HAVANA.— With the Tokyo 2020 Olympics in sight, the stellar Cuban pole vaulter Yarisley Silva’s dreams and desires have not changed since she surprised her compatriots and the world by winning silver in the London 2012 Games.
A review of the history of pole vault in World and Olympic competitions shows that only the Cuban and Brazil’s Fabiana Murer have been able to challenge European and U.S. competitors who dominate the event, including Russia’s Yelena Isinbayeva, Stacy Dragila and Jennifer Suhr from the U.S. as well as Ekaterini Stefanidi of Greece.
Silva, from the western province of Pinar del Río, won silver in the London 2012 Games, gold in the Beijing 2015 World Championships and Sopot 2014 Indoor event, as well as bronze in the World tournaments in Moscow 2013 and London 2017.
Modest and reserved, but sure of herself, the 30 year old athlete spoke with Prensa Latina about her plans and goals.
“Tokyo – hosting the 32nd Olympic Games – is two years away and who knows what will happen, but I’ve always said that it is my dream (to win gold) because it’s the only global title I’m missing,” stated the Guadalajara 2011 and Toronto 2015 Pan American champion.
“I would like” she added “to retire with an Olympic gold medal, this is the dream I’m trying to achieve and I still have hopes, desires, and the intention to continue moving forward.”
According to the global multi-medal winner, as well as her aim to win an Olympic gold, she is also motivated by the love and support of her people, who celebrate every triumph and suffer every defeat alongside her.
Silva is well aware of what she is up against at this high level event which “anyone can win,” including renowned figures such as Stefanidi (28 years of age) from Greece, Sandi Morris (25) of the U.S., and Russia’s Anzhelika Sidorova (26).
Morris beat out Sidorova (4.91) with a leap of 4.95 meters during the World Indoor Athletics Championships in Birmingham, the UK, last March, in a spectacular final, leaving Río de Janeiro 2016 and London 2017 World Champion Stefanidi (4.80) in third place.
Regarding the last Olympic Games, Silva, with a personal best of 4.91 meters, acknowledged that, although not without its merits, her seventh place result was disappointing.
“It was a great struggle, really hard. The level was very high and I‘d had some problems,” she noted.
The Cuban athlete explained that she began training a little late, in early November and was experiencing some trouble.
“Although I wasn’t in the best condition we decided to compete all the same; we thought that I should go to represent my country and use the competition as preparation for this year’s main event, the Barranquilla Central American and Caribbean Games,” she noted.
Regarding her schedule in the lead up to the Barranquilla competition, taking place July-August, Silva explained that she will travel to Mexico to undergo training and participate in three stops of the Diamond League, in Monaco and England.
Despite the high level of pole vault globally, the Cuban athlete cannot be ruled out among the favorites in these global competitions because, as her fans have come to expect, win or lose, she’ll fight to the very end.