Almir dos Santos in the triple jump at the IAAF World Indoor Championships Birmingham 2018 (© Getty Images)
Former high jumper Almir Dos Santos has this season emerged as a new force in the triple jump. The world indoor silver medallist from Brazil looks back at one good moment and one bad moment on his journey up to this point in his career.
Jumping my PB of 17.35m in Madrid was the highlight of my life so far.
It has been an amazing journey thanks to the support of my coach ‘Arataca’ (José Haroldo Loureiro Gomes), my support team and my club Sogipa based out of Porto Alegre, who have made this all possible.
I was a high jumper, but at the end of 2016 I decided to enter a triple jump competition. I had done a little triple jump as a junior and I always had a hidden passion for the horizontal jumps. I was aware that some things I was doing in practice were comparable with what some of the other top triple jumpers around the world were doing. I was curious to find out if this translated to distances in the competitive arena.
My first triple jump competition since I was a junior took place in Sao Paulo in late 2016. I jumped 15.89m and it was the first time I had produced a good national-level result in the triple jump.
Nelio Moura (former coach to 2007 world and 2008 Olympic long jump champion Irving Saladino) saw me in that competition and said to my coach that I was better jumping forwards than upwards and Arataca agreed.
We were at the beginning of a new Olympic cycle, so my coach and I decided to switch events and focus on the triple jump.
Of course, it was not easy to train for a new event. The preparation for the triple jump take-off was very different to that of the high jump and changing the transition between the approach and take-off board, coupled with being able to sustain the high intensity on the body during the three triple jump phases, were the greatest challenges.
I enjoyed a very positive 2017 with a jump of 16.86m in Porte Alegre, which was the equivalent to a qualifying standard for the 2016 Olympics. One week before Christmas, I leapt a personal best of 16.92m.
I had great expectations coming into the 2018 indoor season. Those expectations were met and even slightly exceeded when I jumped a PB of 17.06m in the USA, followed by that 17.35m in Madrid.
I knew as soon as I hit the take-off board I was set for a very good jump. I had a good feeling. It was a very special moment for me, not only because of the distance of the jump but because I managed to beat my idol Nelson Evora. I have huge admiration for him. I have watched his triple jump videos and I like his technique, so to win this competition was very special for me.
My low moment came at the end of 2014 when I suffered a broken bone in my foot during a practice session. The ankle twisted and I faced a long period of rehabilitation to return to full fitness. I was on crutches for three months and it took some time before I could start jogging again. Athletics was my life and I found this period very tough.
I had happy memories of competing in the high jump at the 2012 IAAF World U20 Championships but in 2013 I suffered a really bad setback after sustaining a stress fracture on my right foot. I then tried to overcompensate and picked up an injury in my left knee. I also had a number of other less serious injury problems and ended up missing the entire season.
To endure more problems in 2014 was difficult. Luckily, as I mentioned before, I have a strong support team and a good club that offers their total support and I was able to fully recover from my injuries. Hopefully with their help, I’ll be able to work towards my goal of competing at the 2020 and 2024 Olympic Games.
Steve Landells for the IAAF