Updated 20 August 2007
Yeimer LOPEZ Garcia, Cuba (800m)
Born 28 August 1982
Buey Arriba, Granma 1.85m 78kg
Manager: Javier Sotomayor/Jesús Molina
Coach: Amarilis Hernández
Considered at home as one of the most talented Cuban runners to step on a track in the last few years, Yeimer Lopez is in a solid position to excel at the world level. And the World Championships, in Osaka, is a good opportunity to make the decisive leap after he produced a commanding race to win the Pan American Games, in Rio de Janeiro, in 1:44.58 this season.
Lopez took up athletics at the age of 10, but lost motivation and quit four years later. However, his twin sister, Ana, carried on and her 200m bronze medal at the 1999 World Youth Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, prompted him to return to the sport at the age of 17.
Two years later, Lopez joined the national team and made his first impact on home soil when achieving the 400m/800m double at the National Olympics in 2002, including a promising 45.42 over the one-lap race. In 2003, he won his first international medal when second in the 400m at the Pan American Games, in Santo Domingo, with 45.11. He went on to reach the semi-finals in his debut at the World Championships, in Paris, in 2003.
Although Lopez ran some 800m races, he focused on the one-lap race and reached the semi-finals on his Olympic debut in Athens in 2004. In 2005, he gave the 800m a try and won the Central American and Caribbean Championships in Nassau and improved his best to 1:46.61. But a poor outing took him out of contention in the first round of the World Championships in Helsinki.
Lopez returned to the 400m in 2006 and enjoyed his first international victory at the Central American and Caribbean Games in Cartagena, Colombia. In 2007, he focused again on the two laps and posted four races in the 1:46-1:47 range as a preparation for the Pan American Games.
On a rainy final in Rio, Lopez was propelled by Brazilians Kleberson Davide and Fabiano Peçanha as well as Canada’s defending champion Achraf Tadili, before launching an impressive quarter miler attack to cross the finish line in 1:44.58, two seconds faster than his previous best, for a new Pan American Games record.
“Things turned out in my favour,” Lopez said. “It was a fast race and that helped me clock a fast time. I have been waiting for this time. My room-mate Guillermo (Martinez) boosted my confidence ahead of the Rio final.”
The time ranks him third in the Cuban all-time lists, confirming him as a top contender in Osaka. “I am very motivated and more mature for my third World Championships. My training has gone well and my goal is to reach the final. Once there, anything can happen. I look forward to racing with the world’s best.”
Lopez trains under the guidance of Amarilis Hernandez, who led Norberto Tellez to the silver medal at the 1997 World Championships and the national record of 1:42.85 at the 1996 Olympics. Off the track, Lopez is a quiet person and prefers to spend time with his girlfriend, 2005 CAC Pole Vault champion Katiuska Lopez.
400m: 2001-47.51; 2002-45.42; 2003-45.11; 2004-45.21; 2005-45.19; 2006-45.24; 2007-46.50.
800m: 2001-1:50.75; 2002-1:47.2, 2003-1:47.94; 2005-1:46.61, 2006-1:48.92; 2007-1:44.58
400m: 45.11 (2003)
800m: 1:44.58 (2007)
2005 1st Central American and Caribbean Championships
2007 1st Pan American Games
2003 2nd Pan American Games
2006 1st Central American and Caribbean Games
Prepared by Javier Clavelo for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. © IAAF 2007.