Trends from the Cuban Delegation in London

Osmel Almaguer

Idalis Ortiz won a gold medal in London. Photo:

HAVANA TIMES — Concerning the recently concluded Olympic Games in the British capital, I’d like to point out some trends that characterized Cuba’s performance. This time, though, I’ll refrain from making judgments, drawing conclusions or proposing solutions; I’ll just be an observer.

Firstly, it’s fair to point out the place on the medals chart reached by our delegation in this tournament, was much higher than that of four years ago. They won more than twice as many gold medals, though only around half as many as the total number of medals earned in Beijing.

The prizes were won with blood and guts, since almost none of the winners were favorites. I remember being one of those people who wouldn’t have been surprised if we’d come home from the London event without any gold medals in hand.

The performances in judo by both sexes, our showing in boxing, the feats of Greco-Roman wrestler Mijain Lopez, the pistol shooter Leuris Pupo, bronze metalist Ivan Cambar, Yarisley Silva’s silver in the pole vault, the bronze going to Leonel Suarez in the decathlon, among other accomplishments, all made us jump up out of our chairs.

Just the opposite occurred on the part of some other figures who had held such promise. Maybe we weren’t expecting a gold from them but at least more of a fight or another color of medal. Overall, the track team fell short, with the hurdles and triple jump even further down on the list.

In those competitions and among some of the combat athletes, one could note the apathy or the anxiety on their faces, as well as the pressure when we saw them under perform. There were plenty of injuries in the middle of competition. Some of our athletes lost to rivals far inferior to them, others performed well below their best marks – bordering even on the ridiculous.

Overall, more than two thirds of the medals were won in explicitly combative sports (or ones that are implicitly so: what are the shooting and athleticism other than reproductions of various battlefield maneuvers?).

None of our team sports even classified for the every four years summer event. So what was that about? Pure coincidence? – or was there some other explanation? I still remember the memorable performances of our players when baseball was included on the Olympic calendar.

Back in their heyday, the famous Cuban women’s volleyball team went on to win three consecutive titles and a bronze. Likewise, an earlier era basketball team of ours walked off with the only medal by a Latin America squad in that sport (at least until Argentina won in Athens in 2004).

What I’m saying is that we’re not lacking when it comes to tradition.

Between 1992 and 2004, the average number of gold medals won by our delegations came close to 11, while in the last two Olympics they’ve been around 3. As for the total medals, between Barcelona 1992 and Athens 2004, we came home with an average of almost 30; from Beijing to now, less than an average of 20.






1992 Barcelona





1996 Atlanta





2000 Sydney





2004 Athens





2008 Beijing





2012 London







Osmel Almaguer:Until recently I would to identify myself as a poet, a cultural promoter and a university student. Now that my notions on poetry have changed slightly, that I got a new job, and that I have finished my studies, I’m forced to ask myself: Am I a different person? In our introductions, we usually mention our social status instead of looking within ourselves for those characteristics that define us as unique and special. The fact that I’m scared of spiders, that I’ve never learned to dance, that I get upset over the simplest things, that culminating moments excite me, that I’m a perfectionist, composed but impulsive, childish but antiquated: these are clues that lead to who I truly am.

osmel has 229 posts and counting. See all posts by osmel

One thought on “Trends from the Cuban Delegation in London

  • This is a long shot but I believe the Cuban team performance in ’92 reflects the last vestiges of Soviet subsidies before the onset of the Special Period. Between ’96 and ’08 are more indicative of the natural potential in Cuba. Finally, the overall decline in medals reflected this year in London is less a reflection of declining Cuban performances but rather a reflection of other smaller countries countries, like Cuba, improving their Olympic performances. For example Ireland and Kazakhstan took boxing medals this year in weight classes previously won by Cuba in previous Olympics. Both of these countries boxers are legitimate amateurs as well. Unlike Cuban boxers who are paid to train, boxers from these countries must continue to earn a living and still find time to train.

Comments are closed.