Cuban cadets win mixed event ahead of Youth Olympic qualifier
In a shoot-off against top-seeded Brazil, Cuba’s recurve cadet pair shot 19 points to defeat their opponents by five and take the mixed team gold medal at the world ranking event taking place in Guatemala City.
It’s a particularly significant victory because both Yailin Paredes and Hazael Rodriguez travelled to Guatemala with a bigger goal in mind – to win spots for Cuba to attend the Youth Olympics in Buenos Aires later in 2018.
The Americas continental qualifying tournament for those Games takes place later in the competition week.
Paredes and Rodriguez will shoot for the quota places against the same archers that they met in the mixed team competition. They should take confidence from straight-set victories over the Virgin Islands and Argentina in pairs matchplay – and a come-from-behind win over Brazil, which saw the Cuban athletes close with 39- and 37-point sets to force the tiebreak.
“My teammate and I were focused. She shot first and it was a nine. I wanted to do well, too, and shot my arrow with my heart in my hand and it was a 10,” said Rodriguez, who comes from the city of Sancti Spiritus, recalling the shoot-off.
“We just did what we had been doing at home and victory came along.”
Youth Olympic competition is at 60 metres while the Paredes and Rodriguez are more used to shooting at 70 metres, which is standard for both junior and senior events in Cuba.
“At the beginning it was not like what we are used to, mainly because of the synthetic grass [in the tournament stadium] and the large number of archers, but as time passed I started to feel comfortable,” added Rodriguez.
“My concentration was not 100% at the start, but my coaches helped me and I was able to focus again. I breathed deeply, and started to relax and to enjoy the shots.”
As well as the cadet Youth Olympic qualifier, the world ranking event in Guatemala also includes competition for junior, senior and masters athletes.
The top seedings after qualification in the senior categories were taken by Chile’s Andres Aguilar, Argentina’s Florencia Leithold Juarez, Roberto Hernandez of El Salvador and Guatemalan compound woman Sofia Lourdes Paiz.
The third world ranking tournament in the Americas in 2018 takes place in Guatemala City, Guatemala on 7 to 12 May.