The Annual Paragon Awards, sponsored by Pentair Aquatic Systems, are presented for outstanding contributions to: Competitive Swimming, Water Polo, Competitive Diving, Aquatic Safety, Synchronized Swimming and Recreational Swimming.
2007 Paragon Award / Water Polo
Guillermo Martinez (CUB) / FINA Bureau Member
Guillermo Martinez has spent his entire life in or around the water polo pool, either as a player, coach or administrator.
Throughout his life, he has given his heart and soul to improving the sport he loves so much.
Guillermo was a player for the Cuban National Team from 1965 to 1972. He competed on two Central American and Caribbean Games Teams: 1966, Puerto Rico, gold; 1970, Panama, gold; Two Pan American Games Teams: 1967, Winnipeg, 4th place; 1971, Cali, silver; and two Olympic Games: 1968, Mexico City, 8th place; 1972 Munich, 9th place. At the time, those were the only international competitions in which North and South American teams could participate.
When he retired from competition, he started working in the Cuban National Federation as Technical Director for Water Polo, a position he held for six years. In 1979, Guillermo was appointed the President of the Cuban Swimming Federation, a position he has now held for 28 years.
At the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow, Guillermo was elected as a member of the FINA Technical Water Polo Committee (TWPC) and served 16 years on the committee: 1980 - 1984 (member), 1984 - 1988 (committee chairman), 1988 - 1996 (committee vice chairman). In 1996 in Atlanta, he was elected as a member of the FINA Bureau and continues to serve as the FINA Liaison to the TWPC. Within his hemisphere, Martinez served as the Secretary of the TWPC of ASUA (Amateur Swimming Union of the Americas) from 1975 to 1995. From 1995 to 1999, he was the Liaison of Water Polo.
Just as in the sport of water polo, Martinez credits the "team" effort of the committees on which he has served for the past 35 years in creating legislation leading to improvements in the sport. The inclusion of Women's Water Polo in the Olympic Games and the development of a Comprehensive International Competition Schedule for both men and women are two of his water polo successful achievements. Martinez believes that the formation of the Water Polo World League will allow water polo to grow to a level in the world comparable with other main team sports.