Cuban Boxing: Fists, Strengths, and Tokyo's Cruel Stage

Cuban boxing will have in the Tokyo Olympic Games, one of the cruelest tournaments ever in history. This prediction can be verified from the qualifying tournament with venue in Buenos Aires (March 26 to April 3).

As it happens the boxing level in the continent has grown a lot, and there’s also the dormant possibility that some countries can reach an agreement with several of their professional boxers and have them fight, as part of a competition granting 33 visas for men (five in 52, 57 and 63 kg; four in 69, 75, and 81; and three in 91 and over 91 kg), as part of the continental competitions.

If our eight boxers can’t win their access there, there will be one last option at world level, scheduled for May and only 16 places to fulfill at the rate of two in each category.

With all and this panorama, Alberto Puig de la Barca, president of the Cuban Boxing Federation said that the main purpose in the road to the Olympic Games is that our eight athletes win their ticket in the Argentine capital ...

“A very detailed participation has been designed with goal of achieving our objectives. There is a very favorable atmosphere and work capacity among the shortlisted team and they have attained good results in the competitions held here with the Uzbekistan team, and more recently in the academy installed by the International Association in the Kazakh city of Almaty.

There, the nine attending boxers had the chance of sparring and training with the Hungarian and Japanese teams, and more than 30 members of the local elite, including several world medalists.

By the way, the rest of candidates for the pre-Olympic kept training hard at the National School, where this Thursday will take place control fights prior the definition of the eight boxers.

“We must start from the idea that we will initially arrive in Tokyo with two less chances, since there will be eight categories for men instead of ten, in addition to five women categories, another turndown.

I can tell you in advance that for Paris 2024 it’s expected the same number of men and women divisions.

There is no stress regarding the qualifier. It’s a strength to have several athletes in different categories with possibilities, the result of a great internal rivalry between first and second ranked athletes for years.

That demands to always give the extra for those considered the main figures of each weight. In fact, in the recently finished Playa Girón competition, the event with the highest technical and logistic level in recent years, all the finals were among the first and second ranked figures in the country. Everything as expected".

Taking a Closer Loook

Entering more precise projections on who could represent us, the official said that in 52 kg the balance is tilted in favor of Damián Arce (52 kg) before the winner in the World Competition and the Playa Giron tournament Yosbany Veitía. Arce is vigorous and engages quickly, he needs to work on his defense, in addition Veitía engaged in indiscipline, and has shown instability in his most recent international participations.

Although he repeated that the decision to prioritize those in best shape applies to all weight categories.

In fact, similar situations appear in the 57 kg (Osviel Caballero and Lázaro Álvarez), and in the 69 (Roniel Iglesias and Kevin Brown), on the other hand with a smoother path are Andy Cruz (63), Yoenlis Hernández (75) , the raising Arlen López (81) and Julio César La Cruz (91), closing the young Dainier Peró (+91).

The team will have a ten-day training based in Germany, starting on February 9th, and he advanced that they will have other international stops, including altitude training. That could probably be in Japan, to work on the jetlag, climate and food on Japanese grounds.

Regarding women's boxing, Puig said that feasibility studies and meetings continue with the highest officials of the Women Organization in Cuba. “Positive steps have been taken. When a consensus is reached, a strategy for its further development will begin. The spirituality of the Cuban woman is very favorable for her to succeed in combat sports and historically this has been proven in competitions at any level. "

A look at the Cuban boxing in the Olympic Games show that the well-known spearhead team is second in the medal list with a record of 37 gold, 19 silvers and 17 bronzes, only surpassed by the United States (50-24-40).

Yipsi, the Lady of the Hammer Throwing

With her birthday on such notorious date as November 19th, Day of Physical Culture and Sports in Cuba, Yipsi Moreno was meant to shine in athletic sports.

In Agramonte town, in the central-eastern province of Camagüey, she took her first steps in 1981, although it wasn’t until 15 years later that her name began to sound nationwide, when she broke the domestic record on her specialty after a throw of 64.54 meters in 1999.

In that same season she did not stop until she obtained the youth world record with 66.34 meters, which reaffirmed her as the greatest promise on the specialty, besides winning the second place in Winnipeg 1999 Pan American Games, with a record of 63.03.

In Sydney 2000, with only 19 years old, she ended fourth, and a year later she would climb for the first time to the top of the podium in a top-level competition, when in the world championship of Edmonton she surpassed the Russian Olga Kuzenkova by only four centimeters (70.65 by 70.61). It was the birth of a star in the sky of athletics.

In 2003 her specialty was a walk in the park and won again the World Championship in Paris, where she shattered all the hopes of the local Manuela Montebrun.

Earlier she won at the Pan American Games of Santo Domingo, despite the harsh rivalry of the Trinitarian Candice Scott. That year she raised the bar to 75.14 meters as her best achievement.

Although on paper she was favorite to win the clear gold medal in the Olympic Games of Athens 2004, she finished runner-up, unprecedented in the history of that discipline in Cuba, and the bronze medal went to the neck of her compatriot Yunaika Crawford.

In April that same year, she had thrown 75.18 meters in Savona, Italy, and the world record was expected to be broken before her foreseeable drive.

However, only two valid shots doomed her to second place on the awards podium of Athens, behind Kuzenkova, who probably made the best competition of her life (75.05) and snatched the golden dream from Yipsi (73.36 ).

She also won a silver medal in the World Championship of Helsinki 2005, with a record of 73.08, under 75.10 of the veteran Russian hammer thrower. Anyway in her heart there was nothing but happiness, because she was coming out of a serious of injuries and with a lot of training time lost in physical recovery plans.

However, in the world final of hammer throwing, with venue at the Hungarian city of Szombathely, Yipsi surpassed all her competitors. Her 74.75 score left behind no less than the last two Olympic champions: Poland's Kamila Skolimowska (Sydney 2000), and Kuzenkova (Athens 2004).

On top of that, she sent off the podium the world record holder, the Russian Tatiana Lysenko (77.06 meters on July 15th that year), fourth now at the Magyar event.

2007 saw her break the continental barrier in the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, reaching 75.20 meters, well away from the remaining medalists, her colleague Arasay Thondike (68.70) and Argentina's Jennifer Dahlgren (68.32).

In the World Cup that year she finished just two centimeters behind the gold medal, with 74.74 meters against 74.76 of the German Betty Heidler, the comeback took place the following year, in the Beijing Olympic Games.

In the competition she finished second, with 75.20 meters, behind the Belarusian Aksana Miankova, but years later it was found that the European athlete had competed under the effect of drugs, and the gold medal went to her in 2016, a bit late, but it was hers. Two years earlier she had officially retired after winning the Central American and the Caribbean Games of Veracruz 2014, leaving a score for these competitions of (71,35).

She currently works as National Commissioner of Athletics, and she is also a Member of the State Council, but nobody forgets the Lady of the Hammer Throwing.

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Significant changes to Olympic bid process approved by IOC Session

International Olympic Committee (IOC) members have approved a series of proposals set to dramatically change the bidding process for the Olympic Games, including ending the seven-year period before the event is awarded and creating powerful commissions to control the selection of the host city.

The IOC Session gave unanimous backing to the changes, including those to the Olympic Charter, here today.

It marked the latest step in a considerable overhaul of the troubled bid process.

The alterations, initiated following a spate of withdrawals for recent edition of the Summer and Winter Olympics will come into force once the Executive Board has determined how exactly they will be implemented but they could be used to select the host from as early as 2030.

Under the reforms, devised by a working group chaired by Australia's John Coates, a flexible timeline has been installed by removing from the Olympic Charter the requirement for the host city to be elected seven years in advance.

Separate Future Host Commissions will be set up for the Summer and Winter Games to replace the current IOC Evaluation Commission.

They will comprise 10 and eight members, respectively, and will be tasked with targeting and eventually recommending cities or joint-bid concepts to the IOC Executive Board before it is put to the Session.

The Session will remain the supreme body for the host city election but it is likely to have less of a say than under the previous process.

The changes were made following proposals made by a working group chaired by John Coates ©IOC
The changes were made following proposals made by a working group chaired by John Coates ©IOC

IOC President Thomas Bach has admitted it is possible only one candidate could be proposed to stage the Games by the Executive Board based on the recommendation of the Future Host Commission.

The Future Host Commissions, which have become part of the Charter following Session approval, will be made up of members who do not sit on the Executive Board.

The IOC Executive Board will choose the members on each of the two Commissions, while officials will be removed from the panel if their city or country is among those to express an interest in hosting the Games.

Cities considering entering the race for future editions of the Olympic Games will be asked to hold a referendum if so required before they can be considered as a candidate.

"We cannot, I suggest, continue to be damaged as we have in the past," Coates told the Session.

A change to the charter to reflect how candidatures can come from multiple cities, regions or countries was also approved and the Host City Contract will now simply be called the "Host Contract".

The changes on how the Olympic Games host will be picked follows Bach claiming that, under the current model, there are "too many losers".

In future, there might not be an election at all and the IOC Session will mainly be asked to approve a candidate to stage the Games.

Changes to the Olympic Charter regarding the process to award host cities was approved by the Session ©IOC
Changes to the Olympic Charter regarding the process to award host cities was approved by the Session ©IOC

The IOC has also claimed the updated process offers greater flexibility, while Coates suggested further double awards following the decision to give Paris and Los Angeles the 2024 and 2028 Olympic Games, respectively, in 2017 were "fully possible".

Coates told reporters that it was now up to cities to understand the new system now the radical changes have been given the green light.

"The challenge for them is to understand that this is not just putting up a candidature and rolling along with that for a number of years and then being considered before a vote by the Session," he said.

"This should lead to a much more thorough appraisal at a much earlier stage but on the positive side gives them the opportunity to be told it is is not good enough.

"You have got to show us that you have the Government support if you want to take this forward, for example.

"If you don't, we will continue to work with you towards a later one."

The approval followed extensive questioning at the Session, with IOC doyen Richard Pound warning of the potential issue of Future Host City Commissions members approaching cities directly and without prior approval from the group.

"We have been pronounced dead on many occasions," Pound said.

"We cannot change the winds but we can adjust our sails.

"We can’t have people in dinghies rowing secretly ashore, there has to be some indication of interest."

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South Korea Plans to Approach DPRK for Hosting 2032 Summer Olympics

The Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism of South Korea, Do Jong-hwan, declared here today that his country plans to run jointly with the Democratic People''s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to host the 2032 Olympics.

According to the official, this initiative is likely to be put forward at the summit to be held this month by the leaders of both countries and the aim is to contribute to lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Do even said that at this Wednesday's meeting in Tokyo with his counterparts from Japan and China he would propose the attendance of a unified Korean delegation to the 2020 Games to be held in the Japanese capital.

DPRK and South Korea marched in a single block under the Unification Flag and formed a women's hockey team during the PyeongChang-2018 Winter Olympics.

This was one of the agreements reached by their governments in early January to coordinate the North's attendance at the event, which was called the Peace Olympics for bringing Seoul and Pyongyang closer together.

Then, the two nations paraded again in the same way at the opening ceremony of the recent 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia.

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WBSC names SSK as Official Ball for Premier12, 2020 Olympic Baseball and Baseball World Cups

The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) and the Osaka-based SSK Corporation today announced a partnership expansion that makes the iconic Japanese brand the Exclusive/Official Competition Ball and Kit Supplier of baseball’s biggest upcoming international events through 2020, including the top-tier 2019 Premier12, the 2020 Olympic Games and 2018-2020 Baseball World Cups.

The agreement expands upon WBSC and SSK’s already existing global partnership, which made SSK the exclusive Umpire Kit Supplier for the inaugural 2015 Premier12 and Baseball World Cups (U-12, U-15, U-18, U-23, and Women’s) for the 2015-2020 cycle.

As part of the newly expanded agreement, and beginning with the upcoming WBSC U-15 Baseball World Cup 2018 in Panama this August, SSK will have a major presence on the field of play of WBSC international baseball events, with the umpires kit, WBSC officials apparel and competition ball all derived from SSK’s elite product line.

In addition, the SSK logo will be featured on all outfield fences and within team dugouts, and the SSK corporate video will be shown on the scoreboard during select WBSC Premier12 and Baseball World Cup games. The innovative Japanese baseball brand will also have an in-stadium presence that includes space for setting up exhibitions. SSK will also have the right to use the WBSC, Baseball World Cup and Premier12 logos for other promotional and advertising activity.

WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari said: “Only an iconic and elite baseball brand like SSK could be trusted to fill this critical role during what will be some of the most impactful and most watched international baseball events in history. WBSC is delighted to welcome SSK as the Official Competition Ball and Kit Supplier of international baseball and expand upon our partnership that has spanned more than 20 years. With committed partners like SSK, we will continue to drive baseball into a new and golden global era.”

SSK President Kyoichi Sasaki said: “SSK’s brand motto is ‘Baseball, it’s our game’. We strive to connect the world through the sport of baseball and help them achieve a better life. SSK will be providing official competition balls to Baseball World Cups of all categories, from U-12 to professional – competitions that crown the best baseball country in the world. SSK has been supporting WBSC with umpire gear and apparels for over 20 years, and through this agreement with WBSC, we aim to contribute to baseball’s further development in the world.”

Established in 1950, SSK has evolved into one of the most elite and innovative baseball brands whose products are used by many top professional players and clubs around the world.

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Seven-Inning Baseball?

Not the first time the topic is approached, and by the same person, because the chairman of the World Confederation of Baseball and Softball, Italian Ricardo Fraccari has been long pleading for changes in the rules so that, baseball especially becomes more attractive in countries where is not practiced regularly, and stays in the official program of the Olympic Games.

After appearing uninterruptedly since Barcelona-1992 until Beijing-2008, this sport will return to the Olympic games of Tokyo-2020, but Fraccari wants it to stay for good. Fraccari has considered vital the introduction of a few changes to do it more attractive and especially, shorter in time-consuming.

He insists, and he is certainly right about it that the dynamics of current times is that the youth worldwide is not willing to spend more than three hours watching a ball game, when at the same time other sports are on.

That is the main reason for which he has promoted changes, and the most polemic and radical is to downsize the baseball to seven innings.

Purists fall off their seats, but the question here is to be or not to be. Do we prefer to respect rules but remain on the sidelines of the Games? Those who wish to be in the Games must adapt, and the most radical measure is in fact the one of reducing innings.

In his condition as member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Fraccari realized that doping cases or the lack of the most upper-class professionals was not a big problem, because that also affects other sports. However, in a board of European majority, from countries that don’t play baseball massively, the time used is a key factor. Also, other sports have made important modifications to their rules, but not baseball, and that is also seen as an expression of willing to adapt.

On the other hand, baseball keeps the same rules of its origins, and the little changes done to shorten the time of the game (base on balls with a pitch, chronometer for pitchers, etc.) have not produced a remarkable change in the duration of matches, as it would certainly do to play only seven innings.

I particularly like baseball as it is, but as I mentioned at the beginning, it’s to adapt or die, and I’d rather like the Olympic tournament to be played to seven innings, before none is played. Boxing has different rules in its Olympic style, soccer has age limit, basketball also modifies its rules regarding professionals, however, they are included in the Olympic Games, and it’s enjoyed with its variants.

Baseball could do it too, and keep these regulations only for the Games and its classificatory tournaments. In the end, statistically most challenges are decided before the eighth inning, although to the eye what’s left are the spectacular plays of the ninth inning, or beyond.

It would be a remarkable change, actually, but less traumatic than the other variants on the table, as to leave the count in two strikes and three balls, or similar proposals.

It’s to be or not to be in the Olympic Games, and I’d rather be, although that’s the price to pay for it.

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Did Usain Bolt do well Running one More Year?

Watching the bitter farewell to the best sprinter of all times, many wonder if Usain Bolt should have said good-bye after winning his third Olympic gold medal in a row.

But first let’s turn to the motives to stay. Competitively, he had given all he had; he wasn’t interested either, judging by the little interest he showed in his training for this competition. Then, why continue?

He said he wanted to dedicate his last campaign to his fans and, although I don't distrust of his good intentions, it doesn’t seem as a convincing argument to me.

Now we get to the point: how much did Bolt win to continue for one more year? According to Forbes magazine, almost always well informed in money issues, it was more than 30 million dollars earned by the Jamaican bolt this season.

The greater part was not earned winning races, not even running, but by sponsoring. That is, no matter what he did, his account was going to get fat enough. It’s not like he desperately needed it, because in his brilliant career as a runner he is estimated to earn around 150 millions, but not bad to keep going for a few months without the pressure of having to win it all neither the demand of the gyms.

We go back to our opening question: did he do well or bad?

To me, watching Bolt is a unique show, and these months have been a priceless gift. It’s also true he didn't have the expected ending, but we must not forget his opponents trained with only one objective in mind to defeat him, and if he is not at his best, it could happen what we saw in the 100-meter final.

The lesion in the relief final was no surprise either, because when you push your body to the limit and you haven’t had the necessary training for that, lesions occur, as it just happened to him.

I have dreamt these last days that he is not injured and he performs the feat of surpassing Christian Coleman and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, as he did many times before with other rivals, but it’s just that, an impossible dream.

Anyway, I feel privileged to have seen all his career, and this bad moment does not clouds his legend, neither erases his message that to be the best it’s not necessary to get dope, but working very hard. The bolt fades, but thunders will come.

Amilkal Labañino Valdés/ Cubasi Translation Staff

Paris and Los Angeles Will Be 2024 and 2028 Olympic Hosts

While hosting the Olympic games are a massive responsibility, the role is one that comes with tremendous honor as well. Which is why residents and city officials in Paris and Los Angeles are both elated by the recent news that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) voted unanimously to approve a plan awarding the 2024 and 2028 Summer Olympic Games to the competing cities.

Although the two cities have been determined, there still remains a few outstanding questions. One major uncertainty is which city will host each year. In order to find a verdict, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, and the IOC have until September 13 to work out a deal. “We welcome the executive board’s decision to recognize two excellent bids from two of the world’s greatest cities,” said LA Mayor Garcetti prior to the vote, in a statement. “We look forward to working together maybe not in competition but collaboration with Paris. LA is ready to throw these Olympics in two months, if we were asked, or two decades if it came to that. LA is ready because the infrastructure, the love and the vision to make sure it’s something that serves this movement and serves the people of our city."

Of course, inviting the world to your city for the Olympics brings a host of opportunities—both in terms of profits as well as rebuilding infrastructure (not only for aesthetics, but to ensure visitors are safe and can quickly move from one location to the next). According to the Council on Foreign Relations, at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, for example, there $2.6 billion in broadcasting revenue from the television right fees. Much like previous hosts, Paris and Los Angelese would have to build new, or update pre-existing infrastructure. Which is preciously what Tokyo is in the midst of doing as they prepare to host the 2020 Olympics. Other cities that were vying for the upcoming games included: Rome, Budapest, and Hamburg.

  • Published in Sports
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