Yalennis Castillo, devoted to Cuban judo

Yalennis Castillo, devoted to Cuban judo
Fecha de publicación: 
14 May 2024
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Last month, an almost eight years late, Yalennis Castillo, a judoka who may have well achieved better results in her sports career if injures did not hurt her so much, was officially retired.

She was not that skillful, but her determination in every bout made her tough to beat.

Her best competition was the 2008 Olympic Games held in Beijing, with a silver medal that could have well been a gold medal if judges might assess her attacks better, a lot more persistent than that of her rival in that final bout where she lost in extra time.

She missed the next Olympic cycle on maternity leave. But soon after she gave birth, she competed in 2016 Rio de Janeiro, and she showed all of her bravery as she fought plagued by injuries. 

After being praised officially in the last Varadero Judo Open, CubaSí talked to her.

“It's almost been eight years, but it's never too late. I am very happy and excited about retirement, for which one is never prepared, after so many years competing, since I was a child.

“They reminded me of my sporting career and I am very happy to remember, to hear my teammates talk about me. “A little sad because it is really saying goodbye, but happy at the same time.”

You had a complicated career due to physical issues. How do you remember it?

“It is true that my sports career involved a lot of sacrifice because I always had many injuries, especially my knees. Since I joined the national team in 2003 until the last day, when I had to have my knee, shoulder and elbow infiltrated to compete in Rio de Janeiro. “My career was marked by pain, because I was always slowed by injuries.”

Now in your role as coach I suppose you will convey the value of that sacrifice...

“Now as a coach of the national team, I talk a lot with my athletes, especially about this topic, so that an injury or a setback does not stop them, never give up. They have to recover and move forward as soon as they can. You should keep your head up before any setback. Being injured is a possibility.”

How do you see these generations to come?

“We have young girls with future for the next four years. We just have to work with them.”

And at home, where you can breathe sport everywhere?

(Smile). “My girls have not leaned towards sports. The older one wants to be a dancer and the little one is not going there either, until now.”

That last one leaves an open door, perhaps the daughter of former baseball player Frank Camilo Morejón does choose the sports life, who knows? Of course, if she comes out as a mother she will be a fighter in any field she decides to work in.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Díaz / CubaSí Translation Staff

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