Cuba’s expectations for Río

Cuba is on the threshold of participating in its twentieth Olympic Games and the upcoming adventure in Río de Janeiro promises emotional moments for the island’s athletes, with the possibility of achieving historic results under the five rings.

Mijaín López, Idalis Ortiz, Ángel Fournier, Manrique Larduet and Rafael Alba are some of the Cuban stars most likely to set records in the Brazilian city, where once again Cuba’s sports movement will rub shoulders with some of the strongest athletes of the world.

Cuba’s flagship event over multiple editions of the Games – boxing – will play a leading role, with a strong group of talented fighters. The aim is to add to the historic total of 34 gold, 19 silver and 14 bronze medals (67 in all). Cuba’s overall medal count in this individual sport exceeds that of nations such as Greece, Kenya, Brazil, South Africa, Argentina and Mexico.

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Three Cuban athletes top world youth rankings

Seven Cuban athletes under the age of 20 are currently ranked among the top three in the world in their respective disciplines and feature among the 14 members of the National selection chosen to compete in the World Youth Athletics Championship, set to take place in Byd­goszcz, Poland, July 19-24.

Despite constant changes in the world rankings, three young Cuban athletes have already topped these lists this year: triple jumper Davisleidis l. Velazco (14.08) and hammer thrower Ayamey Medina (68.98), who share the honor with Cristian A. Nápoles (16.92), also a triple jumper.

Long jumper Maikel D. Massó (8.28) now ranks second in his discipline after being knocked off the top spot at the end of June by China’s Yuhao Shi, with a jump of 8.30m. Another Cuban athlete to place second this year is Lázaro Martínez, defending triple jump champion (Eugene 2014), after reaching 16.90m, although he has the potential to make 17m, as he did during the 2014 and 2015 seasons.

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U.S. national team to visit Havana for soccer friendly

The U.S. and Cuba will play a soccer game at Havana’s Pedro Marrero Stadium on October 7, the first international friendly between the two squads since 1947.

The two teams previously faced each other in 2008 in a South Africa World Cup 2010 qualifying match, which saw the U.S. win 1-0.

In June 2015, the Cosmos soccer club played a friendly match against the Cuban team, in the context of the normalization of diplomatic relations between Washington and Havana, announced December 17, 2014.

The October match will be broadcast by U.S. TV channels in English and Spanish.

In a statement U.S. team coach Jurgen Klinsmann from Germany noted: “We are happy to have the chance to bring our team to Cuba.

“In addition to good competition, we are always looking for our group to have different experiences, and this is a unique opportunity,” he added.

Klinsmann’s squad took fourth place in the Centennial Cup America, held in June, in the U.S.

Before traveling to Cuba, the U.S. team will continue their struggle to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, with matches on September 2, against Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, followed by another four days later against Trinidad and Tobago.


Cuban gymnasts win bronze medals in World Challenge Cup

Cuban gymnasts win bronze medals in World Challenge Cup

Cuban gymnasts Manrique Larduet and Randy Leru won bronze medals in the finals of parallel and horizontal bars, respectively, in the final day of the 2016 World Challenge Cup in Anadia, Portugal.

Larduet, who had won both apparatus in the qualifying round, ranked third in parallel bars with score of 15,600 units, while in horizontal bar he finished fourth (15,100), behind his countryman Leru (15,150), according to the official website of the contest.

In parallel bars, Manrique was beaten by Azeri Oleg Stepko (15,800), and Colombian Jossimar Calvo (15,165), while in horizontal bar, Randy escorted Calvo (gold / 15,275, and Japanese Kazuyuki Takeda (silver / 15,225).

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Shaq brings basketball diplomacy to Cuba

Shaquille O’Neal está en Cuba. Foto: Fernando Medina/ Cachivache Media

The Shaq show came to Havana on Sunday as NBA great Shaquille O’Neal put on a basketball clinic for local youngsters, becoming the latest emissary for American outreach to the people of Cuba.

The 2016 Hall of Fame inductee and four-time NBA champion led star-struck kids in layup drills and coached scrimmages while onlookers cheered from the sidelines, part of a U.S. State Department-sponsored visit to foster people-to-people exchanges with Cuban citizens.

Recent months and years have seen a string of American sporting, diplomatic and cultural missions to the island as Washington and Havana mend relations that were openly hostile for over five decades. Ties were formally restored last year under presidents Barack Obama and Raul Castro.

“Baseball, soccer, basketball — it’s about sports, you know,” O’Neal said. “We share a lot of things in common. We just want to come over here and extend our friendly hand and just start smoothing things out.”

“It was great for (Obama) to reopen the door, regain a better relationship with this beautiful island,” he added.

Basketball aficionado Juan Navarrete, 13, was thrilled to see the NBA legend up close.

“I would really like to become great, a great player,” Navarrete said. “Maybe I can become a great player like Shaquille O’Neal.”

Last year retired basketball stars Steve Nash and Dikembe Mutombo and former WNBA player Ticha Penicheiro joined NBA coaches in holding a four-day camp in Cuba.

This March, the Tampa Bay Rays played Cuba’s national baseball team in a Havana exhibition game that was attended by both Obama and Castro.

O’Neal’s goodwill tour of Cuba runs through Tuesday.


Hemingway Cup attracts anglers from around the world

From June 14, anglers from nine countries will be looking to win the 66th Ernest Hemingway International Billfishing Tournament, the most popular edition to date.

Ninety-three boats will navigate Cuban waters in an attempt to catch the biggest fish. This figure exceeds the previous record set in 1979, which saw 85 yachts compete.

During the customary Captains’ Meeting held at press time, Domingo Cisneros, president of the Nautical and Marine Enterprise Group Marlin S.A., highlighted the participation of teams from the United States, Lithuania, Argentina, Russia, the Netherlands, UK, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Spain, Italy, Cuba and in particular, France, a regular competitor in the tournament.

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Sixth World Series of Boxing Trophy Arrives in Cuba

The trophy conquered by the Cuba Domadores in the 6th World Series of Boxing came to the Cuban capital Monday, in the hands of the Cuban boxers, the main architects of this victory.

The members of the Cuban boxing franchise arrived in Havana shortly in a flight by AEROFLOT, bringing the trophy and the title reached last weekend when they beat the Great Britain’s Lion Hearted team 9-1.

Headed by their captain, the three-time world champion Lázaro Álvarez, and the whole technical group, the Doamdores were received by the president of the Cuban Institute of Sports,Physical Education and Recreation (INDER) Antonio Becali, who congratulated them for the result.

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