On Friday, March 2, Juan Miguel Echevarría gave us the opportunity to witness an incredible feat and perhaps also the birth of a legend at the 2018 World Indoor Athletics Championships.
Echevarría was one of the many great athletes to sport a gold medal on his chest, as World Indoor Long-jump Champion, after facing stiff competition from South Africa’s Luvo Manyonga, season leader, as well as defending champion Marquis Dendy.
Echevarría led the first round but was overtaken in the third by the expert’s favorite Manyonga, with a jump of 8.33 meters to the Cuban’s 8.29m.
However, the 19 year old athlete from Agramonte wasn’t done, executing a leap of 8.36m to put him back on top. Manyonga, however, used to international competitions, decided to put a bit of distance between himself and the remaining competitors, with a jump of 8.44m, the best of the year.
At that point the competition seemed to be over; however, Dendy also surpassed expectations jumping 8.42m and pushing Echevarría into third. That’s when the Cuban turned up the heat, making a leap of 8.46m and putting an end to a historic competition for himself and world athletics.
This is the tenth time an athlete has won gold with a leap of over 8.40m - a feat only achieved by four other long jumpers - in indoor international competitions; with Cuba’s Iván Pedroso doing so on four occasions, as well as Joe Greene and Savanté Stringfellow of the United States, and Russia’s Kiril Sosunon.
Echevarría’s 8.46m leap is also the third best indoor championship score, only surpassed by Pedroso with jumps of 8.62m and 8.51m, thus confirming Cuba’s dominance in this event.
And if that were not enough, this is the second time in the history of this competition that all three medal winners have jumped over 8.40 meters, since Paris 1997, when Pedroso leapt 8.51m and Sosunon and Greene 8.41.
Meanwhile, Yorgelis Rodríguez of Guantánamo was another Cuban athlete to achieve a great feat at the 2018 World Indoor Championships. The world youth silver medalist in the open air heptathlon event finished fourth at the Birmingham event.
Rodríguez previously secured seventh place in the Río de Janeiro Olympic Games, in August 2016, setting a national record. On this occasion, however, she went one further, winning an historic third place in the pentathlon.
Why is this considered historic one may ask? Because Yorgelis is the first Latin American woman in the history of the World Indoor Championships to win a medal, setting a national record in the process.
Meanwhile, the prestigious event ended March 4, and the results achieved by Juan Miguel Echevarría and Yorgelis Rodríguez saw Cuba place seventh among participating countries; as one of the 13 nations to win a championship title and 12 to secure two or more medals.