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Cuban Beach Volleyball Girls Want to Sweat Gold in Toronto

Cuban Beach Volleyball Girls Want to Sweat Gold in Toronto

Posted by Miguel Ernesto on February 03, 2015

Cuban beach volleyball looks forward to recovering positions lost over the past five years. Twelve years ago, couples Dalixia Fernandez - Tamara Larrea and Francisco Alvarez – Juan Rosell made history as they climbed to the top of the podium at Santo Domingo Pan-American Games, in 2003; but the positive results faded away. Changing this worrying reality is the goal of a group of coaches and two duos that stood out at Central American and Caribbean Games held in Veracruz, where they won the gold medal.

At the Mexican city, 24-year-old Lianma Flores and 21-year-old Leila Martinez had a perfect performance and conquered the Central American title. This couple is characterized by strong attack and acceptable defense, and it has already guaranteed its presence in the Pan-American Games of Toronto.

According to Maira Ferrer del Valle, the coach of Lianma and Leila, the training has started very well in 2015. “This year’s schedule is very intense, since we have such events as the NORCECA circuit and we’ll do world circuits. The regional schedule includes 15 stops and we want to be in the phases of Guatemala and El Salvador.”

“Anything could happen in the Pan-American Games, and the truth is that we’ll face high-quality rivals from Canada, United States, Mexico, Costa Rica, Brazil and Argentina. Our first aim is ranking among the first eight couples and in this stage, with one game in our pocket, we would stand among the four couples competing in the final”, Ferrer said.

Lianma told Panamerican World that she’ll go to Toronto with big expectations. “I strongly believe that the participation in world circuits this year is going to make us be more experienced players, as we’ll see the work of the finest couples from Brazil, United States and Canada, which is the venue and is going to make the most to win medals. Our level is higher, we’ve spent four years working as a couple and, along with coach Maira, we have a goal. We’ll do our best in Toronto”, she expressed.

Leila also showed optimism and explained that they have worked hard to fight for a medal at the Canadian city. “This edition of the Games is going to be gorgeous”, the Central American champion smiled.

ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE COURT

There is also great expectation among the male players. The couple made up of 24-year-old Sergio Gonzalez and 21-year-old Nivaldo Diaz showed its worth during Veracruz Central American Games, with powerful attacks and remarkable reaction capability, as it defeated the Venezuelan couple Jackson Henriquez - Jesus Villafañe (2 sets - 1). They know that they are going to face powerful rivals in Toronto.

The coach of the national team, Leonides Regüeiferos, explained that they are now working to correct technical-tactical elements, with emphasis on the physical training. We’re going to the Games to win medals. The color will be decided there. We’ll keep on competing in the NORCECA Circuit and some stages of the world Circuit.”

During the previous Pan-American competition, 2011 Guadalajara, Sergio Gonzalez, who was 19 years old at the moment, played with Karel Peña. The results were not as good as expected, because the couple lost with Mexico and was eliminated. Four years later, Sergio wants to change history, now with Nivaldo Diaz as his couple.

Gonzalez goes to Toronto with one objective in mind: standing on the podium. “Our present level is high. We have great potential. The title obtained in Veracruz Central American Games encouraged us. Our participation in the World Circuit and NORCECA will demand a lot from us and that’s going to be very important for the continental event, where we’ll be playing against the best couples from Brazil, United States and Canada”, he said.

Nivaldo defended the same idea and highlighted the importance of participating in world circuits “where we’ll have the opportunity to witness games at the highest level and that’s going to be great, since we spend most of the time working on the physical aspect, while there are few competitions, except for NORCECA. We’re very optimistic and we’ll fight for a positive result”, he commented.

Beach volleyball was included in the Pan-American Games’ official competition program since Winnipeg, in 1999. In the four editions, Cuba has won 2 titles (both in 2003), one silver medal obtained by Fernandez and Larrea in 2007 and a bronze one achieved by Alvarez Cutiño and Leonel Munder, also in Rio de Janeiro. Will Cuban beach volleyball players increase the number of medals? The physical training of the two couples that are going to play in Toronto seems to be very good, but they are shy of what distinguishes their strongest rivals from Brazil, United States and Canada: competitive experience. 

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