July 15, 2003 - Milagros Cabral, the growing star of the Dominican Republic women’s team, anticipates a tough battle for the gold medal during the next Pan American Games to be staged in Santo Domingo starting on August 1.
Cabral, the MVP and Best Attacker during the Pan American Cup in Saltillo, Mexico earlier this month, believes the top contenders will be Cuba, USA and the Dominican Republic, teams she considers to all be of equal standard.
“I think that it will be a huge battle for the gold because the level of those teams is very equal,” said Cabral, who was also the MVP in the Central American and Caribbean Games in November 2002.
She made it clear that she does not underestimate the other sides in the event, but believes that the top place will be contested among those three.
Cabral, who has played in Italy, Spain, Japan and Puerto Rico during the last six years, praised the Dominican Republic victory over Cuba in the Pan American Cup, which was won by USA.
“It was not a fluke and is a booster for our confidence,” she said. “I think the history will be different from now on because we crossed over that psychological hurdle.”
Prior to the triumph in Mexico, the last victory by the Dominican Republic over Cuba came 41 years ago en route to the gold medal during the Central American Games in Jamaica in 1962.
“Our team has improved a lot during the last year,” said Cabral. “Our passing, blocking and serving is much better and we feel capable of taking one of the medals, but it would be a dream coming true to hear the national anthem in the awards ceremony before our fans.
“We are better also on the mental side of things and a lot of credit must go to our new coach Jorge Garbey,” she added. “That’s the only way to explain our comeback victory over Cuba after being two sets down.”
The Dominican Republic joins Cuba, Venezuela and Mexico in Pool B of the competition to be played in a brand new pavillion with a capacity for 5,000. USA, Brazil, Puerto Rico and Peru will play in Pool A.