Aliet Arzola Lima

Aliet Arzola Lima

Journalist, sports analyst, both in the Cuban and international sphere. Interested in keeping track of the island’s athletes and coaches, regardless of where they are.

Women in sports

Women sports reporters: leading voices

When Julita Osendi said that if she did not exist another woman would have come to do the same, it was not a display of modesty, but of the full conviction that women had and have all the right and aptitude to earn a prominent space in the complex universe of sports journalism. Life has proved Julita Osendi right. Women occupy an increasingly prominent place in the Cuban sports press, gradually breaking down the myths and prejudices that for decades limited or blocked the presence of women in the programs that the island’s media dedicated to the coverage of sports events. Today women narrate baseball games and boxing fights or follow the most important disciplines, a scenario unthinkable in the past century. Today we have women analysts of the highest caliber, whose criteria and accurate assessments mark states of opinion and influence decisions of the sports system itself, something that has not been achieved by condescension, but by their intelligence and ability to overcome. A further step in the recognition of the rights and work of women in this field has been taken with the recent creation of the Women’s Section of the Circle of Sports Reporters of the Union...

The competition for the AL MVP will be one of the most exciting and controversial in recent years. Photo: Dariagna Steyners.

#MVPito: the reasons for a trend

The last time a player led the American League in hits, extra-bases, RBIs, slugging and total bases, Pete Rose was more than 1,000 hits short of catching Ty Cobb in the all-time lead, Rickey Henderson hadn’t started his long-run career of 1,406 stolen bases, and Minnie Miñoso had another season to play in the Majors, although he was already 52 years old. By the way, the last time a player led the American League in hits, extra-bases, RBIs, slugging and total bases, neither José Abreu (Mal Tiempo, 1987) nor any of the Cubans who are in the Major Leagues today were born. Perhaps this should not surprise us, since we’re faced with an absolutely unusual event, within the reach of very few mortals. So much so that only four men have achieved it in the centennial history of the young circuit. Four players since 1901?! Well yes, only four, although wait, we’re making a mistake; that short list has grown only a few hours ago and now has a fifth member. We’re talking precisely about Cienfuegos-born José Abreu, one of the most consistent hitters in professional baseball in the United States and one of the most responsible for the return...

Who are the Cubans in MLB in 2020?

Help us keep OnCuba alive Nobody imagined that we would have to wait 266 days to start the new MLB season, but the coronavirus pandemic first interrupted spring training last March, and then has prolonged the period of inactivity until well into the summer. The wait has been long since Daniel Hudson struck out Michael Brantley and sealed the Washington Nationals’ win over the Houston Astros in the 2019 World Series. Fortunately, this July 23, the action returns. The voice of play ball will start being heard day after day on an atypical calendar of only 60 games. Neither the 1972 strikes, the first in MLB history, nor the 1981 nor the 1994-95 strikes, had left us with such a short game program. Despite the emergency, 2020 promises many baseball thrills, particularly for Cuban fans, eagerly awaiting the debut of the talented Luis Robert Moirán, the return of Yoennis Céspedes after almost two seasons injured or the second foray of the 2019 Rookie of the Year, Yordan Álvarez, just to mention three important events that will be in the spotlight. For Cuba, 2019 was already special. José Abreu took a memorable lead in runs batted in―just the second for a...

Despite the tough defeat in the Vancouver Pre-Olympic, Cuban men's volleyball has what it takes to stay afloat and compete at a higher level in the coming years. Photo: Getty Images.

What’s in store for Cuban volleyball after missing Tokyo 2020?

Cuba will probably have a champion in men's volleyball at the Tokyo Olympics. Osmany Juantorena (Italy), Wilfredo León (Poland) or Yoandy Leal (Brazil) can easily climb to the top of the summer podium in the Japanese capital under the flags they now defend. They, somehow, will be a kind of comfort for volleyball fans on the island, who have seen how the national team has been left out of the Olympics, after falling dramatically in the qualifying tournament in Vancouver, Canada. It will take a long time and no one will forget the setback before the hosts in the Pacific Coliseum, a cold and distant enclosure where the Olympic dreams were buried of a nation with seven summer appearances, including that of Montreal 1976, when they won the bronze medal. But beyond our record, this setback cannot be seen as an isolated incident. After all, Cuban volleyball has spent a whole decade trying to get back on their feet, seeking to reinvent itself after many unfortunate events. The almost full exit of the generation that won the world runner-up in 2010, or the case of rape in Finland that brought six players to justice shortly before the Rio 2016 Olympic...

Cubans Robertlandy Simón (l), Osmany Juantorena (c) and Yoandy Leal (r) celebrate one of the most important titles in world volleyball, while the country's sports authorities completely ignore such a major victory. Photo: Getty Images

The images prohibited for Cuban sports

Hours after INDER, Cuba’s governing sports body, promoted Ariel Saínz as the new vice president of the institution, Cuban players Robertlandy Simón, Osmany Juantorena and Yoandy Leal were crowned champions of the World Club Volleyball Championship with the Italian squad Lube Civitanova.  For years, Saínz had served as the president of the Cuban Volleyball Federation, a post from where he closed the doors to athletes who, like Simón, Leal and Juantorena, decided to test themselves in the most diverse international scenarios.  In some drawer or filed in a mailbox must be the requests of Juantorena or Leal, who ended up accepting the proposals of Italy and Brazil, respectively, so that their shining star would not disappear at the team level. Also under lock and key must be Simon's willingness to again wear the national shirt, after having rejected proposals from several countries. And what’s most serious, Ariel Saínz must keep in his mind all the times in which he could have been interested in bringing back Wilfredo León, Fernando Sánchez and company, and didn’t move a finger, he preferred to wait for who knows what miracle. Juantorena has won five titles in World Club Championships. Photo: Getty Images By the...

The world observed in awe Mijaín López’ third consecutive Olympic gold medal in Rio 2016; now the expectation is growing for his coming challenge in Tokyo 2020. Photo: Ricardo López Hevia.

Mijaín López: “My strategy is to train like hell”

"The kids think I’m like a dad, that’s why I have to come to teach them a little," says Mijaín López, half-jokingly, half-seriously, when he’s been training only for a few minutes. With a smile on his face, but drenched in sweat after showing only a sample of his exceptional Greco, this athlete from Pinar del Río puts order in the Cerro Pelado, headquarters of Cuban wrestling in Havana. Mijaín arrives mid-morning at the gym. He enters silently, although his presence is immediately noted, perhaps because of the magnetism that surrounds this century’s best wrestler in the world, and one of the historical leaders of this sport. He wears a dark blue tight suit with the flag at chest level, gray pants made of thick fabric and a pair of flip flops. In his hands he has his work shoes, which he puts on in a matter of two minutes to get on the mattress and start sweating. The action begins against Oscar Pino, after some stretching and a brief warm-up. Mijaín puts pressure on him, shakes him, corrects the positions of his hands, head and legs while wrestling in the center of the circle. "I’ve been coming every day...

Photo: Wilfredo Hernández Pérez.

What’s left of Lima: was Cuba a disappointment in the Pan American Games?

When the curtains of the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games went down and I saw Cuba in a strange fourth place―it had ranked second or first since 1971―with only 36 gold medals, I thought I was living a passing nightmare, one of those dreams that don’t let you sleep for a night and then you erase from your memory. But days, months, years went by and, far from burying the old ghosts, new doubts appeared. Rio 2016 didn’t convince and was, in the end, one of the Olympic events with the least amount of disciplines with medals for Cuba; in Barranquilla, the regional leadership was lost after decades of uncontested dominance.... With those precedents so close, I think it’s impossible to be amazed by the recent performance of the Cuban delegation in the Lima Pan American Games, where they won the least amount of titles (33) since Cali 1971 (30) and for the first time in 56 years weren’t in the four leading-edge places in the Games. Photo: José Tito Meriño. Although it’s difficult to digest such a decrease, it’s currently crazy to expect more from the Cuban sports movement, plunged into its worst crisis since the takeoff of the...

Cuban soccer team’s training for the 2019 Gold Cup. Behind, coach Raúl Mederos. Photo: Otmaro Rodríguez.

Cuban soccer: Raúl Mederos’ hands are tied

"Three? Four? Five? Who gives more?" This is how the bets stood on how many goals Mexico would score in its game against Cuba in the 2019 Gold Cup, which opened this Saturday at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California. Without a visa for captain Yordan Santa Cruz, without any of the legionnaires who play in diverse professional leagues, and after a terrible preparation that included defeats against lower category teams, the island’s squad couldn’t have a worse outlook. Coach Raúl Mederos is aware of this. He knows that he has an inexperienced team, with thousands of tactical gaps and inaccessible talent, and he also knows that he can’t do much to change it: his hands are tied. The team: do what I say and not what I do Mederos was given the team as a hot potato some time ago, when mentions about it had to do almost exclusively with defeats and massive flight of players in international tournaments. The coach somehow changed that. The victories in the League of Nations, the classification at the highest level of that tournament for the Gold Cup, and there was also the debate on the possible convocation of Cubans established in other...

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