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Struggling Cuba misses ’deserters’

Struggling Cuba misses ’deserters’
Saturday, 11 October 2014 10:32 Posted by Saad Jabri

HAVANA: Cuba has some of the world’s best volleyball players, but none
of them are helping the national team, once one of the most feared.
Instead, they are caught in a sporting Cold War.
Cuba’s women won the Olympic gold medal three times in a row between
1992 and 2000 and were fourth at the 2008 Beijing Games.
But they failed to qualify for the 2012 Games in London and suffered
five straight defeats at the world championships just ending in Italy,
against minnows such as Azerbaijan, Belgium and Puerto Rico.
The country’s men were world championship finalists in 2010 but also
failed to qualify for the London Olympics and only managed 12th place at
the world championships in Poland last month.
Most observers blame the rigid attitude of Cuba’s sporting authorities,
under the close control of the communist government of President Raul
The national federation considers the 50 top players now earning
handsome wages in leagues in Italy, Russia and Turkey as “deserters” to
be banished from the national side.
The spikers have followed top athletes from baseball and boxing, Cuba’s
other national sports, in escaping the island’s economic crisis by going
Osmany Juantorena won four world club championships with Italian side
Trentino, but is excluded from the national side. The same goes for the
2.06-metre (6ft 9 inch) Robertlandy Simon, now in the South Korean
league; Wilfredo Leon, with Zenit Kazan in Russia; and Raidel
Hierrezuelo with Halkank Ankara in Turkey.
Women’s stars Rosir Calderon, Nancy Carrillo and Yanelis Santos are
central figures in Russian sides Dinamo Krasnodar, Omichka Omsk and Club
Leningradka in St Petersburg, respectively.
Their absence leaves Cuba to rely on young, untried players and those
who would not normally get a look into the once feared national team.

Source: Struggling Cuba misses 'deserters' –

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