Pedro Pichardo: I am working to break Jonathan Edwards' world record

Last year in Tokyo the Cuban-born triple jumper became Olympic champion for Portugal, the country that welcomed him. After recovering from a recent hamstring injury, the 29-year-old has set his eyes on gold at the World Athletics Championships Oregon 2022.

By Virgilio Franceschi Neto
Picture by 2022 Getty Images

At the age of 29, Pedro Pablo Pichardo is part of a select group of six triple jumpers to have surpassed the 18-metre mark (18.08m in May 2015).

In addition to that, he has been at the top of the sport for almost a decade. Now he wants to write more history: "We work for this, to leave a mark in the country and in the world", the Tokyo 2020 gold medallist said in an exclusive interview.

Born in Santiago de Cuba, in 2017 Pichardo chose to represent Portugal, his adoptive country.

Ahead of of the 2022 World Athletics Championships in Oregon, the two-time world silver medallist spoke exclusively to about his career, the evolution of the sport, and how far he wants to jump.

Gold medalist Lazaro Martinez of Cuba (C), Silver medalist Pedro Pichardo of Portugal (L) and Donald Scott of the USA pose for a photo after victory in the Men's Triple Jump the Men's Triple Jump during day one of the World Athletics Indoor Championships at the Belgrade Arena on March 18, 2022 in Belgrade, Serbia. 
Picture by 2022 Getty Images

Almost a year after Tokyo 2020, Pichardo says he feels good and ready for the World Athletics Championships 2022: "The season has been good, but in terms of marks, I wish I had better results."

He has just recovered from a hamstring injury suffered in March during the Indoor World Championships final in Belgrade, Serbia.

Despite not completing all the jumps he was entitled to, he ended up with a silver medal: "I wasn't happy (with the result and with not being able to do all the jumps). I left the event and could barely walk," he remembers.

REMEMBER: World Indoor Athletics - Day 1 morning session - Martínez wins triple jump

An injury that worried him and kept him off the track for months.

The Cuban-born triple-jumper returned at the Montreuil (France) meeting in early June.

He finished second with 17.18m. "In Montreuil, I felt my feet were better," he recalls. Weeks later he made the podium at Paris stage of the Diamond League, reaching the third-best mark of 17.49m.

Pichardo: Chasing more medals and the world record

Pichardo does not hide his anxiety for the Worlds in Eugene, but at the same time he is not overly bothered by the period he spent away from competition due to his injury.

"Thank God I quickly got back in shape. I just hope things go well to bring me the gold medal," the 2013 and 2015 world silver medallist said.

At the World Athletics Championships Doha 2019, where he represented Portugal for the first time, he finished fourth. In August he will head to the European Championships: "Imagine winning the Worlds and the Europeans? It would be great...these are the titles I do not have in my career. It would be a dream!"

REMEMBER: Portugal's Pedro Pichardo wins gold in men's triple jump

Another dream would be to surpass an all-time record that has stood since 1995 (18.29m) and held by British legend Jonathan Edwards.

What does it take to achieve that? "The first [factor] is to be physically well," he said. "Then the head has to follow the physical state and the body, then the weather: not too cold, not too hot. No wind either... and the track must be in good conditions.

"We are working to pass the 18.30m at least. We are working to make that happen", he added.

"I think it's possible to reach 18.50m." - Pedro Pichardo

(R) Pedro Pichardo from Portugal with his coach while the men's triple jump final during the European Athletics Team Championships at Silesian Stadium on May 30, 2021 in Chorzow, Poland. (Photo by Adam Nurkiewicz/Getty Images for European Athletics)

Jorge Pichardo: Coach and dad

His dad and coach Jorge has always been by his side: "Everything I achieved in sport was for my dad. He fought a lot for me", confessed Pedro.

"My father studied all styles of jumpers: Russian, North American and English schools... And he tried to do a mix of everything, I can't tell you one specific country."

Jorge left his athletic career due to a knee injury and always believed in his son.

For four years Pedro traveled 900 kilometres by train from Santiago de Cuba to compete in Havana, until he moved to the capital to train at the National Sports Centre.

But Jorge remained close to him even in Havana, staying at an uncle's house.

"When we want something, we cannot give up. We have to fight until we get it. I never gave up. I learned that with life. Back in the day, if I had given up, I wouldn't be who I am today", the Olympic champion admitted.

Portugal welcomed him in 2017, when he started to compete in one of the most popular clubs in the world, Sport Lisboa e Benfica. Months later, he obtained Portuguese nationality and the authorisation to compete for the country. "Benfica gave me the opportunity to pursue a career... I managed to be an athlete again thanks to Benfica", he said.

"Portugal means a lot to me. I thank the country for all the support. My daughter is Portuguese. It's my home. It's my country." - Pedro Pichardo

Pedro Pichardo of Team Portugal competes in the Men's Triple Jump Final on day thirteen of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Olympic Stadium on August 05, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan.
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Pichardo: My secret to stay at the top

Since he started appearing on the international scene a decade ago with his Junior World Championships gold, Pichardo's name has always been among the best. Even when he was absent from competition for nearly a year in 2014.

"The first step is to have a good coach, a good medical team. After that is the mind, always keeping motivated. Thank God my father motivates me a lot," he said about being able to stay at the top for so long.

The possibility of breaking the world record also keeps him motivated, along with the chance of winning more medals and titles.

The triple jumper revealed that he will stop after Los Angeles 2028 but he has already set his eyes on Paris 2024: "There are still two years left for Paris. I don't know what will happen. I just want to get in good physical shape. That's the main thing," he commented.

"I want to be remembered as having been a good athlete, brave and humble." - Pedro Pichardo


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