She liked ballet and sports when she was a child. She even attended a casting call since she dreamed of becoming a classical dancer. Finally, she gave up as people told her she would gain some kilos with the age and then, track and field was her election. Her decision made us feel proud of having the silver medalist in the Olympic Games London 2012, Pan American champions and national record holder with 4.75 m.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, we are talking about pole vaulter Yarelis Silva “the height dancer”, as I named her in a recent interview, granted during a training session at the Pan American Stadium.

She decided to practice track and field at 9. Isidoro was her first trainer in the elementary school Manuel Ascunce, in Pinar del Rio. Afterwards, her aunt María de la Caridad monitored her steps and learning process. She liked and practiced many disciplines, but she finally opted for pole vault.

When Silva was 15, she was already member of the national team and…her best mark was 3.60 m!


A decade was enough to meet one of the greatest dreams of all athletes: to reach the sport Olympus. There are some who train all their lives and never meet this dream. That is why we will recall Yarisley Silva´s sequence in London. She jumped 4.75 m, the same height Jennifer Surh —gold medalist— completed. However, an initial failed attempt over 4.45 m was devastating. Then, she jumped clean over the 4.55 m, 4.60 m, 4.65 m, and finally, the 4.75 m, matching her best jump ever.

She became the first Cuban woman to reach the finals in pole vault. This sport discipline had no previous history in our country. Yarisley was also the first Latin American woman to get an Olympic medal in such discipline. Therefore, she said 2012 was a crucial year for her:

“It has been the most important season of my career. And I am not only referring to the fact of becoming the Olympic runner-up, but the stability I reached in the process”, explained the athlete, 25, who lives in El Calero neighborhood, Pinar del Rio.

She ended in the top 3 in 19 out of 22 official competitions she participated. The 75% of the jumps surpassed the 4.60 m with a total of 7 gold medals, 6 silver medals, and 1 bronze.

Any precedent for these results?

I think 2011. I confess I could jump 4.50 m in 2008, but I was not part of the elite until last year. I broke six national records, and ended in the fifth position in the World Championship of Daegu (4.70 m) —she confirmed she was under lot of pressure in that competition trying to show pole vault had potential in Cuba—, and it was of course a very pleasant moment. I was also pleased when I defeated Brazilian world champion Fabiana Murer in Guadalajara. I was expecting the silver medal and…things turned around.

Speaking of moments…Is there a negative moment in your career?

In 2008 and 2009, I was in the middle of a rough patch that affected my physical status as well. Thanks to the support of my trainer Alexander Nava, the psychologist, and my partners I could get through the bad times.

What does Navas represent for you, results?

He has been like a father to me. He has helped me a lot since I joined the national team. He is very patient and demanding. I believe he is one of the best in the world. Despite the lack of resources, look at the things we have achieved!

Immediate plans?

I want to be part of the elite for years. I also want to improve some technical elements in order to reach the best physical shape possible for IAAF World Championship to be held in Moscow. Due to my short stature, I rely on my run-up. I did it with 14 steps and I took the vaulting pole in 4.30 m. I am working hard to change it to 16 steps and 4.40 m. I need it. It is essential to reach first the 4.80 m and then, get closer to the 5.00 m.


The appropriate guidance of a trainer has repercussions on the athlete´s development. He offered his considerations on Yarisley, Dailis Caballero, and the others.

“The general training stage began five weeks ago. Yarisley has a unique run up. We are working hard in her pole vault grip and the two steps we are going to add. She works with a vaulting pole that supports 170 pounds and has a flexibility of 18.3.”

Our goal is to have Yarisley and Dailin competing in the winter circuit. Both could participate in four or five athletic meetings. Therefore, they could stabilize their results at the beginning of the Diamond League. The main goal is the IAAF World Championship Moscow 2013. But this is an ongoing work. We need to check modifications in order to confirm the evolution.”

It is not simple. There is still a long way to go for this classic dancer and her partners. Let´s wait for big jump, technically glorious, clean…


Yarisley Silva
Yarisley Silva

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