Mexican makes her way in a sport that is Olympic

The Mexican Diana Flores starred in a commercial in the superbowlsigned a deal with Under Armor and ran a clinic for girls in Morocco.

The Mexican flag football quarterback didn’t see it coming.

“For a Mexican, who fell in love with American sports at the age of 8, I never imagined that all this could be possible,” she said.

The possibility — for Flores and many other women around the world — now includes the 2028 Los Angeles Games, after flag football was included in the Olympic program.

When it comes to gold medals, women appear to have the best chance of stopping American dominance, after NFL fans hope stars like Patrick Mahomes and Tyreek Hill will be part of a “dream team” in Los Angeles.

Mexico crushed the United States 39-6 in the final of the 2022 World Games in Birmingham, Alabama. But quarterback Vanita Krouch and the Americans avenged the loss with a 26-21 victory in July for gold in the Americas tournament.

The two teams now turn their attention to the World Championships in Finland in August. The Americans are two-time defending champions — the men have won four golds in a row — although the competition now seems more open.

“Finland 2024 now looks very competitive,” said Flores, 26 years old. “Right now, we’re the team to beat, you could say, which puts a lot of responsibility on our shoulders.”

In Europe, the United Kingdom and its quarterback Brittany Botterill, who was born in the United States to a British father, beat Spain in the continental final in August.

The Olympic designation will allow some teams to find funds to hold training camps. Right now, many players pay for their own travel and have to take time off from their jobs or school to compete.

That flag football is part of the Olympic program is a great victory for the NFL, which has been strongly pushing the international market in search of new fans. An international star of Flores’ caliber would be an added bonus for the league.

A total of 65 men and women from 37 countries competed in international tournaments this year, according to the International Federation of American Football, making it the largest cycle for the sport. The World Championships in Finland will include 10 men’s and women’s teams.

The Mexican women’s team has won the title three times — the last in 2012. Panama won two years later before the United States had back-to-back titles. The last women’s champion who did not come from the American continent was France in 2006, in the third edition of the event.

Flores, who is studying a master’s degree, finished the season with his university team and is now preparing for a camp with the national team.