Five days after celebrating her 34th birthday, Cuba’s three-time world hammer champion Yipsi Moreno brought to an end her outstanding career on Monday (24).
She did so in style, too, after winning the gold medal at the Central American and Caribbean Games in Veracruz, Mexico, smashing her own Games record with a season’s best of 71.35m.
Incredibly, it was the 142nd competition in which she has thrown beyond 70 metres.
“There’s no turning back now, I’m retiring,” Moreno told local reporters. “I’m very happy with this result and I want to retire while I’m still throwing well.
“I’m very excited to bow out by giving one more medal to the people of Cuba,” she added. “This means so much to me, I can’t describe it.”
Moreno first picked up the hammer in 1993, when the women’s event was very much still in its infancy. She went on to finish fourth at the 1998 IAAF World Junior Championships, and then made the final of the 1999 IAAF World Championships. Earlier that year, she had set a world junior record of 66.34m.
While still a teenager, she placed fourth at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Less than a year later, she became world champion when winning in Edmonton with a throw of 70.65m, a personal best at the time.
She successfully defended her title two years later, winning in Paris with 73.33m, and picked up another gold medal from the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki, becoming the first Latin-American woman to win three world titles.
Moreno came close to making it a fourth world title in Osaka in 2007, but missed out on the gold medal by the narrow margin of two centimetres.
She took two successive silver medals at the Olympic Games in 2004 and 2008. Three weeks after making the podium in Beijing, she set a lifetime best and area record of 76.62m.
In November that year, she married her long-time partner Abdel Munguia and in August 2009 she gave birth to their son, also called Abdel.
Upon her return to competition, she bounced back to top form and in 2011 she won her third successive Pan-American Games title with a Games record of 75.62m.
She continued to be a major factor in global finals, finishing fourth at the 2011 World Championships, sixth at the Olympics in 2012, and sixth at the 2013 World Championships.
Not counting her pregnancy break in 2009, Moreno made the hammer final at 11 consecutive global championships, putting together a string of six podium places between 2001 and 2008.
“Being an athlete is a great sacrifice,” she was once quoted as saying. “But I love the sport and it has been worthwhile.”
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF