Santiago 2023’s Stars: Diego López Díaz, Global Figure Shines in Chile

The Mexican swimmer contributed three gold medals to his country's fourth-place finish in the final medal tally of the Parapan American Games.

Sunday, November 26th, 2023.- 
Santiago 2023 had the privilege of witnessing one of the great figures in adapted sports on a global level. This refers to the Mexican athlete Diego López Díaz, holder of gold, silver, and bronze medals at the recent Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games. 

Nicknamed in his country as the "Misil Xalapeño," he could boast of having won everything in his sporting career. However, his tireless spirit of improvement leads him to face new challenges every day. 

At Santiago 2023, he broke the record in the 50-meter freestyle, S3 class, with a time of 46.88 seconds, surpassing his compatriot Marcos Zárate (52.05) and the local talent Patricio Larena (56.71). 

The Para athlete suffers from a chronic degenerative condition known as peroneal muscular atrophy, which occurred after an appendix operation at the age of eight. It was at that moment that he, along with his family, decided to focus on adapted sports. 

He initially participated in local secondary competitions, then in more significant national events until he achieved prominence in two Parapan American Games, where he earned five gold medals (Toronto 2015 and Lima 2019), three world championships with four gold medals, and participation at the Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro 2016 and Tokyo 2020. 

At the age of 28, in Santiago 2023, Diego López Díaz was the athlete who contributed the most gold medals for his country to achieve fourth place in the medal standings, thanks to his victories in the 200m freestyle, 50m backstroke, and 50m freestyle. He also secured two silver medals in the 4x50m freestyle and medley relays. 

Written by Ernesto Bustos B; translated by Rocio Rojas / Santiago 2023 via Photosport 
Photo by Javier Valdés / Santiago 2023 via Photosport