Career Highlights: Mexico has won five medals in taekwondo at the Olympics - placing it fifth overall - but it didn’t pick up a gold until Perez took the stage in Beijing, defeating Gabriel Mercedes on Aug. 20, 2008, to win the 58-kg category. It was the first gold for Mexico of any kind since the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, and only the second since 1984, though countrywoman Maria Espinoza ultimately gave Mexico another by winning the heavyweight division just three days later. Perez began taekwondo at age 5 after being inspired by Bruce Lee films, and just five years later he won his first state tournament. He won the national infant competition in 1989 and placed second in his first international competition in 1995. One year later, he won the Taekwondo U.S. Open, after which he moved to Puebla to train with former Mexican gold medalist Williams De Jesus Cordova, who won gold in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics when taekwondo was still just a demonstration sport. Perez became part of the Mexican taekwondo team in 1999 during the Pan-Am Games, placed ninth in the 2005 World Taekwondo Championships and won the silver in that event two years later - the closest he’d come to gold prior to his Olympic glory.