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One of the most emblematic sports in Cuba is athletics. The first Olympic medal was silver, brought home in 1964 by Enrique Figuerola in the 100m race. From this moment on, more than the medals achieved the word has been the astonishing timed results obtained by Cuban athletes over the years. In the 1970's one Cuban athlete achieved world recognition. Alberto Juantorena entered the list of Gold medal winners for the 800m resistance race by twice breaking the world record for the 800m event in the Montreal Olympics of 1976 for both the 400 and 800m races. Upon his return to Cuba he was received as a national hero when 1000's of fans from all over the world welcomed him. From this moment on he has become one of the most respected athletes both nationally and internationally. He inspired many runners to strive, using natural talent, for unthinkable reductions in timed events. One of those inspired was Alejandro Casańa who won the world record in 1977 for the 110m-hurdle race.

In the 1990's three new national athletes immerged. They were Ana Fidelia Quirot, Javier Sotomayor and Iván Pedroso. Javier Sotomayor achieved, on three separate occasions, fighting only his own records, new heights in the high jump category. He currently holds an unbeaten 2,45m world record in this discipline. He also won in the Barcelona Olympics in 1992 and the world title. As a four-time world champion and unbeaten record holder he has become the paradigm of the long jump worldwide. Iván Pedroso has also won world titles for open air and 4 world titles for the arena long jump title. Ana Fidelia Quirot entered the national team in 1983 but, it was not until the early nineties that she became world famous for her unusual speed advantage over her competitors. In her impressive portfolio of wins she has accumulated the following: Medal winner in Barcelona in 1992, silver in Atlanta 1996 and world cup winner for the 400 and 800m races in 1997. She later returned to retain her title in Athens.

These are just a few a Cuba's tremendously successful athletes. As sports in Cuba are both a government prerogative and national passion we should expect to see many more like them.

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