In a country well-known for baseball and music like merengue and bachata, there’s a famous local song wishing for coffee to rain on the field. ‘Ojalá Que Llueva Café’ is a symbolic song, hoping for good fortunes to abound in poverty-stricken areas.
Based on its recent success, some of those fortunes on the track are putting the Dominican Republic on the athletics world map.
Some may trace back this recent progress to a phone call to rising star Felix Sanchez, born in New York to Dominican parents, back in 1999. The National Federation contacted him to represent the country in the 400m hurdles at the 1999 Pan American Games.
An Olympic finalist a year later, Felix went on to win two world titles (2001-2003), the 2004 Olympic gold and the 2003 Pan American Games title on home soil in Santo Domingo, all historic firsts for the country at these events.
Those performances certainly had an impact on the athletics family. Coach Jose Ludwig Rubio led the National Athletics Federation between 2005 and 2010. “We made athletes, coaches and officials understand that we could compete on a par with fellow Caribbean nations,” he recalled.
Under his guidance, a new star emerged from the countryside. Luguelin Santos went from the 2010 Youth Olympic Games gold to the 2012 Olympic silver and 2013 World Championships bronze in 400m.
SOURCE: JAVIER CLAVELO FOR WORLD ATHLETICS