On the morning of September 25, 2000, all of Cuba ran the 110 meters hurdles with the Santiago de Cuba native who was born to accomplish great things. During the race's unforgettable 13 seconds, there were chants of Anier! Anier! at every hurdle that carried him to Olympic glory.
The star named García kneeled on the Sydney Olympic finish line after leaving the U.S. favorites Terrence Tramell, Mark Crear and Allen Johnson behind, while on the other side of the planet, his name was engraved in the hearts of 11 million Cubans.
Almost 17 years later, Anier García returns to the track, but this time offering guidance and advice in hopes of maintaining the Cuban school's history of success in the hurdles. Granma took advantage of the opportunity to talk with the two-time Olympic medalist to learn more about his opinions on prospects for Cuban athletics.
How doesAnier García rate the current condition of athletics in our country?
The human talent we have, in several individuals. Nevertheless, there's a deficit in international competition experience, which is key to reaching a high level, above all in the case of track events.
I believe satisfactory work is being done in athletics. Several projects are being undertaken to improve the quality of our athletes on the competitive plane, which we hope will bring big results.
Athletics is going to make a 180 degree turn-around. This is a sport that has always contributed many medals for Cuba in international multi-sport events. This is the commitment of athletes and of all those working in the federation: Yipsi Moreno, Javier Sotomayor, Alberto Juantorena, the national commissioner Agustín Abril and me - now contributing my grain of salt. I believe we're taking the right path. Right now, there are many young talents. For example, we have three triple jumper in the cadet category: Jordan A. Díaz, Yusniel Jarrín and Mailón Mesa, who are leading the world rankings in this discipline.
So, in order to raise the bar, it is absolutely imperative to compete…
Contact with the rest of the world is different. Here internally, we have our races, but they only serve as a support to the trainers, as evaluations of the work. That's their purpose. It's not the same running every day at the Pan American Stadium with your teammates, as it is to feel the rhythm of a world-class sprinter at your side who does the 100 meters in less than 10 seconds. It's an impacting element that develops you as an athlete, demanding that you get to a point you didn't believe was possible.
What is Anier García doing now?
I was working in Mexico for a while, but I am collaborating with the federation now at the cadet level and directly supporting the short hurdles coach Ramiro Álvarez. Although I'm not here permanently, I participate in the daily trainings since I've just returned.
How do you evaluate the men's short hurdles team, now with Dayron Robles back?
In the short hurdles, we have Yordan L. O'Farrill, the promising young Roger Iribarne, and now Dayron, who has rejoined the team. What we need is to participate in more high level events, so they can get to know the world.
The 110 meter hurdles has been a challenging competition year after year. It is an event that stays at the top and the Cuban school of hurdles, in my opinion, is still relevant. Just like in the triple jump, new figures are always emerging.
Iribarne and O'Farrill are on the right path, although a few internal questions must still be addressed. When you change trainers, there are repercussions in performance. The training exercises are different and everybody has their own little book… at times things aren't entirely assimilated. But nevertheless, in general I see them doing well…
Dayron hasn't raced in two years, and the fact that he got to the finish line in
Barrientos is very laudable. I was in a similar situation in 2004, prior to the Athens Olympics, and I had to run several races like that to recover my competitive condition. I am convinced that, yes, he can come back. I have confidence in him. We had the opportunity to talk, and I could see how realistic and focused he is. That's why I'm convinced he will reach his goals.