cuba olympic track

Here’s Why Cuba Dominates Olympic Medal Wins in Latin America

Cuba first participated at the Olympic Games in 1900 and has sent athletes to compete in 19 of 27 Summer Olympic Games overall. Cuban athletes have won a total of 208 medals at the Summer Olympics.

cuba olympic chart
Source: Americas Society/Council of the Americas

Cuban athletes have never participated in the Winter Olympic Games. Cuba is the most successful Olympic team (by total medals won) among those nations who never won medals at Winter Olympics.

Cuba has yet to host the Olympic Games. The island nation has won the fifth highest total number of medals (after Hungary, Romania, Poland, and Bulgaria) of nations that have never hosted the Games.

For the Rio Olympics this year, Cuban athletes have so far achieved qualifying standards in the following athletics events (up to a maximum of 3 athletes in each event):

Track & Field

Following the end of the qualifying period on July 11, 2016, a total of 39 athletes (24 men and 15 women) were named to the Cuban track and field roster, as part of the nation’s official team announcement nine days later. Among them featured hurdler and Beijing 2008 champion Dayron Robles, London 2012 medalists Yarisley Silva (pole vault) and Leonel Suárez (decathlon), 2015 Worlds gold medalist Denia Caballero, and triple jumper and world leader Pedro Pablo Pichardo.


Cuba has entered ten boxers to compete in each of the following weight classes into the Olympic boxing tournament. Olympic bronze medalist Yasniel Toledo was the only Cuban finishing among the top two of their respective weight division in the World Series of Boxing.

Five boxers (Argilagos, Veitía, Alvarez, López, and La Cruz) qualified through the 2015 World Championships, while Roniel Iglesias, Erislandy Savón and Lenier Pero had claimed their Olympic spots at the 2016 American Qualification Tournament in Buenos Aires, Argentina. London 2012 champion Robeisy Ramírez was the last Cuban boxer to upgrade an Olympic spot in the men’s bantamweight division with a quarterfinal triumph at the 2016 AIBA World Qualifying Tournament in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Cuba olympic medals
Cuba’s historical wins


Cuba has qualified one badminton player for the men’s singles into the Olympic tournament. Osleni Guerrero had claimed his Olympic spot as one of top 34 individual shuttlers in the BWF World Rankings as of 5 May 2016


Cuban canoeists have qualified a single boat in the women’s K-1 200 m for the Games through the 2015 ICF Canoe Sprint World Championships. Meanwhile, four additional boats were awarded to the Cuban squad at the 2016 Pan American Sprint Qualifier in Gainesville, Georgia, United States, either by winning their event or when the quota place for their event passed to the highest finisher not qualified.


Cuba has qualified one rider in the women’s Olympic road race by virtue of a top 22 national finish in the 2016 UCI World Rankings.


Cuba has entered one fencer into the Olympic competition, signifying the nation’s sporting comeback after an eight-year hiatus. Yoendry Iriarte had claimed his Olympic spot in the men’s sabre by virtue of a top two finish at the Pan American Zonal Qualifier in San José, Costa Rica.


Following the completion of the 2016 UCI Track Cycling World Championships, Cuban riders have accumulated spots in the women’s sprint, women’s keirin, and women’s omnium, by virtue of their final individual Olympic rankings in those events.


Cuba has entered three artistic gymnasts into the Olympic competition. 2015 Pan American Games runner-up Manrique Larduet had claimed his Olympic spot in the men’s apparatus and all-around events through the 2015 World Championships, while his teammate Randy Leru performed the same feat, as well as Marcia Videaux in the women’s at the Olympic Test Event in Rio de Janeiro.


Cuba has qualified a total of nine judokas for each of the following weight classes at the Games. Eight of them (five men and three women), including London 2012 champion Idalys Ortíz and silver medalist Asley González, were ranked among the top 22 eligible judokas for men and top 14 for women in the IJF World Ranking List of May 30, 2016, while Beijing 2008 runner-up Yalennis Castillo at women’s half-heavyweight (78 kg) earned a continental quota spot from the Pan American region as the highest-ranked Cuban judoka outside of direct qualifying position.

Modern Pentathalon

Cuban athletes have qualified for the following places to compete in modern pentathlon. José Figueroa and Leydi Moya secured a selection each in the men’s and women’s event respectively after obtaining one of the five Olympic slots from the Pan American Games.


Cuba has qualified four boats for each of the following rowing classes into the Olympic regatta. Two of these crews had confirmed Olympic spots each in the men’s single and double sculls at the 2015 FISA World Championships in Lac d’Aiguebelette, France, while the lightweight double sculls rowers had added one boat per gender to the Cuban roster with a top six finish at the 2016 Latin American Continental Qualification Regatta in Valparaiso, Chile.


Cuban shooters have achieved quota places for the following events by virtue of their best finishes at the 2014 and 2015 ISSF World Championships, the 2015 ISSF World Cup series, the American Continental Championships, and the Pan American Games, as long as they obtained a minimum qualifying score (MQS) by March 31, 2016. A total of six Cuban shooters were named to the Olympic roster, including London 2012 champion Leuris Pupo (men’s 25 m rapid fire pistol) and Olympic bronze medalists Juan Miguel Rodríguez (2004) and Eglis Yaima Cruz (2008).


Cuba has received a Universality invitation from FINA to send two swimmers (one male and one female) to the Olympics.

Table Tennis

Cuba has entered two athletes into the table tennis competition at the Games. Jorge Campos and 2012 Olympian Andy Pereira had secured their Olympic spots in the men’s singles by virtue of their top six finish at the Latin American Qualification Tournament in Santiago, Chile.


Cuba entered one athlete into the taekwondo competition at the Olympics. Rafael Castillo secured a place in the men’s heavyweight category (+80 kg) by virtue of his top two finish at the 2016 Pan American Qualification Tournament in Aguascalientes, Mexico.


Cuba men’s beach volleyball team qualified directly for the Olympics by winning the final match over Canada at the 2016 NORCECA Continental Cup in Guaymas, Mexico.


Cuba has qualified one male and one female weightlifter for the Rio Olympics by virtue of a top seven national finish (for men) and top four (for women), respectively, at the 2016 Pan American Championships. The team must allocate these places to individual athletes by June 20, 2016.


Cuba has qualified a total of ten wrestlers for each of the following weight classes into the Olympic competition. Two of them had booked Olympic spots each in the men’s Greco Roman (59 & 130 kg) at the 2015 World Championships, while the majority of Olympic berths were awarded to the Cuban wrestlers, who progressed to the top two finals at the 2016 Pan American Qualification Tournament.

Sources: Americas Society/Council of the Americas, Wikipedia

Here’s Why Cuba Dominates Olympic Medal Wins in Latin America was last modified: July 30th, 2016 by Simons Chase