American Games in Maracaibo in 1998 and a silver medalist at the 1999 Pan-American Games in Winnipeg, but prior to the games she was ranked number eight worldwide and was not considered a gold medal candidate.

With her performance at the 2000 Summer Olympics, she became a legend in Mexico but soon after began having health problems, including weight gain, several knee surgeries and a battle with influenza that led to the loss of one of her lungs.

After retiring from weightlifting in 2004, Jimenez became a sportscaster for the Televisa television network.

Before her gold medal win, fencer Pilar Roldan and swimmer Marieta Ramirez had won silver and bronze Olympic medals respectively.

Maria Espinoza is the only other Mexican female athlete to win an Olympic gold medal. She won it in Beijing in 2008.

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