STARS OF 2018

Athletics Weekly - - News - THE CUBAN MIS­SILE: JUAN MIGUEL ECHEVAR­RÍA WORDS: EUAN CRUM­LEY, JA­SON HEN­DER­SON, STEVE SMYTHE & JES­SICA WHIT­TING­TON PIC­TURES: MARK SHEAR­MAN, JP DU­RAND & VIC­TAH SAILER

Meet the su­per eight break­through ath­letes of the mo­ment who are mak­ing an im­pact on the global track and field scene

MEET THE EIGHT SU­PER­TAL­ENTED NEW­COM­ERS WHO ARE MAK­ING A HUGE IM­PACT LATELY ON THE GLOBAL SCENE

ONLY 19, long jumper Juan Miguel Echevar­ría has been the stand-out break­through star of 2018 so far. First he won the world in­door ti­tle in Birm­ing­ham. Then he soared out to the long­est jump in 23 years with a marginally wind-as­sisted leap of 8.83m in Stockholm this month.

The Cuban al­most jumped out of the pit and his re­sult spawned a flurry of memes and gifs on so­cial me­dia that show him, for ex­am­ple, zoom­ing through outer space af­ter tak­ing off from the board.

Only Carl Lewis, Bob Bea­mon and world record­holder Mike Pow­ell have jumped fur­ther, plus fel­low Cuban and men­tor Ivan Pe­droso, who reg­is­tered an 8.96m mark in 1995 which was dis­al­lowed due to in­ter­fer­ence with the wind gauge.

Echevar­ría’s big jump in Stockholm was helped with a 2.1m/sec tail­wind but a few days later in Ostrava he jumped a wind-le­gal 8.66m – the best jump in the world for nine years.

His coach, Daniel Os­o­rio, be­lieves he can break Pow­ell’s long-stand­ing record of 8.95m and the ath­lete also thinks he can do it in the right con­di­tions.

Un­til this year, Luvo Many­onga was the No.1 in the event. The South African won the world ti­tle in Lon­don last year as Echevar­ría failed by five cen­time­tres to make the fi­nal.

But at the World In­doors the Cuban went into the lead in the first round and kept his cool as Many­onga twice over­took him be­fore he se­cured gold with 8.46m.

Prior to this, Echevar­ría was a good but not out­stand­ing ju­nior. He jumped 8.05m aged 16 but fin­ished out­side the medals at the 2015 World Youth Cham­pi­onships. Then, in 2016, he was 10cm short of a medal at the World Un­der-20 Cham­pi­onships.

The boy from Ca­m­agüey has truly found his form in 2018, though, as he has emerged as one of the big­gest names of the sea­son.

Event: Long jump Na­tion: Cuba

Age: 19 PB: 8.66m

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