|Pole Vault||4.91||Beckum (Jahnstadion)||02 AUG 2015|
|Pole Vault||4.82||Des Moines (Drake Stadium), IA||24 APR 2013|
|2017||4.81||Oslo (Bislett)||15 JUN|
|2016||4.84||Birmingham (Alexander), GBR||05 JUN|
|2015||4.91||Beckum (Jahnstadion)||02 AUG|
|2014||4.70||New York City (Icahn), NY||14 JUN|
|2014||4.70||Roma (Stadio Olimpico)||05 JUN|
|2013||4.90||Hengelo (Blankers-Koen Stadion)||08 JUN|
|2012||4.75||London (Olympic Stadium)||06 AUG|
|2011||4.75||Guadalajara, MEX||24 OCT|
|2010||4.40||La Habana (Estadio Panamericano)||11 FEB|
|2009||4.50||La Habana (Estadio Panamericano)||23 MAY|
|2008||4.50||La Habana||08 FEB|
|2007||4.30||Rio de Janeiro||23 JUL|
|2006||4.20||La Habana||23 FEB|
|2005||4.10||La Habana||20 MAY|
|2004||4.00||La Habana||25 JUN|
|2003||3.60||La Habana||29 MAY|
|2017||4.62||Zürich (Hauptbahnhof)||23 AUG|
|2014||4.70||Sopot (Ergo Arena)||09 MAR|
|2013||4.82||Des Moines (Drake Stadium), IA||24 APR|
|IAAF World Championships London 2017||3||4.65||London (Olympic Stadium)||06 AUG 2017|
|The XXXI Olympic Games||7||4.60||Rio de Janeiro (Estádio Olímpico)||19 AUG 2016|
|15th IAAF World Championships||1||4.90||Beijing (National Stadium)||26 AUG 2015|
|IAAF World Indoor Championships 2014||1||4.70||Sopot (Ergo Arena)||09 MAR 2014|
|14th IAAF World Championships||3||4.82||Moskva (Luzhniki)||13 AUG 2013|
|The XXX Olympic Games||2||4.75||London (Olympic Stadium)||06 AUG 2012|
|IAAF World Indoor Championships 2012||7||4.55||Istanbul (Ataköy Arena)||11 MAR 2012|
|13th IAAF World Championships in Athletics||5||4.70||Daegu (DS)||30 AUG 2011|
|The XXIX Olympic Games||13q1||4.15||Beijing (National Stadium)||16 AUG 2008|
|11th IAAF World Junior Championships||q2||NM||Beijing (Chaoyang Sport Center)||16 AUG 2006|
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.
Updated 28 February 2014
Yarisley SILVA Rodriguez, Cuba (Pole Vault)
Born 1 June 1987, Pinar del Rio
Coach: Alexander Navas
Yarisley Silva has become a household name in women’s Pole Vault following back-to-back medals at the 2012 London Olympics and the 2013 World Championships in Moscow. The young Cuban hopes to continue that streak with another podium performance at the World Indoor Championships in Sopot.
The middle child of three siblings, Silva was born to Jesus Silva Ferrer, a military man and a recreational long distance runner, and Magaly Rodriguez, a former Javelin thrower. Three aunts on her mother’s side practised athletics, including Maria de la Caridad Rodiguez, who introduced her to the sport when she was 9 years old.
While attending Manuel Ascunce elementary school, she contested 300m, the Long Jump and High Jump. Good results led her to the EIDE provincial sports school in Pinar del Rio.
Silva did not know what Pole Vault was when coach Nilo introduced her to the event at 13 years old. She liked it and cleared 2.40 in her first attempt. She improved to 2.50 for silver at the National School Games. A year later, she cleared 3.10 meters to win gold at the National School Games and was promoted to the national junior team in Havana in 2002.
Current coach Alexander Navas was her first trainer in the team and she improved to 3.70 in 2003, two days after taking silver at the National Championships.
During one season, she continued her preparation under former national record holder Angel Garcia and reached four meters in 2004, a Central American and Caribbean junior record. She also collected gold at the National Games.
She returned under Navas’ guidance following the 2004 season and continued to improve her area junior record to 4.10 in 2005 and 4.20 in 2006, a year that marked her first international participation.
Her first experience overseas came at the 2006 Central American and Caribbean Games in Cartagena, Colombia, where she won silver behind countrywoman Maryoris Sanchez. “It was a very positive first experience, being part of a Cuban delegation and winning a medal,” recalled Silva.
Three weeks later, she travelled to Beijing for the World Junior Championships. “My poles did not arrive and I could not do technical work before the competition. A Canadian athlete lent me one a day before the qualification and I did not clear any height,” she commented on her unlucky trip.
After the end of her junior career, Silva took women’s Pole Vault in Cuba to the next level at the 2007 Pan American Games, in Rio de Janeiro, claiming bronze, the first medal by a Cuban pole vaulter at the event. She cleared 4.30 to erase her compatriot Katiuska Perez’s Cuban and Area record of 4.25, set in 2005.
“I could not quite enjoy the Games as I arrived two days before and left on the same night following the competition. But it certainly was an important highlight in my career,” she stated.
Silva has grown as an athlete and before she started to join the world’s elite, she went through difficult years in her career. Highlighting courage as her strongest characteristic in sports, she admits that nerves have betrayed her and lack of confidence during take-off did not allow her to improve much in the following seasons.
In 2008, she achieved the Olympic standard and improved her Area record to 4.50 in her first competition of the year. With no international meets, she remained low par and only managed 4.15 in qualification at the Beijing Games. “I was not prepared psychologically for a world class competition, but seeing the world’s best up close for the first time was a great motivation to aim higher.”
In the next two years, she did not have any competitive opportunities overseas. She remained at the 4.40-4.50 level, claiming the 2009 Central American and Caribbean title, in Havana, as the most important accomplishment.
One important factor changed in 2011: opportunities to compete against top vaulters arrived. After smashing her Area record with a 4.55 clearance early in the season, she was invited to the Diamond League event in Shanghai, where however the result was a disappointing 4.20.
“I left Shanghai limping in my left foot, but I recovered quickly with ice. I had a second chance in Brazil and did not want to miss it.” And she certainly did not, as she cleared 4.60 at the Caixa GP in Rio de Janeiro in a close battle with World indoor champion and local idol Fabiana Murer.
Such a performance opened doors for her first European tour. She equalled her Area record in Velenje and improved it to 4.66 in Barcelona.
A good friend of her coach at the ISN Pamplona Atleticos club in Pamplona, Spain, provided better poles for her and Lazaro Borges and they proved to be crucial for both athletes at the World Championships in Daegu. With two Spirit and two carbon poles, she soared to another Area record with 4.70 to finish fifth in Daegu, while Borges claimed a historic silver.
“I was very nervous the day before qualification and did not sleep at all that night. I fouled in every height, but managed to qualify. In the final, I was more composed and confident. I fouled twice at 4.70, but gave it all and managed to clear in my last attempt. I was ready for 4.80 and I had a good third try, but I had cramps in my calves and could not clear it,” she commented on a long final that propelled her to the world’s elite. “I felt like a champion as well,” Silva said of competing at par with the world’s best. “It was the realisation of my dream and enjoying a moment for which I fought so hard. It is a sensational feeling.”
She capped her best season ever with the much-awaited gold at the Pan American Games, in Guadalajara, clearing another Area record of 4.75 to beat World champion Fabiana Murer of Brazil, who achieved 4.70. Borges completed a historic double win for Cuba in the event four days later.
“It was the most beautiful competition in my life. She cleared and I responded. All other events finished and it came down to the two of us. The crowd was cheering us. Fabiana congratulated me and it was a big win for me,” Silva recalled fondly.
In 2012, she entered her first indoor season and jumped consistently at 4.60-4.72, setting, equalling and improving the Area record four times. She sealed a successful campaign with a seventh place at the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul.
“I loved competing indoors. It is cosier and there is music too in some meets. No wind. It is certainly a good experience.”
In May, she defeated Murer twice in Brazil and set a season’s outdoor best of 4.70 at the Diamond League event in New York. She ended her Olympic preparation with second place at the Diamond League meet in Monaco, facing almost all top Olympic medal contenders.
In London, she peaked when it mattered most. She equalled her Area Record of 4.75 to clinch a historic silver medal, the same height as winner Jenn Suhr of the USA. A failure over her opening height (4.45) separated the top two women.
“Winning silver taught me the value of our daily sacrifice. I confirmed that with dedication, hard work and faith, we can succeed,” reflected Silva on her Olympic success.
More than expecting a medal, “I wanted it so badly. I dreamed of it every day. It was a hard-fought battle with all other athletes, the cold weather and the head wind, but I felt confident and fought until the end,” she continued.
The silver in the British capital was the first medal for a Latin American Pole Vaulter in Olympic history.
Standing on the podium alongside Isinbayeva and Jennifer Suhr “was a dream come true. Every athlete wants an Olympic medal. I am so proud to represent Cuba and win a medal in an event many thought almost impossible. It is one of the most beautiful experiences I had in my life. Truly sensational,” she continued.
After London, “I now feel stronger and more confident because I proved myself that when we set a goal, we can always overcome any obstacles along the way to achieve it.”
Under the guidance of coach Alexander Navas, she has remained consistent and continued to improve in 2013. She has cleared 4.75 or higher eight times during the season, taking her indoor best to 4.82 and her Area Record outdoors to 4.90 in Hengelo to move to the third place on the all-time lists. She is currently leading the 2013 Diamond League standings.
“The 4.90 in Hengelo came as a surprise to me. It was my first meet after arriving from Cuba and was still recovering form jetlag. My consistency is the result of hard work. I keep reminding myself all the obstacles I had to overcome to get to where I am. I try to stay calm before every jump and visualise my technique.”
After a breakthrough fifth place in Daegu and her silver in London, Silva confirmed her world class status with a hard-fought bronze medal at the World Championships in Moscow. She cleared 4.75 in the second attempt and a bronze medal winning height of 4.82 in the third attempt to join World record holder Yelena Isinbayeva (4.89) and Olympic champion Jenn Suhr (4.82) on the podium.
“I felt a certain pressure being the world leader and I was aware many people expected gold. But I was no longer an underdog. That pressure was reflected in a number of failed attempts. But overall, it was a great competition and the hardest I have ever faced. I learned not to give up and fight until the end,” she reflected on her performance in Moscow.
She ended her season with a third place finish at the Diamond League final in Zürich.
Yarisley has set higher goals for 2014, including a third consecutive medal at a global championship in Sopot. Despite some challenges in her preparation, she has been focusing on regaining her hand grip (4.30m). She opened her season with 4.60 in Havana and cleared 4.46 for third in Birmingham in her only indoor outing prior to Sopot.
With a two-week training camp in Pamplona, Silva is confident of producing an outstanding result in Sopot. In the Spanish city, she declared, “I feel like home. I have friends and the necessary conditions to train. I would like to thank the Pamplona Atlético and its president Francisco Hernández for “welcoming and supporting us”.
In her limited spare time, Silva enjoys a well-deserved rest, as well as dancing, reading shopping, reading and visiting her family in Pinar del Rio at least once a month from her training base in Havana. “If I was not a Pole Vaulter, I would have been a dancer.”
Outside of the track, “I am an ordinary girl of my age. I have taken fame simply. People respect your space. Fame in Cuba is very rewarding because it gives you a lot of strength to know that many people believe in you.”
Silva graduated in Physical education on 31 May 2013, one day before her birthday. She is also inspiring a new generation of young Cuban athletes wanting to take on the Pole Vault under the leadership of her coach.
Pole Vault: 4.90 (2013) 4.82i (2013) Area Records
Triple Jump: 12.07 (2003)
2001-2.50, 2002-3.10, 2003-3.70, 2004-4.00 AJR, 2005-4.10 AJR, 2006-4.20 AJR, 2007-4.30 AR, 2008-4.50 AR, 2009-4.50 AR, 2010-4.40, 2011-4.75A AR, 2012-4.75/4.72i; 2013-4.90 AR/4.82i AR; 2014-4.60/4.46i
National Championships, Havana
National Games, Havana
National Championships, Havana
National Championships, Havana
Central American and Caribbean Games, Cartagena
World Junior Championships, Beijing
Pan American Games, Rio de Janeiro
Olympic Games, Beijing
Central American and Caribbean Championships, Havana
World Championships, Daegu
Pan American Games, Guadalajara
World Indoor Championships, Istanbul
Olympic Games, London
World Championships, Moscow
Prepared by Javier Clavelo for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. © IAAF 2012-2014