Pic by Balint Vekassy

Serguey Torres knows he has probably one last chance to end an incredible Olympic career with a medal, and he believes his teenage C2 partner, Fernando Jorge, is the man to help him achieve it.

Although you would not write off the 30-year-old Cuban making it to the 2014 Games as well, which would be an amazing five Olympics. It’s just he know there are lots of strong young paddlers coming through the ranks in Cuba, and they are all getting faster.

Torres has good reason to be confident he and Jorge could be the answer in Tokyo. The pair finished sixth in Rio last year, and Jorge is still just 18 and, as Torres puts it, getting faster every day.

On Saturday the pair began the new Olympic cycle in the best possible way, with victory in the C2 1000 at the ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup 1 in Montemor-o-Velho, Portugal.

“This is the first time for us to make a medal, so it is very important for us as we prepare for the World Championships,” Torres said.

“Fernando is getting better every time, because he always wants to win a medal. I think I have more experience, and he has more improvement, for us to win a medal.”

Torres has won five medals at a World Championships level, the last in the C2 500 in Moscow in 2014, and he has also finished ninth, sixth and sixth at the Beijing, London and Rio Olympics.

Tokyo is still a long way away, but the dream is alive for Torres.

“I want finish my career in 2020 in Tokyo,” he said.

“I will try, but I’m not sure because In Cuba we have many talented athletes in Cuba, but I will try.

“I think for the next year we will go better. I am still at the same level, and he is getting stronger every year, so that makes us better for the next years.”

The glory days for Cuban canoeing came at the turn of this century, when the team picked up two silver medals at the Sydney Olympics, in C2 and C1 1000, and then winning another silver in the C-2 500 in Athens in 2004.

It was into that spotlight that a teenage Torres stepped, winning his first World Championship medals in Zagreb in 2005. Despite the lack of Olympic medals since, the sport remains popular in Cuba.

“We have good facilities and good support in Havana, because we have a good history,” Torres said. 

“Cuba won medals in Sydney and in Athens and always make the finals, so it is good for our future.”

The 2017 ICF Canoe Sprint World Cup 1 finishes in Montemor-o-Velho on Sunday. 

Canoe Sprint
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