Cuba: Women's Judo Team Reaches Top Competition

“Our aim is for the whole team to qualify for next year’s regional competition,” said Felix Portuondo, head coach of the women's team.

The women's judo team of Cuba has reached the Barranquilla 2018 Central American and Caribbean Games, which is scheduled to take place from Oct. 28-29.

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“Our aim is for the whole team to qualify for next year’s regional competition,” said Felix Portuondo, head coach of the women's team. He stressed that Cuba's main contender in the tournament will be Mexico, according to Granma.

“Yanisleidys Ponciano from Havana will be competing in the 44kg division, a tough athlete with a strong chance of making it to the final. World Championship medal winner Melissa Hurtado will represent Cuba in the 48kg. Her main rival will be Pan American Games silver medalist Edna Carrillo of Mexico."

Portuondo conceded that Hurtado appeared “a lot stronger” during her training sessions in Budapest.

Also participating in the competition will be Yurisleidi Hernandez. Portuondo commented that Mexican judoka Luz Olvera, a gold recipient in the Cancun's Grand Prix and silver at the Pan-Am Championships, will be her main rival. Despite stiff competition posed by Olvera, Portuondo exalted Hernandez's high-level of discipline and training routine, saying that such qualities are a winning combination.

Anailys Dorvigni, yet another member of Cuba's women judoka team who participated in Budapest, will take to the tatami in the Dominican Republic. She's scheduled to fight against Germany's Miryam Roper who is ranked fourth in the world.

“Maylin del Toro is competing in the 63kg, and it shouldn’t be too difficult for her to win gold,” Portuondo said.

However, he concluded that Olga Masferrer, from Holguin, “will face stiff competition in the 70kg."

"This is the hardest weight group to predict, and will feature Colombia’s Yuri Alvear - bronze medal winner in Budapest and ranked second in the world; Elvismar Rodríguez of Venezuela, number three in the global ranking; and Maria Perez of Puerto Rico, current World silver medalist.”

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Barranquilla 2018: The Power of Cuba Grows Difficult

Cuba will try to keep the Center-Caribbean hegemony that holds since Panama 1970 in Barranquilla 2018, the path is very complicated and the drive of countries like the host country Colombia and Mexico.

Almost after four years since Veracruz 2014 is the most recent experience. Many will remember that the struggle in the medals board between Cuba and the host country was neck-to-neck, defined with a spectacular closing by the athletics (23-15-8) that launched Cuba to the top of the medals board retaining the condition of kings in the global board (123-66-65). Mexico (115-106-111), Colombia (70-75-78) and Venezuela (56-79-110) came next. Mexicans fixed a chronogram, including a few sports like squash to their advantage, which doesn’t mean they have had boost in quality in the last years in several sports. Therefore the open struggle with Cubans.

Is no secret the fact that sports have experienced a sudden development after the Olympic Games of Barcelona 1992. Several variables have helped: limitless merchandizing, meteoric ascent of sport shows as the stage of a very profitable industry in the rising, nationalization of sportsmen and talent drain for more profitable horizons…

The point is our athletes are not immune to all that. I recall the fencer Taimí Chappé and the handball player Rolando Urios, two examples that began the drain in the early 90’s of the last century.

Back to the Center-American and the Caribbean Games, also keeping in mind the shortage of resources to sustain a sport infrastructure. Comparable to that of first-world countries, the idea here is to claw to what has been conquered until now, even when the qualitative panorama is not as promising as 25 years ago.

Many nations in the area and others around the world have understood that sports and its growth are fertile grounds for development, while it reflects on social life. It’s exactly for that reason they have poured so much interest and budget into this activity even at unsuspected levels.

Colombia is a good example. In the last decade has experienced breakthroughs in both sport infrastructure and facilities, as results, majorly supported by the knowledge of other countries. Weightlifting, athletics, judo, cycling, are among the sports with greater progress, and keeping in the horizon the Games of Barranquilla August 3-19, 2018, with an estimated attendance 5 854 athletes will struggle in 36 sports representing 37 countries.

We are talking about the condition of Colombians as host country to register in all sports in competition, even those where they are not strong. Just as Mexicans did four years ago. Of course from my perspective right now Mexico is still a contestant to beware more than Venezuela.

Mathematically the more medals are distributed among those Center-Caribbean nations, next to Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, and many other solo sportsmen from other countries, fewer will be the medals Cuban will win.

In Veracruz 19 countries won at least one gold medal and maybe after 11 months that same figure or more win a gold medal in Barranquilla.

What we have tried to explain in this column is that every new edition of world or multiple events regardless its reach it will contain a greater degree of complexity for our teams. Barranquilla will be a test of considerable rigor, with the pressure of Colombians and Mexicans as tough rivals. Let’s trust we can keep the first position on the medal board, with athletics, judo, boxing, wrestling, rowing, canoeing, weightlifting, cycling, artistic gymnastics, again as main events.

All doubts will be cleared in less than six months and reality will be known, as part of the current Olympic cycle that will end in the Olympic games of Tokyo 2020.

Amilkal Labañino Valdés / Cubasi Translation Staff

Cuba announces Teams to the Central American and Caribbean Games Judo Qualifiers

The Cuban women's and men's teams that will attend the Barranquilla 2018 Central American and Caribbean Games judo qualifying tournament, to be held next October 28th and 29th in the Dominican Republic, will be led by Kaliema Antomarchi (78 kg) and Alex Garcia (+100).

Rafael Manso, national commissioner of that sport, told ACN that nine other judokas who attended the last World Championship in Hungary will now be present in the DR under the direction of Julio Alderete and Felix Portuondo, head coaches of the men´s and women´s squads, respectively.

The list includes the men Osniel Solis (66), Magdiel Estrada (73), Jorge Martinez (81), Ivan Silva (90) and Andy Granda (100), and women Melissa Hurtado (48), Analidis Dorvigni 57), Maylin del Toro (63) and Eliani Aguilar (+78), he said.

Meanwhile, the newcomers are Harold Torres (55), Roberto Almenares (60), Yarisley Ponciano (44), Yurisleidis Hernandez (52) and Olga Masferrer (70).

Cuba´s purpose is to get tickets in all divisions for the aforementioned championship, with the aim of repeating the dominance achieved in individual and team events in the previous edition of Veracruz 2014.

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US Blockade Stops Cuba's Sport Development

The US economic, commercial and financial blockade against the island of Cuba for more than 50 years, limits the Cuban sports development , beside causing deep affectations to the Cuban economy and society.

Despite the measures adopted by the government of US President Barack Obama, which modify some aspects of the blockade's implementation, the damages are still big, harms by his policy remain burdensome for the Cuban people and the state, which allocates annually amounts of financial and human resources to ensure the right of its citizens to practice and compete in sports.

Among the effects that the disastrous effects of the US policy on the Caribbean island, there are that the National Institute of Sports and Physical Education (Inder) is not available to purchase sports items in the United States, implements coming from the brands Louisville, Wilson, Rawlings, Atec, Xbat and 3N2, brands for baseball and softball.

Neither of the brands Easton and W & W for the discipline of archery, while these items are mandatory according to the official rules of the international federations.

For this reason, Inder has to import these sports equipment from a third country, which results in an increase between 20 and 30 percent of its actual price.

Recently, Cuba made procedures through a Spanish company, to buy a boat of the brand Hobie Cat 16 that, if it were acquired, its price would be a 30 percent greater.

The efforts made have not been completed to materialize and consequently affected the preparation of the athletes of that discipline because of the lack of professional equipment.

A Cuban anti-doping laboratory reported that in June 2016, the North American Office of Asset Control (OFAC) retained the shipment to Havana from biological samples of a group of athletes of Peru, in transit through the United States.

Samples were sent for analysis in the laboratory of Cuban, using the German company DHL by the Peruvian Institute of Sport.

Because of the implementation of the policy of blockade, the centre of reference in Latin America in the fight against doping could not collect the economic benefits of the research of Peruvian samples.

In the opening of the Cuban National Gymnastics School in 2000, a famous Dutch company supplied all the equipment, at a cost of 30,000 dollars. This year, to maintain the good shape of the Cuban gymnasts, 72,000 euros had to paid, just for the carpet to train and compete.

In the case of baseball, Cuba purchases thousands of Japanese balls of ther brand MIZUNO, at 9.50 dollars each ball.

The cost of equipment and specialized clothes, the distance from the country where the items are finally achieved, and constant technological changes make the purchase more expensive, and in addition, some international sports federations demanding to participate in their events with certain brands of equipment.

In general, the economic damage caused to the Cuban people by the United States blockade, whereas the depreciation of the dollar against the value of gold in the international market, amounts 125,87 billion dollars at current prices.

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UN Promotes Sport as Tool of Inclusion

United Nations, Apr 6 (Prensa Latina) On the International Day of Sport for Development and Peace the UN calls today for its practice as promoter of human dignity and inclusion. In this third annual celebration, it urged governments, organizations, companies and all agents of society to take advantage of the values and the power of sport to support the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals, stated the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, in his message for the date.

Ban called the sport a unique and powerful tool to promote the equal and inalienable rights of individuals, as well as a positive social change.

'That is the reason why some of the greatest athletes have dedicated and continue to dedicate themselves to helping the United Nations to raise awareness on important issues, such as hunger, HIV/AIDS, gender equality and environmental management, "pointed out speaking about the date stablished by the General Assembly in August 2013.

According to the Secretary General, the International Day is celebrated in the context of a major global challenge, the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted here last September by the international community.

To realize these goals we should involve all sectors of society, for which sports has an essential role to play, he noted.

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