With mere days between now and the first firing of the starter’s pistol at the IAAF World Youth Championships in Cali, we recruited the help of Caterine Ibarguen, the world’s best triple jumper and the host nation’s finest athlete, to tell us what to look forward to in Colombia’s second city.
Consistently voted amongst the world’s happiest people, the Colombians are a joy to be around, according Ibarguen, who last year leapt a monster 15.31m to catapult to fifth on the all-time women’s triple jump lists.
“We are happy because we believe we are privileged to be born in Colombia,” says Ibarguen. “We always find a reason to celebrate life, we are very grateful and enjoy what we have.
“Colombia is a great country because of the friendliness and kindness of the people.”
Situated at a height of around 1000m above sea level, the sprinters and jumpers in particular will appreciate the altitude of Cali. The fact that the daily mean temperature is 24C and July is traditionally the sunniest month of the year in the city, the conditions are likely to be welcomed by many athletes.
CIUDAD DEPORTIVA: International spectators watch on at the world track cycling champs, which were held in Cali in 2013
3. A sporting city
Branded not only Colombia’s sporting capital but the “Sporting Capital of the Americas”, Cali has a rich tradition for hosting big events.
That tradition has existed for generations and remains strong to this day. In recent years, the city played host to matches at the 2011 FIFA Under-20 World Cup and 2014 UCI World Track Cycling Championships, and was the host city for the 2013 World Games.
You do not have to look far to find a connection between the world youth champs and Cali’s athletic history. The Estadio Olimpico Pascual Guerrero – next week’s championship venue – also staged the 1971 Pan American Games, which is the only time Colombia has played host to the quadrennial multi-sports competition.
4. Salsa sensation
Cali is known as the cultural capital of the home of salsa – the popular form of Latin American dance. There is an annual Summer Salsa Festival which takes place each July, and on the last Friday of every month the city plays host to a spectacle known as the Delirio – a spectacular Las Vegas-style salsa show.
“I would recommend everyone to visit Cali because it’s like heaven,” Ibarguen enthuses. “It is a very nice and diverse city where there are plenty of things to see and do. That’s why everybody loves Cali.”
Colombian food according to Ibarguen is to be embraced by all visitors to Colombia and Cali.
“The food is Colombia is excellent,” she adds. “I would recommend our national dish the typically Colombian ‘Bandeja paisa’ [a variety of food like beans, rice, meat, eggs, arepa avocado and lemon].
“Another dish would be fish with baked banana, and fish stew.”