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Pedro Pichardo is ready to take a hop, step and jump towards greatness
Portugal's Pedro Pichardo is a gold-medal-winning triple jumper with an eye on history and a dream to become as respected as compatriot Cristiano Ronaldo.
A world record, two world titles and a place in history – these are the targets triple jumper Pedro Pichardo has set himself in 2022 as he looks to build on his Tokyo triumph.
On the track, the 28-year-old already looks like he’s mastered the art of flight as he hurtles towards the sand. In fact, he is one of only five athletes to clear 18m.
The almost mythical mark of 18.29m set by Britain's Jonathan Edwards in the 1995 World Championships is still some way ahead of his personal best of 18.08. However, Pichardo believes he can not only beat it, but one day soar up to 40cm past it, as he continues to refine his technique.
Winning a place in history – that’s what I would like to do
“Winning a place in history – that’s what I would like to do,” he says. “In the future, I want people to recognise me, like Usain Bolt or Cristiano Ronaldo, for doing something important. Now I will try to win more titles and break the world record. That would be my dream in the sport.
“For both World Championships, indoor and outdoor, I dream of gold in 2022. To get all the possible titles in my career it would mean repeating in 2022 what I did in 2021, because I have already jumped over 18m twice, I have a national record, I’m an Olympic champion, I have an indoor European title and two Diamond Leagues. So if next year I win what there is, then I would have won everything. There would really be nothing else to win.”
And that world record? He’s not certain when he’ll do it, but he knows it’s possible.
When Pichardo started taking triple jump seriously back in Cuba, the country of his birth, it was with a unique, even crazy, technique devised by his father, a former athlete himself and still his coach.
Pichardo senior is still in his corner, studying and working with a sketchbook in pursuit of those few extra centimetres – and maybe even half a metre by the end of his career.
“My father taught me how to jump the triple jump. He taught me the technique to do it. The way I jump today, it’s because my father studied it," reveals Pichardo. "He sat down, once we took triple seriously, and he studied several jumpers – Jonathan Edwards, Phillips Idowu, Mike Conley, many from different countries, some Russians too.
“He tried to do a crazy technique, a mix with the Russian technique with the American and the English one. Each one is different, the start angles, the technique with the arms, the movements, it’s very different. He tried to get the good things from those countries and jumpers to bring it to me. He taught me everything. He is still studying to see if we can achieve a (world) record and jump further. My father has booklets with sketches, with stick men, angles and everything. It’s a unique technique. He’s tried to make it different.
“I think I can improve half a metre from now until the end of my career. I think I could finish with 40 or 50cm more, jump more than 18.40. I should be able to achieve it, if I do it or not, it’s difficult to say. If I improve some details in my jump, I think I can finish my career with more or less 40 or 50cm more than what I have now.”
With his confidence and motivation, he is ready to work hard every day and not stop until he makes it happen. And he hopes to also inspire people to reach their dreams.
“I would like people to think that Pedro is the person who never gives up,” he says. “I want to show people that you can never forget about the dreams you have in your life, never, despite the problems, despite the high mountains you might have to go through… whatever it is, never give up, go until you reach your dream.
"Sometimes the finish line is very near and we get to a point where we decide to stop but we have already made it a long difficult way, and we are almost there but we don’t know it. And sometimes near the end, we give up. What was left has a small river and sometimes we get tired. Don’t give up, just go across the river.”
And what is Pichardo’s dream for the end of his professional career? He’s got his eyes set on passing on what he’s learned to a new generation of young athletes in Portugal.
“I would like the kids to have the opportunity to achieve what I have in athletics, or even more than I have managed. I would like to teach them what my father taught me to see if we achieve something," says Pichardo.
“I would like the future for athletics in Portugal to have a path. I don’t want that I finish my career and that there’s nobody else in triple jump. I would like that instead of five Olympic champions in Portugal, there are 10 or 15, like in Cuba, for example. That’s a lot.”