While Cuba Blamed the United States for the Escapes, Weightlifter Elizabeth Reyes Had Already Fled

Weightlifter Elizabeth Reyes Entenza won the bronze medal in the last Central American Games. (Jit)

14ymedio bigger14ymedio, Havana, November 24, 2023 — The burden of escapes continues to hit Cuban sports. The 2022 youth world runner-up and bronze medalist at the Central American Games in weightlifting, Elizabeth Reyes Entenza escaped in Mexico before the Wednesday when she was supposed appear at the Paradero Sports Center to participate in the 192-lb. category in the World Youth Championship.

On November 10, Cuba sent only two representatives to the contest to Guadalajara (Mexico). In addition to the competitor from Cienfuegos, Yorelvis Machado Olivera, from Granma, in the 179-lb. division, on November 19 ended in 13th place.

On the Facebook account of the Cuban Weightlifting Federation last Thursday, an image of the athletes with coach Florencio Miguel López Rodríguez was shared. The escaped weightlifter, according to the sports authorities, represented by commissioner Jorge Luis Barcelán Santa Cruz, was going to “improve on the two silver medals she won in the Youth World Cup” last year.

Reyes Entenza broke away from the Cuban sport days before President Miguel Díaz-Canel met with the Pan American medalists and, in a worn-out speech, blamed the U.S. for “causing desertions in the national teams.” Despite this, he said: “Cuban sports is alive; Cuban sports is thriving and continues to be among the best in the world.”

Cuban weightlifters Yorelvis Machado Olivera and Elizabeth Reyes Entenza with their coach Florencio Miguel López. (Facebook/Cuban Weightlifting Federation)

The 20-year-old weightlifter, who in the Pan American Games was in sixth place after lifting 298 pounds, joins the list of 14 athletes who stayed in Chile. Twelve of them have asked for refuge, and 11 already have a temporary visa. The blind swimmer Yunerki Ortega Ponce recently left his training and began the procedures to reside in the South American country.

Reyes Entenza represented for Cuban weightlifting a serious exponent to win medals. In the XXIV Central American and Caribbean Games, she won the bronze medal.

Last June, Havana received the best weightlifters from 16 countries, among them athletes from China, Ecuador, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and the Dominican Republic. Elizabeth Reyes Entenza won the bronze medal with a cumulative of 505 pounds. She was surpassed by the Ecuadorian Dayana Lucía Mina Torres (514 lbs.) and the Chinese Ying-Yuan Lo (518 lbs).

The athlete began to stand out from the age of 18, when at the First Pan American Junior Games in Cali 2021, she won a bronze medal and improved her record.

Translated by Regina Anavy


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