Cuba at the Central American and Caribbean Games (XII)

Cuba at the Central American and Caribbean Games (XII)
Fecha de publicación: 
10 June 2023
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The Cubans made the expected qualitative step forward in the Panamanian capital thanks to the new concepts applied in the preparation of their athletes, government aid and the policy of turning sports into a right for all citizens, as the late sports chronicler Enrique Montesinos refers in his text The Oldest Regional Games.

For Cuba, the 11th Central American and Caribbean Games held in Panama City (1970) were the materialization of a whole system implemented since the triumph of the Revolution on January 1, 1959, which advocated the healthy practice of physical exercise and the conception of sport as a right of the people, without discrimination or privileges of some over others.

The delegation of Caribbean island had already participated in the previous event (San Juan 1966) under the "effects" of the economic, political and social processes set in motion since a new government took the lead of the nation, to implement Marti's sentence that it would be "with all and for the good of all".

On Puerto Rican territory, the revolutionary sport showed its potential by reaching the second place in the ranking by country -only three gold metals difference with Mexico-, despite the dissimilar attempts of the United States to prevent the presence of the Creoles in that event.

The event held in the Isthmian city would have in the island its monarch, a nation that, out of the 16 sports called, only failed to win in diving, swimming, women's volleyball, cycling and men's basketball.

For the first time, the event reported the participation of more than 2,000 athletes (2,095), representing 20 countries, with the addition of Suriname and Belize.

With a total of 98 gold medals, the Cubans surpassed Mexico (second place) by 60 and won 61 silver medals and 51 bronze medals. They won the highest number of gold medals up to that moment, as it had happened previously in Caracas 1959, where the Mexicans won 53 titles, in a competition with more sports in competition (17) and fewer delegations (12).

Athletics was the best, with 27 golds, 17 silvers and 19 bronzes, while Miguelina Cobian repeated the performance of her compatriot Rafael Fortun (1946, 1950 and 1954) by winning the 100-meter dash for the third time in a row.

She also won the titles in the 200 and 4x100 relay, and her fellow countryman Pablo Montes obtained the same result (100, 200 and 4x100).

Likewise, the women won the podium in the 100 meters, 200, 400, 100 hurdles, long and high jumps, shot put and discus; while the men won the three places in the 200, triple jump and shot put.

Gymnastics also stood out, as both men and women won 14 gold medals, 12 silver medals and a similar number of bronze medals.

Jorge Rodriguez won six titles (individual final, fixed bar, free hands, hoops, vaulting horse and team) and a silver in rings; and Miriam Villacian won four crowns (individual final, vaulting horse, uneven bars and team) and bronze in free hands.

Other good news came from weightlifting - which, in addition to the biathlon, the only section taken into account before this version of the Games, awarded for the first time the rebound and strength -, with Abel López (75 kilograms division) and Fernando Bernal (over 110) as main figures by winning four titles.

Baseball, basketball (f), boxing, soccer, wrestling, judo, fencing, shooting, volleyball (m) and water polo (m) were also dominated by the Cubans; the latter sport guided by Hungarian coach Karoly Laky, who achieved eight consecutive successes.

In short, the event held in Panama City marked the beginning of a row of nine consecutive successes in that regional competition, without taking into consideration the events held in San Salvador (2002) and Mayagüez (2010), which Cuba did not attend due to security problems for its athletes.

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