The silver medal won by Cuban decathlete Leonel Suárez at the 2009 World Track & Field Championships in Berlin placed him and his country in the el ite of the difficult competition. The Cuban athlete gave a hint of his possibilities a year ago with the bronze medal won in the Beijing Olympics with a historic performance; becoming the first Cuban ever to mount the podium in decathlon.
Suárez called the second place obtained in Berlin "a spectacular feat" and it proves that the performance in the Olympics was not a fluke.
He arrived at the World Championships with every intention of repeating or bettering the Olympic results, following his great performance at the Caribbean and Central American Track & Field Tournament held in early July in Havana.
At that time Suárez had two impressive results and raised his national record to 8,654 points, putting him at the top of the season's world ranking. Even with this background, his initial performance in Berlin threatened to put distance between him and the podium because of poor results in the long jump and 100m events.
Nevertheless, in the third event, shot put, he showed signs of recovery, reaching 15.2 m. 71 cm. beyond his previous mark.
As anticipated however, the 21-year-old athlete saved the best for the second day of competition, when he completed his recovery with excellent performances in pole vault and javelin, crowning it with a good race in the 1500m event.
It was during that last event that Suárez displaced Russian Aleksandr Pogorelov, who, exhausted, decided to ensure his third place.
Suárez finished with his second best historic performance, 8,640 points, only surpassed by American Trey Hardee with 8,790 points, leader at all times.
Proof of the great job Cuba is doing in decathlon is also seen with the eighth and ninth places reached by Yordani García (20 years old) and Yunior Díaz (22 years old), respectively.
García repeated his result in Osaka 2007, while Díaz improved his personal results in several events and remained among medal ists for a good part of the competition.
In fact, Cuba was the only country able to include three competitors among the first ten classified athletes. The youth of the Cuban trio makes you think that greater exploits remain to be had.