Splendid, formidable… were among the adjectives used by the national and international press to describe the gold medal performance of Juan Miguel Echevarría, at the recent World Indoor Athletics Championships, held in the British city of Birmingham.
The young long jumper and his coach Daniel Osorio Díaz have returned home, to continue training for the next competition, the Central American and Caribbean Games in Barranquilla, Colombia, and took a moment to talk with Granma.
How much luck was involved in Echevarría's performance at the World event?
Osorio: It had nothing to do with luck. Juan Miguel has been making steady progress as an athlete. He had some very good jumps last year, over eight meters, so we could predict that, at some point, he would make this great one, and so it was.
How do you remember the competition's most challenging moments?
Echevarría: I think Manyonga, Marquis Dendy from the United States, and I offered an excellent spectacle. It was a strong, exciting event, that demanded lots of concentration. I would say that I put body and soul into every jump, going for the gold or the silver.
I think that in addition to feeling good physically, the psychological preparation I had helped a lot to deal with so much pressure from two world champion athletes, who put me against the wall several times. The level of competition at the event was such that I beat my personal record on two occasions.
How many details must come together to produce such an impressive outcome?
Osorio: There are many factors, that must come together at the exact moment: the pace of the run, the technical execution, the athlete's psychological condition. We have worked a lot on controlling competitive anxiety, something that in previous events he was not able to overcome, be it because of his youth or immaturity. All of this was directed toward the outcome, and the change can be seen. That is why the public was so surprised to see him, at just 19 years of age, seemingly competing like a champion. Likewise, his physique is ideal for this discipline, the product of work with many trainers.
Who discovered Juan Miguel and guided him to high performance sports?
Echevarría: My career is similar to that of many other athletes in the country. I started in athletics at ten years of age, at Ernesto Lucas Elementary School, in the Guernica neighborhood, in this city, and later transferred to the Cerro Pelado EIDE (high performance school), until I made the national team, after participating in many events and competitions.
During those years, I had excellent trainers, like Tomás Hernández and Iván Izaguirre, in Camagüey; then Juan Gualberto Nápoles on the juvenile team, and since September, I've been with profe Daniel Osorio. Every one of them has contributed his grain of salt to my overall development.
What were you looking for in the recent Rafael Fortún athletics competition?
Echevarría: I wanted to offer my people, in my Camagüey, a quality show and I believe I accomplished this. I finished with a jump of 8.40 meters, considered the best outdoor record worldwide during the current season.