CUBA SETS OFF FOR

On Cuba - - SPORTS | DEPORTES - ABRA­HAM JIMÉNEZ ENOA

THE PLANET HAS STOPPED MOV­ING: WE ARE IN TIMES OF OLYMPIC GAMES. SIGHTS ARE SET ON RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL. THE OLYMPIC GAMES TAKE UP EV­ERY­ONE’S AT­TEN­TION, THE BRAZIL­IAN CITY BE­COMES THE AM­BAS­SADOR OF UNI­VER­SAL SPORT, CAP­I­TAL OF THE BEST IN THE WORLD OF MUS­CLES.

Cuba will travel to Rio with a sin­gle ob­jec­tive: to change the im­age left in the last pre­sen­ta­tions un­der the five rings. With a del­e­ga­tion of more than 120 ath­letes, the Cubans plan to sur­pass the bit­ter days of Bei­jing 2008 (where they ranked 33rd, with two gold medals) and London 2012 (16th place, with five gold medals).

Re­gard­ing this plan, An­to­nio Be­cali, pres­i­dent of the Na­tional In­sti­tute of Sports, Phys­i­cal Ed­u­ca­tion and Recre­ation (INDER), told us: “We are go­ing to the Olympic Games with a very op­ti­mistic spirit to reach a great re­sult. There are sport dis­ci­plines with greater op­tions for ti­tles and medals, box­ing will con­tinue be­ing our f lag­ship, but it is ex­pected that judo, wrestling, track and field, as well as taek­wondo and artis­tic gym­nas­tics must also con­trib­ute medals.”

Cuba has won 209 medals in Olympic Games, 72 of which have been gold; an im­por­tant per­for­mance for an is­land of only 11 mil­lion in­hab­i­tants and dif­fi­cul­ties that pre­vent the op­ti­mum training and in­cen­tive of its ath­letes

Be­cali also be­lieves that “we have many op­tions in row­ing, shoot­ing, cy­cling, but I must high­light that all the sports want to con­trib­ute to the har­vest of medals, they all have in their minds get­ting to the podium. Cuba will go to Rio seek­ing a bet­ter re­sult than in the past Olympics; I have no doubts about that.”

And the thing is that Cuba, while it hasn’t stopped be­ing a world power in sports, its re­sults and fig­ures have de­clined in elite events. The mass ex­o­dus of high-per­for­mance ath­letes, the coun­try’s de­fi­cient sports poli­cies and the sports ascent and de­vel­op­ment in na­tions that un­til a few years ago didn’t even get a peek of the podi­ums, have led to the level of Cuban sports to not be at the height of a few decades ago.

Julio César La Cruz, cap­tain of the box­ing team, com­mented: “Box­ing has al­ways been the in­spi­ra­tion in the Olympics, we have the re­spon­si­bil­ity of keep­ing up with this and of defin­ing the medal ta­ble. We are go­ing with all we’ve got. We want to demon­strate that Cuban sports con­tin­ues be­ing the same and we want to present that big gift to the Cuban peo­ple, who de­serve it.”

Cuba will surely not be able to equal in Rio its feat in Barcelona 1992, when af­ter be­ing ab­sent from Los An­ge­les 1984 and Seoul 1988, it won on Span­ish soil a to­tal of 31 medals (14 gold), to rank in a pres­ti­gious fifth place in the world. It will be very dif­fi­cult this time to sur­pass the eighth place of At­lanta 1996 and its nine gold medals, or Syd­ney 2000 and its ninth place with 11 first places.

But it’s not crazy to go as far as fore­cast­ing that the Cuban ath­letes can re­turn to the top ten of the Olympic Games. With the box­ing team in top shape; track and field headed by Yarisley Silva, Pe­dro Pablo Pichardo and De­nia Ca­ballero; with Mi­jaín López and the wrestlers; Idalys Or­tiz and the ju­dokas, plus Rafael Alba in taek­wondo, Cuba can round off a per­for­mance that re­turns it to star po­si­tions in sum­mer meet­ings.

CUBA OCUPA EL PUESTO 18 EN EL LISTADO HISTÓRICO DE CITAS ESTIVALES, EN GRAN MEDIDA POR EL APORTE DE LAS DIS­CI­PLINAS DE COMBATE ( BOXEO, JUDO, LUCHA Y TAEK­WONDO)

Mi­jaín López, who is vy­ing for the third con­sec­u­tive Olympic crown, will be the stan­dard-bearer of the Cuban del­e­ga­tion. The Pi­nar del Río wrestler told us: “These Olympic Games will be dif­fer­ent from the oth­ers. We are bet­ter pre­pared and, in my case, it will be my last Olympics, thus I want to bid my peo­ple farewell with all the works, bring­ing back my third gold medal.”

Per­haps the gen­er­a­tional change is marked by Manrique Larduet, a young crack gym­nas­tics that has brought Cuba back to the elite of that dis­ci­pline. “I am very anx­ious and re­ally want to win in Rio, I’m sure that some­thing big will hap­pen, ex­pect the best, for­get the re­cent past, for­get that we are young, just place your trust in us be­cause we won’t dis­ap­point you.”

The Olympic fire is al­ready lit. The lights of the leg­endary Mara­caná have been turned on, Cuba is in Rio, the jour­ney has be­gun. The Olympics are here.

MANRIQUE LARDUET

(Gim­na­sia artís­tica). Cam­peón y mul­ti­medal­lista en los XXII Jue­gos Cen­troamer­i­canos y del Caribe Ver­acruz 2014. Ob­tuvo medal­las en el III Cam­pe­onato Mun­dial y la Copa del Mundo de Gim­na­sia artís­tica 2016. (Gym­nas­tics), Cham­pion and multi medal­ist in the 22nd Cen­tral Amer­i­can and Caribbean Games Ver­acruz 2014. Won medals in the 3rd World Cham­pi­onship and the 2016 World Gym­nas­tics Cup.

MAR­LIES MEJÍAS

(Ci­clismo). Medal­lista panamer­i­cana y Cam­pe­ona cen­troamer­i­cana en los XXII Jue­gos cel­e­bra­dos en Ver­acruz en el año 2014. (Cy­cling). Pan Amer­i­can medal­ist and Cen­tral Amer­i­can Cham­pion in the 22nd Games held in Ver­acruz in 2014.

ASLEY GONZÁLEZ

( Judo). Cuban sports glory. London 2012 Olympic Games run­ner-up. World cham­pion at the 29th World Judo Cham­pi­onship, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. ( Judo). Glo­ria del de­porte cubano.Sub­cam­peón de los Jue­gos Olímpi­cos de Lon­dres 2012. Cam­peón mun­dial del XXIX Cam­pe­onato Mun­dial de Judo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil.

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