After much speculation and rumour in the last few months, Ivan Pedroso, who will turn 35-years-old on 17 December, has officially confirmed his retirement after an illustriously successful career.
The Cuban has certainly left his trademark as one of the greatest long jumpers of all-time with an illustrious CV that includes nine World titles and the Olympic gold in Sydney 2000.
As a tribute to Pedroso, the following summary highlights his ups and downs and some of the key dates in his athletic life.
Pedroso has entered a new phase as an athletics official, joining the Cuban team currently training in Guatemala. He is enjoying his new role and enjoying a special week as his son turned 7 on Friday (14) and Pedroso himself will be 35 on Monday (17).
Born on December 17, 1972 in Havana, Iván Lázaro Pedroso Soler took up the sport as a middle distance runner, under the aegis of his first coach José Viera. The latter recommended him to former long jumper Milán Matos, who met him at the Cerro Pelado EIDE Sports School in Havana.
Matos discovered the young kid's potential for the long jump and that was the beginning of a long-standing coach-athlete relationship that rendered outstanding results.
He entered the national lists in 1988, at the age of 15, with 7.43. Matos was transferred to the athletic academy in the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba and Pedroso followed him.
He made his international debut in 1990 with a silver medal at the CAC Junior Championships in Havana, followed by his first experience overseas with a 4 th place at the World Junior Champs in Plovdiv.
Pedroso has the most impressive pedigree of any long jumper in the history of the World Championships, his achievements only overshadowed by the duel between USA's Mike Powell and Carl Lewis in Tokyo'91, where the former bettered the World record.
The Cuban maintained his string of five indoor and four indoor consecutive victories from 1993 to 2001. Indoors, he went undefeated in Toronto'93, Barcelona'95, Paris'97, Maebashi'99 and Lisbon’01.
In Maebashi, he leapt 8.62 in the last round to overtake Spain's Yago Lamela (8.56) and move to the second place on the all-time indoor lists.
Oudoors, he missed the 1993 final through injury, but dominated in Göteborg'95, Athens'97, Sevilla'99 and Edmonton 2001.
He was honoured during the opening ceremony of the 2005 World Champs in Helsinki as one of the most decorated athletes in the IAAF's premier event.
Pedroso made his Olympic debut at the age of 19 with a fourth place in Barcelona 1992, behind Americans Carl Lewis, Mike Powell and Joe Greene. In Atlanta'96, he could not recover from hamstring surgery and only managed to finished 12th in the final.
Four years later, Pedroso finally enjoyed the Olympic glory after beating Australia's Jay Taurima in an epic battle. Taurima moved to 1st in the last round with a personal best of 8.49m, but the Cuban showed his stamina in front of a 100,000 plus crowd and landed at 8.55m before he started crying with joy.
There were mixed feeling for the Cuban in 2000, who became a father but also lost his mom in the same Olympic year.
He finished 7th in Athens 2004 and was aiming to attend his fifth Olympics in Beijing 2008 before making his decision to retire.
In his extensive and successful career, Pedroso also claimed three Pan American Games titles and the CAC Games gold in Maracaibo, as well as two Goodwill Games crowns in 1998 and 2001.
At the Pan American Games in Mar del Plata'95, he had a narrow foul at 9.03m at the 1995 Pan-American Games.
He lived his best season in 1995 when he jumped his two legal 8.70 leaps and reached 8.96 at high altitude Sestriere. This was shown to have a wind of just 1.2 m/s, but the mark was not recognised as a World record after irregularities with the operation of the gauge
In the 1993-2000, he only suffered 10 losses: five vs. Jamaica's James Beckford, four vs. USA's Mike Powell and one to Bulgaria's Ivalo Mladenov.
The saddest day for him could be said to have been 9 March 1996 a cold afternoon in Havana, when he sustained a hamstring injury on his first attempt while competing at the National Champs. That took him out of contention for the 1996 Olympics.
Many believe that serious injury, which forced him to undergo surgery, prevented him from becoming the first man to break the nine metre barrier.
Pedroso vs. Lewis and Powell
As of 2007, Pedroso ranks seventh on the all-time lists with a Central American and Caribbean record of 8.71, set in Salamanca, on July 18, 1995.
He also established a record of 18 consecutive seasons jumping over eight meters, from 1990 to 2007.
He leads all jumpers with most leaps over 8.40 (56), second over 8.50 (30), 8.60 (11) and 8.70 (2).
He faced World record holder Mike Powell 11 times, with seven wins for the American. Pedroso's all four wins came in 1995, including the World Champs in Gothenburg.
He only competed twice with Carl Lewis, who prevailed at the 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games.
Pedroso has an average of 8.63m, only behind Carl Lewis (8.78) and ahead of Powell (8.61) and Larry Myricks (8.59).
Pedroso last competed at the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, last July. On a rainy night, he failed to defend his three consecutive continental titles and was knocked off the podium in the last round. His 7.86m was insufficient to grant him his eighth consecutive World Championship appearance.
Less charismatic than other Cuban greats like Javier Sotomayor and Ana Fidelia Quirot, Pedroso made millions of Cubans proud of his achievements and gave his people and thousands of fans worldwide countless of happy days to remember. Thanks Pedroso!
Javier Clavelo Robinson for the IAAF
with contributions from Eddy Nápoles
2007 4th Pan American Games
2006 2nd Central American and Caribbean Games
2004 7th Olympic Games
2004 3rd Iberoamerican Championships
2004 8th World Indoor Championships
2003 1st Pan American Games
2002 2nd World Cup
2001 1st Goodwill Games
2001 1st World Championships
2001 1st World Indoor Championships
2000 1st Olympic Games
1999 1st Grand Prix Final
1999 1st World Championships
1999 1st Pan American Games
1999 1st World Indoor Championships
1998 1st World Cup
1998 1st Central American and Caribbean Games
1998 1st Goodwill Games
1997 1st IAAF Grand Prix Final
1997 1st World Championships
1997 1st World University Games
1997 1st Central American and Caribbean Championships
1997 1st World Indoor Championships
1996 12th Olympic Games
1995 1st IAAF Grand Prix Final
1995 1st World Championships
1995 1st Pan American Games
1995 1st World Indoor Championships
1993 1st World Indoor Championships
1992 1st World Cup
1992 4th Olympic Games
1992 1st Iberoamerican Championships
1991 3rd Pan American Games
1991 1st Pan American Junior Championships
1990 4th World Junior Championships
1990- 2nd Central American and Caribbean Junior Championships
1988-7.43, 1989-7.43, 1990-8.06, 1991-8.22, 1992-8.53/8.79w, 1993-8.49, 1994-8.26!/8.16, 1995-8.71/8.96aw, 1996-8.46!/8.32, 1997-8.63, 1998-8.54 , 1999-8.54, 2000-8.65, 2001-8.43!/8.40, 2002-8.30, 2003-8.31, 2004-8.23, 2005-8.22, 2006-8.15, 2007-8.15
Best jumps in each round
1- 8.68 Lisbon, 17.06.1995
2- 8.71 Salamanca, 18.07.1995
3- 8.60 Praga, 10.06.1997
4- 8.66 Linz, 22.08.1995)
5- 8.55 Bad Cannstatt, 09.07.1995
6- 8.62 Maebashi, 07.03.1999
All his competitions over 8.50
8.71 Salamanca 18.07.1995
8.70 Göteborg 12.08.1995
8.68 Lisboa 17.06.1995
8.66 Linz 22.08.1995
8.65 Jena 03.06.2000
8.63 Padova 08.06.1997
8.60 Zürich 16.08.1995
8.60 Praha 10.06.1997
8.60 Padova 26.06.1999
8.59 Padova 16.07.1995
8.59 Tokyo 15.09.1995
8.59 Stockholm 07.07.1997
8.58 Monaco 25.07.1995
8.56 Lausanne 05.07.1995
8.56 Linz 09.07.1997
8.56 Sevilla 28.08.1999
8.55 Bad Cannstatt 09.07.1995
8.55 Sydney 28.09.2000
8.54 São Paulo 14.05.1995
8.54 Uniondale, NY 20.07.1998
8.53 Sevilla 17.07.1992
8.53 Fukuoka 13.09.1997