Posted: Saturday, July 31, 2021. 1:17 pm CST.
By Rubén Morales Iglesias: “His improvement has been very good considering that we’ve only been able to work for four months, one month in Sevilla. The improvement has been favourable,” said Spanish coach Foad Buchta Mohamed of Belizean paddler Amado Cruz who is competing on Sunday and Tuesday at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in the Kayak 1 1000m and the Kayak 1 200m sprints.
Mohamed said Cruz’s good physical conditioning works in his favour.
“Coach Fuad trained Amado Cruz for the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru where he came in 12th out of all the America’s, which ultimately caused him to get an invitational to participate at the Tokyo Olympics,” said Elvin Penner, president of the Belize Canoe Association, on social media.
“This time coach Fuad is accompanying him even here in Japan leading up to his races and will be here with him till he has concluded all his events. According to coach Fuad, Amado is definitely performing at a higher level than he was at the Pan American game.”
His first event is Sunday, August 1, in the K1 1000m (Heat 4) at 7:45 pm (Monday, August 2, at 10:45 am Japan) against four other competitors from Samoa, Norway, Serbia, and Belarus. 27 athletes are participating in five heats.
His second event, the K1 200m (Heat 5), is scheduled for Tuesday, August 3 at 6:58 pm (Wednesday, August 4, 9:58 am Japan) at the Sea Forest Waterway against four other competitors from Samoa, Argentina, Serbia, and Lithuania. 25 athletes are participating in five heats.
Though Cruz is the first paddler to represent Belize in canoe sprinting, he has already competed in three official international events, competing in kayak races. Other than that he has competed in many other canoe races like the Belikin Ruta Maya Belize River Challenge both in Belize and abroad.
Cruz has been canoeing for 20 years since he was 14 but it was not until 2016, he says, that he started competing in kayak races.
“The most challenging one would be kayaking because we don’t have the training or the right equipment in Belize for me to advance in it,” said Cruz who has had to travel to Sevilla in Spain to train under Mohamed for three weeks before traveling to Japan. The coach said they’ve only had four months in reference to virtual training they did before Cruz made it to the high-performance center in Sevilla.
Cruz, who had already trained under Mohamed in preparation for the Pan American Games in Peru in 2019, thinks he was better prepared then.
“The preparation for the Pan American Games I had more training. I had over a month in Spain with Mr. Foad,” Cruz said.
“For this one, I just had about three weeks. I trained with him in Spain, so I think I was in better condition in 2019 for the Pan American Games. But we’re still working together trying to prepare myself better.”
However, he doesn’t have much time. His first race comes up at the Sea Forest Waterway in Tokyo on Sunday evening (Monday morning in Tokyo).
Amado has competed at the Pan American Championship in Dartmouth, Canada, in 2018, where he finished 11th in the K1 200m and 10th in the K1 1000m.
In 2019, Cruz participated at the Pan American Games in Lima, Peru, finishing 12th in both the K1 200m and K1 1000m.
Also in 2019, Cruz competed in the World Championships in Szeged, Hungary. He was 29th in the K1 5000m, 40th in the K1 1000m, and 41st in the K1.
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