#Santiago2023Ambassadors: Yasmani Acosta, the Greco-Roman wrestler that goes for the Olympic rematch

With a long sport career that has taken him to represent his native country, Cuba, and currently our country, Yasmani is preparing to compete for the #TeamChile at the Santiago 2023 Pan American and Parapan American Games.

Yasmani Acosta was born in Agramonte, Cuba, and has lived in Chile for more than eight years. He made the hard decision to not come back to his country with the dream of succeeding in first category sport and representing the Chilean Olympic Committee, as he has been doing since 2017, after a long sportive path in his country of origin.

At 34 years old, the Greco-Roman wrestler has won medals in both his native country and ours. He has participated in Pan American Championships, South Americans, World Championships, Grand Prix, and National Championships. In summary, he is a worldwide Greco-Roman wrestling referent.

Concerning his current performance, Yasmani said goodbye to Tokyo 2020, his first Olympic Games, with a sour taste. He obtained a fourth place in the 130 kg category, almost touching the podium. He achieved his first rematch with the gold medal during the Asuncion 2022 South American Games, obtaining a twice champion in his discipline.

However, it is not until Paris 2024 that Yasmani will try to officially reverse the results. “It’s something that I have pending, I still have a thorn stuck that I want to get it out” he commented during the interview. To achieve this, his pass through #Santiago2023 will be essential for the Olympic qualifying. It is precise to mention that he has high possibilities to win the gold medal again.

What do you expect for 2023?
This year is very important because we will host the Pan American and Parapan American Games. We will have a lot of competitions and preparation, so we need to be careful with injuries and stay safe to arrive 100% healthy to compete well at the Games.

Do you have another important competition during this year?
Yes, I’m participating in two great events: the Pan American Games and, before those, I have the World Championship that’s a qualifier for the Olympic Games. 

Explain to us a little about your sport…
Wrestling is a sports career that depends a lot on your physical condition. If you’re physically well you can extend your career for a bit more over the years. In my case, due to the fact that I’m a heavyweight, full weight, we wear out a little less and we can extend our careers a little longer in what is a high-performance sport.

At what point in your career do you feel you are?
In a sports career, you’ll always have highs and lows, and I do consider that at this moment what focuses me and what keeps me focused and with a lot of anxiety are my defeats. That defeat is the gold medal I haven’t won yet, that Olympic medal is what keeps me focused, so yes, I’m at 100%.

How do you evaluate the evolution of wrestling from eight years ago until today?
I think it has changed and it has been an important change, not only in wrestling but in all sports and that’s thanks to the work… the work that has been done with Chilean sport. I’m very happy to see the children that are the key to keep rising and keep promoting Chilean sport for better development.

Do you have intentions or possibilities to travel to your country in the short or medium term?
Yes, actually, it was a very difficult moment leaving Cuba and all the process related to it. Maybe during February, I’ll be able to travel and train there, something that I’ve been waiting for 8 years to have the chance to prepare myself very well and be able to see people that I’ve known for a long time.


For Yasmani, sport is more than Greco-Roman wrestling. He knows that he has a big responsibility over children’s influence, this motivates him to keep going. Beyond the medal, seeing a society with more opportunities and united is something that makes him feel hopeful of being part of this Games, and to advance towards a greater sport development. 

Do you consider sports are a good way to integrate foreigners into our country?
Yes, I believe it’s important. Sports are relevant because they train and educate, not only to foreigners. Sports open a lot of doors and they’re fundamental for society.

Do you think this event can mark a turning point and promote sports among children?
Absolutely, 100% because Chile has been good at sports before the Games and will be much better after the Games since this event will reach many people. Many children will know sports that they’ve never seen in their lives, they’ll have new experiences and will say “dad, I want to be like that athlete who won the medal”, or “dad I want to be like that girl, she competes so beautifully”. There are a great variety of sports that will open the minds of many people. Children are the key to sports for me. The massiveness, working with children, creating that confidence and development. Everything starts from a good base and children are the magic of it all.

How has your experience with volunteers been during events such as Santiago 2023 magnitude?
Volunteers are very nice. They’re always asking me for souvenir pins and they ask you where you are from, how you are. It’s good from time to time to interact with these people because they’re like you and me, they’re happy to be close to the athletes. It’s different from other people who are far away, in this case, people are really close and they can talk with you, they can also take pictures with you. I think it’s a nice exchange because they know you and you know them enough to talk and share.

What call would you make for those people who are thinking about being Volunteers? 
I recommend you to be part of it. This will be the largest multi-sport event in America and there’ll be world-class athletes, it’ll be a great and important event. You’ll enjoy it a lot, so I hope to see you there.


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