Nineteen year old Juan Miguel Echevarría inscribed his name in the athletics history books after winning gold in the long jump on March 2, during the 17th World Indoor Athletics Championships in Birmingham, the UK (held March 1-4), with a leap of 8.46m, a personal and season best.
His win was the highlight of a day of positive results for Cuban athletes, with Yorgelis Rodríguez winning bronze in the pentathlon; her first ever World Championship medal.
Meanwhile, Echevarría became the first long jumper to win a gold medal for Cuba in a World Indoor Championship competition since Ivan Pedroso did so in Lisbon 2001 with a leap of 8.43m.
In a spectacular final, the young athlete unseated South Africa’s Luvo Manyonga, champion of the outdoor competition in London last year, and if that weren’t enough, African long jump record holder (8.44m).
The Cuban also defeated Marquis Dendy of the United States, winner of the Portland 2016 edition of the competition, who finished in third despite achieving the best jump of his career: 8.42m.
With this result, Juan Miguel reaffirmed the promising future of Cuban athletics, led by youngsters who are already starting to achieve important results.
Meanwhile, his teammate Maykel Massó pulled out after the first round.
BRONZE FOR YORGELIS
Yorgelis Rodríguez won a formidable bronze medal in the pentathlon, setting a national indoor record with 4,637 points. The national heptathlon record holder’s performance in the high jump and 800 meters assured her this important result in her rising career.
The young athlete from Guaso, Guantánamo, started the competition with the 60 meters hurdles, clocking a time of 8.75 seconds, and placing 10th out of 12 finalists. Next, she gave an excellent performance in the long jump, where she set a new personal best of 1.88m and secured 1,119 points. This result was also an improvement on her previous record of 1.85m and the 1.84m she registered during the individual event of the competition.
The jump saw her move up to third place, before momentarily taking the top spot with a throw of 14.15m in the shot put and 4,750 points, displacing the UK’s Katarina Johnson-Thompson (12.68m).
However, Yorgelis didn’t fair as well in the long jump, with just one valid attempt of 6.15m, which saw her fall into third where she remained after the 800 meters sprint; finishing in second with a time of 2:17.70, just behind reigning Champion Johnson-Thompson, who clocked a time of 2:16.63.
Meanwhile Javelin thrower Yaniuvis López ended her competition in seventh place; setting a personal best with a throw of 18.19m.