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The Many Faces of Cuba

The Nation's Most Influential People Range from Political Leaders Such as Raúl Castro to Athletes, Musicians and Writers

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JAVIER SOTOMAYOR The story goes that Cuba track star Javier Sotomayor was in Athens at a meet in 1988 when he broke one of his shoes before the high jump event. When he visited a nearby sporting goods store to buy a new pair, the owner offered him $1 million to promote a line of sporting goods and clothes. Sotomayor refused, telling the man that he would never be bought by anyone, no matter how great the inducement.

Sotomayor, 31, continues to compete. He is perhaps the best-known athlete in Cuba and remains the world record holder for the high jump. He first earned the designation in 1986 in Budapest, then broke his record three years later, with a jump of 8 feet. He won the gold medal in the high jump at the 1992 Olympics, and the following year he bettered the world record again with a leap of 8 feet 1/2 inch, a mark that still stands.

In January 1998, he was admitted into the Cuban parliament. He continually makes goodwill tours throughout the island to stay close to his fellow Cubans.

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