Cubans in the Olympic Games, from Ramón Fonst to Arlen López

Havana - A total of 116 years passed in the annals of Cuban and international sports since the first gold medal was won at the Olympic Games by Cuban fencer Ramón Fonst Segundo, on June 14, 1900, in Paris, and the latest title was won by boxer Arlen López, on August 20, 2016, in Rio de Janeiro.

Thanks to a 16-year-old man who resided in France with his family, Cuba made history in the Olympics after the tall and left-handed Fonst, who was born on August 31, 1883, won the individual foil contest.

Four years after the first Olympic competition in modern times, a legend made his debut, who in addition to winning the silver medal in the sword contest, won three titles in San Luis-1904: one each in the foil and sword contests and in the foil competition by teams, along with his fellow countryman Manuel Dionisio Díaz, who was the champion in the individual saber event.

Those few successes until the late 1950s, along with the silver medal in yachting won by a crew made up of father and son, Carlos de Cárdenas Culmell (skipper) and Carlos de Cárdenas Pla (helmsman), in London-1948, were the results of exceptional athletes who overcame the existing barriers and imposed their will with the economic support of their families.

Other virtuous men experienced the limitations of an environment where sports were practiced in private clubs and schools, and lacked mass participation, and where personal sacrifice, class, gender and racial discrimination, oblivion and unemployment prevailed.

It is worth noting that from 1896 to 1956, in all 12 Olympics held during that period, Cuba participated alternatively in seven games in 11 sports, with 114 athletes (only one woman in Melbourne-1956), and won four titles and two silver medals.

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