JAVIER SOTOMAYOR

HIGH JUMPER • CUBA • 1967

Olympic Champion, two-time World Champion and four-time Indoor World Champion, World Record holder athlete

Best results

Personal best:

245 cm WR
1993, Salamanca
(outdoor)

243 cm WR
1989, Budapest
(indoor)

4x World Record holder
(3x outdoor, 1x indoor)

Olympic Games:

1x 1. place
1992, Barcelona: 234 cm

1x 2. place
2000, Sydney: 232 cm

World Championships:

2x 1. place
1993, Stuttgart: 240 cm
1997, Athens: 237 cm

2x 2. place
1991, Tokio: 236 cm
1995, Gothenburg: 237 cm

Indoor World Championships:

4x 1. place
1989, Budapest: 243 WR
1993, Toronto: 241 cm
1995, Barcelona: 238 cm
1999, Maebashi: 236 cm

1x 2. place
1985, Paris: 230 cm

1x 3. place
1991, Sevilla: 231 cm

At the Jumping Gala:

4x participant
1994 – 236 cm – 1. place
1995 – 237 cm – 1. place
1997 – 232 cm – 1. place
2001 – 235 cm – 1. place

LAST MINUTE! LAST JUMP!

The personal story of museum founder János Angyal about this pair of sport shoes

Javier Sotomayor, the World Record Holder of high jump, World and Olympic Champion athlete competed at the Jumping Gala for the last time in Europe: more specifically in Somoskő on August 26, 2001. At the age of (nearly) 34, he set the track record of 235 centimetres and gave me his spike shoes as a farewell gift. Sotomayor competed at our event four times, he always won the crowd and the competition.

The first time: following quite some excitement he arrived in Salgótarján on the day of the competition September 12, 1994. Sunday afternoon he was competing at the World Cup in London – which he won – and only got on the flight to Budapest on Monday morning. Due to the construction of a ring road in London, the road to the airport took 30 minutes longer than usual. Thus, Sotomayor nearly missed his flight: he only got there three minutes prior to the scheduled departure, but lucky for us the flight was delayed. The Cuban star was welcomed by police on motorbikes at Ferihegy who helped him get to Salgótarján in an hour. The Cuban delegation to the Gala included Alberto Juantorena, Olympic Champion runner of 400 and 800 metres and Sports Minister. He was not only a visitor here but also a participant of the ÖMV running festival which made the fellow participants really happy. The Main Square of Salgótarján was fully crowded by the start of the men’s high jump event. We had prestigious guests amongst the attendees: István Gyulai, General Secretary of the IAAF, László Békesi, Minister of Finance and former president of the Hungarian Athletics Association, along with Attila Kovács, Director of Adidas Hungary.

Sotomayor joined the competition at 222 centimetres and jumped over the victorious height of 236 centimetres at the time electric lighting had to be on.

The second time: he gifted the visitors with jumping a Gala record of 237 centimetres in 1995. At this Jumping Gala Tarasov won the men’s pole vault with a personal best of 591 centimetres, while the Czech Bartóvá jumped a world record of 422 centimetres in the ladies’ pole vault event.

The third time: 1997 brought such a unique competition to the county seat of Nógrád that not even Zürich could manage to get onboard before. The grand meeting of Sotomayor and Austin in Salgótarján! The duel taking place in front of a crowded tribune was eventually won by Sotomayor as he cleared 232 centimetres before Austin who also finished with 232.

The fourth time: István Gyulai, General Secretary of the IAAF called me from Edmonton in 2001 saying that fulfilling his personal request, Sotomayor accepted our invitation and will compete at the 15th Jumping Gala making that his last competition in Europe. We were preparing and looking forward to the competition and advertised the race number of Sotomayor with the slogan “Last minute! Last jump!” and it immediately found an owner. As an opponent, we contracted the new comet of high jump, the World Championships silver medallist: Mark Boswell. Prior to the night of the Jumping Gala, the Canadian competitor and I took part at the lotto show and drew the winning numbers. There were some rather memorable moments when the 90 guests arriving at the draw were asked: “What do you think the World Record of men’s high jump is?” Some of them knew, but some said it was really high, over 2.5 metres.

The Jumping Gala was held in Somoskő on August 26, 2001 in a lovely weather surrounded by great interest from the visitors. Amongst our guests we welcomed the Olympic Champion hammer throw athlete Gyula Zsivótzky, the two-time Olympic Champion kayaker Rita Kőbán, the former national record holder (223 centimetres) high jumper Endre Kelemen, the ladies volleyball National Team, and the representatives of press and electronic media. The border between Hungary and Slovakia was opened for this day to enable visitors to go to the Castle of Somoskő (which was located on the Slovak side behind the then-closed border), so people watched the competition even from up there. As an introduction to the event, Péter Besenyei aerobatics World Champion amazed the crowd with his breathtaking aerial exhibition above the Castle of Somoskő. At the competition, only Sotomayor could make attempts above 228 centimetres. Accompanied by the continuous claps of his fellow competitors and the audience, at the age of almost 34, he cleared 235 centimetres and thus set a new track record in Somoskő.

He travelled to Japan from us but promised to get his spike shoes – the ones he wore when setting the Jumping Gala track record – to our Museum later. He kept his promise. Budapest hosted the Indoor World Athletics Championships in March 2004 which Alberto Juantorena attended as a VIP guest and brought me the spike shoes: he personally gave them to me in the Grand Hotel of Margaret Island. The autograph took place at the 19th Jumping Gala on September 17, 2005 where Sotomayor was present as the guest of honour accompanying the winner of that Gala, Victor Moya.

FROM THE JUMPING GALA ARCHIVES

2001

Javier Sotomayor’s jump in Somoskő

2001

János Angyal and Javier Sotomayor

2004

Alberto Juantorena, Cuba’s Minister of Sports with Javier Sotomayor’s signed shoes

2004

Alberto Juantorena and János Angyal