ECHEVARRÍA: a star from Cuba to light up the world
Heading for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, Juan Miguel Echevarría looks like one of the stars of the Cuban delegation. His mystique is contagious and the confidence he exudes invites us to dream of a gold medal in the great event scheduled for this summer.
Despite his youth —he is only 22 years old—, the athletics ecosystem itself observes his figure with great attention. In fact, more than a few specialists repeat ad nauseam that he is the man to break the nine-meter barrier in the long jump.
To set the scene, it should be said that Echevarría brought his best game and dominated the World Athletics Indoor World Tour 2021 undefeated. He swopped his three performances for victories: 8.18 in Karlsruhe (Germany), 8.25 in Lievin (France) and 8.14 in Madrid (Spain).
The best of the largest of the Antilles then repeated his 2020 leadership in the world tour organized by the sport’s International Federation, after climbing the ranking to beat the Greek Miltiadis Tentoglou and German Thobias Montler, second and third, respectively.
But that’s not all: the universal “indoor” titleholder of Birmingham 2018 took the winter period to optimize some technical changes. Together with his coach Daniel Osorio, the Antillean is trying to approach perfection in pursuit of arriving as prepared as possible in Japan’s capital.
Neither Echevarría nor Osorio want to leave gaps in their competitive performance and much less something similar to what happened in Doha 2019, when the Jamaican Tajay Gayle surprised all in the discipline, and with a jump of 8.69 meters left his rivals in the dust, including the Cuban, who finished in third place.
Because of this, the goal is to stabilize highranking sequences and erase any negative details that could get in the way of the coveted title in the five rings competition, now scheduled from July 23 to August 8.
Undoubtedly, as if it were a cross on his shoulders, Echevarría will have to carry the favorite’s sign and will be one of the most visible faces of Cuban athletics, which also places its hopes on figures such as the discus athletes Yaimé Pérez and Denia Caballero, not forgetting the pole vaulter Yarisley Silva.
And although with fewer options, the names of high jumper Luis Enrique Zayas, triple jumpers Liadagmis Povea and Jordan Díaz, and long jumper Maikel Massó, whose youth and talent fill lovers of the sport with illusions, cannot be discarded either.
Five years ago in Río de Janeiro 2016, Cuba was somewhat distant from its real possibilities, only winning the bronze medal of Caballero. This is one of the reasons why its Olympic pre-selection is working hard. The mission, they repeat, is to get rid of that thorn and return to the top of the podium of awards.