Wilfredo Leon, the Cuban “deserter” who made Poland’s volleyball heyday

With Wilfredo Leon, there is little room for doubt. “I only prepare to win gold, not silver or bronze”, insists the star of the Polish selection. She is the favorite for the Paris Olympic Games tournament (July 26-August 11), after her victories in the Nations League and the European Championship in 2023, which allow her to prance at the top of the world rankings.

However, do not believe that the ego of the most powerful server in the world – he was flashed last year at 138 km/h – has swelled to the point of preventing him from passing through the doors of the sports hall from Antalya, Turkey, where his team faces the American team on Wednesday May 22 in the preliminary round of the League of Nations. This is the final competition before the Paris Olympics, where France will defend the title won to everyone’s surprise in Tokyo in 2021.

“If you just aim for the podium, you will relax once your goal is achieved. I get this mentality from my father, who practiced wrestling”, traces Wilfredo Leon, seated with his wife Malgorzata and two of their three children. While Natalia, 7 years old, devours a plate of pierogis (Polish ravioli), Selena, barely 1 year old, prefers to crawl under the table.

Read also | Tokyo Olympics: the French Olympic volleyball champions for the first time

Exempted from training following an infiltration in that damn left knee which has been causing him pain for several years, the 30-year-old receiver-attacker made an appointment with World in a restaurant in Nadarzyn, about twenty kilometers from Warsaw, where he is accustomed. After six seasons in Perugia, Italy, which he has just left with a treble, winning the championship and the two Italian Cups, he went green, for the well-being of his family and to indulge fishing and sport shooting, his passions.

Record holder for winning services

As calm and relaxed in life as he can be “killer” on the pitch, the European champion makes himself understood indifferently in Spanish, Polish, Italian, Russian or English. “I prefer to live close to nature rather than in a noisy city. I don’t need much, to accumulate houses, to party every night…”gibberish in the language of Shakespeare, this fervent Catholic, follower of an orderly life.

Obviously, being the star of the team from Perugia, in Umbria, did not only have advantages. “ I try to be a humble person. When I’m alone, I don’t mind responding to requests, but I can’t stand people tapping me on the shoulder when I’m at a restaurant with my children.”, he explains.

You have 76.77% of this article left to read. The rest is reserved for subscribers.

source site-28