A silver lion
Ariel B. Coya, Special correspondent
LONDON.—Asley González (Placetas, 1989) has won a
silver medal in these Summer Games, the value of
which even he cannot estimate. Thirty-two years
since Moscow 1980, the Cuban men’s judo team
returned to an Olympic final.
know, I know… but it could have been better. I know
I could have won the gold,” he said to reporters,
while a group of volunteers made final preparations
for the medal ceremony. The competition, as his
coach Justo Noda acknowledged, was extraordinary. In
a series of match-ups dominated by the favorite
Ilias Iliadis, two-time 90kg world champion from
Greece, Ashley kept advancing, one step at a time.
First, he defeated Argentine Héctor Campos, by ippon,
in just 48 seconds. Then Serbia’s Dmitri Gerasimenko
and Australian Mark Anthony, two challenging
opponents who he could only overcome with a yuko
based on penalties (shido); and in the semi-final,
Russian Kirill Denisov, who had eliminated Iliadis.
Asley defeated Denisov in the last World
Championship to take the bronze and this time sent
him rolling across the floor with a lightning ippon.
came South Korea’s Dae-Nam Song, who in one inspired
day eliminated a number of favorites including
Japan’s Nishiyama and Brazilian Camilo… and Asley,
with an overwhelming attack, once the overtime clock
knew that is was going to be very difficult with the
Asians, since we haven’t had much experience with
them. But the fight was close, going into overtime.
Maybe he should have moved a bit more to avoid
letting the Korean surprise him with that tactic,”
Noda explained, satisfied with his pupil’s
performance and fully aware that in order to lose a
final, one has to get there.
Asley wanted more and still fantasized about a gold
medal, the Holy Grail pursued by Cuban judo since
Héctor Rodríguez won in Montreal 1976, for the
country’s first and only time. But he smiled broadly
as he climbed the podium, taking his place above
Iliadis and Nishiyama, thinking perhaps of Río de
Janeiro… and 2016.
asked what message he would like to send fans back
in Cuba, he opted for camaraderie and team spirit,
saying, “Tell them not to worry. This won’t be the
last medal. Wait for my teammates who are competing
tomorrow and the next day. The boxers and wrestlers…
Tell them they give us lots of motivation; we always
need that. And it helps.”
Unfortunately, Ronaldo Veitía’s women’s team was
eliminated in the preliminaries, missing a chance to
get into the last rounds leading to the podium.
suffering the same fate were Dayaris Mestre (48),
Yurisleydis Lupetey (57),Yaritza Abel (63), after a
very close bout, and finally Onix Cortés (70), by
hantei (judges’ decision), facing Japan’s Haruka
Tachimoto, in a division dominated by Lucie Décosse
from France, current world champion and silver
medalist in Beijing.
Following Décosse to the medal ceremony were, in
this order, Germany’s Kerstin Thiele, Colombian Yuri
Alvear and Edith Bosch from The Netherlands.