Omara Durand is considered the face of Cuban Paralympic athletics after winning three gold medals at Rio 2016 and two at London 2012. In Tokyo 2020 she has once again added to her legendary status by winning her sixth gold medal at the Games and beating her record of 10 years undefeated.
On this occasion the Durand clocked in a blistering time of 52.58, and whilst that mean she was unable to break her own world record set in Rio de Janeiro in September 2016, it was strong enough to secure gold. But tomorrow, 1 September, she competes again and will have the chance to bring home more glory if she wins her seventh medal.
“I was very nervous before the competition but after finishing the race, I am very satisfied," the 29-year-old Cuban athlete said.
“It’s very normal (to feel nervous) every time we compete. Always I am thinking how to win, and maintaining a positive feeling.
Durand's gold medal was the second medal secured by Cuba at Tokyo 2020, after young athlete Robiel Sol won in the long jump T46.
Like many athletes, it has not been easy for Durand to get here. The global pandemic not only suspended the Games, but also made it difficult for athletes to train to be in top form. That in itself is a blow to any high-performance athlete, but for Paralympic athletes it is an added problem. Many of them were unable to train with their guides, who were key to their success.
Durand competes in the T12 category, which includes athletes with profound vision problems. In order to compete, these athletes need a guide to go with them. The harmony between the two is, therefore, fundamental to be able to reach the podium. But the Cuban athlete did not give up or give up and continued to train with whatever means at her disposal.
Now with that golden medal hung around her neck, Durand says:
“My secret is sacrifice for training and good coaching. That is all."
But despite the difficulties, this year the Cuban had an extra motivation. It was her daughter Ericka, Omara's most enthusiastic fan and whom her mother considers the biggest inspiration in her life.
At London 2012, Durand had no idea that she was already pregnant when she competed. Upon receiving the news of her pregnancy, the Cuban runner decided to leave the world of sport for a few years to take care for her daughter. She returned in 2015 and continued to add titles to her legacy.
When her mother won all three golds at Rio 2016, Ericka was just three years old, so she was too young to realise what was happening. But now she is old enough to understand that her mother is a world champion and that has motivated her even more to go for gold again at Tokyo 2020.
“She understands perfectly what I do,” Durand said. “I will give everything on the track so that she feels proud of me. Even though she longs to be by my side all the time, she will be at home and see me running. Her applause will be with me." she told Paralympic.org.