Cuban long jumper Ivan Pedroso in action at the 2001 IAAF World Championships in Edmonton (Getty Images) © Copyright
Series

High and low – Ivan Pedroso

Winner of nine world titles – four outdoors and five indoors – Ivan Pedroso is one of the greatest long jumpers of all time. The 2000 Olympic champion from Cuba recounts the highs and lows from his outstanding career.

 

High

I have many fond memories, but the one that stands out was the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney.

I’ll never forget the head-to-head competition with Australia’s Jai Taurima there. We both fouled in the first round but I took the lead in round two with 8.34m. Jai matched that jump in round three but moved into the lead on countback.

Ivan Pedroso in action at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney (Getty Images)Ivan Pedroso in action at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney (Getty Images) © Copyright

 

I then jumped 8.41m in the next round and Jai nearly matched it with 8.40m. He then went back into the lead in round five with 8.49m but I jumped 8.55m in the final round to take the gold medal.

My mother, who was my No.1 fan, had passed away earlier that year. I was thinking of her throughout the Olympic final, which helped to push me to fight until the end. To get the medal in the final round made it even more emotional.


Low

The 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta was the worst moment of my career.

As a teenager in 1992, I had finished fourth at the Olympic Games in Barcelona. Going into the 1996 season as the reigning world indoor and outdoor champion, I had high hopes of making it on to the podium.

Unfortunately I ended up missing the whole of the outdoor season that year through injury. I was still determined to compete at the Olympic Games and I made it through qualifying, but then finished 12th in the final with 7.75m.

It was very, very difficult for me to have such a bad competition on the biggest stage.

The other disappointing moment of my career happened in 1995 at a competition in Sestriere, Italy.

I jumped 8.96m that day, one centimetre farther than the world record, and the jump had a following wind of 1.2m/s. I, and everyone else, was under the impression I had broken the world record.

Ivan Pedroso after jumping 8.96m in Sestriere (Getty Images)Ivan Pedroso after jumping 8.96m in Sestriere (Getty Images) © Copyright

 

But one month later I was informed that my mark could not be submitted for ratification because someone had been stood too close to the wind gauge during the competition, making my jumps unratifiable.

So much hard work and training goes into producing a performance like that, so to lose out on a world record was very frustrating.

The one saving grace was that I was still very young, 22, when this happened and I knew I still had my whole career ahead of me. I went on to win nine world titles and the Olympic title, but the feelings of pain from missing out on the world record still lingers to this day.

Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF