Cuban Hurdler Deserts Squad in Moscow

Orlando Ortega. Photo:

HAVANA TIMES — Cuban hurdler Orlando Ortega deserted from his country’s sports delegation during the recent World Athletics Championship held in Moscow, dpa reported.

“The Cuban Athletics Federation wishes to report that the 110-meter hurdle race runner Orlando Ortega Alejo abandoned the Cuban sports delegation in attendance at the world championship which recently concluded in Moscow,” stated a press release issued on Tuesday.

Ortega blamed the Cuban Athletics Federation for his early elimination in the 110-meter hurdle race in Moscow, which he went in to with one of the year’s best times.

The hurdler, who did not qualify for the finals, chalked up his unimpressive time of 13.69 seconds to a two-month penalization imposed on him for participating in a preparatory event in Turin without previous authorization.

“I was practically unable to train for two months, and that has a big influence on your performance,” Ortega had declared after the race. “It had a huge impact on me. The results of those two months without training are plain to see. It was very unfair punishment and all of Cuba knows it.”

Ortega had also been denied the advice of his coach Kevin Antunez, who had been removed from the Cuban athletics team also as a result of the conflict with the Cuban Federation, headed by former long-distance runner Alberto Juantorena.

“This is a very important sporting event and you have to have a coach with you at all times. There are highly technical considerations you have to bear in mind and you need an eye and hand that knows you,” the hurdler declared.

Son of medal-winning Santiago Antunez, coach of Olympic medal winner Dayron Robles, Kevin Antunez was Cuba’s hurdling team coach and Ortega’s personal trainer. Ortega had been called on to be Cuba’s new hurdling star following Robles’ resignation.

“They had also punished him unjustly, kicking him off of the national team, and, sincerely, it shouldn’t have gone down like that,” Ortega had declared. “I hope he returns. And, if he doesn’t, we’ll have to start thinking about the future,” he stressed back then.

Cuba’s hurdling team has been going through difficult times since its star, Robles, Olympic and Pan-American champion and world record-holder, resigned from the national team and settled in Monaco, giving rise to a heated conflict with the federation, which has since revoked his right to compete at international sporting events.



2 thoughts on “Cuban Hurdler Deserts Squad in Moscow

  • Here is a guy whose dad was the coach. He has enjoyed the “perks” of international travel and privilege all of his life, even before becoming an athlete himself. Yet, the unknown and uncertain future of being his own man, in his mind, is a more attractive option than the certainty he had under the Castro regime. He may be homeless and living in the street in a year but at least it is by his own hand. That is what freedom means.

  • En los EUA no te van a tratar mejor . . .

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