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Cuban Tae Kwon Do Experts to Fight Their Way up to Victory in 2015 Toronto

Cuban Tae Kwon Do Experts to Fight Their Way up to Victory in 2015 Toronto

Posted by PanamericanWorld on June 25, 2015

Cuba is going to do its best so as to win in 2015 Toronto Pan-American Games with the country’s tae kwon do experts; nevertheless, prevailing over the continent seems to be a difficult task, especially when the women’s team won’t have its main figure, Glenhis Hernandez, as she was suspended for one year because of her obscene gesture during the awards ceremony of the Central American and Caribbean Games, in Veracruz.

Four years ago, in Guadalajara, Cuba ranked first on the medal table with five medals, two of which were golden. This year, at Mississauga Sports Centre, venue of this sport in Toronto, standing near that number will be the true challenge. In order to learn details about the Cuban tae kwon do training and its aspiration in the tournament, PanamericanWorld talked to trainers and athletes.

According to Ramon Arias, head of the women’s team, having athletes qualified in all divisions was a great achievement. “It wasn’t easy at the beginning, since we had Glenhis Hernandez suspended in the 67 kilogram division and Lisbeilis Ferran was injured, so we had to focus on the fourth athlete that won a position for Cuba.”

“This team has no experience in Pan-American Games, although three of them participated in the Veracruz Central American Games and Yania Aguirre and Yamicel Nuñez are world medalists. We haven’t had the contact we need at the international level, but we make the most of every opportunity we’re given in Cuba. We hope that all of our athletes can reach such a level that they can go to the Pan-American Games without any complex, inhibitions, so they feel that they are ready to do their best there, but it’s going to be very difficult to win a medal. Our main aspirations are on the legs of Yamicel Nuñez and Lisbeilis Ferran”, Arias said.

Yania Aguirre will be representing Cuba in the 49 kg division and she told us that the training has been great. “We’re watching videos of our rivals, since we haven’t participated in international competitions. We’re studying them in order to outline a combat plan and defeat them”, she pointed out.

57 kg Yamicel Nuñez is one of the main hopes of Cuban women’s tae kwon do. She says that attending Chelyabinsk World Championship was “a good and hard experience because we saw how the elite trains. I believe that our performance at the Pan-American Games is going to be positive. It’s an honor to represent my country in Toronto. These are new experiences, but I’m ready to show everything I have in the competition and stand on the podium”, she underscored.

The trip to Toronto is going to be very special for Daima Villalon, 67 kg. She’s 22 years old and the Pan-American Games will be her first international competition. “My rivals are tough, but I’ll do my best to collect a medal”, she confidently said. 


The men’s tae kwon do team is going to play a leading role in the final position of Cuba on the medal table. In Chelyabinsk World Championship two Cuban athletes were on the podium, both with bronze medals (Rafael Alba and Robelis Despaigne) and these tae kwon do experts are favorites in their divisions.

According to Ramon Cardenas, main trainer of the team, most of the training to go to the Pan-American Games has been focused on “improving some tactical aspects related to the kicks, instep, hip, so the hits can be more effective, because the new electric head protector needs more sensors. Some of the kicks given by our athletes in the World Championship didn’t score and we can’t let technology undermine our results”, he explained.

The strongest tae kwon do expert in the team is Rafael Alba, who fights in +80 kg division. After his world bronze, he’ll go for the title in Toronto. “My rivals are strong, well ranked, but I’ll make it”, he underlined.

19-year-old Jose Angel Aguiar is going to make his debut in Pan-American Games, in 68 kilograms. “Obtaining good results, that’s my mission. We’re working hard on our kicks to the head, so the points can be registered, because the electronic head protector has just a few sensors”, he explained.

80-kg Jose Angel Cobas is another athlete to fight in Toronto and he has potential to be on the podium. “These have been months of sacrifice. I started in Veracruz, where I got the gold, and I later competed in the world Championship, but I’m not happy with the results. Now I’m proud to stand for my country in the Pan-American Games. The training is very good. I’ll face strong rivals in the division, such as the five-time world champion and twice Olympic winner US Steve Lopez, and a Mexican fighter that holds the sixth position in the world ranking. I’ve worked hard, watched videos, studied them, so everything will be decided during the match”, he said during a brief pause in his training.

Eight medals will be on the table for tae kwon do experts: four for men (58, 68, 80 and +80 kilograms) and four for women (49, 57, 67 and +67 kilograms). This is going to be the eighth edition of the Pan-American Games with the presence of men’s tae kwon do, since its debut in Indianapolis, 1987; on the other hand, the girls had to wait eight years, until Mar del Plata Games, in 1995. Individually, Mexican Victor Estrada has been the most outstanding athlete in Pan-American Games, as he has won four medals, three of which are golden.

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