Despite Mexico dominating the 2014 Central American and Caribbean Games (CACG) medal table for almost the whole competition, Cuba managed to emerge as the final winner of the event.
Cuba ended with 123 gold, 66 silver and 65 bronze medals, while Mexico, the host nation, finished in second place with 115, 106 and 111 medals respectively. It was the 10th time Cuba has won the games. It did not participate in the 2010 tournament in Puerto Rico because of restrictions imposed by the U.S. blockade.
In 2002 and 2010, Mexico won more gold medals than any other country that participated in the jousts of San Salvador and in Mayagüez respectively, both of which took place without the participation of Cuba, as the team was not guaranteed the minimal conditions as stipulated in the regulations of the International Olympic Movement.
Medals in boxing and athletics finally helped Cuba top the table, with the Caribbean island winning 33 gold medals during the weekend.
Mexico was represented by 752 athletes and Cuba with 543 athletes. Cuba maintained its seat of honour, which it had lost since the first time it rose to the top, in the now distant 1970 edition in Panama.
Finishing third and fourth were Colombia, with 416 athletes, among whom were seven London 2012 Olympic medal winners, and Venezuela, which had arrived with 546 aspiring athletes. Four years ago in Mayagüez, the country came in second with 116 gold medals, only 11 fewer than Mexico. Colombia also surpassed a hundred victories in the previous games, with 104 gold medals.
While the Central American and Caribbean Games do not have the same pedigree as the Pan American Games let alone the Olympics, they nevertheless represent a major challenge. With the lighting of the flame on November 14, to mark the start of the twenty-second edition of the Games, the oldest regional games of the modern era, the fraternal struggle to be the fastest, strongest and highest in more than 40 sports began.
A total of 32 countries participated in the games that were held in the port city of Veracruz, in the Gulf of Mexico.
This year’s Veracruz 2014 CACG saw 56 new records set and had a historically high female participation rate.
Mexico hosted this multi-sport event for the fourth time, having hosted the first edition in 1926, followed by those of 1954 and 1990.
With files from teleSUR and Granma
Champions welcomed home
The return of the last group of athletes’ participating in the Veracruz Games coincided with the 58th anniversary of the Granma landing
(Dec. 2) – Yesterday evening, December 1, Cuban President Raúl Castro Ruz welcomed the last group of athletes, coaches, referees, medical personnel and other authorities returning from the XXII Central American and Caribbean Games, Veracruz 2014.
On the tarmac at Havana’s José Martí International Airport, Raúl, along with Vice President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez, and José Ramón Fernández, head of Cuba’s Olympic Committee, greeted the victorious group and conversed with several of the champion wrestlers, boxers and members of the rowing and volleyball teams, among others.
The leader of Cuba’s delegation to Veracruz, Olympic champion wrestler Mijaín López Núñez, spoke for the athletes, expressing the joy he felt upon returning home, “having attained our medal of dignity.” He thanked the Cuban people for their support.
Vice President Miguel Díaz-Canel Bermúdez commented, “We are often introduced to history via symbols, and it is very symbolic that we are on the eve of another anniversary of the Granma landing, and the establishment of our undefeated, glorious Revolutionary Armed Forces, and you are arriving to the homeland victorious and honourably.”
“Welcome to the homeland, champions,” he concluded.