Updated 28 February 2008
Yoel HERNANDEZ Reyes, Cuba (110m hurdles)
Born 12 December 1977, Manacas, Villa Clara, 1.84m/77kg
Manager: Javier Sotomayor/Jesús Molina; Coach: Santiago Antunez
In a country which has produced three of the world’s most talented sprint hurdlers of recent times - Anier Garcia and Dayron Robles are the other two – Cuba’s Yoel Hernandez has developed a notable career over the barriers.
Hernandez took up athletics in his spare time in his native town in 1988 and his physical education teacher soon discovered his speed, developing him into a competitive sprinter at the National Youth Games. In 1993, he joined the national junior team and learned from experienced hurdlers such as World Championships finalists, Emilio Valle and Erick Batte.
In 1994 Hernandez reached the semi-finals of the World Junior Championships, in Lisbon, and a year later broke the 14-seconds barrier, going on to win the Central American and Caribbean Junior and World Junior titles in 1996. These results thrust him into the national senior team before the age of 19.
Hernandez made huge progress in 1999 when he emerged on the international scene with the silver medal at the Pan American Games, in Winnipeg, where he ran a PB 13.24. He regards Winnipeg as one of the most important achievements in his career. In the same year, he was sixth at the World Championships, in Sevilla.
He equalled his PB a year later but failed to qualify for the final at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. In 2001, he came close to the medals with fifth place at the World Indoor Championships, in Lisbon, and fourth at the World outdoors, in Edmonton.
Overshadowed by Garcia, the 2000 Olympic champion, Hernandez had to wait a few years to enjoy new international victories at the 2004 Ibero-American Championships, in Spain, and the 2005 Central American and Caribbean Championships, in Nassau.
In 2006, Robles emerged as the island’s new hurdling star, but Hernandez maintained a consistent performance and finished third at the Central American and Caribbean Games in Cartagena, Colombia. In 2007, after years trying to lower his PB of 13.24 from 1999, he finally managed it with 13.23, in Athens, in July. He secured his second Pan American Games medal with the bronze in Rio de Janeiro, but failed to reach his fourth World Championships final, in Osaka.
Hernandez goes into the 2008 World Indoor Championships, in Valencia, having run three finals in his four World Indoor Championships so far. With a gradual performance this winter, Hernandez has what it takes to make it again among the top eight, as he did in 2001 and 2004.
Athletics is his family’s favourite sport as Yoel has two brothers - Ernesto and Olelaisis - who also practise track and field. He is married to the Olympian and former 400m runner, Idalmis Bonne, and the couple have one child.
110m hurdles: 13.23 (2007), 60m hurdles: 7.40 (2000)
1994 - 14.20; 1995 - 13.81; 1996 - 13.81/13.72w; 1997 - 13.70; 1998 - 13.45; 1999 -13.24; 2000 - 13.24/13.20w; 2001 - 13.30; 2002 - 13.30; 2003 - 13.49; 2004 -13.29/13.28w; 2005 - 13.39/13.32w; 2006 - 13.39; 2007 - 13.23.
2000 - 7.45; 2000 - 7.40; 2001 - 7.58; 2002 - 7.56; 2003 - 7.57; 2004 - 7.59; 2005 -7.71; 2006 - 7.62; 2008 - 7.60.
1996 1st Central American and Caribbean Junior Championships
1996 1st World Junior Championships
1999 2nd Pan American Games
1999 6th World Championships
2001 5th World Indoor Championships
2001 4th World Championships
2003 7th World Championships
2004 7th World Indoor Championships
2004 1st Ibero-American Championships
2005 1st Central American and Caribbean Championships
2006 8th World Indoor Championships
2006 3rd Central American and Caribbean Games
2007 3rd Pan American Games
Prepared by Javier Clavelo for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. Copyright IAAF 2008.