The drama in the arena has a bolero flavor, its lyrics and its pain and tears.
When it is his sixth jump, the last one, Juan Miguel Echevarría, the favorite, trots down the aisle and stops before the table, on which he kneels, lowers his head until he touches the ground, clenches his fists hard and with the right, the one with the tattooed arm, he hits the ground twice. With rage. He cannot jump because his hamstring has been broken. He cannot continue fighting for a gold that he knows he deserves and that he dodged for the first time two years ago, at the Doha World Cup, where, as a great favorite, he was bronze.
And if they gave him a microphone he would sing like this, perhaps, this moving lyrics, a lament of the Olympic heartbreak, which he flips loose in the mixed zone, and music from Black tears maybe. “My life hurts, my soul hurts, my leg hurts, everything hurts. I feel like I lost, I lost. Honestly, I dreamed it so much, I saw it so much. I saw Cuba at the top of the podium, a gold and an Olympic silver. That was going to be something historic for our island, and losing that in the last attempt with the same brand, I don’t know if they will understand it, but that is the most painful thing about it. I try to contain myself but I can’t hold back the tears, and they are from pain and not from joy. It hurts a lot, ”says the 22-year-old jumper from Camagüey, the best in the world of his generation (he jumped 8.83m, with a 2.1 wind, illegal, three years ago) to which injuries and other pods did not they have allowed to triumph, to satisfy their hunger. “Iván Pedroso, Teddy Tamgho… they tried to give me strength because it happens to anyone, it happens to everyone, and what happens is what I tell them: I dreamed it so much that it hurts, it hurts, it really hurts to have lost . Every day of the month I dreamed of being an Olympic champion until a week before arriving at the Tokyo Games. I believed it, I dreamed it, I wanted it so much, that is why I tell you that it hurts, it hurts a lot … “
He cannot jump, he cannot respond to the Greek Miltiadis Tentoglou, -and he is named after the general of Marathon, son Cimon, triple Olympic champion of chariot races-, who five minutes earlier has jumped 8.41m, has equaled the best mark of the Cuban, whom he overtakes because his second best jump (8.15m), is longer than the second of the talent from Camagüey, 8.09s. “And it’s such a horrible feeling that I don’t wish it on anyone. It is a very uncomfortable situation, it puts you in a state of nerves that you do not know what to do, you do not know how to react, because you know that you cannot, you cannot solve the problem ”, says Echevarría, chosen does nothing as the greatest candidate to be the first athlete to pass nine meters. “And it is very difficult, very difficult, to see that you can lose a gold medal, and with your own brand, that’s why this hurts so much.”
Tentoglou neither laments nor cries. Tentoglou, the young Thessalonian, jumps and walks through the air as if climbing a solid ladder, like Jesus Christ on the water, and falls and lands far away. 8.41m. It is not exactly the best mark ever reached in an Olympic final, it is not even one centimeter better than the second, but it is okay. The important thing is the gold. Tentoglou is a killer, a winner who arrived with a best mark of 8.60, reached in May, and at the age of 23 he has already been three times European champion (two indoor) and is Olympic champion, and breaks another Cuban charm and a Spanish dream, since the second classified until then, the young Maykel Massó (8.21m), is already bronze, and the third, the champion of Onil, Eusebio Cáceres (8 , 18m) finishes fourth after having seen bronze for several minutes.
Fourth like in the Moscow World Cup eight years ago (8.26m then), when he was a young man of 21 who arrived with two medals in the Youth World Cups, ready to take the world by storm. “It’s simple, this is what it is. I already lived it once and I will live it again. I have won a fourth place, I have not lost a third. They were better than me. For little or much, they jumped more than me, so it is not difficult to understand, if luck was not with me, it was not with others either. We will have to give a better version than this one ”, says Cáceres, who after so many injuries and after doing a magnificent contest, compared to the usual ones in recent years, four valid jumps and always one longer than the previous one, in increasing progression : 7.96m, 8.09m, 8.12m and 8.18m, he still seeks to solve the impossible equation: jumping so well technically at the great speed he reaches now as when he was young, who, slower, jumped more. “I’m approaching 30, but I feel like I’m 20, just like a child. And on top of that, less things hurt me ”, he says. “I love watching myself compete, and being able to fight it. These competitions bring out the best in oneself. We’ll see next year. Now I have time to adapt to certain things. The times of 8.40m will return, for sure … “
With his jump of 8.8m, the sixth, Cáceres was made of bronze, since Tentoglou was then walking by 8.15m, but in the last breath the Greek with the name of great jumped 8.41m and left the Spaniard stunned and the Spaniard crying. Cuban, who cried with sorrow for his bolero.
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