When talking about sports shooting in Cuba, we must talk about skeet, and Roberto Castrillo, Servando Puldón, Guillermo Alfredo Torres from Artemisa ; and of course it is needed to mention his father, Servilio Torres.
The conversation with this experienced man was much more than a pleasure. It was a master class in this sport history, full of stories , tricks, victories and disappointments, hunting adventures and respect for the environment.
Like almost all skeet shooters, he started hunting, when he was young he picked up his father's pigeons, also a hunter, and even a friend. Then he bought a small shotgun and began firing, until some teammates invited him to go to a shooting range and he liked that . This is how this story full of achievements and medals for the Cuban sports movement began.
A first time and fast promotion
“I went with those friends to a field located in Boyeros, and threw a round of 25 dishes and broke eight, and they congratulated me because it was a very good result for a fisrt time . After 15 days they called me again , but there I had to buy the dishes and cartridges, each round costed 3.75 pesos and in 1966, 3.75 was 3.75! My salary was 153 pesos, ”he recalls enthusiastically.
"In the end I came back because they invited me to the round, and this time I broke 21 of 25, and my friends got surprised because they had several years of experience.They told me that I was already shooting better than them," he recalls laughing.
“Shortly after I went to a third category municipal competition and got first place. Then they tell me about a provincial and they gave me cartridges because I couldn't pay them. There I threw two rounds and of 50 shots I made 42 targets, I beat all the experienced and classified for the national competition , for which they gave me a sports license and training cartridges. Of 100 dishes I broke 91, and beat the former champion by one ... like that; So fast, I was included to the Cuba team.
Shots on the top
"My first international competition was in Panama, in Central American and Caribbean Games,1970 . There we took all medals, gold for teams and in the individual Castrillo won the gold, I got silver and Delfín Gómez got bronze". To those medals he added another bronze in Santo Domingo 1974.
In the Pan American Games he achieved his best result in Mexico’75, when he reached the first place in teams. Four years before, in Cali, he got silver in team and individual bronze.
How did you feel after that gold medal in Mexico?
“With great joy, because the compettion was very hard. Imagine that I made 98 of 100 just like Castrillo and the other two members of the team achieved 96 of 100 and even so, we only got four points from the Americans. It was a hard competition and a great result for Cuban sports shooting, ”he tells me as he is proud.
And what about your participation in the Olympic Games?
“Well, I could only attend to Munich'72 and I was not so experienced to achieve a better score , in the end I was in 16th rank and I feel very proud of that. I still keep my medal due to the participation. There Castrillo went for a medal and in the end he did not make it and finished sixth. I retired in 1978 and did not reach Moscow'80 ”.
Why did you retired so early , if this is a very long-lived sport?
“Good especially because of differences with the managers of that moment. The team to the competitions was made taking into account national competitions , before going to a competition in Panama, I was first and they did not include me between the two places.
“At first they told me it was other´s mistake, but after finding out I realized that my name was never included in the list. After claiming in other instances I was simply discharged from the team. But they could never take me away because I had the possibility of becoming an international referee, ”he tells me without regrets.
Even so, he could match his son in the national team ... How do you feel about it, and with his career?
“It is a pride to be able to share this passion with my son and see that he even surpassed me, because I trained him.When he was 8, I took him at dawn to Pinar de Rio to my hunts and so he learned. I was also his first coach in the skeet, I took him to sport school and trained him in the afternoons after my practice.
“We went together to the Central American Games , Medellín’78 although we did not get medals it was a very nice experience. That year we also went to a competition in Romania, I was no longer in good shape , but having my son there helped me throw 197 of 200 and win that tournament. ”
“I can only speak very well about him, he is already 60 years old and has been 42 in the national team. He has qualified to eight Olympic Games and attended six, few in the world can do that . He is also world runner-up and achieved a record of the world, with four Pan American titles and many other international medals ... what else can I ask him for? ”.He tells me full of paternal pride.
“I experienced that world record in first person, I arbitrated that competition and every time he was going to throw I changed with a partner, if there was any indecision to avoid comments that had favored him. That was something unforgettable and one of the happiest moments of my life. ”
Do you still have passion for hunting?
“Yes, and I will leave it when I can no longer do it , but I only do it outside the closed season. I always say that I don't hunger because I'm not a murderer, when you shoot a pigeon out of time, you don't kill it alone, its pigeons also die in the nest and the next year there will be no pigeons. I love to hunt but I respect each of the laws in this regard, ”he says.
Our conversation ends between photos, trophies and medals that his wife keeps carefully . He also shows us the shotgun given by Fidel to his son, which - despite its use - keeps shining like the first day.
I am happy to have known a large part of the rich history of Cuban sports shooting, at the hands of one of its main representatives, a pride of Cuba and especially of San Antonio de los Baños, the father of a family that has brought so many medals to this country, the first of "the two great towers" of the skeet.
TRANSLATION BY LMMS
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