Who is long jump sensation Juan Miguel Echevarria?

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Juan Miguel Echevarria made people sit up and take notice on Sunday in Stockholm.

The teenager recorded the best long jump in any conditions in 23 years at the Diamond League meeting in Sweden’s capital.

His 8.83 metres would have broken the Diamond League record of 8.61 m, but for an illegal tailwind of +2.1 m/s — just over the legal limit of +2.0 m/s.

And it would have placed him fifth on the all-time list.

Teenage sensation

Echevarria, still just 19, was a relative unknown until this year.

The native of Camaguey, Cuba, has painstakingly worked up to this point, taking a setback along the way.

Three years ago, he managed a jump of 8.05 metres aged 16, before injury hampered his progression in 2016.

He then managed four legal and one wind-assisted jumps over 8 m in 2017, before switching coaches in September.

New coach Daniel Osorio has described Echevarria as “the most talented I ever had”.

Under Osorio’s tutelage, the youngster became world indoor champion in March, beating outdoor world champ Luvo Manyonga into second place in Birmingham.

<em>Juan Miguel Echevarria of Cuba celebrates after winning the men's long jump at the IAAF World Indoor Championships. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images for IAAF)
Juan Miguel Echevarria of Cuba celebrates after winning the men’s long jump at
the IAAF World Indoor Championships. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images for IAAF)

Echevarria, who doesn’t turn 20 until August, broke his outdoor personal best just two weeks after his gold-winning performance, clearing 8.40 m in a competition held in his hometown.

He locked horns with Rio 2016 silver medallist Manyonga once more at Rome’s Golden Gala Diamond League meet in May, where he bettered his PB again by jumping 8.53 m, a mark he has improved again since.

But his South African rival had the final say in Rome, winning by 0.05 metres.

Out of the pit… almost

That rivalry, it seems, was the catalyst for Sunday’s performance.

Echevarria nearly cleared the sand pit with his jump, falling backwards and sideways as his feet rebounded off the edge of the box.

Even his best wind-legal jump of 8.50 m would’ve been enough to clinch victory.

“I wanted over 8.50 m,” he said, according to the IAAF. “But I didn’t think I could jump so far.”

Not since 1995 has anyone jumped further, in any circumstances.

That was Echevarria’s countryman, idol, and now mentor Ivan Pedroso, who jumped 8.96 m at altitude — a mark that was never ratified as a record because the wind gauge was obscured.

The current world record, set by Mike Powell, is 8.95 m. It has stood since 1991.

Is Echevarria the man to finally break it?

At least one Olympic champion thinks so…

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Author: ZK Goh
Olympic Channel news producer/reporter. All-round sports nerd.