Five players from Cuba’s women’s water polo team escaped from a training in the Mexican city of Monterrey and traveled to the United States, local sports officials told the DPA agency. The news, which had been circulating for days on social networks, was confirmed on Tuesday.
The escape forced the cancellation of the training and the rest of the water polo squad returned to the island on Sunday.” The Cuban government did not make any official statement, they simply told the rest of us (who didn’t desert) that they were changing the tickets to return to Cuba,” a team source told DPA.
The Cuban team was composed of 13 athletes and had arrived in Mexico City in early February to train with representatives of Nuevo Leon. The athletes were hosted in the Olympic Village of the State Institute of Sport and trained at the Olympic Aquatic Center University.
“Still today, we do not know if five players deserted, or one trainer and four players*,” reported the Nuevo Leon Sports Institute media coordinator, Juan Ramón Piña.
“It was unexpected, five left the Olympic Village and no one knew anything until the team staff confirmed that they went to the United States,” added the manager, who said that the departures occurred between Tuesday and Thursday of last week.
Between Wednesday the 17 th and Friday the 19 th, the Cuban team was scheduled to participate in a local tournament to wrap up its training cycle. The games are part of a collaboration agreement signed on January 29 between the sports authorities of the state of Nuevo Leon and Cuba to exchange coaches and engage in test matches.
The flight of athletes came just days after the brothers Yulieski and Lourdes Jr. Gourriel left the Cuban baseball team at the end of the Caribbean Series in the Dominican Republic.
*Translator’s note: The New York Times reported: “Right now I feel like the freest Cuban in the whole world,” said Rodny Nápoles, 39, a coach of the Cuban national women’s water polo team who crossed into Laredo this week.