Lausanne, Switzerland, April 30, 2020 – Winning an Olympic gold medal is the main dream of virtually every volleyball player on the planet, but for Polish outside hitter Wilfredo Leon that’s just one part of all he wants to accomplish at the international level.
The 26-year-old Cuban-born player joined the European team as recently as last year and has already proved to be a valuable addition as he was voted the best in his position at the 2019 FIVB Volleyball World Cup, helping the nation to secure a silver medal at the tournament.
Leon, who won a silver medal with the Cuban national team at the 2010 FIVB Volleyball World Championship before switching federations, is certainly excited about the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, but his plans go far beyond taking Poland to the top of the podium in the Japanese capital in the summer of 2021.
“My biggest dream with the Polish national team is to win an Olympic gold medal, but that’s absolutely not my only goal,” he said in an interview to Argentinean website Somos Voley. “I want to win every possible medal. When I joined the team I told the coach and the captain that I wasn’t here just for the Olympics. I want to play in every tournament I can and help Poland to continue fighting for every medal.”
The Europeans are arguably among the favourites to contend for medals in Tokyo as they won back-to-back titles at the last two editions of the World Championships, taking home the gold medals in both 2014 and 2018.
The Polish feature an impressive trio of hitters that includes Leon, opposite Bartosz Kurek and outside hitter Michal Kubiak and, according to their newest addition, odds are they will become even stronger with the extra time they now have to prepare due to the postponement of the Games.
“I think we have good chances,” he added. “With another year to prepare, we’ll have more time to get some chemistry and I think my teammates and I are going to benefit from having more time with each other. My first tournament with the team was last September at the European Championships and we gained some valuable experience for the next events. The Olympics in 2021 are a chance for us to regroup and will help us to get better prepared. We have a good team and we can fight for a gold medal.”
Currently playing for Italy’s Sir Safety Perugia, with whom he won the 2019-2020 Supercup and took home the Most Valuable Player award, Leon has included Poland in his future plans in yet another way.
The outside hitter, who also played professionally in his native Cuba, Russia and Qatar, wants to experience several different leagues before he retires.
“There are five other leagues I’d love to play before the end of my career,” he explained. “Poland is of course one of them and it’s the only one where I can say that I’ll play at some point for sure. I’d also like to play in Brazil, Japan, France and Argentina.”
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