If you have a world record intact since 1993, you have a lot to teach, such as, how to become world number one. Yet Javier Sotomayor, a record holder with a legendary 2.45-metre jump, seems to have a greater desire to learn. In Italy, on a busy programme of official meetings, he managed to carve out a day to visit the Maranello factories, driven by an attraction that for many has a surprising origin. "Since I was a child I have always admired Prancing Horse cars on the streets of Cuba, those imported before 1959 of course. And they're still there, in good condition thanks to the island's extraordinary mechanics," he says.
"For me driving a Ferrari is a dream, like my meeting with the Pope in Rome a few days ago," he adds laughing. Sotomayor asked to see the production lines where the cars are built and the Classiche department, but the Scuderia was the main object of his curiosity: “How do F1 drivers train? How does the simulator work?" This inevitably brought up memories and comparisons with his experiences as an athlete: "The 1996 Atlanta Olympics were marred by my injury and I cannot forget how much technology helped me to recover mentally”.
Today Sotomayor is Secretary General of the Federación Cubana de Atletismo (Cuban Athletics Federation) but above and beyond any role, he is Cuba’s undisputed sports ambassador to the world. And the guardian of high hopes: "I would like Cuban athletics to return to the heights of 15 or 20 years ago, when there were two or three times as many champions as today. I believe in our youth; 70-80% of our national team is under 22 years-old. They are great talents and are increasingly competitive in terms of results. Also in an Olympic final".