Mijain Lopez and his scope targeting Barranquilla

In snipers’ terminology, it could be said that Cuban Greco-Roman wrestler Mijain Lopez has only one target in his scope: the Central American and the Caribbean Games to be held July 19-August 3 in Barranquilla.

Believe it or not, Mijain has just won one gold medal in this sort of games and it occurred in Veracruz 2014.

It is certainly surprising that such a high-ranked wrestler (three Olympic gold medals, five gold medals in World Championships) has only grabbed one title in Central American Games.

He participated in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, in 2016, but the small number of five wrestlers deprived him of winning the title. Cuba did not participate in Mayaguez, Puerto Rico, in 2010 due to safety issues with the delegation.

How is everything going so far?

I am focused on my training. Everything is all right and I am injury-free this time. Thus, I can look for the result everyone wants. And this is no other than the first place in my category 130 kg.

I will not face tough opponents in Barranquilla. But I always respect the opponents and I never underestimate them. However, I tell my people I will go out there looking for the gold medal.

How do you feel physically?

I am ready to go. I feel full of energy and vigor. As I have said before, my sole rival is my weight and the rule changes of my sports.

Was it profitable the rest you took last year?

It was great after so many years of sport career. I rejuvenated myself. I feel awesome right now.

After the Central American Games, are you planning to go to the World Championship to be held in Hungary in October?

The technical staff and I decided that it is better that Oscar Pino has another chance. He did pretty well last year by winning a bronze medal in the World Championship held in Paris, France.

Besides, the trainers are doing an excellent job with me. They are focusing on my physical shape for Tokyo 2020 without serious injuries or fatigue.

Last March, in the tournament to get the tickets for Barranquilla, you were involved with your partners giving them advises…Would you like to train in the future?

Yes, I do like it. It would be very special to convey my experiences to younger athletes. I try to teach them everything I have learned as wrestler.

How do you see the wrestling team of Cuba?

The boys are all right. They are enthusiastic and want to win. I am pretty sure we can win the six gold medals in Barranquilla. This goal is perfectly feasible.

You can achieve the feat of winning four gold medals in the Olympic Games of Tokyo 2020. What is your comment on this?

I would like to go step by step. But I can say one piece of advice. It is better my opponents train hard as I will go all in to win my gold medal. It will be the perfect closure for my career.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Diaz//CubaSi Translation Staff

Around 400 Cuban Athletes to Compete in the 2918 Barranquilla Games

Cuba has 396 athletes that classified in 219 competitions for the 2018 Central American and Caribbean Games in Barranquilla, as reported by Antonio Miranda, director for High Performance at the Cuban Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation.

The expert said the places for Cuban athletes were distributed among 218 men and 179 women that will compete in 24 disciplines in the aforementioned Colombian city from July 19 to August 3.

Miranda explained that the goal is to include approximately 500 athletes, a number that exceeds in more than 20 the places in the previous edition of the 2014 Central American and Caribbean Games in Veracruz .

For that purpose, there are still classification tournaments left in several disciplines, such as taekwondo, boxing, karate, wrestle, racquetball and dive, which will be fought in March.

The last places in swimming, athletics, tennis and triathlon will be disputed in June.

The official announced that the games in Barranquilla will grant tickets in 15 sports for the 2019 Pan-American Games in Lima.

  • Published in Sports

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

Cycling: another key sport for Barranquilla 2018

Several sports will be key so Cuba can achieve the aim of remaining in first place in the medal standings in the Barranquilla 2018 Central American and Caribbean Games.

One of them is cycling, which contribution should be around ten titles, all or almost all from the female team.

The power of the hosts, Mexicans and Venezuelans in this discipline is very well known, but our girls have a world-class quality and can achieve that goal with a good effort dosing.

Four years ago, the men contributed no gold medals, and within tem months exactly the scene should be similar, because we do not have talents that invite us to think otherwise. I wish I am wrong, but I think we won’t see any Cuban in the highest step on the podium, as it happened in Veracruz 2014, where we only picked Arnold Alcolea’s silver medal in the men’s points race.

In any case, Colombia has a great power in this sex, and pedaling at home makes them unbeaten to lead the general medal standings in this discipline.

But among the girls, things change, because Marlies Mejías and Arlenis Sierra should contribute more than one title each, and should Lisandra Guerra reaches the competition recovered after her pregnancy, we can expect the best from her too, likewise from Yudelmis Domínguez, another athlete with good results in the last few times.

The girls’ versatility will allow that, except Lisandra, they could also make it to the podium in the route events, and even strive as a team in the queen competition.

We should not forget there are very good competitors in the region, mainly from Mexico, Colombia and Venezuela, who have lost and won vs. the Cuban girls, now more experienced after running as part of professional teams in the world of cycling.

There are still ten months to go, enough time for some of them to recover from their present injuries and for Lisandra to retake her shape after achieving the most precious of her medals, that’s why, I am confident that cycling won’t fail at Barranquilla 2018.

Translated by Jorge Mesa Benjamin / Cubasi Translation Staff

  • Published in Specials
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