The bronze medal for the high bar event was secured in fine style on November 1, by Cuba’s Manrique Larduet, who left the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships, at which he was competing for the first time, with two medals.
The gymnast from Santiago de Cuba, 19, reawakened the dreams of those who follow this sport on the island, by taking the men’s all-around silver medal and securing his place at the Olympic Games in Río de Janeiro, 2016.
Manrique gained 15.600 points on one of the most spectacular apparatus and was only surpassed by Japan’s Kohei Uchimura (15.833) and Danell Leyva (15.700) of the U.S.
His final score is higher than the 15.333 points accumulated in the individual all-around and the 15.058 from the classification stage, constituting the highest number of points he has ever achieved, as his coach Carlos Gil told JIT, in an interview from the Scottish city of Glasgow, where the worldwide competition was held.
“We are all very happy, not only due to the medals but also because we are fulfilling the idea of Fidel, who once again showed great vision conceiving our school,” he explained, thanking all those who have supported the team and enjoyed the performances at the SSE Hydro Arena.
Larduet also came in fifth on the parallel bars with 15.733 points, a specialty in which the gold went to China’s Hao You (16.216).
Gil also praised the performances of Cubans Randy Lerú and Marcia Videaux, who demonstrated did well despite not making the finals, and will seek their Olympic spots during events to be held in April in Brazil.
This is the first time that a Cuban gymnast has secured more than one medal at a World Championships, with the only two previous winners being Erick López, who won silver on the parallel bars, and Charles León who took the bronze in the vault event, both in Ghent, Belgium, 2001.
Erick himself, now a methodologist for the sport’s national commission, praised the results of his compatriots in conversation with Radio Havana Cuba, describing them as magnificent and unexpected.
“We never imagined two medals and four finals, although we knew of Larduet’s talent and desire to be champion,” he added, assuring that there is the possibility of securing a medal in Río, and that we are witnessing a revival of Cuban gymnastics.
BACK HOME TO A NEW CHALLENGE
Upon his arrival to Havana’s José Martí International Airport, wearing his two medals, Manrique Larduet told Granma, “We have been working with a focus on seeking a medal and qualifying for the Olympic Games, and at the final we accomplished this. It was a very elegant competition, quite a show, and I am very proud to have won on this grand stage. This is what we have fought for, for nine years.”
“We have achieved successes step by step, and now we have only the Olympic Games left. So we have to get to work. I promised Randy that I would qualify this time, and he promised me he would get me a ticket to the Pre-Olympic in April, to parade along with our delegation,” Manrique added, also noting the support he enjoyed of Cubans living abroad who were happy to see the country return to the elite level in gymnastics.
The team’s return to Cuba was an exciting one for all present, with stellar gymnast
Erick López, former Pan American champion and World Cup medal winner, also on hand. Coach Carlos Rafael Gil told the press that, during this last week, he has been the happiest man on the planet.
“I will be honest with you, I still don’t believe it, I am not sure it happened, but it is something big, a tremendous impression to see so many people, with so much experience, approaching us to offer congratulations. This is what we have worked for, and honestly, there is nothing better than the feeling of having fulfilled one’s duty,” Gil said, who hasn’t forgotten his ambitions for the future.
“Now it’s time to rest; we were just talking about that during the return trip. After recharging our batteries, the work continues. We are thinking about increasing the level of difficulty on several apparatuses, and getting in optimal condition for Río, in addition to seeking greater presence for Randy and Marcia in the Olympic Games,” he concluded.