HAVANA._ Cuba‘s ambition to retain second place at the medal table at the Pan American games will be difficult to realize in the forthcoming 17th edition, scheduled to run from July 10 to 26 in the Canadian city of Toronto.

The Caribbean island rose to this privileged position in the 1971 Games of Cali, Colombia, and only abandoned it once; to be crowned champions when it hosted the Games in Havana in 1991.

Although acknowledging this will be a difficult endeavour, Antonio Becalli, president of the Cuban Sports Institute (INDER for its Spanish acronym), has confirmed that the aspiration is to hold second place.

Cuba‘s ambition to retain second place at the medal table at the Pan American games will be difficult to realize in the forthcoming 17th edition, scheduled to run from July 10 to 26 in the Canadian city of Toronto.He recalled that Canada is a potent adversary, very well prepared and with the advantage of hosting the Games; something they demonstrated when they organized the 1999  edition in Winnipeg and doubled their number of gold medals won in previous Games.

Brazil, which is preparing to host the 2016 Rio Olympics, is another serious contender as it is attaining very good results, such as those at the recent World Swimming Championships - the best ever, Becalli commented.

These three nations have traditionally been behind the U.S. in their medal quest.

The latter comfortably leads the overall table with 4,151 medals, of which 1,839 are gold, 1,374 silver and 938 are bronze. Cuba is next with (1,933 / 840--564--529), followed by Canada (1694 /378--587--729) and Brazil (1064 / 287--318--459).

In the 2011 Guadalajara Games, the Cuban delegation took 10 titles more than Brazil (58-48) although the South Americans took a greater overall tally of medals (141-136). Canada came fifth with 119 medals, of which 30 were gold.

SIGNS AND OBSTACLES ON THE ROAD

Beyond the Canadian and Brazilian rivalry, the Cubans will have an almost impassable
obstacle to overcome: their absence from more than one hundred of the competitions
organized.

According to the INDER high performance director, Jose Antonio Miranda, Cuba will participate in only 232 of 365 of the planned trials and in just 25 of the 36 sports included in the Games´ program.

To date, the Island‘s delegation comprises 403 competitors although this number is likely to rise to 472, because there are 69 athletics, swimming, fencing and tennis athletes waiting to have their qualifications confirmed.

It is in track and field, boxing, wrestling, artistic gymnastics, weightlifting and rowing events that Cuba has historically collected its Pan American medals.

Athletics account for 348 medals, of which 127 are gold while weightlifters have won 224 medals, including 157 gold.

Boxers have a total of 116 medals and 84 gold and wrestlers have taken 92 titles from 200 podium places.

Artistic gymnasts have been crowned 71 times, winning 180 medals and rowers have accumulated a total of 95 medals of which 37 are gold, 21 are silver and 37 bronze.

There is also more good news to add: in Dayo, last May 16, triple jumper Pedro Pablo Pichardo made the third best jump of all times (18.06) and a few days later jumped 18.08 m in Havana.

Also, the more than thirty year old national discus record of 68.2m was broken by Dania Caballero with a formidable throw of 69.51.

In an impressive display of skill, the Cuban Tamers qualified undefeated for the
World Boxing Series finals with 5 of their 10 fighters having ensured their tickets to the
Rio-2016 Olympics.

Last month at Anadia, Portugal, gymnast Manrique Larduet took three titles (freehand, vault and horizontal bar) and his teammate Marcia Videaux won gold in the
vault horse.

Meanwhile, rower Angel Fournier once again exhibited his skills at the first round of the World Cup in the Slovenian city of Bled, winning gold in the open singles.

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