The main purpose of the Cuban delegation that will take part in the upcoming Pan American Games of Guadalajara, Mexico, scheduled from October 14 through 30, is to keep its traditional second place-finish in the medal standings, which was first attained in Cali 1971, except for Havana in 1991, where the Cuban athletes topped the table as hosts.
With the slogan: "To Guadalajara, for victory, with patriotism, honor, and dignity", 442 Cuban athletes will compete to place second for the tenth time, only behind the U.S., the traditional continental leader that was unexpectedly relegated to the second spot in 1991.
Specialists affirm that the goal of the Caribbean island will not be easy to attain, but it is possible; their main rivals are Canada, Brazil, and Mexico, due to its condition as host.
One of the main obstacles that the Cuban athletes must overcome is the fact that they will only take part in 28 out of a total of 36 disciplines summoned by the organizers of the competition; therefore, they will only contend for 250 titles out of 361, which means they will be absent in 111.
Another element to take into account is that 65 % of the 442 Cuban athletes attend for the first time to Pan-American Games, and only 19% of them participated in the Olympic Games in Beijing, 2008, which shows that it is a very young delegation.
However, Cuban sports authorities agree that the athletes have had a satisfactory training stage and they believe that they are ready to keep Cuba's second place in the event.
There will be lots of opportunities for winning medals, but it is not a secret that gold medals define the position in the medal table. Once again combat sports and athletics, among others, will be strongholds for Cuba.
Undoubtedly, in track and field there are several outstanding figures, led by sprint hurdler Dayron Robles and long jumper Yargelis Savigne.
Greco-Roman wrestler Mijain Lopez is one of favorites in wrestling as well as judokas who also hold Olympic and world titles like Lopez, such as Idalis Ortiz (+78 kg), Yalennis Castillo (78), Yurisleidis Lupetey (57), Yanet Bermoy (52), Oscar Braison (+100) and Oreidis Despaigne (100), in addition to Asley Gonzalez (90), who has had a remarkable performance in top level events during the present year.
Boxers are also expected to shine as they just finished an excellent job in the World Championship in Baku, Azerbaijan, where they secured seven Olympic tickets and the second place by nations guided by the two champions: featherweight Lazaro Alvarez and light heavyweight Julio Cesar de la Cruz.
In rowing, which grants a considerable number of medals, the Cuban representatives will also try to make their best, as well as in team sports such as baseball, and volleyball, mainly in the men's event.
In the previous Pan American Games of Rio de Janeiro in 2007, Cuba endedin the second position with 59 gold medals, 35 silver, and 41 bronze. Itwas preceded by the United States (97-88-52) and followed by Brazil (52-40-55), Canada (39-44-55), and Mexico (18-24-31).
Four years ago, track and field contributed the highest number of gold medals (12) for the Cuban delegation, followed by wrestling (9) and boxing, judo, weight-lifting, and rowing, with five titles each.