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Thursday, July 8, 2021

Cuban athletics prepares for Tokyo Olympics

Havana, July 8 - Recovering the joy caused by a gold medal encourages the representatives of Cuban athletics who are preparing with their sights set on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

Twelve years without climbing to the top of the Olympic podium seems like too long for a sport with a winning tradition and that now seems to be arriving with more solid foundations, enough to justify the expectations of more than one crown.

The discus throw for women and the long jump for men are the benchmark events, based on the results achieved during the five-year period. However, predictions are not exact science and any analysis relies on marks, rankings, previous performances and probabilities.

Taking these parameters as references, the discóbolas Yaimé Pérez and Denia Caballero are located in the center of attention, especially the former, winner of all the important championships from 2018 to date and of several international rallies this season.

His successes against the woman who practically “swept away” during the last decade, the Croatian Sandra Perkovic , reinforce Yaimé's theory as the main candidate for the title in a test in which Cuba boasts the title of Maritza Martén in Barcelona 1992 and the third places of Yarelis Barrios in London 2012 and Denia in Rio de Janeiro 2016.

The length between men had its only Cuban champion with the great Iván Pedroso in Sydney 2000. Since then no one has been as close to the throne as Juan Miguel Echevarría, whom many consider as the man to beat in the Japanese capital.

He won the indoor world title three years ago and the Pan American Games in Lima 2019. He also holds the universal bronze in Doha that same season and the leadership in the indoor circuit in 2021. All this supports his aspirations.

Of course, he will have to spin fine so that the history lived on Qatari soil does not repeat itself, when he did not offer his best demonstration during the discussion of the medals.

Three Cubans of each sex will compete in the triple jump. It will be another of the specialties to follow, taking into account the possibilities of providing prizes to the delegation. However, if any of them climb to the top it would be a major surprise. Let us only remember the presence of very exalted figures such as the Venezuelan Yulimar Rojas.

Liadagmis Povea and Andy Díaz, bronze medalists at Lima 2019, seem apt to attempt podiums, although the challenge is immense, especially for him due to his less international contact. Another focus of attention is on the pole with Yarisley Silva, silver in London 2012 and with the ability to grow in the ranks. But this has not been his best season.

On the contrary, the women's 4x400 team is having a good time and her title at the recent World Relay Championship underpins her aspiration to reach the final and fight for a medal.

Roxana Gómez, Zurian Hechavarría , Rose Mary Almanza, Lisneidy Veitía and Sahily Diago signed their first great story in Silesia. Now they have to grow again and confirm that the time achieved was no coincidence, despite not facing the best posts in the world.


After the revolutionary triumph of 1959, athletics placed Cuba for the first time in the medal table under the five rings.

Sprinter Enrique Figuerola marked history in 1964 with silver in the 100 meters, precisely in the same city that is now getting ready to host the great event for the second time.

The silver of the men's 4x100 relay in Mexico 1968, and the third places of the 4x100 women's post and Silvia Chivás in the hectometer in Munich 1972, propitiated other moments of glory for the Island.

The golden debut did not materialize until Montreal 1976, when Alberto Juantorena dazzled with the crowns in 400 and 800 meters.

By the way, two gold medals in the same event has been the best for Cuba. It happened in Barcelona 1992, Sydney 2000, Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008.

In addition to hurdler Dayron Robles, the Chinese capital witnessed the triumph of hammerhead Yipsi Moreno. She had previously won silver in Athens 2004, which places her among those who can display a pair of Olympic medals in their showcases.

This privilege is also enjoyed by the high jumper Javier Sotomayor (gold and silver), the hurdler Anier García (gold and bronze), the javelin player Olisdeilys Menéndez (gold and bronze) and the runner Ana Fidelia Quirós (silver and bronze). (Text and photo: JIT)