Orlando Ortega will play his second Olympic Games in Tokyo with the Spanish expedition shirt. Of Cuban origin, this 29-year-old athlete admits that he feels very Spanish and comments that he has always felt loved and appreciated in our country since competing with us since 2016.
Its premiere could not be better, achieving the Olympic runner-up in the 110 meters hurdles in Rio de Janeiro. Five years later and after several important injuries, Orlando sets the goal of reaching the final and then the plaid will put “each one in his place.”
Orlando is focused on this competition as never before, although he does not lose sight of what is happening in his native Cuba, condemning the events that have taken place on the island in recent weeks. Without a doubt, he is a guy with many things to say.
Question: How do you get to these Olympics?
Answer: I’m fine. The goal is to reach the final of 110 meters and we’ll see there. We have had a difficult year with injuries, but I consider all that forgotten.
P. It seems that the rivals are very strong with respect to other appointments.
R. In the end it is an Olympic Games and everyone is going to give 100%. Right now the rivals to beat are Holloway and McLeod and we hope that within that fight we will be in the final.
Q. What percentage of your benefits are you in compared to Orlando de Rio in 2016?
R. The Rio season was completely different because I was very regular in every way and I had no injuries. Now this year I have been dragging an injury that has been quite complicated. I was unemployed for four months, unable to do anything and obviously it is hard. The last word in the end is the clue and it does not matter if it has been stopped or not. I try not to compare one season with another and all I try is to enjoy the race and do my best.
Q. How do you find yourself competing in these extreme circumstances?
R. Thank God I train in Cyprus and this heat and humidity are twice as powerful where I am. For that part I am calm, I am very comfortable with the weather conditions. I spend half the year there and I have no problem with the heat because it is much more powerful. If it affects other people they will have to adapt. Now the important thing is to get the best performance.
Q. Can there be a surprise because it is a pandemic season?
R. We are talking about the Olympic Games and this is the most important thing for an athlete. When it comes to competing, many things can happen and not only in this sport. We have seen the United States lose to France in basketball when they seemed unbeatable. Anything can happen.
Q. Usain Bolt has retired and it seems that athletics has lost its standard bearer. Who do you think that new reference could be?
R. There are still great international athletes like Duplantis, Allyson Felix or Fraser-Pryce and there are great promises like Noah Lyles in 100 meters. It is true that reaching the level that Bolt reached is practically impossible because of the times, results and medals he made. I think it is very difficult, but not impossible to achieve your milestones. We have always had a reference and it will appear sooner or later. Usain left, but for me there are still great athletes here.
Q. We cannot ignore everything that is happening in Cuba. What do you think of all that?
R. There is a lot of confusion and sadly it is a very sad subject. I have already ruled on it and I have nothing more to say. Right now my mind is only focused on the Olympics and I am focused on what I have to do here. When I finish I will have time to return to this topic. Everything that is happening is unfortunate and I hope the situation improves soon.
Q. What do you think of the comments of the former athlete Isaac Viciosa about the records Mohamed Katir saying that he would have wanted someone with a Spanish surname to beat them?
R. It is a pity these types of comments because they hurt and more to the people who come in search of opportunities, wanting to have a better life, a better future and do the best for the Spanish people. I have always felt Spanish, I have felt loved from the first moment I arrived here and thank God I have not had any kind of problem. I hope things like these are not repeated because at the end of the day we are human beings, we have feelings and all we all want is the best for the people of Spain. We all fight under the same banner and we will continue to do so. I, for my part, only ask that there are solutions, that there are no cases like this and that everything has been a simple misunderstanding.
P. Until when is Orlando Ortega seen as an athlete? Will we see him in Paris 2024?
R. My dream is to be here until my legs tell me that it is no longer possible. I feel very good, I try to enjoy the day to day and I am still excited even with my workouts. Athletics is everything for me, I’m calm, I’m going step by step and when I get to Paris we’ll see what happens. The road is very long, but I enjoy every moment.