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10 Latino U.S. Athletes We'll Be Watching at the Rio Olympics

The much anticipated Summer 2016 Olympics in Rio start Friday; here's a list of impressive U.S. Latino athletes we'll be cheering on as they compete.
A volunteer poses for a photo in a set of Olympic rings in the Olympic Park ahead of Rio's 2016 Summer Olympics, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016.Charlie Riedel / AP

The much anticipated 2016 Summer Olympic Games start Friday in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Some new young athletes will mix with returning Olympians, but both newer and more experienced athletes are looking to make an impact on the tournament and make their country proud.

Here’s a list of Latinos we'll be cheering for as they give it their all and represent Team USA.

Carlos Balderas — Boxing

US Olympic Athlete Carlos Balderas
Boxer Carlos Balderas poses for a portrait at the 2016 Team USA Media Summit, March 9, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. The 2016 Summer Olympics will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil August 5-21VALERIE MACON / AFP/Getty Images

Age: 19

Born: California, USA

Team: USA

Balderas is a Mexican-American boxer who is the first member from his family to be born in the United States. Coached by his father, Balderas first stepped into a gym when he was seven years old as punishment for fighting in school and getting suspended, according to USA Today. At his first Olympics, he hopes to put U.S. Boxing back on top in Rio.

Anita Alvarez - Synchronised Swimming

Synchronized Swimmer Anita Alvarez - Team USA
Synchronized swimmer Anita Alvarez poses for a portrait at the 2016 Team USA Media Summit at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on March 8, 2016 in Beverly Hills, CaliforniaSean M. Haffey / Getty Images

Age: 19

Born: New York, USA

Team: USA

Synchronized swimmer Anita Alvarez started to swim when she was 5 years old. Almost fifteen years later, she will make her Olympic debut in Rio alongside duet partner Mariya Koroleva. During her final year or high school competitive swimming, Alvarez won every individual race she entered. When she’s not practicing, she’s singing, even if she admits her voice isn’t very good.

Tony Azevedo - Water Polo

Tony Azevedo #8 of the United States
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 22: Tony Azevedo #8 of the United States shoots takes a shot against Australia during the 2016 Olympic team trials at the Uytengsu Aquatics Center on May 22, 2016 in Los Angeles, CaliforniaHarry How / Getty Images

Age: 34

Born: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Team: USA

Born in Rio de Janeiro but raised in California, when Azevedo was five years old he fell on his throat while climbing a fence. He was told he wouldn’t be able to walk or play sports, but he proved everyone wrong. Azevedo will become the first U.S. water polo player ever to compete in five consecutive Olympics. His best finish was a silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Laurie Hernandez — Gymnast

Gymnast Laurie Hernandez - Team USA
Laurie Hernandez of the United States competes in the floor exercise during Day 2 of the 2016 Pacific Rim Gymnastics Championships at Xfinity Arena on April 9, 2016 in Everett, WashingtonEzra Shaw / Getty Images

Age: 16

Born: New Jersey, USA

Team: USA

After two intense nights of competition at the U.S. Olympic team trials, Hernandez finished second to three-time all around the world champion Simone Blies but secured her spot as the first Latina gymnastic Olympian since 1984. The New Jersey gymnast of Puerto Rican heritage has won the hearts of many for her vibrant routines. As NBC reports, International Gymnast Magazine called Hernandez the "Human emoji" and gymnastics podcast Gymcastic nicknamed her "baby Shakira." She won the junior all-around national title last year.

Danell Leyva — Gymnast

Danell Leyva - 2016 Men's Gymnastics Olympic Trials - Day 1
Danell Leyva competes on the rings during day one of the 2016 Men's Gymnastics Olympic Trials at Chafitz Arena on June 23, 2016 in St. Louis, MissouriDilip Vishwanat / Getty Images

Age: 24

Born: Cárdenas, Cuba

Team: USA

Danell Leyva, a Cuban-American gymnast, is the 2011 U.S national all-around gold medalist and the 2011 world champion on the parallel bars. Leyva won Bronze in the 2012 London Olympics in the Men's All Around [Artistic] competition.

Melissa Gonzalez - Field Hockey

Melissa Gonzalez #5 of Team USA
MANHEIM, PA - JULY 18: Melissa Gonzalez #5 of Team USA takes a shot against Team India in the first half during a field hockey match in preparation for the upcoming Rio Olympics on July 18, 2016 in Manheim, PennsylvaniaRob Carr / Getty Images

Age: 27

Born: New York, USA

Team: USA

Melissa Gonzalez is a midfielder for Team USA with over 150 international appearances. She made her international debut in 2010 and has been part of Team USA in every major tournament. Gonzalez started her career in high school where she led her field hockey team to state championships in 2003 and 2006. Gonzalez also won two Big East Defensive Player of the Year awards in college. With Team USA, she has won gold twice at the Pan American Games.

Steven Lopez - Taekwondo

Taekwondo PANAM Qualification Tournament for Rio 2016 Olympic Games
Steven Lopez of USA (blue) fights with Hypolite Lenn of Trinidad & Tobago (red) during the men's -80 kg quarter final combat of Taekwondo PANAM Qualification Tournament for Rio 2016 Olympic Games at IDEA Olympic Gym on March 10, 2016 in Aguascalientes, MexicoHector Vivas / LatinContent/Getty Images

Age: 37

Born: Texas, USA

Team: USA

Steven Lopez is the most decorated member of the United States’ “First Family of Taekwondo”, according to NBC Sports. He is a four-time Olympian and five-time world champion. His family moved from Nicaragua to the United States, where Lopez's brother Jean used to train him in the garage of their Texas home. He is looking for revenge after he was eliminated due to a broken leg at the 2012 Olympic games in London.

Diana Taurasi — Women’s Basketball

Basketball Player Diana Taurasi - Rio2016
Basketball player Diana Taurasi poses for a portrait at the USOC Rio Olympics Shoot at Quixote Studios on November 21, 2015 in Los Angeles, CaliforniaHarry How / Getty Images

Age: 34

Born: California, United States

Team: USA

Taurasi is an American professional basketball player for the Phoenix Mercury of the Women's National Basketball Association and UMMC Ekaterinburg of Russia. She was one of the WNBA's Top 15 Players of All Time in 2011. Her parents are Argentinian and Italian. Her Italian father grew up in Argentina and her mother was born and raised in Argentina.

Nico Hernandez — Boxing

Team USA Boxer, Nico Hernandez
Team USA boxer, Nico Hernandez, rests after finishing his workout at the Ted Stevens Sports Services Center, part of the US Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado, May 25, 2016. US athletes were training in preparation for the upcoming Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.Jason Connolly / AFP/Getty Images

Age: 20

Born: Kansas, United States

Team: USA

Nico Hernandez is a jack of all trades but a master of boxing. He ran cross country, wrestled, and played soccer while growing up but felt that boxing was his best sport. With the help of his father, Nico first entered the ring when he was nine years old. At the amateur level, Hernandez excelled, winning several national championships. He now looks to win gold at the 2016 Summer Olympic Games.

Angelica Delgado - Judo

U.S. Judo Olympian Angelica Delgado
Rio 2016 Olympic head shots - U.S. Judo Olympian Angelica Delgado will represent the United States for the very first time in JudoCourtesy of US Olympics

Age: 25

Born: Florida, United States

Team: USA

Angelica Delgado may look petite and cute from afar but this three-time national champion can pack in some deadly combinations. With parents who originated from Cuba, the first-generation American is looking for her first Olympic gold. She began judo thanks to her father Miguel who had previously been a member of Cuba's national team. With Olympic blood running in the family, Delgado started to train his daughter when she was just nine years old.

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