Dayron Robles and his new career after the p110-meter hurdles

Although he has been away from active sports for several years, the name Dayron Robles is familiar to everyone. Champion of the 110-meter hurdles at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games and former world record holder in this discipline, the 35-year-old Guantanamo native, has continued is life in the Cuban capital beyond the tracks, ever since he decided to retire from high-performance sports.

Dayron now lives on the outskirts of Havana, in the municipality of Cotorro, where he has a small farm and grows crops using agro-ecological methods to supply his tapas bar and his hostel.

Wearing the same sports clothes he used to train for competitions inside and outside the country, he now devotes himself to farming. He does not have much space on his farm, “it is only 0.45 hectares, but I am committed to agroecology and healthy eating,” he says.

In his garden he grows lettuce, chard, basil, broccoli, cauliflower and scallions, and further away several tall trees are laden with mameyes, mangoes, avocados and plums. Everything is grown free of chemicals and the soil, which seven years ago was neglected and full of stones and debris, receives organic matter that he collects from the nearby cow and chicken farms.

“We are trying to link the agroecological production of this project to meet at least part of our needs in other ventures,” he explains.

For some time now, the star athlete has also ventured into the world of entrepreneurship. He started with the apartment rental business in Centro Habana, taking advantage of the boom in U.S. visitors during Barak Obama’s second term in office.

As part of the Airbnb system on the island, his fame as a sportsman, together with the quality of the services he offered and the indisputable advantages in terms of the location of the properties, especially for foreign visitors, ensured his business was a success. But with the arrival of the pandemic and the downturn in tourism, his life as a private entrepreneur came to a momentary pause.

“Doing new things, accepting life’s changes, that’s being optimistic.” This is Dayron’s mantra.

A few months ago, Impulso tapas bar opened in the heart of Havana, after a refurbishment period that lasted almost two years, at the same time that most businesses and services in Cuba were affected or closed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Among his short-term plans is the establishment of a small enterprise, in the heat of the recent government decision to formalize the work of private entities so that they are on an equal footing with the state sector.

“I would also like to set up a small processing plant on the farm,” he comments, with his mind set on the future production of pickles, jams and other products derived from his crops.

With a variety of products, including Italian food, Impulso is open from Friday to Monday (from 3pm to 3am from Friday to Sunday, and from 1pm to 1am on Mondays), as Robles himself announces on his Facebook page.

He is also promoting a local development project in the area near the tapas bar that will seek to offer new possibilities for spiritual growth, especially to children.

“The idea is not yet well conceived, but we are thinking of offering cultural and recreational activities so that the local children can occupy their free time after school,” he explains.

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