Cuba in Rio-2016 With Boxing as the Flagship Sport
Photos: Roberto Morejón, Jit INDER
In the recent olympics held in Rio de Janeiro, Cuban boxing, having won five gold and three bronze medals, surpassed its performance of London-2012 and fulfilled the commitment that the team had previously set.
The gold medals were won by Julio César La Cruz (81 kg), Arlen López (75 kg) and Robeisy Ramírez (56 kg), and the bronze went to Joahnys Argilagos (49 kg), Lázaro Álvarez (60 kg) and Erislandy Savón (+91 kg).
Despite this highly satisfactory performance, the team’s head coach, Rolando Acebal, believes the result could have been better “because they worked well, the athletes were well prepared, created the proper conditions and we had great support from the national sports governing body”.
“Some of our boxers were affected by the pressure of the event, were undecided, with little confidence, and did not cope at the level they could have, resulting in losses that should have been victories”, he said in an interview with the Cuban newspaper Trabajadores.
Acebal added that what also did not help were some of the decisions made in some fights that were nearly a tie, in which the Cubans had a slight advantage, but did not get the judges’ vote.
Boxing is the only combat sport without an established systems that allows resorting to video, like other sports such as wrestling, judo and fencing do.
“What the referees say is final; one must impose himself in the ring”, he said.
The coach highlighted the performance of Julio César La Cruz, Arlen López and Robeisy Ramírez, who, as he said, had a great tournament.
“We are very pleased that Julio is the first Cuban Olympic champion in the 81 kg division, that Arlen has grown so much as a boxer in two years, while Robeisy won his second title, something that has not happened since Athens 2004”.
The tournament in Rio de Janeiro was tough, he said, and recalled that there were boxers from different countries with no Olympic tradition, such as Africa, already part of the AIBA Pro Boxing (APB), in addition to good performances of nations such as Colombia and Brazil, among others.
The four methods existing today in the International Boxing Association (AIBA) helped the athletes to attain a better performance on the ring.
“And based on all that, he said, we must continue preparing ourselves to remain the flagship of Cuban sport”.
The Cuban Olympic representation, composed of 123 athletes from 19 sports, won 11 medals, five of which were gold, two silver and four bronze, and the country ended in 18th place overall.
In addition to those already mentioned in boxing, Mijaín López and Ismael Borrero obtained gold medals in wrestling; Yasmany Lugo and Idalys Ortiz won silver medals, in wrestling and judo, respectively, and Denia Caballero obtained bronze in track and field (discus throw).