Super punctual, Jordan Díaz (Havana, February 23, 2001), so tall, flexible and slender (1.92 meters), a reed with feet, arrives on foot at the Guadalajara track. Barça pens and tracksuit. A shield on his chest that makes him smile, although he always smiles, for everything. An express life, from Cuba to Spain. At 16 years old he jumps 17 meters in triple, and few members of the triple jump aristocracy could claim, like him, that he ever jumped more meters than his years. At 20, last July, he left the Cuban team preparing in Europe for the Tokyo Games and stayed in Guadalajara, where he received Spanish nationality. Three days before turning 21, on February 20, in his second competition, the Spanish Under 23 Championship, in his second, and last to date, jump valid in competition as a Spaniard, he breaks the national triple record in Salamanca , 17.27 meters. Three and a half months later, on Saturday June 4, he jumps again. He will do it at the rally in Andújar, Jaén, which will also include the Spanish champion, Pablo Torrijos, and the Burkina Faso athlete Fabrice Zango, world indoor record holder (18.07m). “We continue working on perfecting technical details, so we’re calm,” announces his coach, Iván Pedroso. “But he has trained well and without rushing.”
Ask. What pushes a 20-year-old boy, one of the best athletes in the world, to leave Cuba?
Response. The thing, the sports system, is very complicated there. They almost force value athletes to stampede. I saw that my results were worthless. There is a time when the athlete needs a stimulus, which was something that a person like me, with the level I have, did not receive. And I already felt down, without thinking about anything, as if the quarantine, the confinement due to covid, already had me a bit stressed. And with all the things that had happened, I already made the decision in quarantine, I already had a year to think about things, because it is not a decision that is taken lightly…
P. A life changing decision…
R. It is not a one day thing to say I am going to leave and nothing happens. You have to think about it, see the consequences that it could bring you, think about your friends, your whole life here, your family… I made the decision and I knew it was the best. My parents agreed, they supported me at all times… And when my parents gave me their blessing, they told me, ‘you have to go, you have to go if you want to be great’, you know?, if you want to take the benefits that belong to you…
P. Do you understand that in Spanish athletics there are people who look at you badly because of your rapid nationalization?
R. I understand the distrust of people, who do not know the things that are behind, the things that happen. Nor what happened. They say, a Cuban who comes to become a national, to take away the medals here from the people. It’s understandable. But you have to know the story behind it, everything that has happened, for me to make that decision. If I was okay, if there were no problems, I would have stayed with my parents. I’ve matured, I’ve already seen how the world is, Europe, it’s more professional… At 17 I don’t even make that decision while playing.
P. In Cuba they can accuse you of being ungrateful… They invested in you, in your preparation, and then you emigrate to another country with your talent…
R. I see it the other way around. It is the system that does not seem to want to reap the benefit of its sowing. From the outside it is understood that we are the country of the triple, but you have to be inside the place and know the things that are happening… I would spend three hours talking about the things that they do… Things are bad, and the tranquility that an athlete deserves so that everything is fine you don’t have there…
P. Do they underestimate talent?
R. But hey, it’s how they’re done… And we can’t say anything because we’re tied up by our arms and feet… We can’t do anything at all, that’s why many people leave the country. Decisions are very rare, bad.
P. He jumped more meters than the years he was and the expectations of the world of athletics skyrocketed, and he did not progress as they hoped. Did that precocity weigh you down?
R. I never thought to skip it in my life. He weighed me and did not weigh. Not having made the progress that I should have made is due to the pressure they put on me after that. You already imagined… They even demanded me in training. I made two jumps in training of 17.80, 17.60… In competitions I had a lot of pressure, you have to jump this because if you jump 17.30 now in three years you have to jump 18, without realizing that I was 18 years. Which is the good thing with Iván, that he is in no hurry. He tells me, you, calm down; you do your thing. I’m going to treat you like a child.
P. In the list of the best sub 20 in history you are the second, and there are seven more Cubans among the first 11… Pichardo did not exceed 17 meters until he was 20 years old, but he is the only triple Olympic champion born in Cuba, and he did it in Tokyo as a Portuguese… Hasn’t this fact made the Cuban system reflect?
R. I am not going to talk about the Cuban system because I no longer belong. I have turned the page. I don’t belong to those people, those people have their line and now I have another line. Pichardo went to Portugal and, boom, Olympic champion… It’s the European chip, which changes your ideas as such. Everyone has their mentality and their things.
P. And what is your mentality?
R. I want to be a great person, that people recognize me in the world, and more so in the country where I live. Recognize me and support me. It is what I want the most. I don’t ask for anything else.
P. And, to achieve this, he crossed the Atlantic to train in Spain with a myth of Cuban athletics…
R. Iván Pedroso is a super athlete and a super person. It was my plan that I already had drawn up, to come and train with him. We have a super team. as anna says [Peleteiro] Every year the team increases and we have a nicer atmosphere in Guadalajara. I feel very happy, and I thank Iván for having welcomed me here as his athlete.
P. How has your training changed with him?
R. I have changed absolutely everything. We are in a stage of adaptation. I’ve been training with Iván for nine months and things are very different. We are adapting little by little, improving speed… things like that.
P. In what sense?
R. Here the least I do is jumps. Before, in Cuba, force was always used. Here I do more running, which is the deficit I had. What is treating me are the deficits I had in Cuba. In Cuba he did not run as such. My speed has been improving, my running technique, so that the jump goes well.
R. Exact. She is a person who has changed my mentality to that of Cuba, very changed. In Cuba they kind of rush you to jump, you have to jump so much, you have to jump so much… And here it’s like Iván and I are in a debate. Like I want to, because it is the mentality, the chip that I already have from Cuba, and he is very calm, very calm, and I, what is happening here? I’m kind of in a hurry, I want this, I want the other… And Iván, calm down, calm down, everything is going step by step, and everything has to go well…
Exclusive content for subscribers
read without limits