For the first time in the history of the World Athletics Championships, the Cuban delegation that took part in the 2022 event in the US city of Eugene (Oregon) returned without medals. At the same time, the “socialist paradise” had to cope with the decimation caused by the emigration of two athletes and a coach. The eighth country in the historic medal tally of the World Championships, which were first held in 1983, announced on July 14, a day before the event began, that javelin thrower Jiselena Ballar Rojas had fled the team during the Miami stopover. In a statement, reproduced in a report by the JIT Bulletin, the official organ of the Cuban Institute of Sport (INDER), officials criticized Rojas for her “negative attitude, turning away from the commitment she has made “.
During the World Championships in Eugene, discus Olympic champion Yaime Perez and a physiotherapist also broke away from the delegation, the official press announced on Wednesday. The country’s sports authorities described these incidents as “serious indiscipline”. The athletes’ escape came just over a month after two players from Cuba’s under-23 baseball team attempted to defect during the Pan American Championships in the Mexican city of Aguascalientes. Both were arrested by local authorities and sent back to the island.
Until then, athlete brain drain had been more associated with baseball. But in March, long jumper Lester Lescay Gay, the 2018 youth Olympic champion, left the athletics delegation during a trip to Europe. In late June, the Cuban Boxing Federation reported that Olympic and world champion Andy Cruz had been caught in a failed attempt to leave the country. As punishment, Cruz was expelled from the Cuban sports team for his “repeated indiscipline,” the National Boxing Federation said on July 19.
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