Before the age of 28 Regla Torres had already finished a legendary career.
Her left knee required a third operation, and though she tried to attend her fourth Olympics in Athens 2004 – a necessary step toward Beijing 2008 – it was not to be.
In her heyday Torres secured Olympic titles in Barcelona 1992, Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000, always as a central player on the Cuban roster.
Two world championship titles, in 1994 and 1998, one junior championship in 1993, and many other prizes contributed to her title as Best Player of the 20th Century by the International Volleyball Federation (FIVB).
The 1.91 metre (6’4″) Cuban was named best blocker in the world championships in Brazil and most valuable player in the world championships of Japan, and in 2001 she received the FIVB exceptional distinction, with a similar coaches’ title for her longtime coach Eugenio Gorge.
All this made her deserving of the statue dedicated to her on the occasion of the twentieth anniversary of the prestigious Masters tournament in Montreux, Switzerland.
In 2004 Regla Torres was invited to Montreux, along with Eugenio Gorge and another fellow Olympian and three-time gold medal winner Mireya Luis. They reached the Place du Marché where the festival was held and there stood the statue of Freddie Mercury, British leader of the band Queen. But there was another figure beside him.
“I was asked to unveil it and what I saw there was me with my short hair and in a blocking position. It was a very beautiful gesture that I will never forget. Later they permanently placed it in the room where the event is played every year. I really felt proud to see the statue of a Cuban, young and alive with such recognition. I will never forget that gesture,” she recalled.
Regla began playing volleyball at age eight. She recognized that she did not like track or weight training, but on the court she trained hard and wasted no time. In 1989, at age 14, she joined the national team and became one of the “Morenas del Caribe,” a name given to the island’s stars.
In 1991 the star blocker attended her first Pan American Games in Havana, giving Cuba its sixth title of the games.
She repeated those successes in Mar del Plata 1995, her final foray of the kind. In Winnipeg 1999 Regla Torres had to undergo surgery for an injury.
These days she does not deny feeling nostalgic for those years, but is working hard to train those called to follow in her footsteps.