VNL2020 - News detail - Osmany Juantorena – two countries, one glorious career - Volleyball Nations League 2021

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Osmany Juantorena – two countries, one glorious career

 

The international medals have come mainly in the past five years after the 35-year-old, who was born in Cuba, opted to play for Italy.

It was the land where he met his wife and where his children have been born, and where he has excelled for Trentino and now Lube Civitanova.

Juantorena made the club switch in 2015, by which time he had enjoyed two spells with Trentino, with whom he had won four FIVB Volleyball Men’s Club World Championship titles. While there he met his wife to be Glenda, and that helped open the door to selection for the Azzurri having not played for Cuba since 2006.

In only five years of playing for Italy the outside hitter has won silver at the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games, silver at the 2015 FIVB World Cup, and bronze at the 2015 CEV European Championship.

“I’m a little bit sorry I didn’t make the decision sooner because as soon as I became a citizen in 2011, they asked me to play but it wasn’t an easy choice,” Juantorena said just after Rio 2016.

“I felt at home from the start and felt like I’d always been part of the squad. I like to think we have made Italy love us and we have flown the flag high, fighting to the last.

“The silver medal meant a lot for Italy, but for me it was like gold because it was something I have worked for my whole life. I cannot be anything other than honoured, proud and content with this medal.”

Family Olympic tradition

Juantorena, who stands 200cm tall, continued the proud family tradition at the Olympic Games. His uncle Alberto Juantorena won gold in the 400m and 800m at the Montreal Olympics in 1976.

There were concerns that he might not make it to Rio 2016 though as he struggled to come back from a shoulder injury. However, he was fit in time and finished as Italy’s second highest scorer with 116 points.

It was one of several major tournaments he featured in for the Azzurri and he also played at the Italy-Bulgaria 2018 FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship.

For the Italy number five it was a World Championship he will never forget. During the tournament, his second child was born, and he had to rush from Milan to Civitanova following the match against Russia, a near five-hour car journey, to be present at the birth.

By then he had been wearing the colours of Civitanova for three years and while they had enjoyed plenty of success on Italy’s Adriatic coast, they were still chasing the ultimate prize, the Club World Championship.

Chasing the dream title

A year later they won it with a 3-1 (25-23, 19-25, 31-29, 25-21) victory over Sada Cruzeiro in the final in Brazilian city Betim with Juantorena one of three leading scorers with 20 points.

It put the sheen on a collection of trophies that included one Champions League, two Italian SuperLega titles, and two Coppa Italia.

It meant that when Civitanova offered him a contract extension earlier in 2020 he had no hesitation in signing.

“I’m staying here to keep on winning, this is definitely the place to do it,” he said. “The club have built a very-strong team. I want to keep playing at the highest level because I know that one day, I will miss all this.”

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