Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel said this Saturday to the island’s delegation that will participate in the 18th Pan American Games in Lima, at the flag-bearing ceremony for the 420 athletes who will compete in the Peruvian capital, that their performance will be “triumphant.”
“I wish you success. I know you are prepared, these days we have had good news about our athletes’ performances in different international competitions and that also gives us the certainty that this will be a triumphant delegation,” said the Cuban leader to the athletes at the end of the ceremony in Havana.
Díaz-Canel told the athletes that the Cuban people will be “very attentive” to their performance at the continental meeting and also pointed out that the island is experiencing a moment of U.S. “aggressions,” but affirmed that in Cuba “no one is losing sleep” over this and said that the country will continue “advancing.”
Cuba is going to the Pan American Games hosted by the Peruvian capital from July 26 to August 11 with the main goal of surpassing the fourth place and the 36 gold medals obtained in the previous continental meeting in Toronto 2015, according to the country’s sports authorities.
According to their forecasts, the Cuban athletes could win 44 gold, 24 silver and 98 bronze medals, and to achieve that goal aspirations are focused on disciplines such as wrestling, judo, boxing, taekwondo and track and field.
This Saturday President Diaz-Canel gave to one of the island’s most outstanding representatives, wrestler Mijaín López―three-time Olympic and Pan-American champion and five times world titleholder― the flag that the Cuban representation will carry at the opening of the competition in Lima.
Cuban wrestling aims to win seven titles in these continental games, one silver and eight bronze, to surpass the previous medals in Toronto.
Among the combat sports, on which the island is counting its bets, judo has a solid representation with Olympic, world and Pan American champion Idalis Ortiz, who presented the commitment of the Cuban athletes.
“Let us do everything possible to improve the results achieved in Toronto 2015 but above all let us return with the medal of honor and dignity,” said the text read by judoka Ortiz at the ceremony held in the emblematic Plaza de la Revolución.
In their message, the athletes also affirmed that they will demonstrate that “it’s no use for Trump and his extremist advisers to invent all the titles [referring to Title III of the Helms-Burton Act] they want because no one can crush Cuba.”
This time, the Cuban delegation will attend the continental event under the slogan “Always aiming for more” and will not participate in 146 of the 419 disciplines covered by the games.
The president of the National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation (INDER), Osvaldo Vento, urged the sports delegation that their attempts to reach the top of the podium at the Lima event “translate into absolute decision, attachment to fair play and respect for rivals.”
“We hope that the Lima challenge will be inscribed with honor in our rich sports history,” said Vento, while summoning the athletes to give their all “convinced without further pressure than that associated with the rigors of the competition.”
Since its first performance in the Pan American Games, in the Buenos Aires edition in 1951, Cuba has accumulated a total of 2,026 medals, of which 875 are gold, 593 silver and 558 bronze.