Yarisley Silva: Cuban Pole Vault Queen

ROAD TO VIÑALES, Pinar del Rio.— London Olympics pole vault silver medallist Yarisley Silva is one of the most outstanding Cuban young track and fielders. After her triumphant return, Silva spoke to Juventud Rebelde newspaper about her life and career.

“What were your beginnings? I really did not even know pole vault existed. At the very beginning, I used to compete in combined events; I was too small for heptathlon and for pole vault as well. However, I was likely to succeed in the latter. I was taught the bases and I liked it. My first jump was of 3.10m,” Silva said.

“Did you face any difficulties? Some years ago, we did not receive much institutional support. Since 2008, I have a personal register of 4.50m, I could have been included among the top athletes, but I did not have the chance. We lacked many implements; we did not have poles to jump, which must match the athlete’s height and weight. Without all that, it was impossible for us to have good results,” she added.

“What about 2011? I had previous achievements, but last year I had my first relevant performance in the World Championship and the Pan Ams. From that moment on, I became popular among the people.”

“And the Olympics finals? Exciting. I could not sleep a wink. I was so afraid I did not manage to qualify…  but I did it, and then I felt better from the psychological and physical point of view. But the weather was too cold, and there was head wind. There were some unpredictable things as well. I never thought I would fail my first jump. I really don’t regret that, what I do regret is not having jumped 4.80m. You always learn from competitions,” she noticed.

“And concerning concentration? My psychologist says that the mind rules the body. So, I reviewed all the exercise.  Out loud, I repeated exactly how I wanted my routine, my jump and the technique to be. I respect all my rivals, but I concentrate on myself, I cannot be thinking on the rest. I have reached this position because I am confident I can make it; I have sacrificed a lot.”

“The Diamond League? I actually did not expect to win it, the Olympics was my top competition this year.”

“What if a pole breaks? Thanks God, I have never experienced that. This sport requires determination and braveness. When an implement breaks, you can be affected psychologically, you become inhibited when making any moves for you are afraid of falling off the mattress. There are some athletes who never recover.”

“Fear? In 2008, when I jumped 4.50m, I had an injury and I was not able to handle my moves; I could not take off. I spent a whole year without recovering. I participated in Beijing Olympics, but I did not put on a good performance, and it actually affected me. This sport is so traumatic that sometimes you can suffer from this sort of injuries.”

“Jumping 4.80m? I want to make it, but I cannot be constantly thinking of it. It is like I have a psychological barrier any time I want to do it. I have to improve my technique when holding the pole, when running for the jump, and this way I will get better results. I cannot assure if I will make it today or tomorrow, but I will do it.”

“What do you think of the future of pole vault in Cuba? At present we have not got any enrolment. The reserve has not been created, so there will not be continuity. This is really affecting us. I think that our performance will inspire more young people to practice this sport.”


by: Mayra García Cardentey

Yarisley Silva
Yarisley Silva

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