Cuban sport in 2022: Lots of new faces

Cuban sport in 2022: Lots of new faces
Fecha de publicación: 
1 January 2023
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New faces starred the most outstanding performances of Cuban sports in 2022, with a group of new athletes winning important sports events.

Never before, a canoeing athlete had ever been awarded with the women’s best athlete of the year award. Years ago, canoeing athletes —legends Ibrahim Rojas and Ledys Frank Balseiro— had shared the award.

Young Yarisleidi Cirilo, world champion in the 200-meter two-seater canoe (together with Katherin Nuevo) and five times gold medalists in World Cups during the season (two of them individually), in addition to adding one silver medal and the Pan-American title in her specialty, was given the honor this time.

Cirilo is one of the most brilliant talents in Cuban canoeing, which goes beyond that stellar boat and also extends to men, for which it was awarded as Cuba’s best individual sport of 2022.

For the first time and with merits enough, the Baseball5 team entered the top-10 list as they crowned in the I World Cup of the sports. The Cubans outperformed every opponent in the iconic Plaza del Zocalo, Mexico.

Baseball, generally speaking, did not have a great year even though some important wins were achieved, especially in lower categories. Men's football also experienced important moments, in its case as a sign of a rebirth based on new concepts that bring us closer to the world scene.

He is not the first judoka to be granted the best Cuban athlete of the year award, but the result of Andy Granda, world champion in always tough 100 kg category, did surprise many. This wrestler from Matanzas finished third in the world ranking, and was also both Pan-American champion and Club’s World Cup champion, so his position was well deserved.

In his case, the competition was pretty even with shooter Leuris Pupo, two-time champion in the Central American and Pan-American tournaments (individual and team pistol), and the first Cuban to qualify for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The award for volleyball as the team sport was expected especially after the results in all categories and the elite, becoming the kings in the Norceca Final Tour, and then the Final Six, the Pan American Cup and the Challenger Cup, not to mention all the good performances achieved by the beach volleyball as well.

Opposite Jesus Herrera stood out. He became one of the pillars in the regular line-up of our National Team with great contribution to our triumphs.

In the debut on the professional scene, the Domadores de Cuba dominated in every combat and finished with just one loss. Julio César la Cruz, Arlen López and Lázaro Álvarez were the most outstanding boxers in the season.

Likewise, pitcher Raidel Martínez excelled in the Japanese professional league, where he was chosen the best Latino player of the year, after ending as leader in Games Saved and Most Valuable Player of the Chunichi Dragons. On Japanese soil, his compatriot hurlers Liván Moinelo and Yariel Rodríguez also stood out.

There were other notable performances throughout the year. Not all deserved medals, but were encouraging nonetheless. We are referring to the fifth place achieved by the men’s softball team. It was the best result ever, which helped the case of pitcher Alain Roman to be chosen as the best athlete of team sports together with Herrera.

Let’s not forget cyclist Arlenis Sierra, sixth in the World Road Championship, Pan-American champion and protagonist of outstanding performances as a member of the Spanish club Movistar in such prestigious tours such as the Giro d'Italia, the Tour de France and the Vuelta a España.

Likewise, the sixth place of diver Anisley García in the world cup was very meritorious, and in special activities, the usual Erick Hernández, who set records in the modalities of most touches dominating the ball with the head, from the standing position, and more touches dominating the ball only with the thighs from the standing position, with weight on each ankle.

Of course, other achievements remain to be mentioned; for instance, sports for disable people, where the strength of new athletes was also seen. The future is pushing strong and raise the hand to lead Cuban sports into 2024 Paris Olympics.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Díaz / CubaSi Translation Staff

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