Cuban Greco-Roman Wrestling Champion Leaves National Team During Training Camp in Croatia

Thursday, May 23, 2024 by Abigail Marquez

Cuban Greco-Roman Wrestling Champion Leaves National Team During Training Camp in Croatia
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Cuban Greco-Roman wrestler Ángel Pacheco, competing in the 130-kilogram category, has left the Cuban national team while in Croatia, according to wrestling expert Roly Dámaso on Wednesday. Pacheco was in Croatia as part of a group of athletes assisting Cuban wrestlers who have qualified for the 2024 Olympic Games.

At 26 years old and hailing from Havana, Pacheco was considered one of the nation's top prospects in his division. However, the presence of stars like Mijaín López and Oscar Pino hindered his progress within the national team, as reported by sports media outlets outside the island.

Pacheco's most notable achievements include winning a Pan American championship in Ottawa, Canada, in 2020, and a bronze medal in the 2019 edition held in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Last year, he also clinched gold at the V ALBA Games in Venezuela.

This month, the Cuban Greco-Roman wrestling team has been conducting a training camp in Croatia as part of their preparations for the upcoming Olympic Games. Among the prominent figures participating in the camp are Mijaín López (130 kg), Gabriel Rosillo (97 kg), Kevin de Armas (60 kg), Luis Orta (67 kg), and Yosvanys Peña (77 kg), all of whom have secured tickets to the event in Paris.

Alongside Pacheco, other athletes who traveled to support the team in their training include Yoel Antomarchy (67 kg), Yonat David Véliz (67 kg), Julio Sablón (77 kg), Daniel Grégorich (87 kg), and Keldis Josef (130 kg).

The Cuban team is scheduled to move to Hungary on June 6, followed by a stay in Bulgaria from June 21 to July 6. They will then return briefly to Cuba from July 8 to 15 for a series of pre-Olympic events, including the flag-raising ceremony for the Olympic and Paralympic delegations.

Last year, at least three female wrestlers defected from Cuba. They are Hengelen Llanes, Yoannia Pérez, and Liliana Duarte. Pérez and Duarte left a sports delegation during a layover in Mexico while en route to El Salvador. Hengelen Llanes defected in Paris during training for the World Wrestling Championships in Belgrade.

In 2023, more than a hundred athletes have left the country, highlighting the growing crisis in Cuban sports.

Key Issues Surrounding Cuban Athletes Leaving the Country

The departure of Cuban athletes has raised many questions about the challenges they face and the broader implications for Cuban sports. Here are some frequently asked questions and their answers.

Why are Cuban athletes defecting?

Cuban athletes often defect due to a combination of factors including limited opportunities, better financial prospects abroad, and the desire for personal and professional freedom.

What impact does this have on Cuban sports?

The defection of athletes significantly weakens Cuba's competitive edge in international sports and highlights systemic issues within the country's sports infrastructure.

How does the Cuban government respond to these defections?

The Cuban government typically does not comment publicly on defections, but they do implement measures to prevent future occurrences, such as tighter travel restrictions for athletes.

© CubaHeadlines 2024

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