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Havana.  December 11, 2013

Cuba’s Best Athletes of 2013

Enrique Montesinos

JUDO world champions Idalis Ortiz and Asley González emerged victorious against four other remarkable athletes in the annual survey conducted to select Cuba’s best athletes of the year, the results of which were announced November 28, in Havana’s Ciudad Deportiva coliseum.

Idalis, from Pinar del Río, is a repeat winner, having come away with the honor last year, while this is a first for Asley, from the province of Villa Clara.

London 2012 Olympic judokas (gold and silver, respectively), both athletes have maintained a high level of performance this year, dominating the 2013 Brazil World competition, which no doubt earned them votes in the traditional survey conducted by the National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation (INDER) and the Union of Cuban Journalists’ Sports Writers Circle.

Close on their heels in the voting were boxers Julio César la Cruz and Lázaro Álvarez, champions in Almaty, Kazakhstan, along with the tae kwon do athletes Glenhis Hernández and Rafael Alba Castillo, who impressed with their performances in Puebla, Mexico, where they led an unexpected Cuban second place finish – behind South Korea - by adding three bronze medals.

This accomplishment made tae kwon do a strong candidate for the Best Individual Sport award, along with judo, which finished third in Río de Janeiro, but the recognition ultimately went to boxing, given the team’s second place finish worldwide, with two gold medals, two silver and one bronze.

The boxing team came away with two additional distinctions. Havana’s Yoandry Toirac, Pan American champion in his division, was voted Rookie of the Year, just ahead of volleyball player Melissa Vargas. Joahnys Argilagos from Camaguey was recognized as Best Juvenile Athlete of 2013 (male), and definitely looked promising during his performance in Kiev, Ukraine, where he won the 46kg juvenile title.

Judo, passed over as most outstanding sport, garnered an individual award with Gusmari García (+78 kg), world juvenile champion, recognized as Best Juvenile Athlete 2013 among young women.

There was a tight race for the Best Team Sport award between basketball, juvenile football and baseball. The women’s national basketball team, champions in the Pre-World tournament in Jalapa, was recognized as tops, with shooter Yamara Amargo dominating the vote for Best Female Athlete in a team sport.

Among men, Cuba’s baseball stars led the competition for individual honors, with Villa Clara’s pitcher Freddy Asiel Álvarez and homerun hitter Alfredo Despaigne from Granma in a tight race. The former won out and both contributed to baseball’s recognition as Best Team Sport 2013.

THE BEST

Individual athlete (f): Idalis Ortiz, judo. Individual athlete (m): Asley González, judo. Individual Athlete in a team sport (f): Yamara Amargo, basketball. Individual Athlete in a team sport (m): Freddy A. Álvarez, baseball. Rookie of the Year: Yoandry Toirac, boxing. Best Team: Basketball (f). Best Individual Sport: Boxing. Best Team Sport: Baseball. THE TOP TEN: Lázaro Álvarez, boxing; Julio C. la Cruz, boxing; Yarisley Silva, atletics; Rafael Castillo, tae kwon do; Glenhis Hernández, tae kwon do; Leinier Domínguez, chess; Pedro P. Pichardo, atletics; Alfredo Despaigne, baseball; Liván López, wresting; Ángel Fournier, rowing.

SPECIAL ACTIVITIES: Johen Lefont, ball handling.

JUVENILE: Best Athlete (f): Gusmari García, judo. Best Athlete (m): Joahnys Argilagos, boxing.

THE TOP TEN: Maikel Franco, boxing; Ediel Márquez, weighlifting; Alayn Limonta, boxing; Lázaro Martínez, atletics; Yulenmis Aguilar, atletics; Reinier Mena, atletics; Liván Martínez, ping-pong; Yoan Moncada, baseball; Yorgelis Rodríguez, atletics; Melissa Vargas, volleyball.
 

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