Updated 2 March 2008
Wilfredo Y MARTÍNEZ, Cuba (Long Jump)
Born: 9 January 1985, Havana 1.84m/70kg
Manager: Javier Sotomayor; Coach: Milan Matos
Born in Havana in 1985, Wilfredo Martinez leads the new generation of long jumpers in Cuba, trying to fill the difficult vacuum left by nine-time world and 2000 Olympic champion Ivan Pedroso, who retired in 2007.
A fast kid, the elder of two brothers took up athletics at the age of 10. The only sportsman in the family soon revealed his potential for the sprints and jumps, opting for the latter in the youth competitions.
At 17, Martinez emerged on the national scene with a 7.48m leap in 2002, which he improved substantially to 7.90 in 2003, a mark that enabled him to represent Cuba internationally for the first time. He enjoyed his first international debut when winning gold medal at the Pan American Junior Championships, in Bridgetown, where he also finished fourth in the Triple Jump.
Martinez stayed consistent with 7.77 the following year, but it was not enough to make the small Cuban team for the World Junior Championships, in Grosseto, Italy. After 2004, he joined the national senior team under the guidance of Milan Matos. A year later, he finally broke the eight metres mark (8.04) at the IAAF Grand Prix in Fort de France.
After a below par 2005, plagued by injuries, Martinez came back to form and peaked at the right time to win his first senior title at the North, Central American and Caribbean Under 23 Championships in Santo Domingo. In 2007, he improved his best to 8.17 to win the ALBA Games, in Caracas, and went on to grab silver at the Pan American Games.
However, his 7.92m performance in Rio de Janeiro was insufficient to make the national team for the World Championships in Osaka. He also joined the Cuban quartet who finished fifth in the 4x100m in Rio.
An emerging jumper, Martinez has made a successful indoor debut in 2008. He started with 7.85m in Sweden and improved to 8.10m at the Spanish Championships in Valencia. Currently placed fifth on the 2008 indoor lists, he is looking forward to his first World Championships.
“I have been waiting for such important moment in my career,” Martinez said. “I missed it when I was a junior and last year in Osaka. I tried the track in Valencia. This 8.10m gives me a lot for confidence for my first global challenge in athletics.”
After five consecutive world indoor titles by Pedroso (1993-2001), the young Cuban is ready to mark the Island’s return to the podium. Off the track, he likes to hang out with friends and listen to hip-hop music.
Outdoors: 8.17 (2007), Indoors: 8.10 (2008)
2002 - 7.48; 2003 - 7.90; 2004 - 7.77; 2005 - 8.04; 2005 - 7.56w; 2006 - 8.03; 2007 - 8.17; 2008-8.10i.
2003 1st Pan American Junior Championships
2005 4th Central American and Caribbean Championships
2006 1st Under 23 North, Central American and Caribbean Championships
2007 2nd Pan American Games
Prepared by Javier Clavelo for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. Copyright IAAF 2008.