Cuba’s young star, Juan Miguel Echevarría almost jumped the entire pit in the Olympic Stadium in Stockholm, Sweden, where on June 10 he reached a spectacular 8.83 meters, taking the long jump title at the Diamond League’s sixth event of the season. His record, however, will not be recognized, since the wind at his back was measured at 2.1 meters per second, just barely over the limit of 2.0.
On his sixth attempt, already having taken the lead with a 8.50 meter jump on his fourth try, the young man from Camagüey gave his all, and left the athletics world amazed with the ninth longest jump in history, according to records kept by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF), which include valid jumps as well as those with more favorable wind than permitted.
“Echevarría outshone all other Stockholm accomplishments ,” the IAAF said on Twitter, while U.S. jumper Brittney Reese, Olympic champion London 2012 and seven time World title winner in indoor and outdoor competitions, described the jump as “crazy,” regardless of the wind.
Although the wind factor can’t take much away from Echevarría’s achievement, it does mean that it is not considered a national record or the fifth longest jump in history, surpassed only by Mike Powell’s of 8.95 meters; Bob Beamon’s 8.90; Carl Lewis’s 8.87; and Robert Emmiyan’s 8.86.
Echevarría, the first long jumper to surpass the 8.80 mark before reaching 20 years of age, put his entire technical arsenal on display, especially in his potent run-up, after which he continued advancing in the air, landing and almost hitting the end of the sandpit.
“I didn’t slow down in the air, but I had the feeling that I could land outside the pit and risk an injury. The box looked really small to me, I don’t know if that affected the attempt,” he told colleague Raúl Rodríguez, from Radio Habana Cuba.
The long jumper from Camagüey easily defeated U.S. star Jeff Henderson, Olympic champion in Río de Janeiro 2016, who jumped for 8.39 meters on his fifth try, while third place went to Luvo Mayonga, who holds the record this year of 8.58 meters, accomplished June 1 in Rome.
The South African had a hard afternoon in Stockholm, executing only one valid jump (8.25) in six attempts. He nevertheless maintains the lead in the Diamond League race with 22 points, followed by Henderson (17), and Echevarría (15).
This was a proud weekend for the Cuban team, since in addition to the long jump victory in Stockholm, another young jumper, Jordan Díaz, beat his own record in under-18 competition in the triple jump, soaring for 17.41 meters in Havana.
Former Cuban long jumper Iván Pedroso said, June 11 in Madrid, that his compatriot Juan Miguel Echevarría has all it takes to break the national record of 8.71 meters held by the Sydney 2000 Olympic champion.
“I saw Echevarría compete a few years ago in Cuba, and I said he was the future. He’s shown it,” Pedroso said, now coaching Venezuelan Yulimar Rojas, triple jump champion in Río 2016.
In a statement to the sports daily Marca, Pedroso said that Juan Miguel is at a spectacular moment in his career and that the national record will last only as long as he wants.
June 10, Echevarría made the ninth best jump in history, including those not recognized, reaching an impressive 8.83 meters in the Diamond League event in Stockholm, with a positive wind speed of 2.1 meters per second, a tenth over the limit.
Raúl Chapado, president of the Spanish Athletics Federation, said Juan Miguel could become the first long jumper to reach nine meters, breaking Mike Powell’s world record of 8.95.
Echevarría could have added another centimeter in Stockholm if the pit had been longer. His feet hit the end of the pit border and he bounced out, in an attempt to prevent injury, making the landing inaccurate, Chapado noted.
Pedroso made note of the great progress the young Cuban has made over the last few years.