Mireya Luis Hernandez
Mireya Luis Hernandez
Alejandrina Mireya Luis Hernández, often referred to as Mireya (born February 25, 1967 in Camagüey) is a retired Cuban volleyball player.
At the age of 10 she started playing volleyball. At 16, Mireya joined the Cuban national team for the 1983 Pan-American Games, in which Cuba took first place. She would play with them again in the 1987 Games, and Cuba would again win the tournament. After a brief hiatus due to injury, she resumed play in 1990 at the World Championship in Japan where the Cuban team finished fourth. In 1991 she led the Cuban team to win its first ever World Cup in Mexico in 1991 . Mireya won her first Olympic gold medal at the 1992 Games in Barcelona with teammate Regla Bell. She would win a second gold in Atlanta in 1996, again playing with the Cuban national team. Meanwhile, she also led Cuba to two world championships in 1994 where she was chosen the best spiker and Cuba won every match with a perfect 3-0. The team would win again in 1998. Mireya retired after a second Grand Prix and a third Olympic gold medal in 2000.
Luis is known for her spectacular jumping power reaching 3.39 meter, more than any other player, though being only 1.75 meter tall. She earned numerous "best scorer", "best spiker" and "best player" awards at world, Olympic and continental championships.
When you first look at Mireya Luis’ 5 foot 10 inch frame you wouldn’t expect her to be a dominant volleyball player, however her amazing jumping ability more than made up for her lack of height. She started to play volleyball at the age of 10 and competing against older players at the age of 13. By the time Luis was 15 she was a starter on the Cuban National Team.
During her time period she was known as the springiest spiker in the game, thanks in part to her 36-inch vertical leap. Luis was granted the gift of physical power and she used it to the best of her abilities. She was often compared to Michael Jordan since it seemed as if she could climb up way past the antenna to spike a ball.
In her first World Championships in 1986, Luis helped lead the Cuban team to a silver medal just weeks after giving birth to her daughter. However, after this loss Cuba would go onto win the World Championships in 1990, 1994 and 1998 as well as taking the gold medal in the Olympics in Barcelona (1992), Atlanta (1996) and again in Sydney (2000).
Luis’ resume also includes numerous medals World Cups and Grand Prix tournaments. She also won three MVP awards in World Cup play. Her Cuban National team was by far the dominant team of the nineties and could also have dominated the eighties had the Cuban Team not boycotted the Olympics of 1984 and 1988.
Luis was perhaps the most charismatic and reputable player of the nineties and not just because of her spiking abilities. She was a dedicated leader and an influential role model for many of the younger players in not only her country but also around the world. Presently she is the vice-president of the Cuban National Commission for Athletes as well as a member of the International Olympic Committee’s Solidarity Commission.