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Idalys Ortiz, Cuba
Idalys Ortiz after winning her fourth Pan American gold medal at Santiago 2023 Via

SEATTLE - With just a few months left before the 2024 Paris Olympics, athletes continue preparations to make their childhood dreams a reality. Many dream with being a part of this competition, but only a selected few aspire to have a career like Cuban judoka Idalys Ortiz's

From a very young age, Ortiz started to show the signs of the greatness that very well characterize her now. With strength, determination and passion, she has gone on to win an endless amount of medals over a fantastic career. Five Pan American gold medals, eight at the world championships -including two golds- and four Olympic medals are some of her many achievements.

Since making her debut at the Olympic stage in Beijing 2008 with a bronze medal, the Cuban judoka has made her way to every podium in the women's +78kg discipline. Ortiz made history in London 2012 with a gold medal, becoming the first -and still only- Latino woman to win a judo gold medal at the heavyweight division.

But not only is Ortiz one of Cuba's finest and most important athletes of all time, she also sees herself as something more than an athlete. In an interview with the Olympic channel, Idalys Ortiz assumes the responsibility that comes with being an elite-level athlete and an example to younger generations. "Girls and judo is really a taboo topic for parents. They think that judo is not a feminine sport," she said. "I think that judo is a sport for everyone, because its a sport that educates you and teaches you to be a good person, makes humble people...In judo it's not about your name, it's about your soul," she said.

Ortiz is planning on retiring from professional judo at the end of the 2024 Paris Olympics. When she makes her debut at the French capital, she will join a selected list of women with five Olympic appearances at judo events. Out of the four, Cuban Telma Monteiro is the only Latina to have achieved such feat so far. Representing her country and her roots has been one of the main motivators in Oirtiz' career. "For me it's the greatest thing ever. What else can I add about Cuba? Cuba is everything to me," she said.

With just a few months left in her acclaimed career, Ortiz doesn't put too much importance on the achievements that led a little girl from Pinar del Río to the biggest stage in the world of sports.

"I would love to be remembered as for who I am and not for what I thought would make me famous. If someone really wants to remember me for my legacy and the stuff I have done in the sport, I think that is just a nice added value," she said to the Olympic channel. "But the most important thing for me is to be remembered as the person that I tried to be for this world. I always loved to be an amicable person, friendly...I think its well within us to be a good person for the entire world."

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