Photo: Ricardo López Hevia

NORTH YORK, Toronto.— Never count out an athlete like Yarisley Silva. Never commit the terrible sin of underestimating her, or think she’s got no gas left in her tank, because if you do you could be surprised to see her ascend higher than anyone else toward the sky, shattering all predictions.

“You have to have patience with an athlete like Yarisley, give her lots of support when things don’t go right. People often focus on criticizing without knowing what’s actually going on, the problems she might have, and those of us at her side must keep up her confidence,” stated Alexander Navas, who coaches the pole vaulter from Pinar del Rio, flying high in the continental competition after setting a Pan American record of 4.85 meters.

And its true that this support and the relentless hours of training and preparation helped Yarisley on her way back to pole vaulting stardom, upstaging everyone and taking down London 2012 Olympic champion Jennifer Suhr of the U.S., and Brazil’s Fabiana Murer, Daegu 2011 World Champion.

The record is an achievement in itself, not only given the fact that it represents a new first in the Games, but because Yarisley had only been able to reach 4.73 meters in the competition, with inconsistent results, failing to position herself comfortably in the seat of honor, which she has dominated in recent years.

However, many Cuban athletes achieve outstanding results during the season and later don’t even come close to securing the same scores in important competitions; Yarisley meanwhile is a different kind of athlete, one able to rise to the occasion.

“She was able to beat it, with confidence, following the strategy we had drawn up to the letter, and most importantly, she competed happy,” noted Navas minutes before the pole vaulter appeared after receiving a great round of applause from all those present in the University of Cork stadium.

“I couldn’t sleep last night, its difficult to control that feeling, but during training we have worked to overcome all the psychological barriers I was suffering. I controlled my breathing and nerves well, during a very thrilling competition, without a doubt one of the toughest of my career,” stated the supreme champion talking to journalists.

“I’ve had a lot of problems, I was finding it difficult to handle the pole, push up from the grips, I was loosing speed on the track, but it was all down to my mindset, which I was able to overcome thanks to the support of the entire technical team. Right now, I’m a different Yarisley, I can say that I came out of my rut, I’m now more confident and more sure, I feel happy to be able to give the gold medal to Cuba,” said the athlete, whose jump has now positioned her at the top of the global list of the discipline.

“I’m very happy after so many bitter months, during which everyone around me has suffered. Today, I paid my dues, and its given me great satisfaction to see how my rivals came up to congratulate me on my jumps, I even think I surprised some,” stated Yarisley with her characteristic smile, so loved by the Cuban fans.

Noteworthy among Cuba’s performances in the remaining competitions of the day, was that of Roberto Skyers’ in the 200 meters sprint, clocking a time of 20.09 seconds, a personal best which saw him qualify for today’s final, looking in good form, while in the semi-final Jamaican Rasheed Dwyer broke the previous Pan American record (19.86) stopping the clock at 19.80. seconds.