Defecting Cuban hurdler Orlando Ortega aims for US move

Orlando Ortega, 7 Aug 12
Image caption Orlando Ortega fell out with the Cuban athletics authorities

A top Cuban hurdler who defected earlier this month says he now wants to be reunited with his mother in Florida.

Orlando Ortega, 22, criticised the Cuban sports authorities in a phone call to the Associated Press news agency from Padua in Italy.

"It was an extremely difficult and tough decision, but I made it and I won't look back," said Ortega.

Ortega came sixth in the 110m hurdles final in the London 2012 Olympics. But this year his form has been much worse.

He failed to get beyond the qualifying round in his event at the world championships in Moscow recently.

The Cuban authorities suspended him for six months for insubordination after he refused to compete in a June trial event in Russia.

In early August he abandoned the Cuban team in Spain, after the World Championships in Moscow.

He was regarded as one of the island's top athletes and his defection is seen as a big blow, coming after the decision by fellow Cuban hurdler Dayron Robles to move his career to Monaco.

"Right now the only thing and what I want most is to reunite with my mother in the United States," Ortega said. His mother lives in Tampa, Florida.

"They committed a great injustice with me and my trainer," Ortega said. "It affected me a lot and I felt very bad, because I didn't compete during the two months ahead of the world championships," he told AP.

"I am living some hard moments. I know that in Cuba people are talking about betrayal," Ortega said.

He went on to criticise Cuba's sports authorities for "the lack of attention to the athletes".

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