By Nikos Mottas – Aug 12, 2021
The performance of the Cuban athletes who took part in the XXXII Olympics in Tokyo and achieved a total of 15 medals causes admiration and pride.
Leaving behind much larger countries with rich tradition in sports, the small socialist Cuba with a population of 11 million people ranked 14th in the Olympic medal list, winning seven gold, three silver and five bronze medals.
Of course, this is not the first time that Cuba has performed great in the Olympics. For many decades, despite the genocidal economic, trade and financial blockade imposed by the United States, the Island of the Revolution has triumphed in multiple Olympics.
In 2004 in Athens, Cuba ranked 11th with a total of 27 medals. In 2008 in Beijing, the country of Fidel was placed in the 19th place having won 30 medals, while at the 2012 London Olympics Cuba ranked 16th with 15 medals.
It is worth noting that, based on the total number of medals won at the Summer Olympic Games, Cuba comes second, after the United States, in the entire American continent with 241 medals (85-71-85). That means that Cuba has more Olympic medals than large Latin American countries, like Brazil (150), Mexico (73) and Argentina (77), while it ranks first among the Spanish-speaking world surpassing Spain (167 medals).
Cuba’s great sporting tradition is a product of the 1959 Revolution and the subsequent socialist construction. Having as their sole sponsor the care of the socialist state and being far from the sirens of commercialization, Cuban athletes were and remain ambassadors of the Cuban people and the Cuban Revolution.
A great example was the legendary boxer Teofilo Stevenson who in the 1970s turned own a $5 million offer by the US to become “professional” and fight against the then champion Muhammed Ali. His extraordinary answer is the epitomy of dignity and patriotism: “What is five million dollars against the love of eight million Cubans?”
Overcoming enormous difficulties, a continuous economic, political and media-related war by the US imperialists, the Cuban flag waved proudly in Tokyo. And if there is one thing we will keep in memory, apart from the 15 medals won by Cuban athletes, is the message sent by gold medalist boxer Julio César la Cruz after his victory over dissident Emanuel Reyes Pla: “Homeland or Death! We will win!”
Featured image: A collage of the Cuban medal winners at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Photo from Cuba Debate.