Long jumper Irving Saladino becomes Panama's first Olympic athletics champion (Getty Images)
Long jumper Irving Saladino becomes Panama's first Olympic athletics champion (Getty Images)
  • COUNTRY Panama Panama
  • DATE OF BIRTH 23 JAN 1983


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.


Date: 11 August 2008

Irving SALADINO, Panama (Long Jump)

Born 23 January 1983, Ciudad de Colón.   1.76m / 70 kg
Lives and trains in São Paulo at the Regional Training Centre
Based in Nijmegen, Netherlands, when competing in Europe
Coach: Nélio Moura

Irving Saladino is one of the most promising talents to emerge from Panama since Lloyd LaBeach, who won bronzes at 100m and 200m at the London Games of 1948, the country’s only Olympic medals.

Saladino was born in Ciudad de Colón, an hour from the capital, Ciudad de Panamá. Throughout his youth, Irving was a very athletic child. His brother David introduced him to athletics when Irving was a teenager, but he often mixed his track training sessions with his other passion, baseball.

“Once I was very close to becoming a baseball player,” says Saladino. “I was spotted by some scouts of US major league teams. I was a good centerfielder, with great speed. Not such a great hitter. But track was already in my heart and I decided to stick with it.” Saladino remains a great fan of the New York Yankees, whose star relief pitcher is his compatriot Mariano Rivera.

Like many in Latin America, Saladino as a young man saw the United States as a land of opportunity, so, after finishing high school, he went to live with an aunt for a year in New York City. He loved the city, but decided not to stay.

Saladino’s first coach was a former Panamanian sprinter, Florencio Aguilar, who himself had some success at the continental level in South America. Aguilar saw more than raw speed in Saladino (who has a 10.4 PB at 100m), and converted him into a long-jumper.

His first international competitions came in 2002: a meet in Guatemala City where he jumped an altitude-aided 7.51m; the CAC Juniors in Bridgetown, Barbados, where his 7.39 won bronze; the World Juniors in Kingston, Jamaica, where he could manage only 7.30 and failed to qualify for the final. In 2003 his 7.46 was good enough for bronze in the South American Championships.

In 2004 a jump of 8.12 at a meet in Bogotá (2600m above sea level) qualified him for the Athens Olympics, but the youngster could only manage a modest 7.42 in the qualifying round.

By that time, Saladino had received an offer to join the São Paulo Regional Training Center through the Olympic Solidarity Programme. Along with Coach Aguilar he decided after Athens to accept the offer, and at the end of 2004 he made his first trip to Brazil to put himself in the hands of Nélio Moura, who had coached great jumpers such as Maurren Maggi and Jadel Gregório.

The results showed early in 2005, where by the beginning of April Saladino had already jumped a national record 8.18 and a wind-aided 8.51. His improvement continued with an 8.26 in Santiago de Chile in May, and later with 8.29 at the Sevilla GP, but a hamstring injury sustained in Europe forced him to stop all competition.

After returning to São Paulo for treatment, Saladino came back to action only at the qualifying round of the Helsinki World Championships, where he struggled to advance to the final with a 7.98m result. Still, in the decisive moment of the season, he was able to prove his talent and finished in 6th place with a wind-aided mark of 8.20.

His goals for the 2006 were high, but almost all of them have been attained. Jumping beyond 8.50m in legal conditions and setting himself among the world’s best where the most important objectives and both were achieved early in the season.

2006 began well with a leap of 8.29 in São Paulo on 18 February, equaling his national record. Then on 11 March Saladino won his first global medal in Moscow at the World Indoor Championships, while setting South American records in the qualification and the final (8.10 and 8.29m), only to be defeated by Ghanaian Ignisious Gaisah by 1cm.

After that silver medal, Saladino opened his outdoor season with another South American record. The Rio de Janeiro Grand Prix saw him soar over 8.56m on 14 May, a performance that placed him first in the 2006 world lists.

His 2006 campaign also saw him winning the Ibero-American Championships and the Central American and Caribbean Games over the great Cuban champion Iván Pedroso and competing with great success on the one day meetings.

After winning the first leg on the Golden League in Oslo with 8.53, Saladino suffered what was to be his only defeat of the outdoor season in Paris-Saint Denis on 8 July, also to Gaisah, this time by a margin of 2 cm (8.31 to 8.29m), but bounced back to win in Rome (8.45).

He then notched up successive wins in Zürich (8.36), Brussels (8.31, notwithstanding a minor injury) and Berlin (8.35).

This feat of 5 victories out of 6 Golden League meets has made him one of the 6 athletes who won a share of the Golden League Jackpot, were the Panamanian earned a sum of $83,333 dollars.

At the World Athletics Final in Stuttgart, the Panamanian confirmed his supremacy with in 8.41 over Saudi Arabian Mohammed Al Kuwalidi (8.34) who was also N.2 in the seasonal lists.

Other victories in the Athens Grand Prix (8.65w, with a legal jump of 8.23) and Linz (8.36) meant than, in the lead up to the World Cup in Athens Saladino had competed outdoors in 15 finals, losing only in Paris.

Statistically speaking, his average for those 15 finals was 8.39m, counting as his result at the Athens Grand Prix the legal jump of 8.23m, while he had won there with a wind aided (+3.3) leap of 8.65m. That 8.23m and the 4 times he jumped 8.29m (3 outdoor and 1 indoor) were his worse performances of the year. A very impressive feat by someone who up to 2005 had a career-best of 8.29m.

In the Greek capital, a leap of 8.26 was sufficient to clinch the gold medal at the World Cup, in his last competition of the season

Saladino’s progression continued in 2007, year in which he diminished the number of his competitions to only nine finals – all victories.

On 17 February he improved the South American indoor record to 8.31 in Birmingham, in his only indoors competition. Then the Panamanian begun his outdoor season in impressive for at the Rio de Janeiro South American GP with 8.53, performance he repeated in Hengelo, at the Fanny Blankers-Koen Memorial on 26 May.

On 24 July, Saladino took the Pan-American Games title in Rio de Janeiro with 8.28, obtaining the first-ever gold medal in Athletics for his country, first-ever of any colour by a male in Athletics, and only the second gold in the multi-sport event for Panama.

Saladino continued making history in Osaka. After a somewhat poor performance in the qualification round of the World Championships (sixth with 8.13), the Panamanian produced a very emotional victory, also capturing the first medal at the event for his country.

On 30 August, the South American athlete took the lead in round three with 8.46, but after two fouls, Italian Andrew Howe moved ahead with 8.47 – a national record – in his final jump. Saladino had the last chance of the night and did not waste it. His answer was definitive and dramatic: 8.57. Good enough for the gold and a new South American record.

The final part of the year was filled with recognition at his country, but also cut by an inflammation of the knee tendon of his right leg, injury that became evident at the Rieti Grand Prix, where Saladino won with 8.31. That injury meant that the Panamanian could not jump at the World Athletics Final.

The 2008 Olympic year begun with a promising 8.42 South American indoor record set in Athens on 13 February, 4 days after winning in Valencia with 8.20. But another physical problem, this time in his right ankle, made Saladino miss the World Indoor Championships.

The Panamanian return to action on 18 May in Rio de Janeiro, with a solid victory with 8.39.

Six days later (24 May) he improved his South American record in Hengelo, taking it to 8.73 (wind 1.2), mark that placed him seventh in the all-time World Lists. Yet, eight days later, on 1 June, Saladino’s winning streak came to an end in Berlin, when he placed seventh at the ISTAF Golden League meet with 7.92, competition won by Hussein Taher Al-Sabee of Saudi Arabia with 8.21.

Berlin marked the end of Saladino’s winning streak, stopped at 21 finals – 18 outdoors and 3 indoors. The last time the Panamanian could not obtain a victory had been in Paris/Saint-Denis on 8 July 2006, when Ghana’s Ignisious Gaisah beat him 8.31 to 8.29.

“I started jumping very well, with a couple of long fouls, but towards the end I felt something on my knee, an old injury. Yet, it’s not an excuse for the defeat”, expressed Saladino.

His coach Nélio Moura decided that rest and treatment were needed.

Saladino returned to competition on 11 July in Roma, at the Golden Gala, and 18 July, at the Gaz de France Golden League, in Paris/Saint Denis, scoring two victories with 8.30 and 8.31 respectively.

Heading into his first Olympic Games, in Beijing, this time, most of his European training was done in Madrid.

Saladino carried the Panamanian flag at the 8 August Opening Ceremony of the Games.


Personal Bests

 8.73 AR (2008); 8.42i AR (2008)


Yearly Progression

2002 - 7.51A / 7.39; 2003 - 7.46; 2004 - 8.12A/  7.74; 2005 - 8.29 / 8.51w ; 2006 - 8.56 AR / 8.65w / 8.29i AR ; 2007 - 8.57 AR / 8.31i AR ; 2008 - 8.73 AR / 8.42i AR


Career highlights

2007 1st World Championships
2007 1st  Pan American Games
2006 1st  World Cup
2006   1st  World Athletics Final
2006  1st  Central American and Caribbean Games
2006  1st  Ibero-American Championships
2006  2nd World Indoor Championships
2005  6th World Championships
2004  q Olympic Games (36th)
2003  3rd South American Championships
2002  q  World Junior Championships (17th)


Prepared by Eduardo Biscayart for the IAAF Focus on Athletes project. © 2006-8 IAAF.

Personal Best - Outdoor
Performance Wind Place Date
100 Metres 10.96 Ciudad de Panama 26 JAN 2013
Long Jump 8.73 +1.2 Hengelo 24 MAY 2008
Personal Best - Indoor
Performance Wind Place Date
Long Jump 8.42 Peanía 13 FEB 2008
Progression - Outdoor showShow All Graphs
100 Metres Show Graphshow
Performance Wind Place Date
2013 10.96 Ciudad de Panama 26 JAN
Long Jump Show Graphshow
Performance Wind Place Date
2014 8.16 -0.5 Santiago de Chile (NS) 14 MAR
2013 7.99 -0.4 San José, CRC 11 MAR
2012 8.16 -0.2 Monaco 20 JUL
2011 8.40 +0.2 Paris Saint-Denis 08 JUL
2010 8.30 +0.9 Bad Langensalza 05 JUN
2009 8.63 -0.4 Eugene, OR 07 JUN
2008 8.73 +1.2 Hengelo 24 MAY
2007 8.57 0.0 Osaka (Nagai Stadium) 30 AUG
2006 8.56 +1.6 Rio de Janeiro 14 MAY
2005 8.29 0.0 Sevilla 04 JUN
2004 8.12 +1.9 Bogotá 10 JUL
2002 7.51 Ciudad de Guatemala (Mateo Flores) 25 MAY
Progression - Indoor showShow All Graphs
Long Jump Show Graphshow
Performance Wind Place Date
2014 8.11 Stockholm (Globe Arena) 06 FEB
2010 7.80 Doha 12 MAR
2008 8.42 Peanía 13 FEB
2007 8.31 Birmingham, GBR 17 FEB
2006 8.29 Moskva (Olimpiyskiy Stadion) 11 MAR
Honours - Long Jump
Rank Mark Wind Place Date
IAAF World Indoor Championships 2014 11q1 7.94 Sopot (Ergo Arena) 07 MAR 2014
The XXX Olympic Games q2 NM London (OP) 03 AUG 2012
13th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 11q2 7.84 +0.2 Daegu 01 SEP 2011
13th IAAF World Indoor Championships 6q1 7.80 Doha 12 MAR 2010
12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics f NM -0.5 Berlin 22 AUG 2009
The XXIX Olympic Games 1 8.34 -0.3 Beijing (National Stadium) 18 AUG 2008
11th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 1 8.57 0.0 Osaka (Nagai Stadium) 30 AUG 2007
10th IAAF World Cup 1 8.26 +0.3 Athína (Olympic Stadium) 16 SEP 2006
4th IAAF World Athletics Final 1 8.41 +0.4 Stuttgart 10 SEP 2006
11th IAAF World Indoor Championships 2 8.29 Moskva (Olimpiyskiy Stadion) 11 MAR 2006
10th IAAF World Championships in Athletics 6 8.20 +2.8 Helsinki 13 AUG 2005
28th Olympic Games 18q2 7.42 +0.8 Athína (Olympic Stadium) 24 AUG 2004
IAAF/Coca Cola World Junior Championships 10q2 7.30 -0.5 Kingston, JAM 17 JUL 2002


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.


Date: 11 August 2008

Irving SALADINO, Panama (Long Jump)

Born 23 January 1983, Ciudad de Colón.   1.76m / 70 kg
Lives and trains in São Paulo at the Regional Training Centre
Based in Nijmegen, Netherlands, when competing in Europe
Coach: Nélio Moura

Irving Saladino is one of the most promising talents to emerge from Panama since Lloyd LaBeach, who won bronzes at 100m and 200m at the London Games of 1948, the country’s only Olympic medals.

Saladino was born in Ciudad de Colón, an hour from the capital, Ciudad de Panamá. Throughout his youth, Irving was a very athletic child. His brother David introduced him to athletics when Irving was a teenager, but he often mixed his track training sessions with his other passion, baseball.

“Once I was very close to becoming a baseball player,” says Saladino. “I was spotted by some scouts of US major league teams. I was a good centerfielder, with great speed. Not such a great hitter. But track was already in my heart and I decided to stick with it.” Saladino remains a great fan of the New York Yankees, whose star relief pitcher is his compatriot Mariano Rivera.

Like many in Latin America, Saladino as a young man saw the United States as a land of opportunity, so, after finishing high school, he went to live with an aunt for a year in New York City. He loved the city, but decided not to stay.

Saladino’s first coach was a former Panamanian sprinter, Florencio Aguilar, who himself had some success at the continental level in South America. Aguilar saw more than raw speed in Saladino (who has a 10.4 PB at 100m), and converted him into a long-jumper.

His first international competitions came in 2002: a meet in Guatemala City where he jumped an altitude-aided 7.51m; the CAC Juniors in Bridgetown, Barbados, where his 7.39 won bronze; the World Juniors in Kingston, Jamaica, where he could manage only 7.30 and failed to qualify for the final. In 2003 his 7.46 was good enough for bronze in the South American Championships.

In 2004 a jump of 8.12 at a meet in Bogotá (2600m above sea level) qualified him for the Athens Olympics, but the youngster could only manage a modest 7.42 in the qualifying round.

By that time, Saladino had received an offer to join the São Paulo Regional Training Center through the Olympic Solidarity Programme. Along with Coach Aguilar he decided after Athens to accept the offer, and at the end of 2004 he made his first trip to Brazil to put himself in the hands of Nélio Moura, who had coached great jumpers such as Maurren Maggi and Jadel Gregório.

The results showed early in 2005, where by the beginning of April Saladino had already jumped a national record 8.18 and a wind-aided 8.51. His improvement continued with an 8.26 in Santiago de Chile in May, and later with 8.29 at the Sevilla GP, but a hamstring injury sustained in Europe forced him to stop all competition.

After returning to São Paulo for treatment, Saladino came back to action only at the qualifying round of the Helsinki World Championships, where he struggled to advance to the final with a 7.98m result. Still, in the decisive moment of the season, he was able to prove his talent and finished in 6th place with a wind-aided mark of 8.20.

His goals for the 2006 were high, but almost all of them have been attained. Jumping beyond 8.50m in legal conditions and setting himself among the world’s best where the most important objectives and both were achieved early in the season.

2006 began well with a leap of 8.29 in São Paulo on 18 February, equaling his national record. Then on 11 March Saladino won his first global medal in Moscow at the World Indoor Championships, while setting South American records in the qualification and the final (8.10 and 8.29m), only to be defeated by Ghanaian Ignisious Gaisah by 1cm.

After that silver medal, Saladino opened his outdoor season with another South American record. The Rio de Janeiro Grand Prix saw him soar over 8.56m on 14 May, a performance that placed him first in the 2006 world lists.

His 2006 campaign also saw him winning the Ibero-American Championships and the Central American and Caribbean Games over the great Cuban champion Iván Pedroso and competing with great success on the one day meetings.

After winning the first leg on the Golden League in Oslo with 8.53, Saladino suffered what was to be his only defeat of the outdoor season in Paris-Saint Denis on 8 July, also to Gaisah, this time by a margin of 2 cm (8.31 to 8.29m), but bounced back to win in Rome (8.45).

He then notched up successive wins in Zürich (8.36), Brussels (8.31, notwithstanding a minor injury) and Berlin (8.35).

This feat of 5 victories out of 6 Golden League meets has made him one of the 6 athletes who won a share of the Golden League Jackpot, were the Panamanian earned a sum of $83,333 dollars.

At the World Athletics Final in Stuttgart, the Panamanian confirmed his supremacy with in 8.41 over Saudi Arabian Mohammed Al Kuwalidi (8.34) who was also N.2 in the seasonal lists.

Other victories in the Athens Grand Prix (8.65w, with a legal jump of 8.23) and Linz (8.36) meant than, in the lead up to the World Cup in Athens Saladino had competed outdoors in 15 finals, losing only in Paris.

Statistically speaking, his average for those 15 finals was 8.39m, counting as his result at the Athens Grand Prix the legal jump of 8.23m, while he had won there with a wind aided (+3.3) leap of 8.65m. That 8.23m and the 4 times he jumped 8.29m (3 outdoor and 1 indoor) were his worse performances of the year. A very impressive feat by someone who up to 2005 had a career-best of 8.29m.

In the Greek capital, a leap of 8.26 was sufficient to clinch the gold medal at the World Cup, in his last competition of the season

Saladino’s progression continued in 2007, year in which he diminished the number of his competitions to only nine finals – all victories.

On 17 February he improved the South American indoor record to 8.31 in Birmingham, in his only indoors competition. Then the Panamanian begun his outdoor season in impressive for at the Rio de Janeiro South American GP with 8.53, performance he repeated in Hengelo, at the Fanny Blankers-Koen Memorial on 26 May.

On 24 July, Saladino took the Pan-American Games title in Rio de Janeiro with 8.28, obtaining the first-ever gold medal in Athletics for his country, first-ever of any colour by a male in Athletics, and only the second gold in the multi-sport event for Panama.

Saladino continued making history in Osaka. After a somewhat poor performance in the qualification round of the World Championships (sixth with 8.13), the Panamanian produced a very emotional victory, also capturing the first medal at the event for his country.

On 30 August, the South American athlete took the lead in round three with 8.46, but after two fouls, Italian Andrew Howe moved ahead with 8.47 – a national record – in his final jump. Saladino had the last chance of the night and did not waste it. His answer was definitive and dramatic: 8.57. Good enough for the gold and a new South American record.

The final part of the year was filled with recognition at his country, but also cut by an inflammation of the knee tendon of his right leg, injury that became evident at the Rieti Grand Prix, where Saladino won with 8.31. That injury meant that the Panamanian could not jump at the World Athletics Final.

The 2008 Olympic year begun with a promising 8.42 South American indoor record set in Athens on 13 February, 4 days after winning in Valencia with 8.20. But another physical problem, this time in his right ankle, made Saladino miss the World Indoor Championships.

The Panamanian return to action on 18 May in Rio de Janeiro, with a solid victory with 8.39.

Six days later (24 May) he improved his South American record in Hengelo, taking it to 8.73 (wind 1.2), mark that placed him seventh in the all-time World Lists. Yet, eight days later, on 1 June, Saladino’s winning streak came to an end in Berlin, when he placed seventh at the ISTAF Golden League meet with 7.92, competition won by Hussein Taher Al-Sabee of Saudi Arabia with 8.21.

Berlin marked the end of Saladino’s winning streak, stopped at 21 finals – 18 outdoors and 3 indoors. The last time the Panamanian could not obtain a victory had been in Paris/Saint-Denis on 8 July 2006, when Ghana’s Ignisious Gaisah beat him 8.31 to 8.29.

“I started jumping very well, with a couple of long fouls, but towards the end I felt something on my knee, an old injury. Yet, it’s not an excuse for the defeat”, expressed Saladino.

His coach Nélio Moura decided that rest and treatment were needed.

Saladino returned to competition on 11 July in Roma, at the Golden Gala, and 18 July, at the Gaz de France Golden League, in Paris/Saint Denis, scoring two victories with 8.30 and 8.31 respectively.

Heading into his first Olympic Games, in Beijing, this time, most of his European training was done in Madrid.

Saladino carried the Panamanian flag at the 8 August Opening Ceremony of the Games.


Personal Bests

 8.73 AR (2008); 8.42i AR (2008)


Yearly Progression

2002 - 7.51A / 7.39; 2003 - 7.46; 2004 - 8.12A/  7.74; 2005 - 8.29 / 8.51w ; 2006 - 8.56 AR / 8.65w / 8.29i AR ; 2007 - 8.57 AR / 8.31i AR ; 2008 - 8.73 AR / 8.42i AR


Career highlights

2007 1st World Championships
2007 1st  Pan American Games
2006 1st  World Cup
2006   1st  World Athletics Final
2006  1st  Central American and Caribbean Games
2006  1st  Ibero-American Championships
2006  2nd World Indoor Championships
2005  6th World Championships
2004  q Olympic Games (36th)
2003  3rd South American Championships
2002  q  World Junior Championships (17th)


Prepared by Eduardo Biscayart for the IAAF Focus on Athletes project. © 2006-8 IAAF.