One of the most emblematic
sports in Cuba is athletics. The first Olympic medal was silver,
brought home in 1964 by Enrique Figuerola in the 100m race. From
this moment on, more than the medals achieved the word has been
the astonishing timed results obtained by Cuban athletes over the
years. In the 1970's one Cuban athlete achieved world recognition.
Alberto Juantorena entered the list of Gold medal winners for the
800m resistance race by twice breaking the world record for the
800m event in the Montreal Olympics of 1976 for both the 400 and
800m races. Upon his return to Cuba he was received as a national
hero when 1000's of fans from all over the world welcomed him. From
this moment on he has become one of the most respected athletes
both nationally and internationally. He inspired many runners to
strive, using natural talent, for unthinkable reductions in timed
events. One of those inspired was Alejandro Casańa who won the world
record in 1977 for the 110m-hurdle race.
In the 1990's three
new national athletes immerged. They were Ana Fidelia Quirot, Javier
Sotomayor and Iván Pedroso. Javier Sotomayor achieved, on three
separate occasions, fighting only his own records, new heights in
the high jump category. He currently holds an unbeaten 2,45m world
record in this discipline. He also won in the Barcelona Olympics
in 1992 and the world title. As a four-time world champion and unbeaten
record holder he has become the paradigm of the long jump worldwide.
Iván Pedroso has also won world titles for open air and 4 world
titles for the arena long jump title. Ana Fidelia Quirot entered
the national team in 1983 but, it was not until the early nineties
that she became world famous for her unusual speed advantage over
her competitors. In her impressive portfolio of wins she has accumulated
the following: Medal winner in Barcelona in 1992, silver in Atlanta
1996 and world cup winner for the 400 and 800m races in 1997. She
later returned to retain her title in Athens.
These are just a few
a Cuba's tremendously successful athletes. As sports in Cuba are
both a government prerogative and national passion we should expect
to see many more like them.