Wrestling in Cuba
I recently had a long conversation with friends of mine who were Olympians for Colombia, and world reps from PR and Argentina. They had the opportunity to train in Cuba for a few months, so I figured I'd pass on some of their comments about the Russian system.
My Colombian buddy has trained extensively in Europe as well as in the States, at the OTC, so he was able to give me a comparative analysis. He said that hands down, Cuba has the most grueling training in the world. It is well known that Cuba has rugged training facilities. However, their current training methods are also quite rugged. What is seen here in the States as unconventional (30 minute matches, 10 mile runs), are an everyday thing in Cuba. As a result, Cuban athletes are tough, as a byproduct, their training takes a huge toll on their wrestlers.
During the hay days of the USSR, there was a lot of Soviet influence in the Cuban training. It seems as though the 2 or so decades that have passed since the peak of Soviet influence in Cuba, has led to the to emergence of Cuban training methods, which perhaps are not the best.
The second thing he mentioned are the false promises. In the past, Cuban athletes were nicely compensate for World and Olympic medals. Now, Cuban athletes are led to believe that if they win Olympic and World Championships, it has become more and more noticeable that those are false promises. Quintana, for example, has had little desire to train, as there is not much that wrestling can do for him. I was told he is "not recognizable" during the 'off season.' Although i'm not exactly sure what this means when he steps on the scale, it seems that he packs on 30 or more pounds over his competition weight.
Another well known fact is the defecting of Cuban wrestlers and coaches. When the team travels internationally, many of their best wrestlers see the advantages of living in other nations. Not only are some of their best athletes leaving the Island, but so are some of their best coaches.
It is my opinion that Cuba's wrestling will not reach the success it has had in the past. The system beats up the athletes, provides little incentive to compete, and the rich influence of the Soviet nations continues to decline.
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