When referring the elite of Cuba’s athletes, a space should be reserved for Yarisley Silva, who through hard work and sacrifice has leapt to the top of the world’s best pole vaulters, in a sport that has never been very popular or developed on the island.
Her athletic career began at a very early age, in mixed track-and-field events, where Yarisley stood out for her speed. At the age of 13, she began practicing the pole vault under the experienced eye of coach Nilo in her hometown of Pinar del Río, and won a gold medal and then a silver in two separate national school competitions. In 2002, at the age of 15, she was picked for the national track-and-field team’s pre-selection, coached by Ángel García and Alexander Navas, the latter of whom is her current coach.
In 2013, and now 26 years old, Yarisley achieved three of the best vaults of the season (4.90, 4.85, and 4.82 meters). No other pole vaulter surpassed the 4.7-meter barrier on 15 occasions; much less go over 4.8 meters seven times or set six national records and several other Central American and Caribbean records. Her marks placed her among the three best women pole vaulters of all time, surpassed only by Russia’s Yelena Isinbayeva (5.06 meters) and Jennifer Suhr of the United States (4.92).
In 2014 Yarisley has set a number of goals for herself, including a medal at the Indoor World Championships in Sopot, Poland, slated for early March. She also plans to attend all six Diamond League events and the Central American and Caribbean Games in Veracruz, Mexico, in November. And she hopes to beat her personal best (4.9 meters) “and, if possible, achieve the dream of every pole vaulter, which is to surpass five meters,” she says.
For: Dúber Piñeiro
Ilustraciones: Fidel Alonso