Like Park Chung-hee (Asia/South Korea: 1962-79) and Idi Amin Dada (Africa/Uganda: 1971-79), Fidel Castro is a sports fanatic and enjoys watching all types of Olympic sports. Fidel Castro has visited the national team’s training camps, sports schools, National Schools Games and spent time with the students-athletes and Olympic players. Since 1990, the Cuban dictatorship has spent more than $80 million per year into Olympic sport. However, Cuba is not an Olympic paradise. Cuba’s modern sporting history has been marked by sporting defections.
Every dictatorship has a style of its own. Leonidas Rafael Trujillo had one: Dominican music. Francois Duvalier had one: Haitian culture. Kim Jong Il has one: the cinematography. He likes films as “Gone with the Wind”, a famous film American. The dictator of North Korea wrote an essay “On the Art of Cinema”.
The Idi Amin Dada regimewas notorious for torturing political prisoners, forbidding dissent and free speech. Under the dictatorship of Idi Amin Dada, about 350,000 people were killed. But he loves Olympic sports like Fidel Castro Ruz. During 1970s he had become an outspoken champion of sport in the Third World. I remembered that the Ugandan team won two gold, four silver and three bronze medals during the Commonwealth Games in New Zealand in 1974. Overall Ugandan team ranked tenth, before Wales, Trinidad Tobago, Tanzania and Jamaica.
Fidel Castro once said: “What has Cuba’s role been in the Olympic Games? What has it achieved? What has been the fruit of our efforts to promote healthy clean sports? At the 1972 Olympics, we finished 14th among 122 countries. At the Montreal Olympics in 1976–Juantorena remembers this well, and so do we–we finished 8th among 88 participating countries. In 1980, in Moscow we finished 4th among 81 countries; in 1992, in Spain we finished 5th among 169 countries; and in Atlanta, in 1996 we finished 8th among 197 countries. Could anyone refuse these figures”. But under one of the world’s oldest surviving dictatorships, the sport has become a useful way for women and men to access to freedom.
Certainly, Cuban sport is a story of both frustration and miracles. The Cuban government reacted with increduly when in 1980 Roberto Urrutia, a weightlifter, unexpectedly announced his decision to seek asylum in the United States. At the age 14 Urrutia made weightlifting high top priority, and ten months later he established national records. Urrutia entered the 1975 Pan American Championship at the age of 18 and won gold medals for Cuba. In December, in Matanzas, he become the first Latin American weightlifter to obtain a World record. In 1976 he finally realized his dream of competing in the Olympics. Like Alberto Juantorena (track and field), Teofilo Stevenson (boxing) and Mireya Luis Hernandez (volleyball), Roberto Urrutia Hernandez, former member of Youth Communist Union, was a symbol of the Cuban Revolution. Roberto, was born on December 12, 1956, in La Havana, won 3 gold medals at the 1978 Weightlifting World Championships and ended world Soviet’s-year domination of international weightlifting. Certainly, he was voted Hero of the Year by Prensa Latina. Before the Moscow Olympic Games, Roberto Urrutia defected to the United States via Mexico.
In the past few years, we have seen a number of events take place: Taimaris Aguero, a player, came to seek freedom in Italy; Odelin Molina, an outstanding footballer from La Havana sought political asylum in the United States; and Dulce Tellez, a sportswoman, came to San Juan de Puerto Rico.
Aguero, who at 1,77, was considered one of the best female athletes in the Americas, at the age of 16 she become the youngest person ever to be a member of Cuban Team. During the 1993 World Junior Championships in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Aguero finished first in the competition for best setter. When Tanya Ortyz, setter from 1987 to 1995, announced her intention to retire at the end of 1995, Aguero was considered a leading candidate for the post. Therefore, she was keywoman when Cuba finished first at the 1998 World Championship. In 2000 Aguero helped the Cuban team reach victory at the Olympic Games. If not the greatest setter ever, she is certainly the most celebrated in volleyball history. Nowadays Taimaris Aguero is one of the most remembered and dearest sportswomen by Cubans. Behind baseball, volleyball is the most popular sport in Cuba.
Dulce Tellez was named best player in the 2006 Pan American Championships in Puerto Rico. Under her leadership Cuba won the bronze medal in volleyball in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. She left Cuba in July 2006–three months before the World Championships in Tokyo. Before the 2006 World Championships, Cuba was ranked 3rd in the world. Now it is ranked 7th. Meanwhile, Odelin Molina, was born on August, 1974, in La Havana, was one of Cuba’s best footballer and played the 1991 World Championship Under-16 in Italy. In 1995 he defected to the United States, where he lives now.
1. Abvin S
Posts Tagged ‘Olympic Sport’
Did You Know…
Qatar is sometimes called the “Olympic paradise” in the world. In this Arab country you can feel the Olympic atmosphere: many children competing in athletics, tennis, football, volleyball, basketball, karate, gymnastics and judo. Cylist legend Eddy Merckx said, “Qatar as a country pushes for sport. No other country in the world is doing what Qatar is doing for sport – especially for kids. As a child, sport is a great school of life. It shows you that just talent is not enough – you also have to work very hard. If you’re a lawyer, you stay a lawyer for life. As a sportsman or sportswomen, you have to start every season at the beginning again. It’s hard to become the best, but it’s even more difficult to stay the best year after year.” Certainly, Qatar – it is about the size of Hawaii- has one of the best sporting systems outside of the industrialized world.
The Arab athlete Saif Saaeef Shaheen won the gold medal in the 3,000m steeplechase at the 2003 World Athletics Championships in Paris, France. There were celebrations for Qatar, after he won the gold medal. Saif Saaeef Shaheen wrote history for Qatar becoming the first Qatari to win a world championship in the Olympic sport.
Qatar qualified for the 2007 Handball World Championship. It was the third time that Qatar had qualified for a World Cup. Under the direction of Ekrem Jaganjac, Qatar`s national coach, the Qatari team defeated Australia 36-22. “In Qatar, there are no outstanding players, but there are many enthusiastic young ones, and I concentrate all my work on them”, said Jaganjac, who was a member of the enlarged Yugoslav team for the Summer Olympics in 1972.
Doha was scheduled to host the FIFA World Youth Championship in 1995.
Ahmed Ibraheem was the first runner to represent Qatar at an Olympic track event when he competed in the 10,000 metres and 5,000 metres at the Games of the XXIV Olympiad in Seoul (South Korea) in 1988.
The Qatari football team finished sixth at the Olympic Games in Barcelona (Spain). In the Barcelona 1992 Olympic Football Tournament 16 men`s teams competed in four rounds (preliminaries, quarter-finals, semi-finals, finals). Under the brilliant leadership Mubarak Nooralla, Qatar defeated Egypt (African champion) 1-0 in the first round. Qatar represented Asia in the quarters finals, but was eliminated by Poland, one of the best teams of Europe. The Olympic players were Ahmed Khalil Saleh, Hamad Al-Atteya, Rashid Shami Suwaid, Zamel Essa Al-Kuwari, A-Nasser Ali Al-Obaidly, Waleef Bukhit Maayof, Mubarak Nooralla, Juman Salem Johar, Mahmoud Yaseen Souf, Fahad Mohd Al-Kuwari, Adel Mulla Al-Mulla, Mohd Al Mohannadi and A-Aziz Hassan Jaloof.
Doha -the country`s capital and largest city- is one of the most modern sporting cities in the world. It has many sports facilities.The Khalifa International Stadium is the nation`s largest stadium. It is one of the most beautiful and modern stadiums in the world. Doha is also the home of the Hamad Aquatic Centre.
This Asian country organized the 1999 Handball World Junior Championship. There were 17 teams: Denmark, Sweden, Egypt, France, Yugoslavia, Spain, Russia, Greece, Tunisia, Portugal, Croatia, Qatar, Brazil, Israel, Norway, Hungary and New Zealand.
Doha hosted the Asian Games in December 2006. The opening ceremony on 1 December was held at the Khalifa International Stadium before a crowd of more than 50,000. At the 2006 Asian Games, Sheik Mohammed Bin Hamad Al -Thani, a Qatari horseman, did the honors of carrying the Olympic flame and lighting the torch. A record number of 45 countries and territories participated in the event. The Olympic village was home to 10,500 sportspeople.The competitive programme included 39 sport events: archery, athletics, badminton, baseball, basketball, bodybuilding, bowling, kayak, chess, cycling, diving, equestrian, fencing, football, golf, gymnastics, handball, field hockey, judo, kabaddi, karate, rowing, rugby, sailing, sepaktakraw, shooting, softball, squash, swimming, synchronized swimming, table tennis, triathlon, tennis, volleyball, beach volleyball, water polo, weightlifting, wushu and wrestling. These Asian Games will be remembered for its excellent organization and hospitality. The success of the Asian Games was result of the combined efforts of the Qatari government and the organizing committee (Doha Asian Games Organizing Committee). The Asian Games are the second largest international sporting event after the Summer Olympic Games.
The Qatari athlete Musa Obaid Amer finished fourth in the 3,000m steeplechase at the Olympic Games in Athens, the capital city of Greece.
Qatar won the second place at the 1981 FIFA World Youth Cup in Sydney (Australia). Qatar`s qualification for the finals was one of the greatest surprises.
Talal Mansoor made history at the 1994 Asian Games by winning three gold medals (100m, 200m and 4×400m relay).
The Asian Cup, the continent`s top football tournament, was held in Qatar in 1988.
Doha is officially bidding for the 2016 Olympic Games and Paralympic Games. As chairman of the Doha Bid Committee, Hassan Ali Bin Ali said: “A lot has already changed in Qatar and in particular Doha, in the last 50 years. If we were granted the opportunity to stage the Olympics and Paralympics in 2016, it would not only allow us to further develop the city’s infrastructure but also to use the power of peaceful sporting competition to create understanding, hope and change that could unite the entire region with the rest of the world. Hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Doha would bring the Olympic flame to the Arabic-speaking world for the first time, extending the Olympic ideals to millions of new hearts and minds”.
Andres Sebastian Soria Quintana is one of the most talented footballers from Qatar. He came to Doha from Uruguay as a footballer professional and got Qatari nationality just in the time for the 2006 Asian Games. He was born on November 8, 1983 in Paysandu, Uruguay (South America). He is symbol of multiethnic Qatar.
Said Asaad is one of the greatest weightlifters in Qatari sports history. He won a bronze medal at the 2000 Summer Olympics in Australia. Like Mohammed Sulaiman (track and field), Nasser Saleh Al-Attiyah (shooting), Jaber Salem (weightlifting), Talal Mansoor (athletics), he is one of the country`s most respected personages.
Qatar is the home of the ASPIRE Academy for Sports Excellence. It is one of the world`s leading elite sports institutions.The Academy has four departments: Sports, QESA (Quality Management ,Education and Social Affairs), IT (Information Technology) and Administration. These centers provide accommodations, coaching training facilities, Olympic studies and medical care for students from Qatar and the Third World. The Academy also participates in international sports exchanges and has signed official sports exchange agreements with Third World countries. This center is one of the most beautiful sports installations in the world. Andreas Bleicher, Sports director at ASPIRE, said: “We have always looked to position ASPIRE as an international academy whose primary focus in sports in Qatar. A major part of our approach has been to evaluate talent at on early stage and look to bring out the best in our young sportspeople. This intense, local focus has been matched by a global process of talent identification”.
The Qatari team won four gold, five silver and eight bronze medals during the Asian Games held in South Korea in 2002.
Mohammed Sulaiman became the first Qatari sportspeople to win an Olympic medal at the Olympic Games in 1992 in Barcelona, Spain. His achievement was greeted with joyful celebrations in the country. He also participated in athletics in the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta (USA). He was one of the best Arab and international runners of the 20th century.
Qatar was one of the 160 countries who participated at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, Republic of Korea. It participated in one sport: track and field. Some of the athletes were: Saad Mubarak (4×100m relay ), Talal Mansoor (100m), Faraj Marzouq (4×100m relay), Ismael Mohammed (800m), Mohammed Ahmed (1,500m), Ahmed Ibraheem (10,000m and 5,000m) and Rashid Marzouq (110m hurdles).
Mubarak Hassan Shami, one of athletics greatest performers, won a silver medal in the marathon at the IAAF World Championship in Japan in 2007.
The Qatari delegation competed in the 2007 Arab Games held in Cairo (Egypt), and won 14 gold, 13 silver and 13 bronze medals.
The Qatar Sports Club is considered one of the most beautiful and modern clubs in the world.
From 2000 to 2007, a large number of famous athletes visited Qatar. They included: Diego Armando Maradona (football), Haile Gebrselassie (track and field) and Nadia Comaneci (gymnastics).
The Qatari athlete Ibraheem Ismael was finalist in the 400m at the 1992 Olympics.
The Doha IAAF World Super Tour 2007 was the largest sports even in Qatar after the Doha Asian Games in 2006 and the FIFA World Youth Championship in 1995.
Khalfan Ibrahim Khalfan Al Khalfan is one of the most honourable athletes at present. In 2006, he was named Football Player of the Year by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC). He was born on February 18, 1988 in Doha.
Hassan Ali Bin Ali (chairman of the Doha Bid Committee) is an ardent supporter of the Olympic ideal and work hard on the promotion of the Olympic movement in Qatar.
The World Table Tennis Championship took place from March 1st to 7th 2004 in Qatar.
Qatar made its Olympic debut at the Games of the XXIII Olympiad in Los Angeles (California,USA) in 1984. It qualified 27 sportspeople in three sports: athletics, football and shooting.
The Qatari basketball team, with star players such as Hashim Zaidan Zaidan, Seleem Abdulla, Daoud Mousa Daoud and Erfan Ali Saeed , beat out the powerful South Korea team to win bronze medal in the 23rd Asian Championship that were held in Doha.
The state of Qatar won 6 medals at the 1990 Asian Games in Beijing (China), which counted with the participation of 6,122 athletes from 37 countries. Overall, Qatar ranked eight, after the People`s Republic of China, South Korea, Japan, North Korea, Iran, Pakistan and Indonesia.
By: Alejandro Guevara Onofre