Angel Fournier Rodriguez (1987- )

Angel Fournier Rodriguez
© Reuters, Fair use image

International rowing champion Angel Fournier Rodriguez was born in Guantanamo, Cuba on December 31, 1987.  Rodriguez was raised playing the most popular Cuban sport, baseball, as well as basketball. At age 12 he was spotted by a coach who introduced him to the sport of rowing.

Rodriguez began his international rowing career in 2005 when he was 17 and attended the Junior World Championships.  Training in Havana, Rodriguez excelled in the single, double, and quadruple sculls. He competed two years later in his first World Cup which is a precursor to the World Championships and the Olympics. Also, in 2007 he competed in his first World Championship in a quadruple which consists of four rowers with two oars each.  Nineteen-year-old Rodriguez and his boatmates placed eleventh in the world at that regatta.

Continuing his rowing in the quad, Rodriguez competed in a World Cup in 2008 before receiving the opportunity to travel to Beijing, China for the 2008 Olympics. There the Cuban rowing team faced difficult competition and placed 12th in the finals.

After Beijing, Rodriguez returned to his favorite boat, the single scull. Here he became significantly more successful. He won the Pan-American games in the single in 2011 and placed bronze in multiple World Cup regattas in 2012.  That success allowed Rodriguez to compete in the 2012 Olympic games in London, UK. Despite a valiant effort in the single, Rodriguez just missed reaching the top in the first final. In the second final he placed first, giving him the overall placement of 7th in the single sculls.

Rodriguez continued his training in the single and medaled in the 2013 World Cup.  He travelled to South Korea in 2013 for the World Championships and placed second in the single, his highest placing in a world regatta. The following year he placed bronze at the World Championships.

Rodriguez won his first World Cup in Slovenia in 2015 which opened the possibility for his competing in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. There Rodriguez was determined to pass the highest finisher in Cuban rowing history, since Ismael Carbonell, Arnaldo Rodriguez Silva, and Waco Ojeda who came in 5th in the 1992 coxed pair, one oar each steered by a coxswain, in Barcelona, Spain. He rowed stellar times in his heat and quarter-final, winning both of them.  In the semi-final he placed third. In the final however, Rodriguez would place only 6th.

At 30 years old, Rodriguez continued continuing his career in rowing.  He placed 2nd at the 2017 World Championships in Florida. He hopes to finish his career as one of the best rowers in the world.