In the history of the Cuban sports movement, women have played a decisive role, not only in the high competitive standards they have achieved, but also in carrying out the work entrusted to them by the leadership of the National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation (INDER). Teresa Oliva Pérez is one example. She is a heroine of Cuban sport and model of unconditional commitment to women’s artistic gymnastics. Her career as an athlete, coach, judge and a leader has earned her many awards, such as the diploma given to her in 1981 by the president of the International Olympic Committee recognizing her expertise in gymnastics. Today at 72 years of age she is retired, but not from sports, as she continues working to develop women’s gymnastics in Cuba and to ensure that a new generation of female coaches and judges is in place.
Another example is Xiomara Rojas de la Orden who was a fencing and sport shooting athelete, and who after finishing her career as an athlete continued to excel by obtaining a degree in History and Physical Culture and later a Master’s degree. She served on a mission in Veneuela and today at 71 years of age works as a specialist in international relations for INDER. She has been the recipient of medals and other awards recognizing her lifetime dedication to Cuban sport.
Another worthy example is Mayra Vila Machado, a retired athlete who also fulfilled a mission in Venezuela and as of May 2011 is Director of the Track and Field Technical Commission and a professor at the Manuel Fajardo Physical Culture and Sports University.
Moving away from the competitive sphere for a bit, the outstanding work being done by women in the Grandparents’ Circles deserves mention. On a daily basis they make the slogan “Sport is Health” a reality.
Women of the island have also provided sports assistance to countries of Central and South America and the Caribbean region, which have notably improved their qualitative standards. Many of the medals that athletes from those nations have won in different international events bear the imprint of this teaching.