Olympic champion Puig sets sights on grand slam victory
Send a link to a friend
[August 29, 2016]
By Simon Cambers
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Put the rubbish
out, get the shopping done, win an Olympic gold medal.
That was the to-do list of Monica Puig, the 22-year-old whose
victory in the women’s singles in Rio earlier this month made her
the first ever Puerto Rican to win Olympic gold.
It was an unlikely but fully-deserved win for the world number 34,
catapulting her to hero status and making her a role model for young
people in the island Commonwealth that is enduring tough economic
Now Puig wants to capitalize on her victory, both on and off the
“I know that there’s no doubt in my mind that I can probably win a
grand slam because the Olympics was one,” she told Reuters at
Flushing Meadows on Sunday, on the eve of the U.S. Open.
“It just doesn’t have the title grand slam but the best players in
the world were there, including Serena (Williams).
“I won the biggest thing on my to-do list and I just want to keep
knocking off other ones, and that would be to win a grand slam.”
Confident but at-ease despite all the new-found attention, Puig is
still coming to terms with her stunning victory in Rio.
“I don’t think it’s really sunk in,” she said. "It’s a little bit
difficult to process. I was by no means the favorite. It was such a
In floods of tears during the medal ceremony, Puig and her gold
medal have been virtually inseparable ever since.
“I remember waking up several times in the middle of the night and
just looking at my night stand to actually see if my medal was there
because I didn’t believe it,” she said.
“I wasn’t able to sleep very much for three, four or five days. It
was the most surreal feeling in the world to be an Olympic champion
Along with congratulations from her fellow players, Puig has been
subjected to abuse on social media, with many people expecting a
let-down at the U.S. Open, where she faces Saisai Zheng of China in
the first round.
[to top of second column]
Tennis player and gold medallist Monica Puig (2nd L) greets the
crowd while riding on a bus with wrestler Jaime Espinal (L),
President of the Olympic Committee of Puerto Rico Sara Rosario (2nd
R) and athlete Javier Culson during a welcome ceremony in San Juan,
Puerto Rico, August 23, 2016. REUTERS/Alvin Baez
“Unfortunately I’m guilty of reading my Twitter and sometimes the
comments under articles but you know what, a lot of that fuels my
fire,” she said.
Puig, who was greeted by thousands of people when she landed in
Puerto Rico after her victory, embraces being a role model.
“I see it as a responsibility,” she said. “I know what comes with
that responsibility as far as conducting myself in the same way that
I have, in a very respectful manner, always setting a good example,
especially for the youth of Puerto Rico, which is very important.
“I gave me a lot of hope back to the people of Puerto Rico, which
was really important for me because they’re going through such
difficult times. “The message is that nothing is ever impossible.
People probably thought me winning a medal was impossible and I
proved them wrong."
Not surprisingly, Puig says she will have a special role in the 2020
Olympics in Tokyo.
“They have approached me to be flag-bearer,” she said. “They’ve
already asked me about the possibility of doing it in 2020 and
there’s no way I could say no.”
(Editing by Andrew Both)
[© 2016 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2016 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.