This is a clip showing the Cuban National team training. Bare bones training hall and stark enviroment. Pretty impressive seeing the intensity and effort. It's amazing what such a small and economically depressed country can accomplish. Below the video is a commentary by Ivan Rojas, an American coach who posted this on YouTube.
"The Cuban System is called Strategic Direction and its parts are: diagnosis, evaluation and forecast(prediction)of the athlete's potential. The whole Cuban sports system focuses in the Olympic games and take the 4 year gap between games to make a Cycle, so the big cycle is 4 years. Their goals for sport varies. In weightlifting the goal is to get Gold @ Pan Am level. 1st to 3rd place @ worlds and 1st to 5th place @ the Olympics. In the youtube interview the reporter asks the head coach about the preparation for the Pan AMs in Chicago 2009. The coach gives a list of lifters, a little of their background and mentions that they were taking new lifters. The reporter asks a very interesting question when he asks a report and predictions on the FIRST YEAR OF THE CYCLE (the reporter is clearly well informed of the sports system) and the coach says that it's difficult to make predictions with new athletes on the first year of the cycle."
A closed system like this can allow for such long range planning and control. If an athlete can't keep the pace, they are replaced with one who can. It is my opinion that while our American system certainly can benefit from long range planning, there has to be more adjustments and accomodations made as ours is a much more open system, meaning that we cannot control the external factors as well.