Cuba’s World and Olympic Javelin Throw champion Osleidys Menéndez returned to the eastern city of Santiago de Cuba, the Island’s second largest, and pleased the crowd with a 65.02m win in the Aurelio Janet Memorial, held Saturday and Sunday (4 / 5 March) at the Pepe del Cabo stadium in Santiago.
World season lead
On Saturday, Menéndez continued with a five-step run-up and opened her series with a foul and then released the 600g implement to 64.84, followed by 65.02, her furthest effort ever in Santiago, very close to the meet record of 65.29, set by Xiomara Rivero in 2001.
The 26-year old finished her series with 63.10, 60.48 and passed the final round. Her best in this eastern city was a 64.78 at the 2001 Janet. She last won here in 2002, with 64.56. She also set a world leading mark early in the season, replacing her archrival Steffi Nerius, who threw 64.07 in February. Eight days earlier, the world record holder had made her 2006 debut with 62.64.
“I am happy to return to Santiago and the javelin always flies well here. I like to compete in other parts of the country and also pay our tribute to the previous generations of Cuban javelin throwers, especially Janet”, said a happy Menéndez.
Janet, born in the province of Santiago de Cuba, became the first Cuban javelin thrower to break the 80-meter mark (80.10), which made him the first Cuban thrower qualified for an Olympic final, in Mexico´68.
Sonia Bisset (59.60) and Maria C. Alvarez (56.30) were distant second and third, respectively.
When she was only 14, Menéndez threw the Javelin to 53.98 in Santiago de Cuba in 1994, a mark that enabled her to enter the national team. One year later, she won her first international competition in Argentina (the Pan American junior title) and the rest is history.
The men’s event was taken by 2005 Helsinki finalist Guillermo Martinez in 80.31, followed by Emeterio González (75.30) and Yudel Moreno (73.92).
Crawford confirms good form but Moreno still not ready
Another Olympic medallist, 2004 Athens third place finisher Yunaika Crawford, confirmed her good form with a 70.78m win in the women’s Hammer Throw, ahead of Aarasay Thondike (65.80) and 16-year old Ariannys Bichy (60.25).
Yipsi Moreno, the 2001 and 2003 World champion and 2004 Olympic silver medallist, is behind schedule in training due to an injury and did not compete.
The Hammer Throw was held in Las Tunas, some 250 km best of Santiago de Cuba, where the women’s national team usually sets their winter and spring training camps.
Noleixis Vicet won the men’s event with 71.80, closely followed by Ihosvany Suárez (71.22). 2005 Pan American Junior Championships silver medallist Roberto Janet was third in 66.75.
Yordanis García impresses in the Decathlon
Yordanis García, the 2005 World Youth champion and holder of the Octathlon world best, impressed in only his second ever Decathlon, totalling 7880 points, only 33 short of the national record, set by Raul Duany in 1994. García, 17, led the first day with 4135, closely followed by Alberto Juantorena Jr. (4121), but the latter did not start the 110m Hurdles and paved the way for the youngster’s win. He particularly impressed in the 100m, running a hand-timed 10.5 and in the 110m Hurdles (14.0). He also high jumped 2.08 and threw the Javelin to 65.17. In his decathlon debut, he totalled 6765 to finish sixth at the National Championships.
He could well be the third Cuban to join the 8000pts club. This year, he aims at competing at the CAC Junior Champs in Trinidad and Tobago and the IAAF World Junior Championships in Beijing 2008.
Yosley Azcuy (7570) and junior Leonel Suárez (7357) relegated 2005 Pan American Junior Championships runner-up Yunior Díaz, aged 18, to the fourth place with a 7263 total.
In the Heptathlon, 2002 Iberoamerican gold medallist Yuleidis Limonta seemed to be en-route to becoming the third Cuban to achieve 6000 points, but she faded in the Javelin (34.95) and the 800m (2:26.4) to finish with 5881, still 20 points better than her personal best, set in 2003.
Gretchen Quintana also improved to finish second in 5764, while 2005 national champion and CAC Champs runner-up Yasmiany Pedroso was third in 5334.
Other winners were Olympic finalist Yania Ferrales (60.81) and Lois M. Martínez (61.10) in the Discus, Yoisel Toledo (19.05 PB) and Yaniuvis López (16.92 PB) in the Shot Put.
The Janet Memorial is a rehearsal before the Copa Cuba National Championships, to be held 21-26 March.
Here are Yordanis Garcia’s and Yuleidis Limonta´s detailed results:
Yordanis Garcia 7880 (10.5-6.81-14.90-2.08-50.5/14.0-43.64-4.00-65.17-4:48.4)
Yuleidis Limonta 5881 (13.7-1.76-13.90-24.2/6.26-34.95-2:26.4)
Javier Clavelo Robinson for the IAAF
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