Alberto Juantorena didn’t seriously consider becoming an athlete until his early twenties. The tall Cuban was a keen basketball player with dreams of becoming a hero on the court.
On his debut at the 1972 Munich Games, Alberto Juantorena was eliminated in the 400m semi-finals. This was followed by a stunning unbeaten run of wins that lasted for two years. However, before arriving at the 1976 Montreal Games, he had to recover from two foot operations.
In Montreal, Alberto Juantorena became the only athlete to ever win the 400m and 800m at the same Olympic Games. This is acknowledged as a truly remarkable athletic accomplishment as the 400m is a sprint race and the 800m is a tactical middle-distance event. He was also the first runner from a non-English-speaking country to win at either distance.
Juantorena was the first Cuban to win Olympic gold medals in athletics. Following his retirement in 1983, Cuba named Juantorena their Vice Minister of Sports.