Cuba Rowers Practice at Benderson

Todays News

BY JACOB OGLES SRQ DAILY MONDAY BUSINESS EDITION MONDAY JUL 11, 2016

Could a change in diplomatic status for Cuba mean more world-class training at Nathan Benderson Park? Three rowers with Cuba’s Olympian contingent trained last week at the Sarasota park, showcasing the international reputation of the venue. This was the first time since ties with the island nation were restored that these players have come to the Florida to train, says Max Winitz, communications, media and public relations manager for the 2017 World Rowing Championships.

Cuban athletes training Friday included Angel Fournier Rodriguez, the first Cuban to medal at a World Rowing Championship, and the doubles team of Eduardo Rubio Rodriguez and Adrian Oquendo Ibanez. “All three of them will be at the Olympics in Rio,” Winitz says, “and at the same time they are getting used to our course here.” 

Amy Grossman, spokesman for Nathan Benderson Park, says the next time international visitors are expected will be this weekend at the Canada-America-Mexico Regatta, a junior competition. Officials expect more international athletes to train at the course in anticipation of the world championship scheduled in Sarasota next year. “It’s going to be exciting seeing more athletes coming and practicing here,” she says. Already, the park has hosted teams from England and other nations besides Cuba. 

And Winitz noted that some may be in contention for top awards at Rio or the championships next year. Fournier Rodriguez earned a silver medal at the 2013 World Rowing Championships and a bronze the following year. “I’m very happy that it was the first time that a Cuban got a medal and placed in that high caliber event,” Fournier Rodriguez said in a statement provided to the World Rowing Championships.

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