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He Ran From Cuba. Now He Runs With US

December 23, 2023 3 min read 3 Comments

He Ran From Cuba. Now He Runs With US

Oscar Fabra, 61, at the Florida Senior Games where he won silver medals in the 100 and 200 (M60-64). He won two gold medals at The Huntsman World Senior Games this fall and a silver at The National Senior Games in the summer.

 

By Ray Glier

The irony of Oscar Fabra’s escape from Cuba is that he got to freedom in the U.S. through Guantanamo, that U.S. Naval Base on the southern tip of the island that is more synonymous with captivity.

Adding to irony is that plenty of baseball players have fled the communist-led island the last 30 years. Oscar, a runner in track & field, slipped out, too.

Fabra’s getaway was in 1996 as the U.S. was trying to shut off the raft exodus from Fidel Castro’s country 90 miles from the U.S.

America held an immigration lottery for Cubans with Castro’s consent. It was becoming embarrassing for the dictator to see people willing to risk death at sea to get off the island.

Oscar was 34 years old and applied for immigration to the U.S. through the lottery. He was one of the “lucky” to be chosen, he said, and he departed through the U.S. stronghold at Guantanamo, illogical as it seems.

Twenty-seven years later, Fabra still considers himself lucky. He’s more than that, of course, which is why the U.S. welcomed him with open arms and figured it was getting a squared away guy.

A math teacher, Oscar is hard-working, positive, and positively well-liked on the senior track circuit. He is 61 and still lives in the flat land of south Florida, which adds to the irony of his journey because Fabra grew up in the modest mountains of Cuba.

His up-and-down existence—doing his work as a young man up one hill and down another—is the reason he has developed into a pretty decent Masters track sprinter, he says.

“My legs, of course,” Fabra said, when asked about the key ingredient to making medals. “I am not from the city. My family immigrated from Spain and had a farm. So the cows would go up and down the hills and I would go up and down the hills.”

In October, Oscar’s legs took him to gold medal wins in the 100 meters (13.18 seconds) and 200 (26.90) at The Huntsman World Senior Games. He took silver in the 400 (1:03.37) in Utah.

Fabra also won a silver medal for second place in July in the highly-competitive 200m at The National Senior Games (M60-64) with a 26.50. He was fourth in the 400 finals, another race stacked with competitive runners.

What Oscar wants Geezer Jocks to know is physical activity saved his life. He was diagnosed with cancer at 45 and decided health was the way to subdue the disease. So Fabra did what many Cuban-bred men do…he joined a baseball team.

That worked for a while, he said, but there was more in him. Oscar started running and competing in various senior games when he was 50 years old. The 200 became his specialty.

“I love the mix of endurance and power,” he said.

In 2013, Fabra ranked 42nd in the U.S. in the 200 (M50-54). Ten years later in M60-64, Oscar ranks 9th in the U.S.

Oscar has lived 24 years with a plastic sheath across the bottom of his waist from an inguinal hernia. There is the ongoing threat of cancer and Fabra had to undergo hemorrhoid surgery. And then there was the surgery for an ulcer.

Even with that, Oscar figures his lottery luck is still rolling after 27 years.

“Nowadays my only problem is I don't sleep enough, maybe five to six hours," Fabra said.

Oscar mentioned the virtue that always beats being lucky.

"Oh, yes, I am grateful," Oscar said. "I am very grateful." 

Please support Geezer Jock®.  I have been a sportswriter for 45 years with major media outlets. This is good storytelling about the fitness journeys of older athletes, or older people who just move for the fun of it. 

 


3 Responses

Andrea Collier
Andrea Collier

December 30, 2023

Wow…very inspiring!

Tony Echeandia
Tony Echeandia

December 26, 2023

Oscar is a fierce competitor, I respect his tenacity when he competes!

Willie spruill
Willie spruill

December 23, 2023

LOVE YOU MAN, Keep striving!

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