Italy women's volleyballer leaves to see mother

Aug. 07, 2008, 9:05 a.m. (ET)

BEIJING (AP) Italian women's volleyball player Taismary Aguero left Beijing Thursday to visit her seriously ill mother in Cuba, volleyball's international federation announced.

Aguero will miss at least three pool matches for Italy, which opens Olympic play on Saturday against Russia.

"If she is admitted to enter Cuba, Aguero will be back to Beijing to play for the quarterfinals," said Alberto Rabiti, head of the Italian delegation. "As we plan to see her coming back to Beijing soon, there will be no substitute to make up for her absence. They (the players) will remain 11," said Rabiti.

Aguero, 31, was born in Cuba but was granted Italian citizenship last year. An opposite, she played for the Cuban national team in the 1990s before moving to Italy in 2001. She is a veteran of the 1996 and 2000 Olympics.

There were reports that Aguero was accompanied to Cuba by Italian team manager Stefano Sciascia, and that her husband, Alessio Botteghi, was already in the country with her mother, Dulce Fedora.

The federation said that coach Massimo Barbolini was quoted as saying, "First of all is the sorrow of the girl, all the other considerations come after her decision to go to Cuba to be with her 61-year-old mother. Her absence in the first games of the Olympic Tournament is one more obstacle for us but this is a team used to overcoming adversity, gritting their teeth and going forward anyway. I am confident the team will do it this time as well."