Luis Orta's Olympic gold medal ain't just luck

Luis Orta's Olympic gold medal ain't just luck
Fecha de publicación: 
16 May 2024
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So you believe that Olympic champion Luis Orta was born for Greco-Roman wrestling, huh? You are so wrong…Firstly, no human being is born knowing his or her future. Hence, you do not know if you are going to become a musician, engineer, doctor, writer, or an athlete. And Orta did not win by chance the gold medal in Tokyo. He had to fight hard. And I will tell you about it. But I warn you: behind any medal, there is always a life story behind and not everything is rosy.

I knew about Orta thanks to the sports TV program Pulso Deportivo, broadcasted by Tele Rebelde sports channel. The young man, and a friend of mine, a wrestler as well, had won in Barranquilla 2018, and Jimmy Castillo interviewed both. La Guinera —Arroyo Naranjo municipality— is the home of two Central American and the Caribbean champions, Orta (67 kg) and Daniel Gregorich (87 kg). While both told us about their life, my joy was greater.

Some of my relatives live there. I know firsthand the scars of marginalization and the hits of some circumvention in both moral and material terms, which has made that neighborhood weak in the social field, beyond the economic aspect. You already know how much the Revolution has made for the people. And how much the people has done —if properly led— to get out of this abyss we were threw into. And those people, from wickedness, from the North, are still causing harm to us. Three words sum up the aforementioned: blockade, imperialism, and Yankees!

I admit it. I was in shock. How have they been able to rise this way? I asked myself. Later, the greater development of both and several texts about them showed me how much of a dogmatist I still have left. First, I realized that Luis and Daniel were and are true La Güinera fighters, even beyond their athletic achievements. Very far from those who vulgarly name themselves fighters and who are trying to solve things, to cover and even justify corrupt and corrupting actions in the attempt to earn a living away from honest work, killing the best of their own existence.

They had to overcome a difficult environment to be good citizens. They owned the necessary strength that contend anywhere for the triumph of what is correct, of reason. We must strengthen them, support them. It is not done this way entirely. There are those who prefer medals and for them they sacrifice the essentials of physical culture: forging, even saving. For this, competitiveness must enter the struggle. They were recruited as children in their study centers. Through sweat, dedication, love from the base, with discipline in the first line of that desire, they reached the peak as citizens and athletes. This is how it should be when our sports pyramid is respected. Without the route being adorned with thornless flowers.

When talking about his beginnings, Gregorich does not hide a certain sadness: “I took my first steps in the Palace of Pioneers, until it was closed.” In such cases it is mandatory to have another well-staged scenario to continue the training immediately, and not frustrate the child, the adolescent, the young person. Finally, they continued to sculpt them later at the Ciro Frías Sports Facility, at the Sports Initiation School, at the High Performance Athletes Training School.

Orta suffered quite a bit in several of those facilities. They even wanted to get him out of them: they didn't trust his condition. He has never given up. Nor did they do so in the face of similar misjudgments: María Caridad Colón (she is too thin, they said); Ana Fidelia (they called her the chubby one); Juantorena (in a sport specialty where he had no chances); Orlando Martínez (he doesn't fight hard...); Alfredo Despaigne (Too fat for his height). Luis had great support in his mother, materially and, above all, spiritually.

Orta, the surprise man in the most recent great event, has grown in quality and weight. He is the favorite to repeat the title in Paris 2024. Gregorich has the conditions to get on the top 3 and even fight for the gold medal.

The two fighters know that there are obstacles all along the way. There are people with lack of skills and with no shame. We must be very clear about what José Martí stated: “Well, if there are miseries and little things in one's own land, deserting them is simply an infamy, and true superiority does not consist in fleeing from them, but setting out to overcome each of them!”

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Díaz / CubaSí Translation Staff

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