A bath of gold covers the triple Olympian monarch, Marlenys Costa. From the World Cup in Osaka in 1991 to the Olympic Games in Sydney in 2000, except the Pan American Games in Winnipeg in 1999, this Creole woman won everything. He was part of the legendary volleyball team led by Eugenio George and known for the Spectacular Morenas del Caribe.
What a pleasure it is for me to speak to you, friend of the years. I know you’re not in Cuba. Where are you based, what do you do, and why don’t you help shape new spectacular projects?
The pleasure is mine, Julita. You’ve witnessed our three Olympic gold medals, so you know us. I’m in the Brazilian city of Sao Paulo, more specifically at the Riberao Pires Football Club, and I work as an assistant at this great club. It’s football because in Brazil, football is like baseball in Cuba; it’s everything. But there are also many volleyball, futsal, and basketball courts, among others.
You ask me why I am not in Cuba helping to create new spectacular sports, and I think you should ask this question to the sports leaders of our country, not me. I was always willing to help and push forward.
Do you think you got what you deserved with your great career?
Sincerely? NO! None of us deserved much more than what little they gave us in Cuba for the great story we wrote. You already anticipated it in this interview: Olympic Games, World Cups and Championships, Pan American Games, tournaments at the highest level… on top of the podium! We’ve been admired and respected by fans on five continents, and what have we received? Very little.
We deserved much more than what little they gave us in Cuba for the great story we wrote
So much cheap politics they injected into our veins. Was it worth it?
It’s times and times. We live in a phase of sporting passion. It was played for the love of the sport, for the love of the jersey, and for the love of whoever has done so much for the sport, but after so much effort, so many wins, and being so far from our families, we realized that it was all cheap politics.
At the time, you might have thought it was worth it; Now after so many years and we are mature enough to face life I guess it didn’t help! One says: three times Olympic champion, so many times world champion, and what did that bring us? Now you see players who maybe don’t even resemble us and get hired here and there and make their lives much better than us, be it in Cuba or abroad.
Better houses, better cars, better living status… and what about the spectacular ones? So… what was it worth to us in the end? So much love for the fatherland, for the flag, for a social system that is injected into our veins and that gives nothing… so much sweat, so much insomnia, so much effort, for what?
I remember my last meeting a year ago with some of the most spectacular brunettes in the Caribbean. We met at the Spanish Embassy in Havana to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Barcelona 92 and there one by one felt the bad situation they were living in trying to apply for a visa to travel to Spain to get. Among them was the recently deceased Raisa O’Farril, who showed me her deepest sorrow over her life.
Marlenys, how many male and female volleyball players are currently scattered around the world, and how many winning CUBA teams could be formed?
Look, Julita, I don’t know a specific number, but I agree with you: a few KUBA teams would be formed. We were able to experience that wonderful time when there were cadet and junior teams, senior pre-selection split into A and B, and who knows if more?, all in both sexes. Cuba would climb to the top of this planet called volleyball, there’s no doubt about that.
But of course, now that other factors are moving, it’s not the flag anymore; Professionalism is the flag. And I don’t misjudge them, what do we have?
You come from a sporty family, how much has that influenced you?
It influenced me a lot. My late grandfather, my cousins, my uncles. Everyone talks about my coaches, Eugenio, Ñico, Calderón, Garbey, and Pérez Vento, and of course they were important, They updated me but my family was the base. Realize, Julita, that my first coaches were my uncles.
You know I wanted to be a folk dancer, I love dancing but seeing so many athletes around me made me want to play sports. Javier and Jesús Costa were my first coaches. At the age of eight, they gave me a ball and said to me: “Let’s see if you can play volleyball.” And this is where Marlenys Costa began her triumphant career, what do you think?
I live grateful for my uncles and this great family of athletes. My aunt Silvia Costa, national record holder in high jump, and runner-up in the world; and Reynaldo Costa, a star pitcher for CUBA and Pinar del Río, are the most prominent, but there are others. And I am also grateful to my parents who have supported me throughout my life.
You always liked to attack, but you were the key in the passing position.” Who convinced you, Eugenio, Ñico?
You’re right, I liked the attack because I was an auxiliary attacker in EIDE; When he said “good Cuban” he added “coquito with mortadella” haha. Coming to the cadet team and then to the youth team, I couldn’t envy either Regla Bell or Mireyita Luis.
In addition, every volleyball player who takes his first steps wants to be an attacker. However, I liked my new role: the passer-by. If I die and am reborn, I will be a passerby again.
Whose decision was it to change you, Eugenio?
Eugenio spoke a lot with his brother Eider that the team needed a passer with my technique and intelligence and I think, looking back, I never let them down. The passer is the soul of the team, he builds the offense; The game goes through his hands, he decides who attacks through which area.
Upon his return from Atlanta, a very painful decision was made to fire the founder of the Cuban volleyball team, Eugenio George. Luckily he was able to return. Do you know what happened?
I haven’t been on the national volleyball team for 23 years and today I don’t know what happened. Luckily he was able to come back and lead us to the third Olympic scepter, although the DT was Calderón. This injustice has not increased, although we will never forget the difficult time we all had.
What happened in Winnipeg, that somewhat unexpected defeat?
We got there in very poor physical condition; There were no stars like Mireya or Regla Torres, I was injured and we still lost in five sets in the final. It was the most bitter moment of my sports career.
Although you didn’t live to see it, how do you remember Cuba’s double win at the 1989 World Cup?
As one of the great moments of Cuban sport, especially volleyball. Earned achievements for these players. With the title of the Leningrad World Championship in 1978, women’s volleyball had a harbinger: Mercedes Pomares, Mamita Pérez, Lucila Urgellés, the teacher Ana Ivis Díaz, Nelly Barnet are the pioneers. The consequences of this achievement would later be multiplied among girls and boys.
If I ask you about a shocking moment in your career, which of them do you gravitate toward?
You always have to remember Sydney 2000. This great game against the Russians started with a 0-2 opponent and we took everything we had in us, we listened to Eugenio, we found out the weaknesses of the opponents who already thought they were champions and.. we won! It’s something unforgettable. My third Olympic gold.
But I go further. For me, the game I can never ignore is the semi-final against Brazil. If we lost, we wouldn’t be able to defend our title. In the third half, we were seven points behind and now it’s my turn. Do you remember that? I served eight times in a row, eight points. Ana Ibis Fernández tells me: “Oh, Marlencita, don’t lose it, don’t lose it.” For me, that game was more stressful than the final.
Another game that shaped me was the 1992 Barcelona Olympics. I turned 19 in Barcelona and I imagine stepping through the wide door into the fickle world. Another example was the 1994 World Cup in Brazil. In the final, they defeated the hostesses three to nil, who went hand in hand and were supported by thousands of throats, in a packed and insane Ibirapuera.
At the 1994 World Cup in Brazil, the spectacular brunettes from the Caribbean not only went undefeated, but they also didn’t lose a single set. Great, isn’t it?
The brunettes, family? What was the early departure from Raisa O’Farril for you and especially for you?
Of course I do and I think I speak for all of them. We are a family. We spent more time together than with our blood relatives or friends. On the field, it was enough that we looked at each other and we knew what we were going to do.
As for Raisa, I have no words to describe her departure. Not a day goes by that I’m not overcome with sadness. When I found out I was shocked. I knew she was ill, but she died quickly and at a very young age. He does not deserve it. He was very busy, but that’s life, we have to move on. She was a good player and a great teammate. Wherever she is, may God enlighten her.
What do you wish for Cuba, do you see yourself in this future?
From the bottom of my heart, I wish the Cuban volleyball team the best. May the whole world see Cuba again on the great podiums of the planet. May the brunettes return and men too.
But no, I don’t see myself in that future because although I’ve always expressed my greatest willingness to help, I’ve never been called. So? No. There is a lot of talent in Cuba leading training and the national team. I don’t There are Regla Torres, Norca Latamblet, Idalmys Gato, and Yumilka Ruíz; However, they guide others.
Although I have always expressed my greatest willingness to help, I never received a call
I don’t know what’s happening to the spectacular moray eels of the Caribbean; In my case, I don’t see myself in that future. My dream was to be called up to help work with the national team’s passers, but… that didn’t happen! I was never considered.
Tell me about the Lollipop family. None of your kids are athletes, are they?
hahaha, You always told my three children, my three precious children, that after they were born you would go to the hospital and bring them a welcome report in the world. Melanie Chaney, 21, unsportsmanlike and 17-year-old twins Cristian Carlos and Dailannie de la Caridad. The man has practiced many sports, but nothing of high performance, nothing.
Melanie is with me in Brazil and I hope the other two will join us soon. This is my great dream, Julita, to live, to breathe, to conquer with my work what was never given to me in Cuba, although I earned more than enough.