There were no surprises. What happened at the Pan Am Games men’s triple jump on Friday, July 24 had been predicted over and over.
This time Cuban Pedro Pablo Pichardo was competing against himself. He added another achievement to his career, and dedicated his gold medal to the spectators who applauded his every jump then mobbed him for his autograph photo.
As of Friday the native of Santiago province is the new Pan Am triple jump champion with a distance of 17.54 metres. Although he missed the record 17.89 metres set by Brazilian Joao Carlos de Oliveira, Pichardo was satisfied with his performance.
“I even expected worse results,” he said. “I injured my calf muscles after the last Diamond League meet and could not work well this week,” he explained. But it was not as if he was trying to justify a bad performance.
“It is the obligation of every Cuban athlete to be here, and more so for me who has never participated [in these Games] before. Obviously it is good to have the title and that is why I decided to compete here,” Pichardo explained when a Chilean reporter asked why he came in the middle of such a successful season.
Pichardo, who has jumped over 18 metres twice this year, is now Cuba’s eighth Pan Am triple jump title holder. He confirmed he is looking to round out the season with a gold medal at the World Track and Field Championships.
The triple jumper spoke about his preparation leading up to that event, which will be held in Beijing at the end of August. He said that the only new factor is a change in the pace of his approach.
“We decided to run faster to gain the extra centimetres needed for a world record. Now I just have to get used to it. Today I was happy because I only lost the rhythm on one jump,” he explained.
Pichardo, who missed out on the Central American and Caribbean Games because of a disciplinary sanction, has been training since January with Daniel Osorio. Pichardo expressed his appreciation to Osorio for the good communication they have established.
“He is a part of this result; he is a coach who understands me and it’s showing up in the results,” he said. Pichardo then dedicated a thought to his father who “is always going to be a part of things even if he is not present, because he contributes his bit.”
Coming behind Pichardo in Friday’s triple jump were silver medalist Bahamian Leevan Sand (16.99) and the bronze medal winner, Ernesto Revé (16,94), another Cuban.
This was the Cuba’s third gold in track and field, adding to the medals won by Denia Caballero in women’s discus Friday morning and Yarisley Silva in women’s pole vault Thursday.