Only wind denies Tejeda of world record
21 July 2002 - The rhythm in the stands may have been of reggae, for the first final on the track it was a Cuban solo.
19-year old Anay Tejeda, a member of the Havana athletics training centre, seemed like she was alone on the track.
With a personal best of 12.93 clocked at the recent CAC Junior Championships, Tejeda knew she was the favourite of tonight’s 100m hurdles final.
“I had the best time in the world this year, I was meant to win. But a race is never easy so I didn’t want too much pressure on myself. I knew I had the potential to win this race I just kept my concentration as high as possible.”
The effort produced by Tejeda was massive. She led the race from start to finish and had a breathtaking rhythm between the obstacles. Her only mistake was to slightly touch the third barrier with her lead leg. But that didn’t affect her race as she seemed unbeatable today.
“Anay has had a fantastic season this year”, explained her coach Orlando Meneses after congratulating her protégée. “She is unique in her mental strength. Her mental preparation and her concentration prior to each race are astonishing.”
After crossing the finish line, Tejeda didn’t look at the time but headed for a well deserved victory lap. In the stands the 12.81 flashing on the score board had a sweet taste of world junior record but the mark would not be ratified as such. The wind was blowing at 3.4m/s and therefore the World Junior record remains the property of another Cuban, Aliuska Lopez with 12.84 (set in 1987).
When we mention the wind to Tejeda, she replies: “no I didn’t feel the wind, it didn’t affect me at all.”
But then we explain that if it hadn’t been for the wind her mark would have been a new world record and the little woman bursts into tears.
“We didn’t think about the world record at all”, explained Meneses. “All we were aiming for was the world title. We have worked very hard for her to peak at these championships so I think the world record story is a bit of a shock for her.”
Tejeda who most precious desire is to become “Olympic champion as soon as possible”, soon recovered from the shock and was all smiles while the Cuban national anthem was being played.
And it was the third time that the Jamaican crowd heard the Cuban anthem as Mabel Gay and David Giralt respectively in the women and the men triple jump had already claimed gold in these Championships.
With Arianna Martínez’s silver medal – in the triple jump – Cuba finishes fourth in the medal table per country.
“We are very happy”, commented former Olympic champion and IAAF Council member Alberto Juantorena. “We may have a small team but we are very strong. What makes Cuban athletes strong is their will to succeed and work hard to reach their goals.”