Twelve minutes with the ball on the forehead. Twelve long minutes floating in the water, without his feet touching the bottom of the pool, maintaining the highest mental concentration and balance so that the ball wouldn’t fall from his head. This is Cuban Jhoen Lefont’s new Guinness Record, established on the morning of this Saturday in Havana’s Meliá Cohiba Hotel.
The judges had set a limit of 10 minutes to consider the record, but the so-called soccer ball Dauphin pleased them with flying colors. In his first attempt in the pool he surpassed the record demanded and all the effort in his training and exercises became deserved satisfaction.
“I feel very happy with having achieved the objective, which was to surpass the 10 minutes,” Lefont said after establishing the record. “Starting with the training sessions my aim was to get to the 12 minutes and I also achieved it, therefore the satisfaction is even greater. Thank God today there wasn’t too much wind and that helped me psychologically to established the record.”
Before this success, the former member of the Cuban water polo national team had set other world records, among them the 1,513 head bunts of the ball in the water and 183 bunts in one minute. However, the new record demanded special training for him.
“The training was very demanding,” Lefont commented. “Three very intense months that helped me gain strength and confidence in myself. The start was a bit difficult because I had gained a great deal of weight due to a hip lesion, but thanks to the work with the physiotherapist I was able to recover bit by bit and start training again.
“I first got ready in the open air. I dedicated myself to aerobic resistance; I did exercises to strengthen my legs. I ran a lot; I pumped irons in movement and also sitting down. Then, when I felt stronger, I started the exercises in the water. And finally I incorporated the bunts to the ball and the balance as such. All that helped me to face the test feeling sure that I could establish the record and to work calmly in the pool.”
Once in the water, Jhoen speaks to the ball as well as to himself. He pushes himself to overcome being tired, while his trainer indicates the time he has achieved every 30 seconds. The entire world boils down to that count, to the soccer ball on his forehead. The cameras, others’ looks, the words of encouragement and the music are amplified in the pool, but for him it’s as if they didn’t exist.
“I have to have a strong communication with the ball, which is my companion at that moment,” he explained in an exclusive interview with OnCuba. “Physically, the effort is very big, especially for the neck because it’s a static position in which you have to maintain the balance, with your sight set on the ball. Moreover, I have to concentrate to the utmost and I repeat this to myself, I encourage myself out loud. That way I help myself psychologically to achieve the goal.
“The most complicated moment is the start, but once I get into the rhythm of the work, that I stabilize myself and prepare myself for the objective it’s very difficult that I drop the ball. The only way this can happen is if the wind pays a dirty trick on me. On the contrary, all my effort lies in that nothing keeps me away from establishing the record.”
Jhoen recognizes that having practiced water polo for many years has served him as physical and mental preparation to establish records like this one. “It has helped me not feel the pressure,” he affirms.
The record holder didn’t want to let the interview go by without thanking all those who backed him to achieve the new triumph: his family, his trainer, his support team and sponsors and especially the Meliá Cohiba Hotel where he said he felt “at home.” His last world records have been reached there and he hopes they are not the last ones.
“I feel in shape to surpass this record,” he affirms. “I have to give a margin of time to see if another competitor aims to break it, which would give me the strength to surpass it.” However, Lefont is now focusing his training on other modalities: he will make an attempt at a record of 50 meters controlling the ball and later he will try to surpass the number of head bunts in the water achieved in 2016.
For the time being, his 12 minutes balancing the ball are a very high goal for whoever wants to challenge him. As usual, all his exercise was followed by the judges and the press and filmed second by second for his validation by Guinness.
Cuba has other record holders in the dominion of the ball, but on the ground. The brothers Erick and Douglas Hernández and the young Luis Carlos García have also inscribed their names on the list of world records. Precisely the last two witnessed this Saturday the record, together with other personalities from the island like high jump record holder Javier Sotomayor.