Cuban Shooters will Aim at the Gold in Toronto
Cuban Shooters will Aim at the Gold in Toronto
The Cuban delegation that is going to participate in 2015 Toronto Pan American Games has one goal in mind: holding the second position on the medals table. In order to achieve this objective, which actually looks complicated as the Cuban athletes are only going to compete for 217 out of the 364 set of medals, the results in each sport have to equal or surpass those obtained four years ago, in Guadalajara. Shooting is one of the disciplines to improve the outcome.
In Guadalajara, the Cuban shooters ranked third with only six medals: one gold —obtained by Dianelys Perez, in rifle 3x20—, four silvers and one bronze. The US won the event with 10 titles and Guatemala finished second.
Shooter Leuris Pupo disappointed Cuba in that event, since he didn’t even get to the podium. A year later, in London Olympic Games, Pupo made history by shooting for the gold in fast gun 25 meters. Therefore, expectations are high on the performance of this Holguin-born shooter in Toronto.
38-year-old Leuris Pupo has participated in other editions of the Pan American Games. He won his first medal in Santo Domingo, 2003, with 689.8 points, thus setting a record for the event. Afterwards, in Rio de Janeiro, he repeated the victory with higher score: 784; and he’ll go for the third crown in Toronto.
Before flying to the Canadian city, Pupo talked to PanamericanWorld. “I’m feeling great. This is my fifth edition of the Pan American Games, I’ve grown more experienced and my results have been positive at world level. I always participate in Pan American Games with my mind focused on scoring higher than World Cups.
I’m still haven’t got over Guadalajara, so I’m planning to go for my third gold medal. The munitions are very good and I have a top-notch gun, so I’m going to shoot at world level, aiming at the Olympics. The team is very optimistic. We’ve proven that, way before Veracruz Central American and Caribbean Games, Cuba was in great shape and we even defeated the United States in the Pan American Games of this sport. We’re all going to do our best and win medals for Cuba”, the Olympic champion underlined.
Among Cuban female shooters, 35-year-old Eglys Cruz is the most experienced one, as she has been a Pan American champion twice and she’s also an Olympic medalist.
In 2003, when she was only 23, Cruz surprised everybody with her crown in Santo Domingo Games, where she prevailed on rifle 3x20, with 668.5 points. Later on, in Rio de Janeiro, her performance was even better as she ranked first in air rifle, 10 meters, and second in rifle 3x20. In Guadalajara Pan Am Games, Cruz was on the podium twice, since she finished second in two rifle competitions.
In Toronto, Eglys is going to stand out among the Cuban athletes. “The training for this edition of the Games has been very good. The members of the team are young; this is actually the first time some of them participate in Pan Am Games, but they are doing fine. We’ve made the most of each training session with low resources in terms of munitions, so we can obtain high scores. I always want to win, so I’m going to fight for the title”, she said.
27-year-old Dianelys Perez will be one of the main rivals for Cruz, as she is the only Cuban athlete that won the gold in Guadalajara. “We’ve trained a lot this year. In March we participated in a competition in El Salvador; we later went to the World Cup in Munich and trained in Guatemala. This is going to be the third time I compete in the Pan American Games. I’m looking forward to reaching the finals of the events and winning at least one medal”, she said.
Besides Pupo’s contribution, Cuban shooting coaches count on the vast experience of Guillermo Alfredo Torres, since this is going to be the tenth time he participates in the Pan American Games.
Torres made his debut in San Juan, in 1979, when he won the bronze. His grand moment took place in Havana, 1991, when he set a world record in the individual competition. Over the last four decades, Torres has won two titles and he will certainly fight for his third crown in Toronto.
“Cuban sport shooting is living great times. We already have six Olympic qualifications. In Toronto, we’ll try to be in the finals and get a medal so as to qualify to the Olympic Games. This is going to be my tenth edition of the Pan American Games. I’ll try to go higher than the silver medal I got in Guadalajara. It’s been a lot of years, but experience is very important when it comes to shooting, so I’m going to aim at a good result”, the veteran 56-year-old shooter explained.
Jorge Grau also dreams about improving his performance, since he was fourth in Guadalajara 2011, with the air gun. “We’ve trained hard and participated in important events. Munich World Cup was very important to the athletes. The objective in my second Pan American Games is to sharpshoot, be in the finals and fight for medals. The Pan Am Games are the half of the training cycle. We’ll use them strategically to take our scores up, sharpen our technique and go to the Olympic Games in our best shape”, Grau said.