Cuban vice president sends off Olympic delegation

Havana, July 17 (IANS) Cuba’s First Vice President Miguel Diaz-Canel handed over the national flag to two-time wrestling Olympic champion Mijain Lopez for the Rio de Janeiro Games next month and urged the 120 athletes that make up the island’s delegation to perform at the best of their abilities.

In a ceremony at Havana’s Revolution Square on Saturday, Diaz-Canel handed the Cuban flag to Lopez who has been the island’s bearer since Beijing 2008, reports Xinhua.

“It’s a great honour being the Cuban flag-bearer for the third time in a row and we’ve shown the world that we can be the best country in Latin America and the Caribbean at the Olympics and I think it won’t be different at Rio de Janeiro,” said Lopez to Xinhua.

Cuba’s delegation is made up of 120 athletes that will compete in 18 disciplines and the best chances at reaching Olympic medals can come in boxing, wrestling, judo, track and field and gymnastics.

“The overall training for these Olympics has been very good and our expectations are very high,” said Lopez.

Meanwhile, Eduardo Becali, president of the Cuban Institute of Sports (INDER), said the goal of the delegation is to be in the top 20 of the world and surpass the five gold medals obtained in London 2012.

“Our 120 athletes of 18 sports know what they mean to millions of Cubans that will follow them in the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games and will cheer them from the distance,” said Becali.

The government sports official said the Cuban athletes will dedicate their participation in Rio to the 90th birthday of former president and revolution leader, Fidel Castro.

Cuba left London 2012 with a total of 15 medals (5 gold, 3 silver, and 7 bronze).

–IANS

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