14ymedio, Havana, 23 October 2023 — With a delegation diminished by desertions and with few renowned athletes, the Cuban authorities did not dare to predict more than 18 gold medals for these Pan American Games in Chile. Much less was it imagined that, a few days after the start of the sporting event, the athletes would earn three gold medals in rowing, weightlifting and rapid-fire with an air gun, categories in which they had little hope. “We didn’t have this crown in the plans,” acknowledged the president and national rowing commissioner, Ángel Luis Fernández.
The director told the official media Jit that they had little chance in the face of “the strength of Uruguayans, Americans and Chileans.” However, the members of the eight-man, long-oar sculling boat — Roberto Paz, Luis León, Henry Heredia, Francisco Romero, Andrey Barnet, Leduar Suárez, Carlos Ajete, Reidy Cardona and Juan C. González — went through the 1,640 feet in 1:22.72 minutes; through the 3,281 in 2:47.68, through the 4,921 in 4:15.34 and through the finish line in 5:37.89 in the Laguna Grande San Pedro de la Paz.
The same team in Lima 2019 won 10 medals: two gold, three silver and five bronze. However, the escapes of several of its members – Maykol Julio Álvarez (in April), Yoelvis Javier Hernández and Osvaldo Pérez – made the authorities doubt their good performance in this edition of the games.
Álvarez and Hernández deserted after winning the silver medal in the four-pair category (4X) and rejecting the ticket to Chile that their achievement had granted them. In November 2022, rowers Jorge Patterson and Yudisleidys Rodríguez fled after one of their training sessions on the Virgilio Uribe Olympic track, in Mexico City.
Before the escapes of Patterson and Rodríguez, came Ernier Tamayo, Alexei Carballosa and Nayala Torres on November 17, 2022, while preparing in Mexico City for the Central American and Caribbean Championship that began six days later in El Salvador.
This Sunday, Leuris Pupo also won gold in rapid-fire. The veteran lost the bronze medal in the last Central American and Caribbean Games of San Salvador 2023, because the regulations state that one country cannot win the first three places in case a challenge is presented, and the bronze medal will go to fourth place – although it was returned by the Mexican athlete Fidencio González. The silver and bronze medals went to the Venezuelan Douglas and the American Leverett, with scores of 26 and 23, respectively.
On Saturday, Arley Calderón (weightlifting), whom coaches gave few chances to even get a bronze, won gold in the 135-lbs. category at the Chimkowe gym. The silver and bronze medals were won by the Mexican Víctor Guemez and the Peruvian Luis David Bardales.
Other Cuban medalists of this edition of the Pan American Games are Arlenis Sierra, with the silver obtained in the time trial of road cycling, Olfides Sáez in weightlifting (196 lbs.) and Kelvin Calderón in taekwondo (176 lbs.).
Translated by Regina Anavy
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