Cuba, in second place by number of medals won―2,030―in the history of the Pan American Games, is going to the next continental meet in Lima (Peru) with the main challenge of leaving behind the fourth place by countries (36-27-34) of its previous performance in Toronto 2015.
The island will face three strong rivals in the 18th Lima Games, where the United States and Canada will vie for the first two places and to achieve the third position it will have to defeat Brazil.
The Caribbean country has a total of 876 gold, 591 silver and 563 bronze medals since its first participation in the Pan American Games in Buenos Aires 1951.
Cuba will compete with a delegation made up of 425 athletes and, according to the forecasts of the country’s sports authorities, 44 of them have the best chances of winning a medal at the continental meet to be held from July 26 to August 11.
The island’s delegation will participate in 297 of the Games’ 442 disciplines and among the sports with chances of getting on the podium, with real gold options, the forecasts point to 13 disciplines, including track and field, boxing, kayaking, judo, wrestling and shooting.
In order to surpass the 36 golden titles of the previous continental event, specialists from the island’s Sports Institute place their trust on the leading role of the athletes representing combat sports such as wrestling, boxing, judo and taekwondo.
Cuban boxing aspires to defend in Lima 2019 the crown won four years ago in Toronto, where it won six gold and four silver medals.
Now the island’s boxers―with a selection in which several world and Olympic champions shine―aim to win seven gold medals out of a possible 10, according to the head of the discipline’s coaches, Rolando Acebal.
The Caribbean island has a squadron of 18 wrestlers led by its main figure: three-time Olympic champion and five-time world champion Mijaín López, who, in addition to being the ambassador of the Pan American Organization for the Lima Games, is the Cuban delegation’s flag bearer.
The predictions for this sport are also betting on seven gold titles in the Peruvian capital, plus a silver medal and eight bronze, a result that would improve the four gold, three silver and six bronze medals in Toronto.
Specifically, the main possibilities for winning are focused on Greco-Roman wrestling with Mijaín López, in the 130-kilogram division, without ruling out the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic champion and world champion in Las Vegas 2015 Ismael Borrero, in the 67 kg.
Judo, another of the combat sports with a strong tradition in these events, is going to Lima with the prospect of winning four gold, two silver and seven bronze medals.
The athletes with the best chances of winning medals include Idalis Ortiz, London 2012 Olympic Champion and Rio de Janeiro 2013 and Cheliabinsk 2014 world titleholder in the 78 kilograms, and Ivan Silva (90 kg), world silver medalist in Baku 2018.
Cuba has participated in all the Pan American Games with a total of 5,664 athletes and the sports that have reported the highest number of medals are track and field, with 357, weightlifting (229), wrestling (213), boxing (126), artistic gymnastics (185), judo (137), fencing (114) and rowing (102).
With these results, the Caribbean country has so far won medals in 32 sports and in seven of them it hasn’t yet been able to win gold medals.
In Lima, the aspiration is to surpass the figure of 900 titles in the history of the Pan American Games, in which combat sports must surpass the 100 gold titles in these contests, like boxing, as well as winning the first gold medal in rowing.