Event: Triple Jump
PR: 14.23m/46-8.25 (2003)
Born: July 21, 1981 in Tucson, Ariz.
Current Residence: Fayetteville, Ark.
High School: Giraldo Cordova Cardin (Cuba)
College: Pima CC '02
Coach: Dick Booth
Career Highlights: 2004 Olympian; 2002, 2003 USA Outdoor champion; 2003 Pan Am silver medalist; 2001 U.S. Outdoor runner-up; silver at the 1997 Junior Pan-Ams competing for Cuba
Perez made her first Olympic team by virtue of having met the Olympic A qualifying standard with 14.23m/46-8.25 in 2003born an American citizen in Tucson, Perezs life was turned upside down when her mother, Osmayda Perez, was shot to death in San Diego when Yuliana was a young girl. Perez told her story to the New York Times in 2001: After bouncing from foster home to foster home, Perez was finally sent to live with relatives in Havana, Cuba at the age of five...as a teenager in Cuba, Perez became a standout triple jumper and occasional long jumper. According to IAAF record books, Perez won a silver medal at the 1997 Junior Pan-American Games for Cuba. Perez says she was the Cuban Junior National TJ champion, but was dropped from the Cuban program in late 1999 after she refused to give up her American citizenship in exchange for a spot on the Cuban Olympic Team heading to Sydney. After several months of emotional pleas that she was an American citizen, Perez finally convinced the Swiss Embassy in Havana to give her a passport so she could return to the U.S. With just a yellow backpack full of clothes and a reservation at a foster home in Arizona, Perez returned to the U.S. in early 2000when the foster home that Perez was living at closed, she went to live with a social worker, Cruz Olivarria, who befriended Perezwhile living with Olivarria, Perez took a job as a waitress and one day, when heading downtown, she boarded a bus headed in the wrong directionat the end of the route, the bus driver, Guillermo Diaz, a runner himself, noticed that Perez, who spoke very little English, appeared lostthe two struck up a conversation about athletics and Perez began to tell her storyDiaz later contacted his good friend, Pima Community College sprint coach Mario Pena, to tell him about Pereza few days later, Diaz brought Perez to the campus to meet Pena and head coach John Radspinner. Despite missing more than a year of training after leaving Cuba, Perez impressed Radspinner and Pena with her talentas a freshman at Pima, Perez won the National Junior College triple jump and long jump championships. A few weeks later, Perez burst onto the national scene when she finished second at the USA Outdoor Championships, ahead of American record holder Sheila Hudson. Im not going to stop until I get my dream, Perez told the New York Times. Im going to train and work hard until I get there. My dream is going to the Olympics - one, two, three times.
2004: 6th at Olympic Trials (13.47m/44-2.5)28th in qualifying round
at Olympic Games (13.62m/44-8.25)...USA Indoors runner-up
(13.78m/45-2.5i)(13.50m/44-3.5i) in qualifying round at World Indoors (dnq)3rd
at Provo (13.77m/45-2.25)ranked #4 in the U.S. by T&FNbest of 13.77m/45-2.25.
2003: USA Outdoor champion (14.23m/46-8.25PR, U.S. Leader)2nd at Pan Am Games (13.99m/45-10.75)1st at Modesto (14.07m/46-2)1st at Tucson (14.01m/45-11.75)1st at Mt. SAC (13.85m/45-5.25)1st at Home Depot Invitational (13.83m/45-4.50)ranked #1 in U.S. by T&FNbest of 14.23m/46-8.25.
2002: USA Outdoor TJ champion (14.20m/47-7.25w)1st at NACAC (13.27m/43-6.5)1st at Tucson (14.20m/46-7.25)1st at Tucson (14.20m/46-7.25)1st at Long Beach (13.72m/45-0.25)6th in Glasgow (13.36m/43-10)best of 14.20m/46-7.25.
2001: Runner-up at USA Outdoors (13.98m/45-10.5) 4th at World University Games (14.29m/ 46-10.75w) earned IAAF "A" qualifying mark (14.19m/46-6.75) for World Champs in Albuquerque in (7/8) 9th in qualifying group at Worlds Champs (13.69m/44-11) ranked #2 in U.S. by T&FN best of 14.29m/46-10.75w.
2000: National JUCO Champion at TJ and LJ bests of 45-11.5 and 20-1.25.
1997-1999: Competed for Cuban National Teams.