VERACRUZ.— The judo competition has started and the Cuban delegation is increasing its medal count. Five fighters took to the tatami mats of the World Trade Center in Veracruz and the five left victorious at the 22nd edition of the Central American and Caribbean Games.
Dayaris Mestre, in the 44kg category, opened the way to the gold medals and just like her peers who succeeded her, she had no need to exhaust the regulation time, claiming victory in just four minutes.
“How do I feel? Imagine, today is my birthday, what better gift than this? ” Mestre said. Then came María Celia Laborde with two beautiful throws, to be declared queen of Veracruz in just 58 seconds. “I had lost to Edna (Carrillo) in the final of the Pan-American Championship last year, so to return to dispute the title in an event like this, allowed me to shake off the pain of that loss,” the athlete from Guantanamo declared.
Leonardo Meriño and Janier Peña, in the men’s 55kg and 60kg categories, arrived with hopes of bronze, so the gold medals they achieved surpassed these pre-competition calculations. Coach Justo Noda had placed them in third place, but “he never lost faith in us, possibilities are one thing, reality is another, I think that’s why he brought us here, because we never settled on that prediction as our goal”, Merino explained.
Peña added that the Dominican, Abel Montero, was not unknown to him, “we competed for the bronze in Ecuador in the continental competition, it is difficult, but I repeat, we are very well prepared and I think this result inspires our team and means that the rest also go out confident, that the mat has the last word”.
Janet Bemoy, World and Olympic medalist closed the victorious day in one minute fifty seconds. “The competition was not very demanding, however, coach Veitía has always told us that we set our own goals. That is why each fight was resolved so quickly,” she stated.
She explained that she had competed against the same opponents in the qualifying tournament. “The Haitian, Linouse Desravine, was the one who demanded the most of us, she trains in France and has acquired a high level, although María (García), from the Dominican Republic, was expected to be the one to beat”.
After the award ceremonies, Nacho, one of the volunteers working in the hall, approached us with one of those very typical witty expressions of a Veracruz inhabitant: “journalist, if judo has an anthem, it is Cuban”.
Digital Granma Internacional, November 21, 2014