HAVANA.- The results of the participation of the masses in sport in Cuba could once again be seen at the Pan-American Games in Canada, Toronto-2015, where medal winners hailed from all over the island.
Continental canoe queen, Yusmary Mengana, Cuba’s single biggest winner, took three titles: K-1 200m and 500m and K-2 500m.
Mengana was born on October 25, 1993 in the special municipality of the Isle of Youth, some 142 km south of Havana. Training initially at the Elisa Zaldivar Canoe Academy where she produced promising results, she was accepted by the National Athletics Higher School for Improvement.
The Cuban delegation’s youngest medal winner, 15- year old Marcia Videaux who won gold in the gymnastic vault horse, commenced her career in her native city of Manzanillo, in the east of Cuba, from where she joined the National School for her discipline.
A somewhat similar route was taken by another gymnast Manrique Larduet, from the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba and winner of four medals; a gold in the vault-horse, silver in both all-round and parallel bars and bronze for his performance on rings.
Videaux and Larduet put an end to Cuba’s bad streak in continental artistic gymnastics competitions since Santo Domingo-2003. The country’s last titles were won 12 years ago by Erick Lopez, who came first in six disciplines.
Bejing-2008 bronze medal winner in shooting Eglys de la Cruz, from the center of Cuba, dominated the rifle event in three positions from 50m, to take her third Pan-American crown, having previously won in Santo Domingo-2003 and Rio de Jainero-2007.
Born on April 12, 1980 in the city of Sancti Spiritus, De la Cruz commenced her career at the Lino Salabarria Sports Initiation School (EIDE in Spanish).
Canoeist Jorge Garcia, winner of three medals in Toronto: two gold (K-1 and K-2 1,000m) and one silver(K-2 200m)is also a graduate of that same school.
Judoca Idalys Ortiz, Olympic champion in London-2012 and world champion in Janeiro-2013 and Cheliabinsk-2014, is another of the Cuban monarchs in the Pan-American Games who shows that sport in Cuba is by no means confined to the country’s capital, or to male competitors.
Ortiz is a native of the western city of Pinar del Río, where she especially stood out in the Ormano Arenado Llonch EIDE before later joining the national pre-selection squad in her discipline.
Such sporting success could never have even been imagined prior to the triumph of the Cuban Revolution in 1959 due to the lack of state support, and an absence of sporting infrastructure, planning and dedicated schooling.
Evidence for this success is found in the country’s undeniable results from cadet stage in 25 disciplines at the Olympics, World-hampionships, Central-American championships, and Pan-American championships despite limited resources as a consequence of the US-imposed blockade.
Furthermore, Cuba is the only nation in the world which offers Physical Education from pre-school to first grade through to fourth grade, in special education and up until the second year of university.
The Caribbean island also contributes to the development of other nations through their International School of Physical Education and Sports, from which – in addition to the students from 85 countries presently in residence – more than 2,000 have graduated.Share on FB Share on TT