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Castro: 1991 Speech at Post-Pan-Am Games Ceremony

Dear Comrades: Since the final days of the 11th Pan-American Games we have been talking with comrades from INDER [National Institute for Sports, Physical Education, and Recreation], with the organizers, and with all the other comrades who participated in this [words indistinct] the need to recognize those who had worked at organizing, preparing, and carrying out the events, because really it seemed to all of us that excellent work had been done. This is not only the opinion of those of us who had the opportunity to see how the games were carried out, but also the unanimous view of all the visitors. I think it was justly stated at the closing ceremony by PASO [Pan-American Sports Organization] President Vazquez Ranas that these, the 11th Games, had been, [word indistinct] the best Pan-American Games in the entire history of these events.

If we take into account the circumstances under which we had to work; if we take into account that abroad, in other countries, those producing propaganda against our country did not believe us capable of achieving such success; if we take into account the difficulties of all kinds, including those of an economic nature, it can be said that the games were an exceptional success. We were not surprised. We had the conviction that the 11th Pan-American Games would be brilliant, that our athletes would play an outstanding role, that the organization would be extraordinary, but even for all of us, those of us who had such confidence, what was done turned out to be truly surprising in all respects.

I am not going to mention the commissions one by one. I am not going to enumerate all of the institutions and organizations that contributed to that success. We have seen that an event of that magnitude cannot be accomplished by one organization alone. Such an event can only be achieved through participation of the entire country, especially with participation of the entire people. I was saying that even for us there were many surprises. To me personally, the organization appeared perfect.

I participated, or rather I witnessed, many events. I visited as many places as I could. I followed things as closely as possible, when not in the sports facilities themselves, then through the press, which did excellent work, [words indistinct] (?I visited the facilities) in both the host city and the secondary host city. Very important, interesting competitions took place in Santiago de Cuba, including many other important events besides weight-lifting, and gymnastics in general, and sometimes it was difficult to decide which event to choose. We would become impatient during the program, because while news was being given about one activity, we were curious to know what had happened with another, how such-and-such a race had ended, or such-and-such a competition, in track and field, bicycling, or whatever.

It can be said that no event has ever been enjoyed by our people as much as this one. It brought prestige to our country. It is difficult to imagine what a deep impression the games left on the visitors, and what has been written and spoken about these games throughout the world, especially in Latin America. One could compile an anthology of comments and opinions about all that.

During that time we felt truly proud that our nation has been capable of organizing an event under conditions...[corrects himself] that is, with exceptionally high quality. I think all of us have been experiencing deep emotions these days, feeling pride because this event has shown what we are capable of doing when we work well, when we set ourselves to do so, from the quality of the facilities to all the details and services that were provided. Some foreign reporters said that at no other international sports event had they received such high quality information so quickly, about everything that was happening, as they did at these games.

I said that this showed well, that now our country can harvest the fruits of work performed over a period of many years, because the good manners and education exhibited by our people had not been created overnight. There were some visitors who even told us that they had noticed differences between the Central American Games and these games. Our public was much more knowledgeable and well-mannered, and all of the visitors, without exception, said that they had never witnessed a public so respectful, so hospitable, and so disciplined as ours. Despite enormous enthusiasm and support for our own athletes, we were still capable of recognizing and admiring the feats of other athletes.

It was truly a festival of friendship and brotherhood. The fact that it was presented with such high quality reflects what we are now. Just as a nation cannot become spectators and sports lovers through improvisation, especially with hospitality and manners, we could not have produced the quality of our athletes through improvisation. Through them we could also see the results of the years, the work in this field over the years [words indistinct] 140 gold medals, certainly. That was more than any of us expected.

Predictions were made, and let us admit that predictions are always more or less conservative, as protection against great disappointment. We had predicted around 76 gold medals. Then we began to dream, as the events unfolded, of perhaps 100. Soon we said maybe [words indistinct] and we reached 110. We next said: But will we reach 120? How could that be possible? Then, during the final days, there was a time when the Americans-they are a sports power-caught up with us and passed us. But then the final phase came. It was a hard-fought finish. With one day left, everyone was tallying up the remaining events, and saying: What will we get from gymnastics? How will we do in boxing? And what little medal will we get in tai-kwon-do, which is new to us. [laughter] Especially how the (?rhythmic gymnastics] ended [words indistinct] How would our boxers do? Because by the finish we realized that we could take first place in titles and gold medals.

Who would have imagined that! Cuba, little Cuba, with more gold medals than the great sports power, the United States, with whom we have conducted a strong emulation campaign in sports. It is really incredible that we would win more medals than they did. I think in that final phase the gymnasts did a wonderful [word indistinct] And the boxers kicked butt [?that day], as it is commonly put. [laughter, applause] It is very unlikely that they [words indistinct] has problems. Adding it up, we could not lose a medal that day, that afternoon. They contributed 11 gold medals. Because in anything, if there are three who are competing against Americans, and we lost one of those battles, the difference would have been two: one they could have lost and one we could have won. A similar thing happened with rhythmic gymnastics. [words indistinct] we did not know what would happen in the end, and in the end what happened was unimaginable. Our country was in first place for gold medals.

To tell the truth, no one had imagined that. No one had dreamed of it, or thought of it. [words indistinct] problems, some of our athletes. [words indistinct] but the other one came, Lazaro. It was Lazaro, right? Yes, the last to run, with a respectable distance, he won the medal. In baseball we had Valle's problem. His absence was certainly felt in that competition. There were some other cases as well, of important, decisive athletes who had been injured before, or were injured during the competition. Roberto Hernandez himself, in his effort to participate in the 200-meter race, suffered a pulled muscle. [words indistinct] World Track and Field Championship in Tokyo, and while other athletes held themselves in reserve, they were here making their greatest effort. They did not have enough time to adapt themselves. You do not know what a 14-hour time difference means, a change in living habits, the exhaustion of some of our athletes. I am sure that if Ana Fidelia [Quirot] had been there longer, had been better adapted to the terrain, she would not have been beaten in the 800m race. She would have won the gold medal. Just as I am sure Roberto must have been influenced by the pull he had here in the 400m race. [as heard]

It is certain that the United States, with the exception ...[rephrases] with a few exceptions in track and field, brought their best athletes. Some might say that Johnson did not participate, or others did not attend. Those were not generally events in which we won gold medals. Some U.S. athletes held themselves in reserve for the World Track and Field Championships, but in all the other sports they sent the best they had. In water polo, they sent the world champion and Olympic champion team, the team that had just won the Olympic championship, or the world championship, or whatever, in water polo. In basketball they sent excellent teams, both men's and women's. In handball [words indistinct] some of their most brilliant athletes did not come. But with that team, with the same representatives they sent to Cuba [words indistinct], they had won all the Pan-American Games competitions in history.

Only after the revolution did opposition to that U.S. sports hegemony arise. Nothing but the U.S. anthem had been heard at the Pan-American Games before the revolution, although there were some countries that won some medals in some events. So this really was the culmination, you might say, of an extensive effort by our country in sports development [words indistinct] prize of history, the program [words indistinct] gold medals. It was history that put those 140 gold medals on the chests of our people, and the Cuban national anthem was heard 140 times.

But it should be kept in mind that in some sports, such as baseball, in which many teams of athletes participate over a two-week period, and must win I do not know how many games to take the famous round-robin series- which is so strange, it can give rise to any kind of setback, because anyone can lose a game-only one medal is awarded. The men's baseball team or teams, or the men's volleyball team, receives one medal. Water polo, one medal. Handball, one medal. There is one medal. There are medals and then there are medals. There are sports that offer a number of medals.

There are sports that offer a number of medals, but they are the sports we are weak in, because generally we are weak in rich people's sports. There are rich people's sports and poor people's sports. In Cuba everyone wants to be a baseball champion, everywhere. They play as boys with rubber balls, batting with their hands, catching with their hands, and then with a harder ball, then with a mitt and a bat. Any little baseball team can be organized anywhere. But swimming, where do you learn that? You do not learn to swim at the beach. No one becomes a swimming champion at the beach, even if they are on an island surrounded by the sea. At the beach you learn to float and swim a little, but the water is heavier and there are no techniques. Swimming requires a great number of facilities that our country did not have. Tennis is a rich person's sport, because only in a few facilities can two or four people participate in a tennis match.

I don't think we had even heard of field hockey. I, who was very interested in sports, did not know what field hockey was. I will tell you something. I asked a friend one day: Is it played on horseback, or what? [laughter] Because they said yes, I believed at one time that field hockey was played on horseback. Because I had seen-I do not know if it was in the movies or in some book- that the English had a game played on horseback with a ball and an instrument [words indistinct] that field hockey was played on foot. I think the English invented field hockey.

So that you have an idea [words indistinct] because I wanted to find materials to put in a hockey field, a foreign company (?came to) put one in. Of course, the companies often reduced the price because they had an interest in having their products used at the Pan-American Games. You should know that with the bicycling equipment, an important company [words indistinct] social status of some of these companies. They donated tens of thousands of dollars in equipment, so that their equipment would be shown. There were many people wearing shirts advertising ``Adidas'' and other things, like shoes. These items reflect the interests of companies that want their products to be known throughout the world.

That helps us get reasonable prices, even reduced ones. The cost of the field was lowered quite a bit, the cost of the materials you have to pay for. I think we also won a little medal, because the foreign company that produces those materials said that the shortest time it had ever taken to put in a field like that was seven days. We put in our field in five days, with the participation of the athletes, everyone working with the spirit of a contingent. They did it in five days.

But the most interesting thing is this: Pakistan, which is [words indistinct] the country where the sport is played the most-it is played as much as baseball is here, for example-has lost the great lead it had. In their effort to further develop that sport, they had scheduled the building of 10 facilities with artificial grass. You know what they told us? That Holland, another power in that sport, has 200 fields of artificial grass-200. When I heard that, I asked myself: When will the Africans [words indistinct] If a very small European country has 200 fields like the one you saw there [words indistinct] Without swimming pools, it is not possible to train outstanding athletes in swimming. It is not possible. When will the Africans learn to win swimming competitions? When I say Africans, I am talking about the Third World in general. That is an example.

The horse business! We can see a lot of people riding little horses in Camaguey. In spite of the fact that our war for independence was fought on horseback, in spite of the fact that our war for independence was fought on horseback [repeats] [applause], a horse costs a lot, and equestrian training costs a lot. That is serious, because we are weak in it. What facilities and traditions were here? I say: Well, it does not mean that we cannot do it. No, no. We have to be resourceful. I say this because we have to innovate.

So we have a sport like swimming, which provides a great number of medals, but this country did not and does not have the facilities. I remember when the minibrigade movement began, we went to reserve places in Havana for a pool complex, not one like this, but for recreation and sports purposes, both. We were thinking about the huge number of people who go to the beach every Saturday and Sunday, and there is not enough transportation, and there is not enough of anything, not even bicycles now. We had the idea, and we had chosen places for the future construction of a number of pool complexes as recreation areas. They would not have roofs or any of that. They would be simpler, but they would have diving boards, the smaller pools, like the one in Lenin Park. We have a little program there for training children. But that is a sport...[rephrases] Without those facilities, there cannot be mass participation. It cannot be developed.

There are a number of sports like that, which are expensive. They are left for the rich, because they are the only ones who have the chance to play many of those sports. No kid on the street could become a tennis player or an expert in backstroke or freestyle swimming and all those things. (?There are) few opportunities. In deep spots in rivers where many of us learned to swim ...[rephrases] because I learned to swim in a spot this big. I do not even know when I learned. I think I did as dogs do, I jumped in and I kicked and swam. But you cannot develop swimmers in deep spots in rivers or at the beach.

So we see that we are weak in certain kinds of sports. The day we master those sports...[changes thought] and I think we can master them, yes. I heard about the famous tai-kwan-do here. [laughter] We already have medals in it. What we have organized in boxing is impressive. In weight-lifting, it is impressive. We lost a single gold medal by a 200-gram difference between...[changes thought] That was the only one we did not win. Anyone would say that our weight-lifters were heroes. Look at other sports. In target shooting, we should be champions. I do not think there is any other country that shoots more than we do. There is not. [laughter, applause]

What is happening? The equipment is very sophisticated. Sometimes for lack of a little money, we do not have the right equipment. Anyone who watches the competition in shooting sees devices that make him wonder whether he is on Earth or Mars or some planet that has brought such cosmic weapons. So we have to see what we need in shooting because some of these things...[rephrases] by using the few resources we have, we can do more. Now, people, why did we not win a medal in archery? It turns out that you can win a lot of medals in archery. It is true that here the Spaniards wiped out the Indians [laughter] [words indistinct] things about bows and arrows. [laughter] Those people, well, a few were left in the eastern region. I do not know if any of them are on the national team. So our traditions ...[rephrases] A tradition of archery does not exist. But I have asked, and they tell me that the facilities for archery training are relatively simple and inexpensive. We have to investigate well what spending has to be done on arrows, bows, cords, and such things. But in archery we could [words indistinct] quite a few medals, improve and advance towards positions that we do not have today.

I have been asking about swimming, and I think there are about 150 pools which were built for recreation [words indistinct] have to organize them as we did with the Lenin Park pool. Unfortunately, we now have the limitations on fuel, but all the children in Arroyo Naranjo Municipality [words indistinct] Lenin Park pool to practice there. We have to look at all the available facilities-I think there are about 150-and see how they can be organized for mass participation, much greater participation, with these same facilities. Sometimes the problem is a lack of chlorine, or some little pump is broken. The pool in Marti Park has not been open for months, but the pool in Camilo Cienfuegos Park, which is nearby, is working.

I told those comrades, we have to fix it. What is needed is minor. How can we close down a pool for so long because of some small part? Sometimes it is a matter of organizing who would transport the chlorine. Sometimes the problem is not a shortage of chlorine but that no truck is available to transport it. We should organize a program to guarantee pool operations and ensure mass participation. We only have a few pools, we cannot wait until we have 1,000 to further develop our swimming.

You have seen the results obtained. The pool constructed for the Pan-Am Games can serve three purposes: weekend recreation during the summer months; educational for intermediate and high school students during the school year; and training of top athletes. They can use it for [words indistinct] pool that we have there. I believe that we can see improvements even with the shortages that we are experiencing in many areas.

We did not have a single water facility for canoeing. What is it called? Facility, field, channel? I do not know what it is called in canoeing. We did not have any facilities for our oarsmen. Our oarsmen generally trained in sea water. They all started in sea water and later trained in reservoirs. The facilities are outstanding but can be improved. For example, you cannot see the starting line from the bleachers. Yet, all visitors were extremely impressed.

We can obtain some income from some of the rich and developed countries whose waters freeze during winter. We have to make some of these installations produce some income. What can sports do to derive some income to cover it owns expenses? We have thousands of middle and top level physical education trainers. What can we do to generate income? We have to think about it. So, whenever a part is needed for a pump, we have the necessary part. Or, that we may buy our marksmen whatever sophisticated little rifle they might need.

I am talking about these things that can be obtained with limited resources to make better use of our facilities. We cannot wait until we have 1,000 pools or 25 turf fields. We have to implement different alternatives. We will have to train for hockey in the same field as soccer. This is a sport in which we are unfortunately unlucky. We did not have a tradition in this sport. It is a very good sport, a very complete sport. Sometimes the almost absolute priority given to a sport limits the opportunities of another. That happens to us with baseball [in English], since everybody practices baseball from an early age. I do not know why I am saying the word baseball [in English]. It must be the influence of the Pan-American Games. [chuckles] Baseball, I believe is an American invention but a tradition of mass participation was established in Cuba.

We have to analyze all the potential available in our sports schools, implement some system changes that are being planned, find out how to better blend sports and education in these schools. We need more stability. I believe these facilities will help us to continue promoting sports because we have what no other country has. No other country has the number of sports and physical education teachers that Cuba has. These last few days I had the opportunity of meeting many of them at different facilities. I have met a great number of well prepared, intelligent, scientific, knowledgeable people who are in love with sports.

I believe we can make even better use of our physical and human resources and concentrate on the sports in which we are weaker to enhance our sports culture and continue to progress in that area.

Yet, the experience of Cuba shows that Third World countries have very limited sport potential. It is very sad. How can they train without facilities? There is the example of Pakistan, which has nearly 100 million inhabitants and I believe it has only one of these artificial turf fields. We have heard they have a plan for a total of 10. Yet Holland, with slightly more than 10 million inhabitants, has 200 of those fields. [Words indistinct] Third World countries. They come to the games [words indistinct]. [Words indistinct] and who can surpass an athlete from Ethiopia or Kenya. It is as difficult as surpassing a Mexican athlete in the 10,000 meter race or other long distance races. [Words indistinct] in a natural manner and in excellent physical conditions. These are the sports in which they shine. In other words, a natural development [words indistinct] of technique and training results in the accomplishments we have seen. African athletes only have an opportunity to participate and win the gold in this kind of sport. In other more expensive sports it is very unlikely, except maybe in soccer. It is easy to prepare a simple soccer field and train. And in this manner, they manage some participation in such international events.

Opportunities to practice sports are as unfairly distributed as the riches of this world. The rich and developed countries have the freedom to practice all sports no matter how expensive the facilities might be. Most of mankind does not have such opportunity. Athletics is a very interesting human activity. It is a great instrument for unity, friendship, and ties among the peoples of the world regardless of local sympathies and everyone's wish to see his team victorious.

Havana residents are not only proud of the victorious Cuban baseball team, but are proud of Remilio's hitting. Eh? No, Romelio, the stocky one. I do not want to call him chubby, I understand he lost quite a few pounds. They are filled with pride and boast: Havana won so many medals [chuckles]; so reads the newspaper EL HABANERO. Other provinces boast: we won so many medals in the Pan-Am Games. In other words, local sympathies and emotions are logical and easy to understand.

Sport is a great instrument for unity. We saw this at the Olympic Villa, the friendship, the brotherhood, the communication among the peoples. Some comrades traveling abroad during the games told me that television and radio in several countries, in Brazil for example, were constantly talking about the Pan-Am Games and the performance of their athletes. The whole of Latin America followed the games very closely.

It is very sad that some countries had to raffle cars in order to amass $70,000 or $80,000 to pay the expenses of sending a delegation. Unfortunately, the governments of many Third World countries are not interested at all in this kind of affair. Likewise, they have shown no interest in many other areas like public health, education, and many more basic issues. Sports are forgotten. I have noticed that many governments are now showing more interest in sports but they have yet to devote a minimum amount of resources to sports. Besides, sports also means health, discipline, and organization. I have told many of these politicians that sports can help them combat crime and drugs.

It is very productive for any society to develop sports. This is a good subject to reflect upon if you have experienced the events we have experienced. The organization of an event of this nature might seem simple from afar, but whenever you see closely the whole picture and all requirements closely you realize that it is a very complex, extremely complex process. It is a great accomplishment to have carried it out in such fashion. The things that the human board did were marvelous, including the image of the game's mascot shedding a tear. The work of the human board was outstanding. Everything else done in the opening and closing ceremonies was also outstanding.

We all witnessed what happened that day. A huge storm was approaching the stadium while thousands of athletes were on the field. I could see the storm approaching and at the beginning the winds were westerly but I noticed that the upper winds were moving in an easterly direction. Then we received the report from the National Weather Institute that a huge hail storm was approaching and would reach the stadium in 20 minutes. All their equipment showed it moving toward the stadium. We could even see lightning. I asked myself what would be the consequences of such a storm reaching this place under the present circumstances? What chaos would develop if the storm breaks above us? I feared for the athletes, not the public, we knew the public might just stay in their seats, they would not panic and start running around. But what to do with those thousands of athletes that have to take care of their health for the games if a hail storm reaches us? A hail and lighting storm? I said what a test this is going to be.

When I had an opportunity, I signaled some people to remain in place if the storm came. Some foreigners saw my signal and thought: This man must be really influential, he must have some powers. [laughter and applause] I do not know what supernatural powers they might have attributed to me. [laughter] I only made a hand gesture and suddenly the wind turned around toward the stadium. [laughter continues] I was impressed, but luckily it did not rain. [Castro chuckles] I have never seen a firmer prospect for rain but it did not fall. [laughter continues]

The paratroopers were scheduled to jump earlier when the storm and the winds were at their worst. [Alberto] Juantorena, who was involved in the organization, told me that the jumpers had been canceled. But later on, when the field was filled with several pyramids and people, all of a sudden I see an inbound squad of paratroopers. We did not hear the airplane or the helicopter, no one knew how they jumped. [laughter] I wondered where they were going to land, no matter how good they are, or how much expertise they have, the field was crowded.

One of them started to do pirouettes. Finally, I saw they were going in a different direction. I wondered if they were off target. He said they had been told to land outside the field. At one point it seemed as though they were going to hit the electronic scoreboard. The truth of the matter is that they executed their jump with great accuracy. They demonstrated what they were capable of doing on the final day. The paratroopers jumped at an off-time and landed outside the stadium [laughter] [Castro chuckles] They later showed that they could land within a square meter radius. They are very skilled.

All visitors were very impressed by the opening and closing ceremonies. The ones held at Santiago de Cuba were no less successful. I had the opportunity of watching the opening ceremony at Santiago de Cuba and it was perfect. They perhaps had more time to practice than the ones here because it rained here almost every day and the rain interrupted rehearsals many times. That period of time was drier in Santiago. One noticed that there was more precision in all the movements at the Santiago de Cuba opening ceremony. It was excellent. [applause] Are there some here from Santiago de Cuba?

I believe that people in Santiago enjoyed the Pan-Am Games and they deserve it. They also carried out construction feats. The project that was delayed the most was not the multi-purpose building at Plaza, but the Urgelles project in Santiago de Cuba. It appeared as though it was not going to be completed, but they did complete it. They were building the projects for the congress and also had to complete them. They made a great effort and were excellent co-hosts to these games.

Students made a great contribution. This has to be said. One also has to remember what students did. I had the opportunity of visiting some agricultural camps here in Havana on 26, 27, and 28 [words indistinct] university students at agricultural camps. Do not think that everyone was having a good time. They were there until the beginning of August [words indistinct] to the event.

There are individuals we cannot forget. They are the members of the agricultural contingents, the people who worked in agricultural tasks in Havana during the Pan-Am Games. I also had the opportunity to visit some camps during the games. During that month, the only ones who worked in agricultural tasks were the contingent members. Schools were in recess during that time. Students doing vacation-time agricultural labor at rural schools and Student Work Brigades had already completed their tasks. The only ones tending the crops were the agricultural contingent members and the ones who were mobilized in agricultural activities in Havana. They did not fail us. They did their work when practically the entire city was involved in the games. When they returned from work at night, thanks to the excellent television services, they could follow what was happening. But they did not leave the fields during those days of competition here in the capital.

September is approaching and there are many more forces at work. Schools start now-rural schools and for students doing vacation-time agricultural labor. September is a much better month. The Havana Province fields were not abandoned because those mobilized forces were there. They also deserve to be recognized among those who contributed to the success of the Pan-Am Games. [applause]

The artistic activities were also very good. I wanted to comment on that. There is almost more art than sport involved in rhythmic gymnastics. It is a combination, a synthesis of the two. I had the opportunity to see the independent-or whatever they call it-artistic skating competition. I saw couples from the United States and Canada do it perfectly. This too is more [words indistinct] art than sport. We cannot recruit people for these activities from the sports schools alone. We have to turn youths with artistic talent, dancing and musical talent, into athletes for that type of activity. We should not expect to get them from the sports schools alone. It involves art, music, and dance. The only difference is that it is done on wheels.

I suggested this to the INDER comrades. I suggested that they study it, that is, if we want to make progress. The level of some of the events is truly extraordinary. The perfection and beauty some of those couples have developed, such as the world champions who were here, was an outstanding thing. I asked the ODEPA people when ballet was going to be included in the Pan-Am Games. [laughter] It is a very beautiful thing. There is no doubt that it is very pretty. But we have to decide how we will handle it.

The athletes cannot be congratulated more than they have already been congratulated. They have received the incessant applause and admiration of all our people. We can say that a true sports feat was accomplished among us. This was the result. I also believe that the presence of our people encouraged and fortified our athletes. Sometimes they won by three millimeters or by a fraction of a second, making an extraordinary final effort. I believe that the boxers, assessing the medal situation, also made an extraordinary effort. They made spectacular efforts.

There are sports we need to further explore, sports in which we lag behind. Basketball is among them. Some foreigners observed that our athletes have enough height, but that they are beaten under the basket. Perhaps they need to develop more weight, more mass. They might need to lift weights. It was explained to me that even swimmers lift weights. An example is the young comrade who gave me the....[changes thought] The 200-meter champion. Is that not so? In the 200 meters. It is a spectacular thing.

His trainer was explaining to me that he has not been given weights to lift because he is still too young, but the time will come when more strength is needed. I observed that when he dove, he did not travel the same distance as the first ones. He did not have the advantage in the beginning. That depends on the force of the dive. He lost the lead a little when he turned around because he did not have the same take-off strength. He won in spite of it. He won because of his will and determination to win the competition. I was noticing those details. I asked the trainer about it, and he said the swimmer should use weights later to improve his strength. He said the swimmer needs to mature first.

Baseball players, the pitchers and the rest of the players, use weights. I am giving this as an example. [Passage indistinct] We have to study such things, all the technical factors so we can improve in those sports.

We need everyone's cooperation to attain that, the cooperation of the teachers, trainers, and doctors. Sports medicine has developed quite a bit in our country. An interesting thing is that the day Roberto [not further identified] had the problem with his thigh, the day of the 200-meter run, I had been talking with him [words indistinct] I talked with the doctor who was treating him. Do you know who the doctor was? Perez Duenas, the triple-jump champion who set a world record. He is now a doctor specializing in sports medicine. He is Roberto's doctor.

One of the best things we have done is to not only develop great athletes, but to educate them, give them a career, a profession. Of course, when Perez Duenas broke that record he was a freshman medical school student. He continued with medicine. Many of our athletes have their careers underway. There are thousands of professionals among our athletes. You find this situation everywhere. Former athletes work in the field of sports. The revolution created the institutions and the Higher Sports Institute. When their days as athletes are over, none of them is left without a profession, a career, an activity, a job. Some continue to serve. I saw an interview with Marqueti. I believe he is in Venezuela teaching baseball. He expressed himself very well on television, explaining what he was doing.

I am very pleased to see outstanding athletes such as this one playing an important role, just as we are pleased to see Juantorena involved in the organization of these Pan-Am Games, and [Teofilo] Stephenson immersed in a number of important activities. They are heroes of the country. Visitors want see them, want to meet them, want to have their picture taken with them. Each of them has a position and a place of honor in our society.

They have enormous merits and an unyielding patriotic spirit. How many offers have been made to many of our athletes, to humble athletes, of modest means, who live simply? How many offers have they received? We see in them great evidence of patriotic integrity and loyalty to their country. They have refused all the offers in the world and do not compromise their honor, their reputation, and the respect of their people for any amount of money in the world. [applause]

Our athletes are simple and modest. They have won the affection of our people. Today's homage is very fitting. We could not conclude this historic event without this meeting and without this recognition. It has been less than two weeks since the games ended. We want all of you who are here-all are not present, all cannot be present.... [changes thought] Not even the members of the flip-card section could be accommodated here. Over 20,000 participated in the games. Only about 5,000 of you are here today. We want to convey to all of you our deepest respect, our recognition, our admiration, and our pride in having been able to count on people such as you to so successfully carry out an event that has given our country such prestige and glory.

We are living in difficult times, but we will continue to carry out our projects, ideas, and dreams, even under the most difficult circumstances. [applause] Everything we have mentioned has been made possible by the revolution and socialism. That is why we say with such a sense of justice and determination: Socialism or death! Fatherland or death! We will win! [crowd repeats] [applause]

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