Robiel Sol debuts at his first Games in style: First gold medal for Cuba and Paralympic record

Leaping to gold at 7.46, the Cuban eclipsed all rivals to win his first gold medal and the first for Cuba at Tokyo 2020

Picture by Handout image supplied by OIS/IOC. Olympic Information Services OIS.

Robiel Yankiel Sol Cervantes has reached a milestone for his career but also for his country, as he aims to be the new legend of Cuban athletics.

“I feel so happy because I achieved what I have been dreaming of for so long. And I got it when I less expected it. This is boosting my confidence and I want to carry on that way," Sol said.

Sol has been Cuba's biggest surprise at these Games.

At just 18 years of age and in his first Paralympic Games, the young man not only won the precious gold medal but, with a time of 7.46, he beat the Paralympic record set by the American Roderick Townsend at Rio 2016 with 7.41.

Sol has achieved what has been his best time and Paralympic record in his first attempt, positioning himself well above his rivals.

But for Sol, he wasn't celebrating just yet, until the end.

“Actually our rivalry (with the other opponents) was big until the last jump. You cannot celebrate beforehand because they are all good athletes and they could come out with a good result anytime," he said.

In his next attempts he did not manage to beat his first mark, but he kept his distance from his competitors. Behind him, the hitherto Paralympic record holder - American Roderick Townsend - not only failed to beat the Cuban, but also failed to beat his own personal best, his best jump being 7.36.

As if these were not enough, Robiel's medal has also become the first gold medal won by Cuba at Tokyo 2020.

And for his future?

The 18-year-old said: “Keep doing what I am doing and look ahead.”

This year the long jump seems to be Cuba's strongest weapon. Sol's teammate, Leinier Savón, gave the Cuban nation one of its first medals by taking silver in the T12 long jump.

“We always accomplish what we have been planning and working for thanks to our coaches. And things then happen," Sol said.