After a successful performance at last year’s IAAF World Youth Championships in Marakech, Latin American and Caribbean athletes have shown a great potential to shine at the upcoming IAAF World Junior Championships in Beijing, China, August 15-20.
As Beijing will host the 2008 Olympic Games, the future stars of the region want to make their possible first trip to China a memorable one. Many of them may come back in two years to represent their respective countries at the Summer Games.
Jamaica, Cuba and Brazil have confirmed the talent of their younger athletes, but there are other individuals from South America, Central America and the Caribbean ready to leave their mark in the Chinese capital.
Sprinters and hurdlers lead Jamaican squad
As usual, Jamaica counts on its sprinters, including four medallists from the previous World Junior Championships in Grosseto, Italy.
Renaldo Rose, the 100m bronze medallist, 400m runner-up Sonita Sutherland and 4x100m relay silver medallist Schillonie Calvert have great chances of reaching the podium again on Chinese soil.
Calvert and Sutherland lead the 2006 World junior lists with respective times of 11.21 and 51.13 seconds. Rose, 18, is the second fastest junior this season, following his 10.29 clocking early in March.
Another Grosseto medallist, 400m Hurdles specialist Sherene Pinnock ran 56.90, a second slower than her countrywoman Kaliese Spencer, who improved the CAC junior standard to 55.61 at the IAAF Grand Prix in Gateshead, on 11 June.
With no Latin America and Caribbean champion in Grosseto, Jamaica led the region’s performance, totalling five silver and our bronze medals.
Decathlon, throws and jumps, the best chances for Cuba
Decathlete Yordanis García, shot putter Carlos Véliz, middle distance runner Andy González, triple jumper Yordanis Durañona and throwers Yanet Cruz (Javelin), Jorge Fernández and Yuneimi Soria (Discus) have shown great progress in the first half of the year and hope to make the small Cuban team for Beijing.
Garcia, 17, who set a World best to win the Octathlon title at the World Youth Championships in Marrakech, completed two convincing decathlons in March, totalling 7880 and 7567 points to claim his first national senior title.
The robust 1.92m tall man wants to equal his compatriot Raul Duany, who won the World Junior Championships crown in Seoul 1992.
Véliz improved the national junior record and set an area record and a World junior leading mark of 20.32m at the Barrientos, Fernández (60.06) and Soria (54.98) are the Island’s bets in the Discus.
Two other Marrakech medallist, sprinter Jorge Valcárcel and Javelin thrower Yanet Cruz also hope to repeat their Marrakech success in Beijing.
Unfortunately, 2005 World Triple Jump Youth champion Héctor Dairon Fuentes will miss the World Juniors due to injury. He had set the World junior leading mark of 16.71 in March.
Another World Youth gold medallist, sprinter Aymée Martínez (200m) is not as fast as in 2005 yet, but she still hopes to be selected in the Cuban squad.
Middle distance runner Andy González has also surprised with his substantial progress. In June, he ran 1:47.5 in 800m and a national record of 3:42.6 over 1500m. The 18-year old from Havana made the senior team for the Central American and Caribbean Games in Cartagena, as well as Yarisley Silva (Pole Vault) and Milena Pérez (3.000m ST).
Other Caribbean promises
Apart from Cubans and Jamaicans, other Caribbean athletes are determined to shine in China. Barbados’ Ryan Braithwaite (13.85 in 110m Hurdles), long jumpers Rhonda Watkins (6.56m) of Trinidad and Tobago and Bianca Stuart (6.22w) of the Bahamas will also be other top medal contenders.
The CAC Junior Championships, to be held in Port of Spain, July 14-16, is expected to be a good rehearsal one month prior to the World Juniors.
Javier Clavelo Robinson for the IAAF
Remaldo Rose- 100m (10.29) & 200m (10.91)
Yohan Blake- 100m (10.34) & 200m (20.92)
Cawayne Jervis- 200m (21.21)
Allodin Fothergill- 400m (46.33)
Jason Edwards- 400m (46.56)
Edino Steele- 400m (46.60)
Josef Robertson- 400m H (50.24)
Tarik Edwards- Long Jump (7.51, 7.61w)
Alain Bailey- Long Jump (7.56, 7.88w)
Schillonie Calvert- 100m (11.21) & 200m (23.26)
Anasthasia Leroy- 200m (23.53) & 400m (52.92)
Sonita Sutherland- 400m (51.13)
Kaliese Spencer- 400m (51.56) & 400m Hurdles (55.61)
Andrea Sutherland- 400m (52.73)
Sharnetta Stewart- 400m (52.81)
Sherene Pinnock- 400m (52.68) & 400m H (56.90)
Natasha Ruddock- 100m H (13.68, 13.42w)
Kittiany Clarke-100m H (13.65)
LaToya King- 100m (11.60) & 200m (23.57)
Jorge Valcárcel- 200m (20.95, 20.50w)
Andy González- 800m (1:47.5), 1500m (3:42.6-NJR)
Yordanis Durañona- Triple Jump (16.30)
Carlos Véliz- Shot Put (20.32-AJR)
Jorge Fernández- Discus (60.06-AJR)
Yordanis García- Decathlon (7.880)
Yarisley Silva- Pole Vault (4.20)
Yanelis Veranes- Triple Jump (13.55)
Yuneimi Soria- Discos (54.98)
Yanet Cruz-Javelin (54.20)
Ryan Brathwaite, 110m H (13.85-AJR)
Ramon Gittens- 200m (21.19)
José Sánchez- 10km walk (41:57)
Sheniqua Ferguson- 200m (23.44)
Bianca Stuart- Long Jump (6.16w)
Trinidad and Tobago
Rhonda Watkins- High Jump (1.82), Long Jump (6.56)
Keston Bledman- 100m (10.48)
Dax Danns- 200m (21.21)
Antigua and Barbuda
Anika Jno-Baptiste- 100m (11.49)
Arantxa King- Long Jump (6.39)
Rolando Cruz Palacios, 100m (10.60) & 200m (21.22)