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Mexico’s Celaya wins diving gold in his first Pan Am Games

August 2, 2019

LIMA, Peru (AP) — Mexico’s Juan Manuel Celaya plunged with power and emerged from the pool with a smile, knowing that the most challenging days had been worth a gold medal at the 1-meter springboard at the Pan American Games on Thursday.

Celaya scored 435.60 points. Jamaica’s Yona Knight-Wisdom was second at 429.90, and American Andrew Capobianco took the bronze with 411.25. Celaya, a 20-year-old diver who attends Louisiana State University, came into the week hoping to gain experience from his veteran teammates. Instead, he won Mexico’s first gold for diving at the Pan Am Games in Lima.

“I’m so happy, I can’t even smile properly,” said Celaya, who is from the northern Mexican city of Monterrey. “I’m still shaking.”

After his last dive, Mexican fans who donned sombreros handed him a national flag that he carried around the pool.

Celaya moved to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, in 2016 to attend LSU on a scholarship. He says the first year was tough. He missed his family, his friends, and the home cooked meals. He felt lonely, even depressed, he said. But he never stopped training. On the LSU Athletics site it says that on his freshman season, he became “one of the most decorated divers in school history.”

“All of this was worth it,” Celaya said. “This is a sacrifice that most people don’t see. But this is so rewarding.”

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Associated Press writer Carlos Rodriguez contributed to this report.

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