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Updated 04 September 2010
Yipsi MORENO Gonzalez, Cuba (Hammer Throw)
Born 19 November 1980, Camagüey
1.68m / 70kg
Coach: Eladio Hernández
Manager: Javier Sotomayor
The youngest of five sisters, Yipsi Moreno started athletics at the age of six, when a physical education teacher discovered her aptitude for sports. She is the only child of the marriage between her mother, Mercedes, a designer, and her father, Rene, a linotypist, but she has four half-sisters from their parents´ previous marriages.
Rene practised baseball and karate, but never competitively, while one of Yipsi´s sisters, Aida, is a former basketball player who reached the national junior level. Moreno was recruited by the Cerro Pelado Sports School, in Camagüey, 535km east of Havana and that meant leaving home at the age of 11.
As is traditional among young people in athletics in Cuba, Moreno started in the combined events and specialists noticed her potential in the throwing disciplines. Raul Abreu became her first throwing coach and at first she trained in the Shot and the Discus. But, when the Hammer was introduced in Cuba in 1993, she took up the new implement at the age 14 and produced a 48 metres throw in her first national competition.
The following year, Moreno improved her PB by five metres (53.96) and joined the national junior team in 1996. In 1997, she achieved her first international victory when claiming the Pan American Junior title, in Havana, followed by fourth place at the 1998 World Junior Championships, in Annecy, France.
In 1999, Moreno broke the World Junior record with a 66.34 effort in Mexico City, on 29 May, but her mark stood for only 13 days. Still a junior, she secured the silver medal at the Pan American Games later that year, but failed to qualify (18th) for the final at the 1999 World Championships, in Sevilla. This did not shake her determination, and, upon returning from Sevilla, Moreno told her parents “I will be World champion and I hope to win as soon as in Edmonton.”
Moreno improved to the fourth place at the 2000 Olympics, in Sydney, before her surprising win at the 2001 World Championships in Edmonton, just a few months after breaking the 70m barrier for the first time. Later that month, she clinched the silver medal at the World University Games, in Beijing.
Second place at the 2002 World Cup, in Madrid, preceded her second consecutive World crown, in Paris in 2003, after which she declared, “I was happy for Cuba and my family. This victory has a taste of glory, the best reward for all the effort made with my coach Eladio Hernández, who worked hard to help me achieve my goals. I tried to break the World record and started well, but it was not the day.”
When reaching the top podium position in the French capital, Moreno equalled her compatriot and former 800m star Ana Fidelia Quirot as the only Latin American woman to claim two World titles. (Another Cuban, World record holder and Olympic gold medallist, Osleidys Menendez, joined the roll call in Helsinki 2005.)
“It is an honour,” Moreno said. “She (Quirot) has great merits and we have just been following her footsteps. She is an inspiration to every sportsman or woman in Cuba.” Moreno concluded her 2003 season with a win at the World Athletics Final, in Monaco, and was elected the best Cuban sportswoman of the year.
In 2004, Moreno improved her Area record to 75.18 at the 2nd National Olympics, in Havana, and was beaten by only Russia’s Olga Kuzenkova in an epic final in the Olympic Games in Athens. The silver was Moreno’s first Olympic medal.
After recovering from a foot injury, Moreno proved her competitive stamina when placing second at the 2005 World Championships, in Helsinki, and obtaining a convincing win in the 2005 World Athletics Final, in Monaco, to move back to the No. 1 spot in the IAAF Event World Rankings.
Moreno maintained her stronghold on the World Rankings for most of 2006, until 15 August, when she lost the No.1 place to Russia’s new World record holder, Tatyana Lysenko. She achieved her first Central American and Caribbean crown in Cartagena, Colombia, and finished third at the IAAF World Athletics Final, in Stuttgart, and the World Cup, in Athens.
After recovering from physical problems, Moreno made much-awaited progress as she improved her Area record twice, to 76.36, and went on to become the first Latin American woman to win four consecutive World Championships medals as she finished runner-up in Osaka. She threw 74.74, just 2cm distant from Germany’s World champion, Betty Heidler.
In 2008, Moreno threw 75 metres twice in February, prior to a one-month European campaign, when she won three of her four competitions, including a massive 76.16 in Ostrava, close to her Area record of 76.36, set in 2007.
With the Beijing Olympics in mind, Moreno said, “I am taking these Games as a celebration, I want to enjoy every minute of them. Of course, I will do my best and I am in a position to stay on the podium.”
The 2005 and 2007 World Championships runner-up returned to the Beijing, where she ad claimed the silver medal at the 2001 World University Games. “I loved China but I don’t have many memories. I was still ecstatic just days after winning my first World title in Edmonton. I am more experienced now and I would like to see more of China.”
She fought once again for the gold medal. Only Belarus’ Aksana Miankova had a better day on 20 August, setting an Olympic record of 76.34. The Cuban also eclipsed the previous Olympic standard and closed her series with a season’s best of 75.20.
“I fought till the end and I am very happy with my performance. I want to be in London and aim for that elusive gold”, she said then.
Almost three weeks later, Moreno proved she had more in her arms as she released the 4kg implement to a new Area record of 76.62m in Zagreb, before clinching her fourth World Athletics Final win in Stuttgart.
She then focused on her personal life. In November, she married boyfriend Abdel Munguía, a 28-year-old physical education teacher and former 62m Hammer thrower, who won silver at the 1996 CAC Junior and the 1997 Pan Am Junior Champs. They have enjoyed a beautiful relationship since 1996.
She took a maternity leave in 2009 to give birth to her baby Abdel in August. Back to training in 2010, she did not set high goals for her comeback year.
“It was a very well-thought decision and I needed it. I am feeling new. This adrenaline is so important for high performance. He is my main motivation now,” she reflected on her motherhood.
She chose Halle as the venue for her return to competition on 15 May, and threw 69.63, followed by the national title in Havana a week later. She did not score at the Ibero American Championships in San Fernando, but successively surpassed the 71m barrier two times in Spain, before unleashing a massive 75.19 at the Znamensky Memorial, in Zhukovskiy, on 26June. She backed it up with a 73.66m win in Reims four days later.
“I could not believe I could throw this far so soon. It came in the first round and I did not even react as I usually do after a far throw. I stayed over 73m on that day and realised I was already back with the world’s best,” she commented on her surprising performance in the Russian city.
After a pause in July, she returned to Europe for three more appearances, and produced her second farthest mark of the season with 73.78 in Rieti. Such consistency earned her a spot in the Americas Team for the inaugural IAAF Continental Cup after contesting the World Cups in 2002 and 2006.
“I am surprised and happy. I was not expecting to be here. I did not think I would go this far in my comeback year. I look forward to having fun and representing Team Americas. I love competing in Croatia. It is here that I achieved my best result (76.62) in 2008. I have been consistent over 73 meters. I have gained more confidence in myself and take things more calmly,” stated the multi-medallist Cuban.
“I have proven I am back among the world’s best. One of the reasons for my comeback is to win the Olympic gold in 2012. I hope my baby will be very proud of me. This is the first time I am away from him but I have found great support from my husband and mom. I look forward to a well deserved holiday together after Split,” she added.
She had finished second at the 2002 World Cup in Madrid, followed by a third place performance in Athens 2006.
Moreno’s coach, Hernandez, a 73.44 Hammer thrower in 1993, is a key figure in her success. They started working together in 1998, after the World Junior Championships, and he improved her basic training methods to a more comprehensive programme. His working schedule includes training twice a day with Sunday as a rest day.
Moreno has completed, her educational commitments, having graduated from the Manuel Fajardo University of Sports and Physical Education. Since she entered the national team in 1996, her free time has been limited. “It is a great sacrifice but I love the sport and it has been worthwhile,” she said.
76.62 (2008) Area Record
1996-53.94; 1997-61.96; 1998-61.00; 1999-66.34; 2000-69.36; 2001-70.65; 2002-71.47; 2003-75.14; 2004-75.18; 2005-74.95; 2006-74.69; 2007-76.36; 2008-76.62, 2010-75.19
1997 1st Pan American Junior Championships
1998 2nd Ibero American Championships
1998 4th World Junior Championships
1999 2nd Pan American Games
2000 4th Olympic Games
2001 1st World Championships
2001 2nd World University Games
2002 2nd World Cup
2003 1st Pan American Games
2003 1st World Championships
2003 1st World Athletics Final
2004 1st Ibero American Championships
2004 2nd Olympic Games
2005 2nd World Championships
2005 1st World Athletics Final
2006 1st Central American and Caribbean Games
2006 3rd World Athletics Final
2006 3rd World Cup
2007 2nd World Championships
2007 1st World Athletics Final
2008 2nd Olympic Games
2008 1st World Athletics Final
Prepared by Javier Clavelo for the IAAF ‘Focus on Athletes’ project. © IAAF 2007-2010.