The XXIII edition of the games held in Barranquilla culminated without surprises, since the two mentioned countries returned to do the 1st and 2nd in the medal table
After 23 editions of the Central American and Caribbean Games, it seems that the position of winner was eternally reserved for two nations: Cuba and Mexico. The Antilleans, who previously competed in disciplines such as boxing, athletics and volleyball in the framework of the Olympic Games, have triumphed 12 times, while the Aztecs have won in 11.
It should be noted that, in the most recent version of the games, played in the city of Barranquilla, Mexico achieved something that was not achieved since the 1966 edition in San Juan (Puerto Rico). He managed to beat his main rival, Cuba, as a participant. It is important to remember that in San Salvador 2002 and Mayagüez 2010 the Aztecs were crowned, but without the presence of Cuban delegations. This is because in 2002 Cubans did not attend due to lack of safety for their athletes and eight years later, due to rejection of the mistreatment suffered by athletes and managers.
The truth is that when Cuba did not attend, neither Venezuela nor Colombia , were able to overcome Mexico. In the historiy of golden medals, with the update of Barranquilla 2018 included, Cuba accumulates 1956 gold medals, against 1499 from Mexico, 589 from Venezuela, 530 from Colombia and 363 from Puerto Rico. Both Venezuelans and Colombians seem to have the ability to overcome Antilleans and Aztecs at some point: but when is ging to happen?
There were no surprises
In Barranquilla, Cuba was not expected to be as strong as in other editions, and it was thought that Colombia, being at home, would compete until the end with Mexico. The above only occurred in the first week of competition. It is possible that the performance of the Central American giant has exceeded expectations after the disappointing second place as hosts in Veracruz four years ago. Colombia seems to be the candidate to overthrow that hegemony. Above all, due to the remarkable development of its athletes, who already warned of what they are capable of doing with an extraordinary performance in the Olympic Games of Rio 2016 with three gold medals and a respectable position 23. Instead, the situation of Venezuela looks complicated mainly by the severe socio-economic crisis that it is going through.
Investment and development
All right, but why has nobody been able to tear down Mexico and Cuba? The first point is that Cuba historically has been successful in sports due to the developed programs from a strong state investment that were even models for the world between 1980 and 2000. It is true that nowadays, they no longer dominate with the same ease in this area, nor stand out so much in the Olympic event, this because of the inmigration of many of its athletes to destinations with better quality of life. But, even so, it is enough to continue on high, beyond the efforts of the rest of the nations.
In recent years, Mexico has created, to a large extent, children's sports training programs backed, in addition, by a large population that allows having more material available to execute them. The case of Paola Longoria in racquetball, who already holds the first place in the world in that discipline, as well as that of the athletes of ornamental jumps, corroborate it. They have the talent, the economic strength and the sufficient population to continue growing in sports and unseating Cuba. It is in fact, the only country of the remaining participants in these games, which have the three mentioned conditions to achieve it.
Is it easier without Brazil and Argentina?
Of course, if these games allowed the participation of two giants of South America such as Brazil and Argentina, the story would be totally different and sure "the cake" would be divided into more portions. You have to respect the limits of geography, yes, but let's do an exercise on the basis of assumptions. Both nations have become accustomed to being competitive in the maximum date of the Olympics, thanks to the diversification (presence of athletes in many disciplines) and especially the Amazonian (ranked 13) in Rio, they were ahead of Cuba (18) and Mexico (61). In London 2012, Cuba (16) just took two gold difference from Brazil (22), while the Aztecs were positioned in box 38. For Cuba, after the Olympics, the most important competition will always be the Central Americans and the Caribbean, and there lies, to some extent also, the importance and investment of the state towards its athletes to stay on top.
LatinAmerican Post | Onofre Zambrano