Nassau, The BahamasThe 2005 ColinaImperial Central American and Caribbean Senior Championships ended on Monday (11 July) at Nassau's Thomas A Robinson Stadium, on the same weekend that the Bahamas marked the anniversary of their independence from Great Britain.
The inarguable highlights of the final day of competition were provided in the 200m finals, but there was plenty of other action to satisfy even the greediest of the 6000-plus fans on hand on what was an especially blustery day.
Mothersill reigns again
Born in Jamaica and married to a Trinidadian, Cydonie Mothersill-Modibo is none the less a proud citizen of the Cayman Islands. The 27-year-old had eschewed 100m competition in this meet, preferring to focus on the half-lap event she had won twice in a row. Bahamian Christine Amertil also stayed out of the 400m to set up a mouth-watering encounter.
When the dust settled, Mothersill was CAC champion, with the fastest time in the region under any conditions this year. But what conditions! With winds swirling all weekend, a stiff breeze (3.8 metres per second) pushed the Cayman Islander to a time of 22.26 seconds, with Amertil (22.64) coming in second, and Jamaica's Peta-Gaye Dowdie (22.72) third.
Lightning bolt strikes
The keenly anticipated men's final pitted Trinidad & Tobago's Aaron Armstrong against World Junior record holder Usain Bolt of Jamaica.
Featuring two men who have run under 20 seconds, this race was eagerly awaited by fans from around the region. Two of the most important English-speaking nations in Caribbean athletics girded themselves for battle.
The race was climactic, albeit uncompetitive. After getting off to a fantastic start, it was the 18-year-old Jamaican coming off the curve well ahead of the pack. Striding easily to the finish, Bolt signalled his increasing preparedness for next month's World Championships with an easy run of 20.03 seconds, the sixth-best time in the world this year.
With a trailing wind of 1.8 m/s, Bolt lowered his season's best performance by 11 hundredths of a second, cementing his place atop the CAC lists. He also reset the meet record of 20.38, which had previously been established by Cuba's Ivan Garcia in 1997. At 20.35, Armstrong also went under the meet record to capture second place.
Veteran sprinters Dominic Demeritte, Dominic (BAH) and Obadele Thompson (BAR) were virtual afterthoughts. Defending champ Demeritte took bronze for the home nation in 20.47, and Thompson posted a season-best 20.53 for fourth. Last month the 29-year old former Olympic 100m bronze medalist asserted that he would focus on the 200m from here on in.
Jamaica takes women's 4x400m
The 4x400m relays proved to be exciting, as usual. Jamaica's Moya Thompson started off the women's version with a bang. Thompson passed to Sonita Sutherland, Shellene Williams and Allison Beckford, who breasted the tape at 3:30.63, the second fastest time for Jamaica this year, following the
3:29.24 a Jamaican quartet posted at Penn Relays.
Given the presence of individual 400m champion Tonique Williams-Darling and half-lap silver medalist Amertil, the Bahamas would have been disappointed with second place. But valuable experience was gained for Sasha Rolle and Shakeitha Henfield, and considering they ran a national record 3:31.14, some satisfaction will certainly have been had.
Indira Terrero, Yaniuska Pérez, Yadira Isaac and individual bronze medalist Libania Grenot ran 3:33.85 for Cuba. The bronze medal effort from the ladies in red represented the second fastest run by a team from that nation this year.
Bahamas take Men's relay
From the men's final, Trinidad & Tobago and Cuba qualified for the World Championships, but the Bahamas' foursome of Aaron Clear, Andrae Williams, Nathaniel Mc Kinny and individual bronze medalist Christopher Brown were the toast of the town with a gold medal performance and the best mark in the region for 2005.
Brown stopped the clock in a superb time of 3:01.08, with Trinidad & Tobago's Damion Barry (preceded by silver medalist Ato Modibo, Renny Quow and Sherridan Kirk, more on whom later) coming in at 3:01.43, whilst Williams Collazo, Dayron Martínez, Glauder Garzón and Geyman López (3:02.33) ended with bronze for Cuba.
Business as usual for Cuba
Five field events finals were held Monday. Of the four whose results were available, all were won by Cubans. The men's Pole Vault produced a best height of just 4.80m for Lázaro Eduardo Borges, who is capable of going over 5m. Puerto Rico's Aviexer Vega (4.80m) and Steven Marrero (4.40m) were second and third, respectively.
Yargelis Savigne would have established a women's Long Jump record had she not benefited from an illegal wind of 4.6 m/s on her best jump. Her mark of 6.88m took gold from meet record holder and defending champion Elva Gouldbourne of Jamaica. Gouldbourne (6.78m with a 3.0 m/s wind) led after two trials, but Savigne won it all on her fourth jump.
The youngsters (20 and 25 years old respectively) put on quite a show. But Bahamian veteran Jackie Edwards took full advantage of the conditions as well. Taking bronze with her second trial of 6.71m (wind 3.5 m/s) the 34-year-old had the region's fourth-best jump under any conditions in 2005.
The men's Triple Jump also 'benefited' from the windy conditions. Yoandri Betanzos actually cleared 17.39m in February, but his opening mark of 17.33m (wind 3.0 m/s) represents his best since. Puerto Rico's Allen Simms (17.19m, wind 2.7 m/s) was second, with Long Jump champion Leevan Sands of Bahamas third in 17.14m, with a 3.8 m/s wind.
Maria Sarria's record for women's Shot Put is one of the oldest at the CAC Championships, but on Monday a fellow Cuban bested her 18.28m mark from 1981. Olympic champion Yumileidi Cumbá turned in a series that included the winning mark of 18.98m and three other throws over 18.5m, though none that approached her season-best mark of 19.06m.
Trinidad & Tobago's Cleopatra Borel-Brown, an Olympic finalist in this event last year, pushed the shot out to 18.05m, narrowly beating Jamaica's 24-year-old NCAA champion Kimberly Barrett, who ended with a best mark of 18.03m on her penultimate throw for bronze.
Castillo crowned Heptathlon queen
Juana Castillo of the Dominican Republic maintained her excellent form going into Day 2 of the women's Heptathlon. With personal bests in every event save the 800m run, she ended with a personal record 5381 points. After a remarkable improvement, the 21-year-old now leads the region in Heptathlon, and she is not far off the national record of 5760.
Cuba's Cheilyn Povea (5285) had a poor second day, due mainly to a major let-down in Javelin Throw. After her first successful trial at 30.22m, the 19-year-old recorded consecutive fouls, allowing compatriot Yasmiany Pedroso (5479) back into the silver medal position. Not even a weak 800m time of 2:32.57 could rob Pedroso of second place.
Bernard-Thomas finally on the world stage Grenada's Neisha Bernard-Thomas has been agonizingly close to qualifying for the season's major championships in the past, but Monday was her day at last. The 24-year-old successfully defended her 800m title, ran a season-best time of 2:01.07, broke her national record and made the B standard for next month's World Championships.
Aneita Denton (2:01.66) ran a season-best time, gave the champion a great run for her money, but failed to make the Worlds qualifying standard. Yuneysi Santiusty took the bronze for Cuba in 2:02.38.
Captain Kirk upset in 800
Trinidad & Tobago's Sherridan Kirk had had the region's four fastest 800m runs coming into this meet, and the only one under 1:46. the 24-year-old came to Nassau confident of defending his title, and neither Cuba's Geyman López nor Haiti's Moise Joseph appeared poised to pose much of a problem for the region's fastest man over two laps.
Cometh the hour cometh the man, however, and López proved to be the man for the job. Running 1:47.64, the Cuban beat Kirk (1:48.31) by less than a second. Kirk ran from the front, setting a decent pace. But the Cuban stayed close, and with 350m remaining, he made his move and went past his Trinidad counterpart.
Kirk was compelled to respond. With three quarters of the race gone, the Trinidad & Tobago national champion re-asserted himself over his younger Cuban rival. But with 100m left, they were neck and neck. At the end of the day, though, and at the end of two laps, it was the 21-year-old who had the better finish, powering home to leave Kirk second. Haiti's Joseph (1:49.60) took bronze.
10,000m 1-2 for Cuba
The women's 10,000m run produced a Cuban sweep of the two top spots and a Spanish-speaking sweep of all three medals. Yudelkis Martínez ran 34:53.50 for gold, a slight upset of her older compatriot, Mariela González (35:09.62) who remains ranked higher than Martínez. Higher still than those twom, Mexico's Angélica Sánchez could only produce a run of 36:36.79 on Monday.
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