For the next three weeks, the eyes of the sporting world will be on Japan as the Tokyo Olympic Games are underway.
Among the athletes who will take center stage is Real Salt Lake forward Douglas Martinez, who helped lead Honduras to the Olympics with a stellar Concacaf Qualifying tournament earlier this year. With the tournament kicking off for Honduras on Thursday at 5 a.m. MT against Romania, Martinez has a tremendous opportunity in Japan over the next seven days as Honduras looks to advance out of a group that also features New Zealand and South Korea.
“It’s a beautiful feeling being able to represent more than eight million people, and seeing your flag waving in a faraway land,” Martinez said. “Carrying the five stars in my heart will always be wonderful to me.”
The 24-year-old Martinez is in his third season in the RSL organization after first signing with the Real Monarchs in 2019. After leading the Monarchs to the USL Championship title with 16 goals and seven assists in 22 regular season matches and a solid showing in the playoffs, he made the move to Real Salt Lake and netted two goals in 18 regular season appearances in 2020 while also adding a third in the MLS Is Back Quarterfinals. This season he has one goal and two assists in six matches with the Monarchs while playing on loan from RSL, where he has six appearances thus far.
His growth has also come on the international level. In addition to his time with the U-23s in Olympic Qualifying, Martinez has one goal in four caps for Honduras, playing in one friendly and three matches in Concacaf Nations League.
“If you want to continue to progress up the ladder, then you have to be dominant in your age group so people consider you for the next level,” RSL Head Coach Freddy Juarez said. “He’s been able to do that here and he adjusts well. His physical attributes have allowed him to do that and his work ethic day-to-day show people that he’s going to continue to grow. The energy and the commitment that he puts into training every day have been important.”
Honduras has a successful history in the tournament, reaching the semifinals at the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. Throughout qualifying this year, Honduras showed that that run was no fluke, topping its group before besting the U.S. in the semifinals and taking Mexico to penalties in the final.
With that as a backdrop, Honduras aims to go on another run in Japan this year.
“At the last Olympics, our soccer team did really well. They made it to the semifinals. Now our goal is going all the way,” Martinez said. “We dream of winning the gold medal, but we know that we will have to fight and suffer to achieve it. Honduran players are known for always being brave. We put our hearts into the game and always leave it all on the field. That is the way Hondurans are.”
Although watching the matches live will be challenging because of their start times – 5 a.m. on Thursday, 2 a.m. on Sunday and 2:30 a.m. in the group stage finale on Wednesday, July 28 - Juarez and his staff have plans to watch each match either live or recorded during the day following the match. Staff throughout the club will be following closely, as his participation is a point of pride for the whole organization. Juarez was beaming with enthusiasm for Martinez for his progress as a player and the opportunity to play in the Olympics that development has afforded him.
“It’s a worldwide stage,” Juarez said. “There are going to be eyes from all over the world watching and when he gets into a game, he’s got to give it his everything. We’re all cheering for Dougie.”
KSL and Telemundo are the local homes for the Olympic coverage and matches can also be streamed on NBCOlympics.com, NBCSports.com and PeacockTV.com.