Havana, CubaYipsi Moreno and Osleidys Menendez confirmed once again their ambitions for Olympic gold in Athens when they produced world leading marks in the Hammer (73.70) and Javelin (68.32) throws, in a special competition (March 4-5) in Havana's Estadio Panamericano to celebrate Women's International Day.
Menendez throws far - 68 metres! - but injury niggles remain
Using an eight-step approach, Menendez opened her series with 62.15m and then send the 600g implement to 68.23, her fifth best effort ever and the furthest throw in 30 months, since she clinched the World University Games title in Beijing, on August 29, 2001.
Fully recovered, both technically and mentally from a low par 2003, the 2001 Edmonton World champion stopped her series, following her coach Dionisio Quintana's instructions.
"What can I say? I am very happy and it shows that we are doing the right things on the road to the Olympics. I still have to improve some technical aspects, but I am very confident of a good performance in Athens."
"Apparently, the purple javelin gave me good luck again as I used a javelin of the same colour when I broke the world record", stated a smiling Menendez while receiving an ice massage in her right arm.
"I feel like 2001 or even better and I am following a good treatment to solve my ankle problem", she added, recalling her superb 2001 season, when she became the first woman to break the 70-metres barrier with the new model (71.54) and also the first Latin American woman to set a World senior record.
Edmonton bronze medallist Sonia Bisset (62.05) and Noraida Bicet (60.35) followed in second and third, respectively.
"She went two metres further than what we expected for this time of the year. We will continue to emphasize our work on technique, especially on the final effort. She is ready to threaten her World record again", said Quintana.
Menendez is expected to make her European debut in May and has planned 7-10 meetings before travelling to Greece.
Moreno throws 73.10
The previous day, two-time hammer World champion Yipsi Moreno took the 4kg implement to 73.70 metres, 0.05m better than her season debut and world leading mark a week before.
The best Cuban sportswoman of 2003 opened her series with 70.85, followed by 71.28, 71.27 and 71.57. In the fifth round, the 23-year old from Camaguey sent the hammer to 73.70 and ended the competition with a fouled 72.67.
Despite completing her 11th consecutive outing over 70 metres and producing one of her 10 best throws ever, the Pan American Games gold medallist looked visibly disappointed as she expected to post a long 74m throw. She is definitely demanding too much from herself.
"That is what I was throwing in training and things simply did not come out as I expected", said Moreno, who was followed by Yunaika Crawford (69.27) and Aldenay Vasallo (67.52). Two juniors, Arasay Thondike (61.05) and Daimara Rovira (60.95) became the seventh and eighth Cubans to break the 60-meter barrier.
In her coach Eladio Hernandez' opinion, Moreno "competed better than the previous week and she is trying to get familiar with the circle again. She was still a little desperate and should improve as the season progresses". Despite her dissatisfaction, her area record (75.14) and the world mark (76.07) continue under threat.
As her training partner Mabel Gay participated in the World Indoors in Budapest, Yusmay Bicet showed she does not want to be second to anyone at home in the triple jump, after she posted an impressive 14.61 (+1.96 m/s), much better than her previous best of 14.22 -a month-long national junior record in 2002. She came only 16cm off the Cuban outdoor senior standard, set by Yamile Aldama in 1999.
"I am very happy to reach the world elite. I had a good leap (the third), but I still have a lot to improve, specially the runway to take off better and eventually be more consistent'", explained the 20-year old and 1.90-metre tall woman, whose best international result was the bronze medal at the 2003 Pan American Games in Santo Domingo. Two other 14-metre jumpers, Yaima Kindelan (13.93) and Olga L. Cepero (13.45), were second and third, respectively.
The meeting saw Marjorie Sanchez add 10 more centimeters to her Pole Vault national junior record, before failing three times over 4.10. She also tied the area standard, set by Colombia's Milena Agudelo in 2003.
Sanchez' was the second Cuban junior broken this season, one week after 17-year old Yubraile Hernandez erased the 15-year old 10000m race walk mark, with a 42:05.31 minute clocking.
Other winners were Yarianny Arguelles (1.86) and Lisvany Perez (2.24) in the High Jump, Yudelkis Fernandez (6.46) and Yoelmis Pacheco (7.96) in the Long jump, Frank Cespedes (5.20) in the men's Pole Vault, Libania Grenot (52.82) and Glauder Garzon (46.36) in the 400 metres.
Bertha Peñalver beat more experienced Yahumara Neyra in the 100-metres Hurdles, both clocking 13.43. The men's High Hurdles were taken by Jesus Costa (13.85).
Yania Ferrales took the women's Discus in 62.84, while Noleysi Vicet won the men's Hammer with 71.02. The men's Triple Jump, won by Yandri Herrera 16.26, saw 2000 Olympian Michel Calvo jump for the first time in two years after undergoing a second knee surgery. Calvo was third in 16.06, behind 2003 World Youth champion Dennis Fernandez (16.12). World indoor record holder Aliecer Urrutia was fifth with a poor 15.52.
The Cuban national team will continue to hold local meetings each Thursday and Friday at Havana's Estadio Panamericano in March, as part of their preparation for the Olympic Games.