Diaz to continue Cuba’s fine triple jumping tradition

by

July 24, 2017
Jordan A. Diaz of Cuba celebrates a U18 World record during day three of the IAAF U18 World Championships. (Getty Images for IAAF)
Jordan A. Diaz of Cuba jumps a U18 World record during day three of the IAAF U18 World Championships at Moi International Sports Centre, Kasarani Arena on July 14, 2017 in Nairobi, Kenya. (/Getty Images for IAAF)
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Cuba has developed such a strong culture of triple jumping that the hop, skip and jump have almost become synonymous with the blue and white stripes of the Caribbean nation's flag.

For all their successes in the discipline, however, the long list of world-class jumpers they have produced has been unable to eclipse British athlete Jonathan Edwards' world record.

It seems inevitable that they will eventually claim the mark when they find a priceless jewel hidden among their many gems. Enter Jordan DIaz.

The young phenomenon, born in Havana, achieved such a magnificent feat at the IAAF World U-18 Championships Nairobi 2017 that he stunned the entire global athletics fraternity, including himself.

SPECTACULAR STATEMENT

Entering the competition with a personal best of 16.66m, he made a spectacular statement in the final with a third-round leap of 17.00m.

That distance was all he had really targeted heading into the event, along with the gold medal, but he didn't stop there.

With his next attempt, he catapulted himself across the pit, sailing out to 17.30m and breaking the three-year-old world U-18 best of 17.24m held by compatriot Lazaro Martinez.

His winning margin offers an indication of just how good a jump it was, landing 1.38m farther than his nearest opponent, and he climbed to seventh place on the 2017 senior world list.

While his coach, Ricardo Ponce, had believed in his potential to crack the 17-metre mark, DIaz admits he wasn't sure if he could achieve the feat.

"Ricardo kept telling me 'you can reach 17 metres', and I kept saying 'no way, 17 metres is too far'," DIaz says.

DIaz initially dabbled in various disciplines, winning the national high jump and long jump titles in his age group in his first year at the institution. It wasn't until last year that he channelled his focus into the triple jump event.

Training with two-time world silver medallist Pedro Pablo Pichardo - one of only five men to have jumped beyond 18 metres - the youngster has progressed in leaps and bounds in both literal and figurative terms.

"My aim was to break my countryman's world youth best, and now that I've reached 17 metres, I feel super happy," he says.

His real interest lies in the sport at which he excels, and his role model is double Olympic champion Christian Taylor of the United States.

While Taylor and Pichardo are likely to retain their places at the pinnacle of the discipline for some time, DIaz looks set to carry the next generation.

The sky seems to be the limit, and he could ultimately take the men's triple jump to another level.

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