BY CHIP DAVIS
PHOTOS BY PETER SPURRIER
Angel Fournier Rodriguez—Cuba’s greatest oarsman—died of a heart attack March 16 at age 35 in Dallas.
A three-time Olympian, Fournier won multiple world championship medals in the single, including a silver in 2013 at Chungju, Korea, and a bronze at the 2017 World Rowing Championships in the United States.
Fournier grew up in Guantanamo and relocated to the Academy of Sport in Havana after his rowing talent was discovered by Cuban coaches. He made the Cuban national team at age 17 and raced in the singles final of the 2005 World Rowing Junior Championships. Three years later, he raced in his first Olympics as a member of the Cuban quad at the 2008 Beijing Games. He finished fourth in his first World Rowing Cup, racing in the men’s single, and stayed in the single for the rest of his accomplished career.
At the 2012 London Games, he beat Olympic medalists Mindaugas Griskonis of Lithuania and Olaf Tufte of Norway to win the B final of the men’s single. In 2013, Fournier won Cuba’s first-ever medal at the World Rowing Championships—a silver behind Ondrej Synek during the Czech’s three-year run as world champion.
Cuba’s limited funding for rowing prevented Fournier from participating fully in international competition, but he earned respect, admiration, and friendship among rowing’s elite, including Synek, who called him “my every-moment-smiling friend.”
Fournier left the Cuban team in 2020 and moved his family to the United States.
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