Oddly enough, Cuban long jumper Juan Miguel Echevarría (August 11, 1998) —one of the greatest talents in today’s World Athletics— faced troubles in long-distance and middle-distance races as part of combinado-1 (a group of events which include races and horizontal jumps). That is why his trainers back then, luckily, decided to try him only in the jump area, where his results caught the attention of professor Juan Goalberto Napoles, trainer in the national team.
Today, despite having only 20 years old, Daniel Osorio’s disciple is a much focused, responsible athlete who trains hard every day at the Estadio Panamericano (Pan American Stadium), aware of the importance of his sacrifice to get future positive results.
Without being dazzled by his world indoor title in Birmingham 2018 with 8.46m, he granted an interview to CubaSí and he talked about the “bittersweet” 2018 season as well as future ambitions, marked by his upcoming debut, on February 2, at the IAAF Indoor Meeting to be held in Karlsruhe, Germany, where he won with 7.97m in the previous indoor season. This year, Germany will be Echeverria’s main training camp:
2018 became your breakthrough season despite you had an injury at the end of the year, which impeded you to compete in both Barranquilla and the final stages of the Diamond League. Please, would you give us your personal assessment?
Generally speaking, my season was excellent. I am very happy with the results despite the injury and interruptions. I am 100% now physically. I am having normal training sessions to face the upcoming indoor season. It has been a progressive training since I got back in September. That is why I firmly believe 2019 will be a positive year as well, especially if I go step by step as we have done so far while planning my training.
We would be talking about two major event this summer. Beyond your almost certain participation in the Diamond League and now the indoor season; in your perspective, how would you foresee these two scenarios?
I have to improve a lot technically. I am young. I am just 20. Hence, there are so many things I have to improve yet. First, I need to improve my run-up. Then, I will try to improve every detail allowing me to reach Tokyo 2020 in perfect shape.
According to your physical characteristics, where does your strength lie while jumping?
I am fast in the run-up even though I have to improve it as I told you before. My power lies in the run-up and flight path during the jumps. My run-up is composed of 17 strides with a previous approach of three or four short strides, and then I take off with the right leg.
Osorio points out important subjects
Having an athlete in the elite is far from being easy. That is why Daniel Osorio, trainer of Juan Miguel and also Technical Chief of the track and field in Cuba, began his assessment by highlighting that the priority was to maintain what have been achieved so far; namely, the run-up and its relation with the take-off and the technique while flying.
Juan Miguel is doing something pretty good in his flight path. Two movements or two and a half movements (known as hitch kick), similar style to that of Ivan Pedroso and other iconic long jumpers. We are trying hard to improve this element he controlled last season.
Despite some issues with the track and the consequent delay due to this fact, we had to look for alternatives in our daily training.
Any different run-up approach to that of 2018?
Not at all. You never change what is working. He still works with the 17 stride run-up. Although we really count the strides from the official race which has a 41-42m long with the right leg to take off. We are in that stage now, improving the run-up to get the most distance possible from the jump. We talk about security and accuracy to partner them with the physical training.
By the way, was the lack of physical training the cause of the injury?
It is still difficult for us to talk about the injury since we could find a viable explanation. We are making emphasis on the therapeutic side and I can confirm we did a great job last season in this regard. In fact, his recovery was fast.
The physiotherapist is working with him and is helping a lot. Everything is going perfect.
Despite being now in the starting point, are the expectations high for Lima (Pan American Games) and the IAAF World Championship in Doha?
Yes. We are morally committed with the sport and the people. We believed in our work but the bittersweet feeling is still there. Therefore, we are going hard after the results we want.
The present indoor tour for the long jumper includes stages in Torun (Poland), Birmingham (UK), and Dusseldorf (Germany). Other indoor meetings can be added in Europe.
Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Diaz/ CubaSi Translation Staff