Cuban Jumper Echavarria in the Muller Anniversary Games

Cuban male long jumper Juan Miguel Echavarria will join the farewell to British athletics legend Greg Rutherford during the 2018 edition of the Muller Anniversary Games in the London Stadium on July 21 and 22.

Echevarria will join other atletes, such as 2016 Olympic Champion Jeff Henderson (USA) and outdoors current World Champion Luvo Manyonga (South Africa), in a competition that will serve as a farewell to Greg Rutherford, who is the 2012 Olympic Champion since the edition in London.

Echevarria, the revelation of Cuban athletics, and number one of the 2018 world ranking will star another competition against Manyonga, who has seen how the Cuban jumper has taken the ranking for surprise.

In March, Juan Miguel took the gold medal in the World Indoor Championship, beating Manyonga, and since then he has continued to take bigger and bigger jumps.

During the stoppage of the Diamond League in Stockholm, held earlier this month, Echavarría stretched to 8.83 meters, the longest jump since 1995 in any condition.

The record could not be homologated in the record books when carried out with wind in favor of 2.1 meters per second, one tenth over what was admitted.

A week later in Ostrava, Czech Republic, Echevarría was again impressive when anchoring his spikes at 8.66 meters.

If the Cuban continues in this way it is likely that the world record of Mike Powell of 8.95 meters, dating from 1991, will be broken.

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Battling unseasonably chilly conditions, Juan Miguel Echevarria followed up on his breakthrough performance in Stockholm with a commanding performance at the 57th edition of the Golden Spike, an IAAF World Challenge Meeting, in Ostrava, Czech Republic on Wednesday (13).

The 19-year-old emerged as one of the meeting’s primary attractions after his wind-assisted 8.83m leap in the Swedish capital, and he lived up admirably to the expectations heaped upon him over the ensuing three days.

He immediately dispensed with the 8.35m meeting record set by Cuban great Ivan Pedroso almost 20 years ago to the day, opening the competition with an 8.40m (-1.0m/s) leap. He improved to 8.54m (0.3m/s) in the second round and to 8.66m (1.0m/s) in the third, a leap landing him equal 10th among jumpers all time.

He passed on his fourth jump, hit 8.54m again in round five before ending the night, and the meeting, with a dazzlingly long foul. The crowd cheered, and he bowed, a post-meet ritual we may be getting used to.

“All my attempts were very consistent and seeing all the people cheering for us made me really happy, their support and interest in the long jump is great,” said the young Cuban, whose previous lifetime wind-legal best was 8.53m set late last month in Rome. What’s next?

“Being the world leader is strange to me because I’m still so young. I think I have a lot more ahead of me. People are already asking about breaking the world record. I can’t say if that can happen this year or in the coming ones, but I believe it is possible though.”

World champion Luvo Manyonga was second at 8.31m and his South African compatriot Ruswahl Samaai third with 8.15m.


Meanwhile, as a chill descended rapidly on Mestsky Stadium, the host venue of the IAAF Continental Cup Ostrava 2018 in September, the high jump rivalry between Qatari Mutaz Barshim and Danil Lysenko offered another dramatic chapter.

Mutaz Barshim after his 2.38m clearance in Ostrava (Pavel Lebeda/organisers)Mutaz Barshim after his 2.38m clearance in Ostrava (Pavel Lebeda/organisers) © Copyright

Lysenko, competing as an authorised neutral athlete, took command after a first attempt clearance at 2.34m, a meeting record and season’s best for the 21-year-old world indoor champion. Barshim missed, passed to 2.36m, and missed again. Lysenko went clear on his second try, forcing Barshim up against a wall as the bar was raised to 2.38m with just one jump left.

After a miss by Lysenko, Barshim prepped by first quietening the raucous crowd behind him, then leading them in a slow, steady clap. As the tempo increased and fuelled by the make-or-break pressure, Barshim confidently bounded across the apron, lifted powerfully and sailed clear, punching at the darkening skies through the misty rain for added effect as he bounced off the landing pit. 

“I needed time to wake up,” said Barshim, the world leader at 2.40m. “I was down to one jump, and it was either win or lose. My coach said to jump 2.36m but I felt that I needed more pressure so went for 2.38m. And that woke me up.”


The highlight on the track came in the Zatopek memorial 3000m where 18-year-old Ethiopian Selemon Barega won his third race of the season in as many appearances.

In style and fashion similar to his world-leading 5000m run in Stockholm last Sunday, Barega again out-sprinted Birhanu Balew of Bahrain en route to a 7:37.53 personal best. Balew was a couple steps behind in 7:38.25 with Ethiopian Haile Tilahun third in 7:38.55. The first six across the line all clocked lifetime bests.

Elsewhere on the middle distance programme, Norah Jeruto took a clear victory in a largely solo effort in the women’s 3000m steeplechase in 9:11.33, clipping more than six seconds from the meeting record set by Milcah Chemos five years ago. Ugandan Peruth Chemutai was second in 9:16.89, an improvement of more than six seconds for the rising 18-year-old talent.

Selemon Barega en route to a 3000m world lead in Ostrava ( Pavel Lebeda/organisers)Selemon Barega en route to a 3000m world lead in Ostrava ( Pavel Lebeda/organisers) © Copyright

Likewise in the 1500m where Gudaf Tsegay, running alone over the final lap, won convincingly in 4:02.45 to collect her second straight victory over the distance this season and for the second consecutive year in Ostrava. Sarah McDonald of Great Britain was second in 4:04.41 and Czech Simona Vrzalova third in 4:04.80, lifetime bests for both.

The focus in the women’s 800m was on world 1500m record-holder Genzebe Dibaba but the Ethiopian was never really in the chase. Instead, victory went to Moroccan Rababe Arafi, who broke from the field with 220 metres remaining to finish unchallenged in 1:59.20. Noelie Yarigo of Benin was second in 2:00.85 with Dibaba a distant fourth in 2:01.51.

Rababe Arafi after her 800m win in Ostrava (Pavel Lebeda/organisers)Rababe Arafi after her 800m win in Ostrava (Pavel Lebeda/organisers) © Copyright


Back on the infield, another meeting record came courtesy of world champion Tom Walsh in the men’s shot put which witnessed yet another thrower join the 22-metre club. That was Poland's European silver medallist Michal Haratyk, who hit a national record of 22.08m in round three. His lead, however, didn’t last long as Walsh responded with a 22.16m effort in the same round to secure the win.

Ryan Crouser struggled, reaching 21.43m in his only measured throw of the night, good enough for fourth and breaking his streak of 22-metre competitions.

Jakub Vadlejch made the best of the uncooperative conditions to win the javelin with an 88.36m best from the second round. Olympic champion Thomas Rohler performed admirably as well, finishing second with an 87.28m effort from round four.


The best sprint performance came in the men’s 400m where Abdalelah Haroun beat the cold and a solid field in 44.63, nearly a second clear of 2012 Olympic silver medallist Luguelin Santos, who clocked 45.43.

World champion Justin Gatlin dominated the 100m, taking a decisive win in 10.03, a season’s best for the 36-year-old. Akani Simbine of South Africa was a distant second in 10.13, 0.02 ahead of Mike Rodgers of the US.

Over the half lap, Canadian Aaron Brown ended world champion Ramil Guliyev’s brief win streak, winning in 20.05 ahead of Jereem Richards and Guliyev who each clocked 20.09.

The evening-capping 200m was a skirmish nearly to end between world champion Dafne Schippers and Murielle Ahoure. The latter held a slight lead midway through the final straight before the Dutchwoman pulled away for the win, 22.52 to 22.60.

Elsewhere, Pascal Martinot-Lagarde of France won the 110m hurdles in 13.45, just ahead of Brazil’s Gabriel Constantino, who clocked 13.48.

Pole Pawel Wojciechowski secured his first win of the outdoor season after a second-attempt clearance at 5.65m. After world champion Sam Kendricks bowed out at the same height, Wojciechowski went on to clear 5.75m before topping out at 5.86m.

The meeting ended with a farewell tribute to 2003 world champion Kim Collins, who at 42 will retire at the end of the season. Earlier in the event, the popular sprinter won a special section of the 100m contested by sprinters above the age of 30, clocking 10.41.

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Physics Explains How a Long Jumper Leaped So Far He Almost Cleared the Pit

What were you doing when you were 19? Chances are, you weren’t breaking a 23-year-old world long jump record like Juan Miguel Echevarria. At the international Diamond League competition in Stockholm on Sunday, the Cuban long jumper leaped so far he almost cleared the sand pit, showcasing not only incredible athleticism but an uncanny ability to manipulate physics.

It was hardly important that a slight tailwind — at 2.1 meters per second, just 0.1 meters per second faster than official rules permit — disqualified his jump distance from record purposes. By completing a jump of 29 feet, 11.5 inches (8.83 meters), Echevarria blew away Jeff Henderson of the United States, who came in second place with a jump of 27 feet and 6 inches (8.39 meters). It’s clear from the video below that the lanky Echevarria approached the board — the piece of wood marking the point where a jumper should take off — with immense speed, but as sports scientists have pointed out previously, speed is just one component of a perfect long jump.

The late Melvin Ramey, Ph.D., a biochemist and engineer working with USA Track and Field, explained the physics of the perfect long jump in a video for the National Science Foundation in 2012. “The human body becomes a projectile,” he explained.

For a human (or any projectile) to reach its maximum trajectory, it must maximize its projectile motion, which in turn can be broken down into its horizontal velocity (the speed at which it’s moving along the runway) and its vertical velocity (its speed at liftoff). But the distance that it travels is ultimately decided by its launch angle — the angle that, in this case, Echevarria jumps when he hits the board.

It might at first make sense that a 45° angle — halfway between jumping perfectly straight into the air (90°) and not jumping at all (0°) — would make for the farthest trajectory, but this isn’t the case because gravity acts on vertical velocity, pulling the jumper downward. According to Ramey, world-class jumps have a launch angle of 18° to 22°. The trick, he explains, is jumping in a way that allows the athlete to maintain velocity once leaving the board.

There are, of course, other forces to consider. Wind speed can give a jumper’s horizontal or vertical velocity a boost, depending on its direction. Air drag can also make a big difference, which is why long jumps in high-altitude regions, like the Alps, are judged differently than jumps closer to sea level, where the air is denser.

Haters could argue that Echevarria was helped out by the relatively thin air in Stockholm and the 2.1 meter per second backwind, but there’s no doubting his pure athleticism. The amount of strength and speed it requires to launch yourself into the air — even if you get the launch angle just right — and ability to absorb all the stress of jumping and landing is impressive indeed. In a video for the Wall Street Journal in 2017, Phil Cheetham, a senior sport technician for the U.S. Olympic Committee, explained that long jumpers usually reach a speed of 10 to 12 meters per second when coming down the runway, and at liftoff, they feel a force equivalent to 15 times their body weight.

Echevarria may not have set an official record with this jump, but he broke his own personal best outdoor record, which he set in Rome earlier this year with a jump of 27.76 feet (8.46 meters).

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