The excitement of the national taekwondo team…”See you at the Paris Olympics”

국가대표 선수촌에서 구슬땀 흘리는 쿠바 태권도 선수들

“Clear! Salute!” Cheerful Korean chants rang out from the taekwondo practice center of the Olympic Village on the outskirts of Havana, Cuba’s capital city, on Sept. 19 (local time).Inside, a dozen of the country’s hard-muscled male taekwondo athletes were literally dripping with sweat as they trained in the light-blue exterior of a building that resembles Caribbean waters. The athletes had been warming up for over two hours, following their coach’s shouts and instructions, from warm-ups to intense bouts. “We are working hard, including the women, who train separately from the regular army, to prepare for the Americas qualifiers for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris,” said Rene Garcia, 60, head coach of the Cuban national taekwondo team. Taekwondo’s roots in Cuba date back nearly 40 years.

In 1986, the Cuban government decided to introduce taekwondo in the country and began training athletes. Some of the coaches were former karate athletes who had already settled in the country. Cuba, which had no diplomatic relations with South Korea at the time, also received training from North Korean taekwondo masters. After a brief hiatus in the mid-1990s due to the country’s internal situation, official training began again in the mid-to-late 1990s, and the number of dojos began to grow. The Cuban Taekwondo Association said that taekwondo has become very popular among teenagers in Cuba, and the national training center is dominated by young athletes, so when I asked the head coach about it, he said that there are 16- and 17-year-old students .”I’m trying to make it to the Paris Olympics,” said 17-year-old Exsuan Cardenas Kos, a 2-meter tall athlete who I met at the athletes’ village, adding with a smile, “You’ll have to wait and see.”

Cuban taekwondo athletes are well aware of the diplomatic ties with South Korea and hope that it will lead to more interaction between the two countries’ taekwondo athletes. Yaniel Fernandez, 19, a bronze medalist at the Pan American Games, a multi-sport competition for athletes from countries across the Americas, said, “Before (the diplomatic ties), we had very little contact, but when we met at competitions, it was good,” adding, “We get along well, and we will continue to do so. “The Cuban Taekwondo Association also said it plans to sign an agreement with the Korean National Academy in the near future to strengthen exchange and cooperation.”I think it’s a victory for Cuban taekwondo that the Kukkiwon has taken notice of us,” said Ivan Fernandez Quiros, 50, president of the Cuban Taekwondo Association. “We’ve already had contacts at the international level, so I think there will be opportunities for mutual 메이저 exchange.”

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