Juantorena, first month in China: «I miss my family so much We are happy in Civitanova, it looks like Cuba»

THE INTERVIEW – The former Lube captain talks about his new adventure, winning for now, in Shanghai: «The championship is played in a bubble, here covid is always held in high consideration». On the city where he lives with his wife and two daughters: «There’s the sea, the climate is mild, well connected to the highway, you’re in Rome in two hours. We made many friends.” On his former team away from the top: «We need to see how much patience Fabio Giulianelli will have in waiting for the young players to grow. He is a winner by nature, I don’t see him for long looking at the successes of others”

Osmany Juantorena with the Shanghai shirt

from Mauro Giustozzi

Osmany Juantorena’s number is still the same, 5, as is the captain’s armband he wears this season too. However, the outline changes, given that the championship is not the SuperLega but the Chinese Volleyball Super League and the team is not Lube but Shanghai, a very favorite team to win the Scudetto after a dominated first phase of the regular season given the presence on the roster as well as the Italian-Cuban ace also the Polish Bednorz and the Italian Sabbi. The top Chinese championship is made up of fourteen teams, started on 29 October and ends very early, on 15 January.

Juantorena, you have chosen to go to play in China, how is the acclimatization going in this new country?
«I have been in China for more than a month and I must say that the situation I have found is very different from the one I left in Italy. Here the covid is always held in high esteem by the population and by the authorities, in fact my days pass between the hotel, the gym for training and matches so it is very different from the life I have led in the past. It is also complicated to go out for a walk or to eat in a restaurant in the evening. But this is true for me as well as for all my teammates».

Juantorena-with-the-Shanghai-shirt-2-325x217How are the training rhythms and what championship are you facing with your team, Shanghai?
«Naturally the workouts are of a lower intensity than what I was used to when I played in Italy with Lube or in Trento. Precisely because of the covid, the championship is carried out with the ‘bubble’ system: that is, the teams are concentrated in one venue and in that period, within a few days, maybe 4/5 close matches are played which also require a very concentrated physical effort in So little time. Shanghai is going well, we are four games from the end of the regular season which in fact took place in just a month, unlike what happens in the Super League which lasts six months. Then we will enter the playoff phase which will lead to skimming the teams, there will be four left who will then play for the championship victory. But as you can understand everything is very limited in a few months.

Osmany-in-China-2-300x400What do you miss most about Italy and Civitanova right now?
«Perhaps it is trivial and obvious to say it but I really miss my family very much, my wife Glenda and the girls Vittoria and Angelica I miss them very much but it is a sacrifice that I am making for them too since they are in the last years of my career as a volleyball player and once the competitive activity is closed I will be able to recover and enjoy my family even more. However, it is a distance that weighs heavily on me at the moment».

Speaking of Civitanova, do you have a home and family in this city, a sign that you have chosen it as a place to stop and live even at the end of your career?
«Immediately I would say yes, for now when I go back to Italy this is my city, the one where I have lived for seven years, where I have a house and where I have decided to reside with my family. Then we will see what the future holds for us, for now I’m fine in Civitanova ».

What do you and your family like most about Civitanova?
«Right now that I’m in China, I appreciate this city even more. It resembles Cuba, in the sense that there is the sea, the climate is mild, it is a small city on a human scale, now also well connected to the highway, in two hours you are in Rome. I’ve been living there for seven years and we’ve made friends with my family, my wife works in Civitanova, my daughters go to school there so it’s a place where you can live well and where I feel good».

Not only does he have a home and family in this city but he has also made entrepreneurial investments while also looking to the future.
«Yes, I opened a ‘NOI.5 Fitness Club’ gym on the south seafront with a partner (ed. Sheila Calcina) and things went well at first, then the covid arrived which massacred us for everything we’ve known in those years and which penalized this activity. Now we are recovering but it is not easy to return to the levels of past years”.

Osmany-in-China-1-225x400A future as a former volleyball player who sees how far ahead?
“It’s an answer I still can’t give. Age increases and for those who practice this sport every year that passes it is increasingly difficult. Also because we make the most of our physique which at a certain point presents the bill. Let’s say I’ve learned to live season by season without making plans. I hope to hold on for another 2/3 years also because volleyball has been my life, I know how to do this and I still like doing it. When on the one hand the body and on the other the motivations abandon me then it will be time to leave ».

Surely you will have followed this first part of the Italian Superlega championship, what impressions did you get from it? Who is your favorite Scudetto?
«From the beginning, my forecast this year is for Perugia. I think Sir can only lose this championship because they have a team that is too superior to the others, even if in the Super cup against Lube they had more luck or rather were more cynical in the key moments of the match because otherwise Civitanova had played better than the Umbrians. However, their workforce is too superior to all in terms of experience and quality. Then they have a hunger for success in players that seems to me superior to the others. Behind them, however, there are good teams such as Lube, Piacenza, Trento and, in my opinion, also Verona which, compared to Cisterna, could be the real surprise of this championship by entering the top four at the end of the regular season».


Osmany Juantorena with coach Blengini and patron Giulianelli

For the first time in many years, Lube is far from the very first places. Did you expect that?
«More than anything else, the club should have expected it since when you change so much, a new programming starts and relying on young people you have to take into account that it takes at least 2/3 years to compose a winning team again. We worked rightly looking to the future given that a long and successful cycle had ended. We have to see how much patience Fabio (ed. Giulianelli the patron Lube) has in waiting for the team to grow and be able to return to the results and victories with which the history of this club is studded. Will Giulianelli be able to accept this new reality and for how long? He is a winner by nature, I don’t see him for long looking at the successes of others».

Market rumors, after the Chinese experience, give you as a possible reinforcement in some European club in the 2023 playoffs: Poland or Italy?
«There are three/four teams that have already contacted me once this Chinese experience is over. I would absolutely exclude Italy: Lube has started a new course of renewal and I’m too ‘old’ to be taken into consideration, even if I remain the biggest fan of this team. Then I chose to leave Italy so it wouldn’t make any sense to return there in the coming months. If anything, there are possibilities of going to Poland, Turkey or some Arab country that would like to have me in their league. We’ll see next year, now I don’t think about it».

Will Juantorena’s future still be in volleyball and with what role, or are you thinking of new professional experiences in other fields?
«I don’t know yet if I will stay in volleyball. It’s certainly my world, where I’ve had everything and to which I’ve given a lot, but I don’t see myself being a coach or club manager. Rather, if I were to stay in volleyball, I might consider the role of player agent. Here, perhaps he is the only figure Osmany Juantorena could take on when he no longer plays volleyball ».

Juantorena, first month in China: «I miss my family so much We are happy in Civitanova, it looks like Cuba»