Jose Mendieta on the way to the Pan-American Combined Events Cup title (Javier Clavelo Robinson) © Copyright
With his country’s top three decathletes competing in Gotzis, Austria, 20-year-old Mendieta took his first international victory by tallying 7792 points, close to his personal best of 7853 set three weeks earlier.
In his second competition overseas – the first one was also in Canada when he was fifth at the 2010 World Junior Championships - the young Cuban trailed USA’s Eric Broadbent, who led by over 160 points after Day 1.
The American, a 2.18m high jumper, who cleared 2.11m on Saturday, performed poorly in the throws while the Cuban remained consistent. Mendieta took the lead after the Pole Vault and sealed the gold by winning the 1500m.
"I was well prepared and expected a higher score, but the flights on Friday took their toll on Sunday. This is a mental battle and I kept fighting in every event. I am learning a lot from my more experienced compatriots and I am taking progressive steps in this discipline. I am not in a rush," said Mendieta, a former shot putter, who took up the combined events four years ago.
Broadbent settled for second in 7498, while Mexico’s Roman Garibay rounded up the podium with a 7149 total.
USA’s Jake Arnold, with the best personal score of all participants (8253), was in third after the Discus but no-heighted in the Pole Vault.
Rodriguez prepping well for World Junior Championships
In the women’s event, Rodriguez also enjoyed her first international victory three weeks after setting a World Youth Best in Havana with 5994 points.
The 2011 World Youth silver medallist finished the seven events with 5819 points to prevail comfortably over Canada’s Jennifer Cotton, who propelled herself to silver (5656) after a 2:11.02 in 800m.
"I wanted to see where I am at in my preparation for the World Junior Championships. We had a short break between events and had little rest after arriving on Friday. I know I can achieve more, but I am happy overall to win gold for Cuba. I will focus on the throws between now and Barcelona and I am sure I will able to surpass the 6000 points barrier with tougher opposition," said the 17-year old from Guantanamo.
Rodriguez and World Youth champion Yusleidys Mendieta are slated to represent Cuba at the IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona.
Cuba’s 2011 Pan American Games silver medallist Yasmiani Pedroso clinched bronze in the last event with 5650, ahead of her compatriot Yilian Durruty (5602).
Competing as a guest, Nigeria’s Uhunoma Osazuwa produced the highest tally over the weekend with a national record of 6049.
"I am getting closer to the Olympic B standard (6150) and will work on my strong events (hurdles and 200m) to prepare for the African Championships and the Olympics," said Osazuwa, a university student in Michigan.
The Cuban women and the Canadian men (Mark Chenery and Patrick Arbour) took the team honours. Medals and trophies were presented by NACAC chairman and IAAF Council member Neville `Teddy` McCook, Victor Lopez, president of the Association of Pan American Athletics (APA) and David Steen, 1988 Olympic bronze medallist and Canadian Decathlon record holder.
The inaugural Pan American Combined Events Cup was hosted by the Ottawa Lions Athletics club and drew 17 women and 10 men from 10 countries. The Canadian capital has shown interest to host the continental event next year.
Javier Clavelo Robinson for the IAAF
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