Ana Quirot is from
Cuba. Sports championships are a means to establish international stature.
Only ten million residents strong, Cuba is able to boast Olympic medals and
world championships in sports as varied as boxing, baseball, and track and
field. Chief among the Cuban track and field stars of the last decade is
Ana Quirot, whose brave comeback from a potentially career-ending injury
was the talk of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. Once the fastest woman in
the world, Quirot overcame devastating burns to a third of her body to win
a silver medal in the 800 meter race at the Atlanta Olympics. A New York
Times Magazine correspondent observed that the indomitable runner
"represents to Cubans their own struggle with adversity. Today, Quirot is a
certified mythological hero who can hardly move through Havana without
attracting admirers, particularly children." The success of Cuba's athletes
has been important to the socialist country on many levels. Some stars like
Quirot serve as unofficial ambassadors for their state, espousing the
ideals of the nation's revolution and professing faith in their government.
The runner told the Los Angeles Times: "I believe that I am a symbol of the
Cuban revolution, of its achievements in education, in medicine and sports...
I will be ready to serve the Revolution any way and at any time." Indeed,
Quirot's exceptional career has served as an example of both the perils and
the pleasures of life in a country that has been spurned by captialist
nations worldwide. When she is remembered, however, it will be less for her
revolutionary ideals than for her outstanding achievements on the track.
was born in the suburbs of Santiago de Cuba, in the country's Oriente
province, in 1963. The Cuban revolution that brought socialist leader Fidel
Castro to power was still in its infancy at the time, but Quirot's parents
were such ardent supporters that they gave their young daughter the middle
name "Fidelia." Athleticism ran in the Quirot family. Ana's father was a
boxer, her brother ran the 400 meter dash, and her sister has played