• COUNTRY Cuba Cuba
  • DATE OF BIRTH 26 AUG 1995

Focus on Athletes biographies are produced by the IAAF Communications Dept, and not by the IAAF Statistics and Documentation Division. If you have any enquiries concerning the information, please use the Contact IAAF page, selecting ‘Focus on Athletes Biographies’ in the drop down menu of contact area options.

Updated 9 July 2014

 

Sahily DIAGO MESA, Cuba (800m)  

Born: 26 August 1995, Jovellanos (Matanzas)

Weight: 52kg Height: 1,71m 

Coach: Frank Ayala

  

The only child of former 400m-800m runner Rosa Mesa and Miguel Diago, Sahily was born in the small town of Carlos Rojas in the municipality of Jovellanos, in the western of province of Matanzas. She has an older sister on her father’s side.

 

Her mother, a Physical Education teacher, has been the sporting influence in her life. A hyperactive girl, she was enrolled in basketball when she was 10, but opted for athletics a few weeks later. “I was always running when I was a kid. I didn’t like basketball much so I changed to athletics,” she recalled. Soel Santuntun, aka "Cholo", was her first coach.

 

Success soon followed at municipal and provincial level, which earned her the right to compete at the National School Games in Havana. She ran 60m, 1200m, did High and Long Jump, as well as throwing a baseball ball. Her performance opened her doors at the provincial sports school in the city of Matanzas.

 

At the 2010 National Youth Games, Sahily won the 800m in 2:12.4 minutes and finished second in 1200m. Those performances allowed her to join the national junior team in Havana.

 

Joining the national junior team in Havana meant being away from her family for the first time. “She would cry every day. I thought she would be able to handle being away from her parents. We did a thorough psychological work. Her family helped a lot,” recalled her coach Frank Ayala.

 

Under his supervision, she showed rapid progress. She took her personal bests to 55.47 in 400m and 2:04.09 in 800m. She was ranked third in the world in the longer distance and was considered a top medal contender for the 2011 World Youth Championships in Lille.

 

However, she had a tonsillitis crisis a week before she left for France. She could not recover on time and could not advance past the semifinals.

 

“The World Youth Championships was the first time I competed overseas so I will always remember that experience, but I left with a bitter feeling, knowing that I could have performed better if I was healthy,” she said.

 

In 2012, she peaked later than expected. She ran a personal best of 2:00.9 in 800m and 54.20 in 400m. That time earned her the silver medal at the Central American and Caribbean Junior Championships in El Salvador. As she achieved 2:00.9 in late June, she could not meet all the travel requirements in time to participate at the World Junior Championships.

 

However, she was named an alternate runner as part of the Cuban 4x400m squad for the Olympic Games in London.

 

“It was an incredible experience more so being the youngest of the Cuban athletics team. I did not run, but managed to feel the spirit of the Olympic Village. I watched several races live in the stadium. I have great memories of seeing Alyson Felix and the women’s 400m final,” Sahily commented.

 

In 2013, she put more emphasis on her studies to finish high school. She won her first national senor title and competed internationally in Martinique, Brazil and Colombia.

 

In the latter, she was the top favorite to win gold at the Pan American Junior Championships, but was disqualified for obstructing a Canadian athlete in the final stretch.

 

“I was overconfident going into the final. I did not place myself and paid the price. It was certainly a lesson that I will not forget”.

 

Continued hard work and dedication paved the way for her breakthrough in 2014.

 

Early in March she set a world junior leading 2:01.87 and then set an impressive world leading and Area Junior Record of 1:58.14. Two weeks later, she smashed legendary Ana Fidelia Quirot’s meet record at the Barrientos Memorial with another world class 1:57.74. That time ranks her third on the Cuban all-time lists behind 1995 and 1997 World champion Ana Fidelia Quirot (1:54.44) and 2005 World champion Zulia Calatayud (1:56.09), as well as eighth on the junior all-time lists. She is now billed as a top contender for gold at the World Junior Championships in Eugene.

 

In addition, she also improved her 400m best to 53.87.

 

Those performances opened her door to her first races in Europe, including her Diamond League debut in Rome, where she finished second behind World champion Eunice Sum.

 

“Rome was a beautiful experience, running with women I had only seen on TV. My coach told me how the race would unfold and it happened exactly as he said it.  I met Caster Semenya and she gave me words of encouragement,” commented Diago.

 

She was invited to Hengelo, but not fully recovered from Rome, she sustained a first degree rupture. With no coach around to guide her, “I still ran because I was already there.”

 

She soon returned to Havana, where she has recovered well in time for Eugene.

 

“I am ready. I have a lot of confidence going into the Worlds. I would like to end my junior career with the gold medal to erase the disappointment of the Youth Worlds and the Pan American Junior Champs,” she stated.

 

Her coach Frank Ayala provides an insight into her rapid progress.

 

“Her aerobic and anaerobic capacity are excellent. The way she moves on the track is comparable to the Kenyans and Savinova. She has a great ability to analyse races and stayed focused. She gives it all in training,” he said.

 

Ayala believes she has to continue working on her coordination and “she is sometimes overconfident. She may think she has the situation under control and it may not be the case.”

 

In her free time, Sahily loves reading, watching TV and listening to romantic music. Very close to her family, she goes back home almost every weekend and stays connected to her mom, who is currently working in Venezuela. In September, she is starting the final year of a 2-year technical program to become Physical Education teacher.

 

In Cuba, she sees two-time former world champion and two-time Olympic medallist Ana Fidelia Quirot as her idol. “I met her in 2011 and she gave me a lot of advice and encouragement to keep working hard and aim high in my athletic career.”

 

 

Personal Bests

400m- 53.87 (2014)

500m- 1:07.9 (2014)

600m- 1:26.1 (2013)

800m- 1:57.74 (2014) AJR

1000m- 2:37.5 (2014)

 

Yearly Progression

400m

2011-55.47; 2012-54.20; 2013-55.22; 2014-53.87

800m

2010- 2:12.4; 2011-2:04.09; 2012-2:00.9h; 2013-2:01.30; 2014-1:57.74 AJR

 

 

Career Highlights

2011

6th

National Championships

2:08.95

2011

5sf

World Youth Championships

2:08.25

2012

3rd

National Championships (400m)

55.09

2012

2nd

Central American and Caribbean Junior Championships (400m)

54.20

2013

1st

National Championships

2:04.69

2013

1st

National Junior Championships (400m)

54.0h

2013

1st

National Junior Championships

2:06.0h

2013

DQ

Pan American Junior Championships

 

2014

 3rd

National Championships (400m)

53.87

2014

 2nd

National Championships

2:02.48


 

Prepared by Javier Clavelo for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. © IAAF 2014

 

 

Personal Best - Outdoor
Performance Wind Place Date
400 Metres 53.87 La Habana (Estadio Panamericano) 18 MAR 2014
800 Metres 1:57.74 La Habana (Estadio Panamericano) 25 MAY 2014
1000 Metres 2:37.5 La Habana (Estadio Panamericano) 25 APR 2014
Progression - Outdoor showShow All Graphs
400 Metres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2014 53.87 La Habana (Estadio Panamericano) 18 MAR
2012 54.20 San Salvador 01 JUL
800 Metres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2014 1:57.74 La Habana (Estadio Panamericano) 25 MAY
2013 2:01.30 La Habana (Estadio Panamericano) 28 JUN
2012 2:03.67 La Habana (Estadio Panamericano) 08 JUN
2011 2:04.09 La Habana (Estadio Panamericano) 17 JUN
1000 Metres Show Graphshow
Performance Place Date
2014 2:37.5 La Habana (Estadio Panamericano) 25 APR
2013 2:42.8 La Habana (Estadio Panamericano) 28 NOV
Honours - 800 Metres
Rank Mark Wind Place Date
IAAF World Junior Championships 2014 2 2:02.11 Eugene (Hayward Field), OR 24 JUL 2014
7th IAAF World Youth Championships 5sf1 2:08.25 Lille 08 JUL 2011

Focus on Athletes biographies are produced by the IAAF Communications Dept, and not by the IAAF Statistics and Documentation Division. If you have any enquiries concerning the information, please use the Contact IAAF page, selecting ‘Focus on Athletes Biographies’ in the drop down menu of contact area options.

Updated 9 July 2014

 

Sahily DIAGO MESA, Cuba (800m)  

Born: 26 August 1995, Jovellanos (Matanzas)

Weight: 52kg Height: 1,71m 

Coach: Frank Ayala

  

The only child of former 400m-800m runner Rosa Mesa and Miguel Diago, Sahily was born in the small town of Carlos Rojas in the municipality of Jovellanos, in the western of province of Matanzas. She has an older sister on her father’s side.

 

Her mother, a Physical Education teacher, has been the sporting influence in her life. A hyperactive girl, she was enrolled in basketball when she was 10, but opted for athletics a few weeks later. “I was always running when I was a kid. I didn’t like basketball much so I changed to athletics,” she recalled. Soel Santuntun, aka "Cholo", was her first coach.

 

Success soon followed at municipal and provincial level, which earned her the right to compete at the National School Games in Havana. She ran 60m, 1200m, did High and Long Jump, as well as throwing a baseball ball. Her performance opened her doors at the provincial sports school in the city of Matanzas.

 

At the 2010 National Youth Games, Sahily won the 800m in 2:12.4 minutes and finished second in 1200m. Those performances allowed her to join the national junior team in Havana.

 

Joining the national junior team in Havana meant being away from her family for the first time. “She would cry every day. I thought she would be able to handle being away from her parents. We did a thorough psychological work. Her family helped a lot,” recalled her coach Frank Ayala.

 

Under his supervision, she showed rapid progress. She took her personal bests to 55.47 in 400m and 2:04.09 in 800m. She was ranked third in the world in the longer distance and was considered a top medal contender for the 2011 World Youth Championships in Lille.

 

However, she had a tonsillitis crisis a week before she left for France. She could not recover on time and could not advance past the semifinals.

 

“The World Youth Championships was the first time I competed overseas so I will always remember that experience, but I left with a bitter feeling, knowing that I could have performed better if I was healthy,” she said.

 

In 2012, she peaked later than expected. She ran a personal best of 2:00.9 in 800m and 54.20 in 400m. That time earned her the silver medal at the Central American and Caribbean Junior Championships in El Salvador. As she achieved 2:00.9 in late June, she could not meet all the travel requirements in time to participate at the World Junior Championships.

 

However, she was named an alternate runner as part of the Cuban 4x400m squad for the Olympic Games in London.

 

“It was an incredible experience more so being the youngest of the Cuban athletics team. I did not run, but managed to feel the spirit of the Olympic Village. I watched several races live in the stadium. I have great memories of seeing Alyson Felix and the women’s 400m final,” Sahily commented.

 

In 2013, she put more emphasis on her studies to finish high school. She won her first national senor title and competed internationally in Martinique, Brazil and Colombia.

 

In the latter, she was the top favorite to win gold at the Pan American Junior Championships, but was disqualified for obstructing a Canadian athlete in the final stretch.

 

“I was overconfident going into the final. I did not place myself and paid the price. It was certainly a lesson that I will not forget”.

 

Continued hard work and dedication paved the way for her breakthrough in 2014.

 

Early in March she set a world junior leading 2:01.87 and then set an impressive world leading and Area Junior Record of 1:58.14. Two weeks later, she smashed legendary Ana Fidelia Quirot’s meet record at the Barrientos Memorial with another world class 1:57.74. That time ranks her third on the Cuban all-time lists behind 1995 and 1997 World champion Ana Fidelia Quirot (1:54.44) and 2005 World champion Zulia Calatayud (1:56.09), as well as eighth on the junior all-time lists. She is now billed as a top contender for gold at the World Junior Championships in Eugene.

 

In addition, she also improved her 400m best to 53.87.

 

Those performances opened her door to her first races in Europe, including her Diamond League debut in Rome, where she finished second behind World champion Eunice Sum.

 

“Rome was a beautiful experience, running with women I had only seen on TV. My coach told me how the race would unfold and it happened exactly as he said it.  I met Caster Semenya and she gave me words of encouragement,” commented Diago.

 

She was invited to Hengelo, but not fully recovered from Rome, she sustained a first degree rupture. With no coach around to guide her, “I still ran because I was already there.”

 

She soon returned to Havana, where she has recovered well in time for Eugene.

 

“I am ready. I have a lot of confidence going into the Worlds. I would like to end my junior career with the gold medal to erase the disappointment of the Youth Worlds and the Pan American Junior Champs,” she stated.

 

Her coach Frank Ayala provides an insight into her rapid progress.

 

“Her aerobic and anaerobic capacity are excellent. The way she moves on the track is comparable to the Kenyans and Savinova. She has a great ability to analyse races and stayed focused. She gives it all in training,” he said.

 

Ayala believes she has to continue working on her coordination and “she is sometimes overconfident. She may think she has the situation under control and it may not be the case.”

 

In her free time, Sahily loves reading, watching TV and listening to romantic music. Very close to her family, she goes back home almost every weekend and stays connected to her mom, who is currently working in Venezuela. In September, she is starting the final year of a 2-year technical program to become Physical Education teacher.

 

In Cuba, she sees two-time former world champion and two-time Olympic medallist Ana Fidelia Quirot as her idol. “I met her in 2011 and she gave me a lot of advice and encouragement to keep working hard and aim high in my athletic career.”

 

 

Personal Bests

400m- 53.87 (2014)

500m- 1:07.9 (2014)

600m- 1:26.1 (2013)

800m- 1:57.74 (2014) AJR

1000m- 2:37.5 (2014)

 

Yearly Progression

400m

2011-55.47; 2012-54.20; 2013-55.22; 2014-53.87

800m

2010- 2:12.4; 2011-2:04.09; 2012-2:00.9h; 2013-2:01.30; 2014-1:57.74 AJR

 

 

Career Highlights

2011

6th

National Championships

2:08.95

2011

5sf

World Youth Championships

2:08.25

2012

3rd

National Championships (400m)

55.09

2012

2nd

Central American and Caribbean Junior Championships (400m)

54.20

2013

1st

National Championships

2:04.69

2013

1st

National Junior Championships (400m)

54.0h

2013

1st

National Junior Championships

2:06.0h

2013

DQ

Pan American Junior Championships

 

2014

 3rd

National Championships (400m)

53.87

2014

 2nd

National Championships

2:02.48


 

Prepared by Javier Clavelo for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. © IAAF 2014