A half dozen years ago, I was sitting in a hotel, post-Diamond League meeting, with Federico Rosa, the Italian manager and agent. Federico introduced me to the coach of then Cuban Pablo Pichardo. Through Federico’s kind translation I learned that, in Cuba, the triple and long jump are something many young athletes do. Sixteen meter jumps are pretty normal for young athletes, and Pablo Pichardo started out like that.
Today, Pablo, representing Portugal, took the silver medal in the Triple jump.
In the gold, was a young, confident Cuban, Lazaro Martinez, a former Youth Champion who had been quiet for the past couple of years. The young athlete took control with his first jump, going 17.64m, the longest jump in the world.
Martinez thinks highly of himself, and is confident that he can go nineteen meters someday! And, can he dance!
Lazaro Martinez doing his victory dance, post TJ! photo by Getty Images for World Athletics
A TJ title for Lazaro Martinez
There are many ways to win a gold medal. Some are more dramtic than others. Lazaro Martinez did it the most impressive way: he leaped 17.64m on his first jump and that was all that she wrote!
Lazaro Martinez makes a big statement, photo by Getty Images for World Athletics
Of his exciting victory, the more surprising since we had not seen much of the Youth champion in the past two years, Lazaro told the media: “Right now, I am very happy for this competition because 17.64 is a great jump. And it is also my first major indoor medal. I trained for this result every day very hard and I am glad I managed to sell my shape. I knew I was going to face very strong opponents like Pichardo, but I was ready – at least mentally. I was confident about my training and knew I could do well. I believe, people will look at me differently now that I achieved this title. I was out of the circuit for some time due to injury, but I am back now. Everything was different this year, it went very well when I was training in my country and I felt very good coming here. Competing indoors is much different comparing to the outdoor competitions. There is no wind, the track is more bouncy and I feel fine about it. This medal is very important for my life because this medal is like an open door for everything. I do not think about any limits. I believe that some day in the future, I will be able to jump 19 meters. I am looking forward to the world championships in summer. In Eugene, my plan is to jump 18 meters. I prepare at home for that competition and there will be very strong opponents. I am the world indoor champion now so I have to confirm it there.”
In second, World Champion Pedro Pichardo of Portugal, leaped 17.47m, a Portugese National Indoor record. Pichardo is one of the most experienced TJers, and this writer has enjoyed Pichardo and Christan Taylor (recovering from surgery) battling over the past summer seasons, his jumping today was worth a silver medal. Pedro had this to say about he measured his competition results in Belgrade today:
“I wasn’t really surprised with Lazaro Martinez’s performance today because I already know him from Cuba. We’ve competed against each other many times before, and I’m very aware of his full potential. I was expecting something like this, not only from him but from some others, too. During today’s competition, I felt some pain – actually, it started right at warm-up – but I decided to go ahead with competing regardless. In the first few jumps, it felt a little uncomfortable, and by the time we reached the first and fourth attempt, that’s when the pain became more evident. I talked to my coach, who is also my dad, and he advised me to be patient and see what happens. I didn’t want to compete this indoor season due to the light foot injury. We’re prepared for the summer season, which is going to be a tough one with both World and European Championships for me. After this, I am going to talk to my coach and with my physio about what is coming next, especially, because I’m not completely done with my pre-season preparation. I’m already looking ahead to the Summer season.”
Pedro Pichardo takes the silver, photo by Getty Images for World Athletics
In the third position, Donald Scott leaped 17.21m, taking the bronze. He beat Will Claye by .03 centimeters, dashing Claye’s hope to take a third TJ indoor World title.
Donald Scott, bronze medalist, photo by Getty Images for World Athletics
Donald Scott spoke to the media about his bronze medal:
“I came here confident of a medal and I’ve done it. I believe in my training, my coach, myself. I believe it’s time for me now. I’m ready to move up to the level of Christian (Taylor) and Will (Claye). There’s no secret to it, but I’ve learned to be consistent. I’ve been the underdog in the past but now it’s my time. I am ready to go for it all. I wasn’t too worried about the results, I zoned out the crowd, I just focused on my technique and got the job done. The key today was speed, being fast. There’s no crowd at practice, so I shut them out again today. It was like practice – shut them out and get it done.”
It was a strange TJ season in 2022, as the performances over 17 meters were minimal. Curious to see how big the jumps are when the outdoor season comes on to us. And curious to see how the Americans perform with the upcoming out door championships in Eugene.