Leuris Pupo, Cuba’s top shooter of all time. Photo: Yander Zamora

Shooter Leuris Pupo’s participation in the most recent Olympic Games raised hopes among fans. The challenge was to once again place among the top six finalists, as the chance of winning a second medal under the five rings, would have been a first for Cuban sport shooting.

However, the London 2012 champion secured a commendable fifth place, once again confirming his position as one of the top athletes in his discipline in the world.

Pupo, are you happy with your performance in Río de Janeiro?

I would be lying if I said that I felt completely happy. I’m one of those people who think that they can always do better, even when they win, but I’m happy to have qualified for another Olympic final.

You obtained your best result of the year (583 points) in the Munich World Cup, a feat you repeated in Río de Janeiro to qualify seventh for the final. Did you feel more or less pressure than in London?

In all honesty, I lacked confidence in Río, as this hasn’t been my best year shooting in finals. Preparation went well, with good quality munitions and various training bases, opportunities the rest of my teammates didn’t have, but I only had two international competitions, Munich and the Pre-Olympic. To do well in the finals you have to practice a lot in order to be able to cope with the pressure, and even more so when you’re Olympic champion with great hopes surrounding you.

How were you received after the competition?

Everyone hugged and congratulated me, and here I must also mention the senior Inder (Cuban Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation) officials. Although it doesn’t reflect my performance, I think that fifth place in the Olympics is a good result for any athlete.

How would you rate the performance of Cuban shooters in the Olympics?

I think that we did well in general. Shooting is a very expensive sport, and the global elite have, as well as competitions at all levels; quality munitions; rifles and modern shotguns; electronic targets; among other things that we don’t have given their cost. But even so, we compete with dedication and are proud to represent Cuba in the Games.

Have you thought about retiring?
I’m not thinking of retiring for now. At 38 I still feel in peak technical and physical form practicing this sport. In fact, on October 4, I’m flying to Italy to participate in the International Shooting Federation Cup Finals.

What are your plans looking toward the next Olympic Games?

We hope to have better luck than last time. The shooting field needs to be repaired, which should be done before the Games and in regards to munitions; we currently don’t have any to begin training.

What do you have to say to the people that love and admire you?

That for all these years I have represented them with pride among the best of the world elite, and not to worry, because Pupo’s going to be here for a while.