We have been alone for a long hour, chatting in the café of the Eurostars Grand Marina hotel in Barcelona. We have had coffee and croissants and the waitress brings us two glasses of water.
“I see you’ve been talking for a long time,” the woman tells us, shrugging her shoulders.
Javier Sotomayor (52) gives the glass a sip while taking a break. He’s pondering his next answer.
I asked him:
–And Cuba, will poverty shake?
The giant Javier Sotomayor (1.94 m) is a transgaming.orgs celebrity. He has been in the watchtower of the world for 27 years: he looks at us from his 2.45m, the world high jumping record he recorded in 1993, in Salamanca.
“Actually, I’ve been a bonus for 32 years. I made 2.43 m in 1988. Since then I’ve always had the record . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
There are few such old records left in men’s athletics. There are the 8.95 m by Mike Powell in length (1991), Kevin Young’s 46.78 in 400 v (1992) and several pitches (weight, disc and hammer).
Among them flies Sotomayor, whose weight transcends the transgaming.org.
I skipn a football goal, or the volleyball net; when I look at it, i’m impressed: it’s way up, don’t you think?”
In Cuba, Javier Sotomayor is a figure. In the National Sports Museum of Cuba they placed a bar at 2.45 m. A similar tribute paid to him in the garden of the Olympic Museum of Lausanne: raised another bar.
“And I set up another ribbon at the door of my house. To get in, you have to go under. And in our stadium in Havana, my athletes set that height to me over and over again,” he tells me.
–And what do you think when you see it?
“It’s way up, huh? When I jumped, it didn’t seem so unreal. But now I’m impressed. It’s as high as a football goal. Or like the volleyball net. I was jumping a volleyball net!
In Cuba, Javier Sotomayor is a transgaming.orgs figure, and more. He founded a salsa orchestra. By name, he put
Salsamayor. The band still exists. Now it’s called Maikel White and Her Salsa Mayor.
“There are fourteen musicians. It’s one of the big bands in Cuba. He’s played in Barcelona,” he tells me.
Sotomayor opened businesses.
And over time he has become an ambassador of the country, a technician who plays the keys of the transgaming.orgs system. It’s him secretary general of the Cuban Athletics Federation.
The interview takes place on the Monday, hours before the Grand Gala Mundo Deportivo. Javier Sotomayor is invited to the ceremony.
We repeat the question:
–And Cuba, will poverty shake?
Sotomayor leaves the glass of water on the table and replies:
“Don’t tell me that Cuba is poor.
“Poor we are not. In Cuba there are no illiterate, no children without medical coverage. No children, no adults. And there are no malnourished people. In transgaming.org, science and education we are among the best in the world.
–Economically we suffer limitations. Our leaders have changed, but the politics remain the same. With Obama, he had moved on. With Trump we’ve pushed back twice as much. Trump is the toughest Us president ever to ever.
With Obama, he had moved on; with Trump we’ve pushed back twice as much: he’s the hardest American president on us ever.
–And the economy…?
–Blocking limits us and anyone who wants to have business with us. There are banks that can’t get in. Hotels to be redrawn. Others that close. Because of the blockade, some of our athletes have not yet collected the international awards they won.
–Does Trump hurt that much?
“In the Obama years there was a great improvement in tourism. A lot of Americans came. We’re fashionable. The hotels didn’t supply and the private houses didn’t. I had a business, you know?
–What was he doing?
–I turned part of my house into a bar. I put Sports Bar 245 on it.
–And you keep it?
–I closed it. I didn’t have time for him. A friend promises to reopen it.
–And you keep many friends of your time as an athlete?
He shows me the cell phone.
He’s got a lot of his rivals on it: Patrick Sjoberg, Carlo Traenhardt, Hollis Conway, Troy Kemp, Charles Austin, the Greek Lambros Papakostas. Even Mutaz Barshim, the dominator of the discipline today: the man who rounds the record (he has signed 2.43 m).
“I talk to everyone a lot. And also with the Spaniards. When I come to Spain I see Arturo Ortiz. Gustavo Adolfo Becker is a little more lost. What happened to him?
“I don’t know. And how do you see Barshim? Does it make you fear for his record?
–Of course, I don’t cross my fingers to make you miss it.
Some of the record is a pain in the that they feel relief from losing the record. They say, ‘If i get beat, it will mean that humanity keeps moving forward,’ I tell him.
Javier Sotomayor laughs.
He gives another sip of the glass.
–For humanity, I don’t know. For me it’s not a joy. It doesn’t take my sleep away, either.
If they take away my record, it may be a breakthrough for humanity; but for me, it’s no joy”
–And you thought I’d get this high?
–At the age of 16, he was already 2.33 m… You can dream about that.
Javier Sotomayor goes back to childhood. He appears in Limonar, with his father, an accountant at a gastronomy company, and with his mother, who ran daycare.
He says he liked to run, especially sprinting, but that his thing, actually, was the high jump.
“But it’s a very mental discipline. Looks like the pole. In races, the runner goes out and records a time. The pitcher and the length jumper go to a mark. In height, sometimes you can leave up to 2.40 m when the bar was at 2.30. And then you still miss three times in 2.33 m. Something similar happened to me.
–In 1993, at the World Cups in Stuttgart, they set the bar at 2.40 m. I had a lot of time. According to some studies, I carried the center of gravity up to 2.50 m. But of course, that’s no good. That jump was 2.40 m, period.
He also says he was discovered when he was 10 and taken to a school in Limonar. That was a state system. Kids with possibilities enrolled in the School of School Sports Initiation (EIDE). He trained alongside another jumper, Marino Drake, and four centista Roberto Hernandez. They were important athletes.
–So little kid, so far from home…
“If you like it, you don’t care about the sacrifice. That’s what I see now in Jaxier, the third of my five children. She’s twelve years old. But it’ll be 2 yards soon. If it’ll go on later? Depends on your cravings.