Osleni Guerrero finished as runner-up in the 2012Pan American Badminton Tournament, held in Lima, Peru, a silver medal that is a worthwhile addition to his new career that also includes the subtitle in the Guadalajara 2011Pan American Games. The young Havana city boy is the best Cuban ever in the world ranking, currently placing 121 with a total of 13,250 points (updated October 18, 2012). These days, when he just turned 24, he agreed to talk with Oncuba:
Where did you start practicing this sport?
In the “Ponce Carrascón” municipal sports facility in Centro Habana, under the orders of Luis Alberto Lara who at that time was the athletic trainer for my sport. He was the one who discovered me and enrolled me when I was in primary school in the Rafael Angel Carini Center.
That is how I started, to which I give great importance ever since I had the opportunity to always train with athletes of elder categories and it helped me to develop a competitive mentality.
What influenced had in your development being described as a “promise” of badminton in Latin America?
It was important because being aware that they saw I had potential encouraged me to go ahead and stay focused on my goals without thinking about the factors that negatively affect it. I had to overcome several years of defective preparation, and fight obstacles that limited me both from training and stabilizing my preparation for the events.
With the subtitle won in the Guadalajara 2011 Pan American Games you became the first Cuban medallist in the sport at continental level. What does that result mean to you?
I was in the Rio 2007 Games and took the experience with the assurance that I could do better. I set as my goal that in 2011 I could be among the medalists and it worked. Getting the subtitle was a moment of joy and much excitement. I am proud, I know I can say I was the first Cuban Pan American medalist in my sport and that is very important to me. Furthermore it fulfilled me personally because I fulfilled the promise I had made to my mother, a result in a major event is what you always wanted to dedicate to her.
What role has the Pan American Federation played in the development of your career?
The Panamerican Federation, based in Peru, has played a decisive role in my career. The goal of this organization is to develop athletes in the area in order to obtain results that translate into the continent finishing in a better position in world class events such as the Olympics and world championships. I’ve been part of this program and this has enhanced my training much because it has made me train hard and improve constantly since I have been in touch with talented athletes. In turn, the Cuban Federation has much merit since it has worked for many years to achieve significant results and in my particular case I have always had the full support from them.
How would you describe your game?
The potential of my game focus on three areas: strength, speed and endurance. Those are the key elements that have made my physical ability an important weapon to face my rivals.
From which of these factors you get more advantage in a game?
From resistance. Here in our continent there are few athletes who are characterized by their high physical capacity and that helps me to use it as an advantage. It is different with Asian and European players, because they have other training and their level of play is much stronger and demanding.
What feeling are you taking with you from this Panamerican Championship you just played?
It was a good experience for my career, a tournament where the level was stable and the players lived up as expected in the main area event. My performance in this championship was valid and I think I played at a good level, I am especially satisfied because I improved in various technical elements that I had to overcome. It also provided me with an opportunity to see and get to know my opponents.
Guatemala’s Kevin Gordon has become a big rival for you; he bested you in the final of the Pan American Games and now in the Pan American Championship. Is there something in his game that you fail to decipher?
I recognize that Kevin is a good player; he has reached a high level that has allowed him to be in two Olympics and several world championships. I find him hard to beat, he has a lot of experience from attending world class tournaments, I have not had the same opportunities in this regard. Anyway, even though I don’t focus on a particular player but I play the rival I get in that moment of the competition, with Kevin I have sort of private war, a battle of many years in which he has advantages but is not over at all.
Plans and future goals
I have planned to end the scheduled events, the most important is the IV International Open Tournament in Mexico that will be held in November. The important thing is to reap all the gains possible with a view to improve in the world ranking. Next season it will be for me another year of work; I have to improve and work on the flaws I’ve had this season so that the results are satisfactory. Moving towards improving my game and always try to be better is the most important thing right now.