Hilarión Ronaldo Veitía Valdivié, the Cuban women’s judo coach recognized as one of the best in the world, died this Monday in Havana at the age of 75, after several weeks of hospitalization between Cuba and Spain.
The news was confirmed by several media outlets and represents the loss of a Cuban coach who trained multiple champions in Pan American, Central American, Olympic, and world competitions.
Among his main achievements, the two gold medals, two silver medals, and fourth place achieved by five women of the women’s judo team in the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games are remembered. These results would be repeated in other world and regional competitions.
His students have won first place in international competitions nine times.
Veitía, as he is known among the Cuban people, was awarded the Order of Merit for Sports, the highest distinction given by the Council of State of Cuba to individuals or groups who have maintained an impeccable track record. In May 2005 he received the distinction of National Hero of Labor.
He was born in Havana in 1947 and began practicing judo at the age of 15, despite his father’s opposition. During his career as an athlete, he won several tournaments and medals in international competitions, but it was as a coach where he achieved the most success.
He created a training area in his town and began teaching classes voluntarily. After several years, he was officially recognized as a coach and became the head teacher of the Havana Sports Initiation School.
In 1983, Hilarión Ronaldo Veitía Valdivié was appointed head coach of the Cuban women’s national judo team. The same year, the first national women’s judo championship was held in Havana. The results in the Pan American Sports Games that same year were discreet.
However, in 1986 Veitía was sent to Mexico as coach of the national women’s judo team, where his disciples achieved medals in continental competitions for the first time.
Veitía had difficulty adapting to training women in judo in a similar way to how he did with men, but adapting the training loads to the ability of women.
To do this, he used scientific methods and medical monitoring in preparation. He introduced exercises such as rope ascent only with the hands and plank exercises, which were traditionally only performed by men.
He gave women the same level of training loads as men and achieved incredible results over almost three decades.
Under the leadership of Ronaldo Veitía, the Cuban women’s judo team has achieved important victories in world-level competitions.
In 1988, Cecilia Alacán won a bronze medal at the Georgia University World Championship in the 52 kg division.
However, an even more relevant achievement was Estela Rodríguez Villanueva’s gold medal at the Senior World Championship in Belgrade 1989 in the over 72 kg division, being the first absolute champion in Cuban judo.
Odalys Revé Jiménez also won a gold medal at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics.
Since then, the Cuban women’s judo team has achieved victories in Central American and Pan American competitions, and has competed in world championships and Olympic games against judo powers such as Japan, China, France, Belgium, Great Britain, and Italy.
All this under the guidance of Veitía, who revolutionized the training of Cuban athletes, giving them the world-class level they held for a long time.
Veitía is a world-renowned women’s judo coach for his achievements in high-level competitions. During his career, he has won almost 50 medals in world championships, 22 in Olympic Games, four of which are gold.
Some of his most notable achievements include first place at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, victory at the world championships in Shiba, Japan (1995) and Cairo, Egypt (2008), first place at the Dijon, France junior world championship (1990) and victory at the world team tournament in Minsk, Belarus (1998).
Return to Cuba
The outstanding judo teacher, Ronaldo Veitía, returned to Cuba from Spain in mid-October 2022. He had been hospitalized in the Iberian country due to health problems.
Upon his arrival at Havana’s José Martí International Airport, he was received by the director of the Institute of Sports Medicine, who welcomed him on behalf of the Cuban people and the sports movement.
Veitía’s health suffered during a family visit to Spain. In that country he received medical attention.
At the request of his family, the Cuban Sports Institute (INDER) helped him to return to Cuba and assured, at the time, to guarantee his medical attention together with the Ministry of Health.
His son, Ihosvany Veitía, accompanied him from Alicante to Havana and said that his father was very happy to return to his homeland.
He thanked Inder, the Cuban government and the consulate in Spain for all the efforts made for his father’s quick return to Cuba.