CAMAGÜEY. - Ainhoa Carales Santana has three years old and new toys. Adelante found her in the portal of her house with two enormous medals in the breast and two cuddly toys of Baqui, the pet of the newly finished Central American and of the Caribbean Games Barranquilla 2018. They are birthday´s gifts of her parents.

 “All our sacrifice is for her. I had wanted to give her a golden medal, but well, her mom brought it to her”, tells us Giraldo Carales (G), runner-up in water pole, while the kid runs around the room.

Lisbeth Santana (L), member of the feminine selection of the same discipline, which reached the title in the Colombian city, tries to explain her happiness: "She spent two months without seeing us because both we had training bases in the exterior and then the competition. For the three it was very difficult, we called her every day and explained her that we were going to compete to bring to her the medals”.

 I try to enter in confidence with Ainhoa to ask her on her parents, but she escapes without saying a word. Then I investigate on the careers of the athletes.

 G: “I began really young in swimming. I was good, I still compete in the Marcelo Salado Cups and get some medal, but I inclined towards the pole because I wanted to be like my older brother, who was already practicing it. Also, the swimming was turning out to be more monotonous to me. I belong to a golden generation of the water pole, we were national champions in almost all the categories”.

 L: “The swimming also was my sport, and for much that tried to convince me so that I became a water polo athlete, I said no. I was to several events as a student, but I did not obtain good results. About ninth grade, I had to decide between continuing in the sport or going to another type of education and I yielded before the teachers who wanted that I join the pole for my height. Little by little I fell in love”.

Today the two are fundamental pieces in the Cuban national teams.

 G: “With 17 years old, they called me to the pre-selection of senior and since then I am fixed in the list. In this time, our principal achievements have been the Centro-Caribbean bronze in Veracruz 2014, the fourth place in the Pan-American games of Guadalajara 2011 and the seventh place in Toronto 2015. The desertions and the absence of international rubbing have influenced very much that we do not have any more successes”.

Photo: Abel Rojas Barallobre/juventudrebelde.cuPhoto: Abel Rojas Barallobre/juventudrebelde.cu

 Together they remember with nostalgia the times in which Camagüey was dominating in the Cuban swimming pools and was contributing tens athletes to the high yield. It hurts them that the team Cuba loses opportunities and tournaments.

 L: “In addition to the deterioration of the facilities, the interest to develop our discipline is reduced. In Camagüey there have been taken bad decisions, like that to close the small school of water sports and to use it for others. That discouraged many trainers and it finished with the system of early reception that existed in the province and that was of the best of Cuba. We have to solve these problems to come to stellar planes. We have traveled round Europe and notice that we have quality to play in the best leagues of the world”.

 G: “The situation of the swimming pools in the whole country is deplorable, every year one of them gets lost. I trust in the changes that are done to promote our discipline, although it is still necessary to work very much to reconstruct the centers of learning and to achieve the hiring of the principal figures at the highest level. As part of the preparation for Barranquilla we were in Croatia, the mecca of the water pole, and the players and the technical staff spoke very well about us”.

Photo: Abel Rojas Barallobre/juventudrebelde.cuPhoto: Abel Rojas Barallobre/juventudrebelde.cu

 For both, the fight of the Central American and Caribbean Games marked the ripeness as athletes.

 L: “To lose the first day before Puerto Rico put us out of step because we considered ourselves better. We had had a great preparation, we were in physical and psychological shape, that's why it shocked us very much to lose. Then we calm down and rectify our strategy to be more effective in the style of game and the peculiarities of the arbitration in the area; the satisfactory results came. I had to leave my responsibilities as post to defend and to give game to the attackers in offensive. This way we construct the match of the final and we could take the gold”.

 G: “I do not recover yet, I spend the day thinking about the game that we lost in the final. We had come to the competition in excellent conditions after the tour along Croatia, but when we suffer 20 expulsion in the first match, we realized that we had a problem. The arbitration in the best European leagues is different from that of Central America, because they allow more the contact. We came accustomed to the hard game and the officials reprimanded us to the minor rubbing. Nevertheless, we fit and kept the winning gust until the last day. We had already seen that the Colombian teams were getting incredible results in other collective sports and we prepare ourselves to resist the support of the public and the arbitral favors, but it was not enough. We start by losing and we could never mend, we defended very badly, we were not precise in attack”.

 Still you can notice Giraldo very disappointed: "I wanted to bring to her that of gold”, says and looks at his treasure. And he did everything, scored seven goals of the ten of his team in the final.

 Foreign to his ponderings, Ainhoa enjoys both gems equally, looks at them astonished and bites them with the fashionable pose among the champions. They enjoy her with the sight: there is the fruit of all their efforts.

G: “We begin our relation in 2011, during the Pan-American games. Till then we only knew each other, because the woman team had its center of preparation in Villa Clara and us in Havana; it was for this date that they moved them to the capital”.

 L: “We always get along well and we wanted to form a family, although Ainhoa came from surprise. I found out that I was carrying her at the age of two months. She is a bronze medalist in Veracruz 2014, because I played pregnant without knowing it. Perhaps that's why she likes so much the swimming pool”.

 As if she knew that with her parents the dialogue is finished, the seed of this commitment approaches and says: “permission“. She is ready to talk:

 - Where were mom and dad? - I ask her.

 - In “Banquilla” and they brought to me the "medals" and the Baqui.

 - Do you love them very much?

 So that there are no doubts she exclaims: "So Muuuuuch!”.

 - Why?

 She turns towards her parents, throws them “a poem” with the look, and she shrinks the shoulders, because she has not learned words yet to explain the love.

 Translated by Linet Acuña Quilez