Hurdler Orlando Ortega, Discus thrower Denia Caballero and a close battle in the men’s 800m between winner Raidel Acea and Andy Gonzalez were the highlights of the Barrientos Memorial in Havana, which also served as the second and final phase of the Cuban National Championships.
With the country’s top athletes competing in different parts of the globe, the competition witnessed the emergence of new and upcoming athletes preparing for their main goal this year: the IAAF World Championships, Daegu, Korea (27 Aug - 4 Sep) and the Pan American Games in Guadalajara.
Raidel Acea and Andy Gonzalez provided the best race of the three-day event (Thursday 26 – Saturday 28) as they ran neck to neck in the men’s 800m. They both passed the first 400m in 51 seconds and launched their attack with 100m to go. 2009 Pan American junior champion Acea prevailed in the sprint and was rewarded with a personal best of 1:45.62, ahead of 2006 CAC Games Gonzalez, who ran a season’s best of 1:45.67.
“It was a tough race and that led me to a personal best. I am closer now to the ‘A’ standard of 1:45.40 to make the World Championships team. I feel in optimal condition and I have received valuable advice from (1997 World silver and national record holder) Norberto Tellez. We both come from the same province,” Acea said.
“Acea is coming up very well. This is my second 800m race of the season. I am not yet in my best shape. I hope to reach my best form in July-August and finally break the 1:45- minute barrier. This rivalry befits both of us,” Gonzalez commented.
The women’s race went to Diosmely Peña in 2:02.41, closely followed by
2009 World Youth bronze medallist Rose Mary Almanza (2:02.59) and Mexican Olympian Gabriela Medina (2:02.66), coming back from maternity.
With Olympic champion and world record holder Dayron Robles schedule to run in Hengelo on Sunday (29), the men’s 110m Hurdles saw the emergence Orlando Ortega, who made a massive improvement to 13.56, ahead of 2003 Pan American Games champion Yuniel Hernandez (13.67) and Dayron Capetillo (13.74).
“I have benefited from the expertise of coach Santiago Antunez` team. Technique is my strength and I am sure I will continue to improve my times this season,” said the young talent, who used to specialize in the 110m and 400m hurdles in his junior years before focusing on the shorter distance.
Caballero in the spotlight
In the absence of World and Olympic medallist Yarelis Barrios, who is busy with her Samsung Diamond League campaign, Denia Caballero took the spotlight in the Women’s Discus with a massive personal best of 62.94, an IAAF ‘A’ standard for Daegu.
“This result is a confidence booster for my season. Cuba has always produced good Discus throwers and I am sure we will have three women at the World Championships,” said the young Caballero.
Her closest rivals were Yanisley Collado (61.72) and 2010 World Junior champion Yahimí Pérez (57.99). The men’s winner was Jorge Fernández in 64.77.
Completing his best month ever was Lázaro Borges in the Pole Vault. Following his third place at his Samsung Diamond League debut in Doha (6 May) and equalling his national record of 5.70m in Brazil, the 24-year old ended the competition after a first attempt clearance over 5.50.
“I have had my best campaign so far and I will try to keep my best shape throughout the season. My coach (Ruben Camino) and I are aiming higher at 5.80-5.85 and a good placing at the World Championships,” said Borges. Watching from the stands was his mom Esperanza, “one of my best sources of inspiration.”
Other notable winners were Noel Ruiz (45.94 sec) and Aimee Martinez (51.93 sec) in the 400m as well as Omar Cisneros in the 400m Hurdles (49.91 both in semis and final). Nelkis Casabona and Michel Herrera took the sprint doubles. The latter ran 20.63 sec in the 200m.
Former World Championships medallists were unluckier in their respective events. Victor Moya was second in the High Jump (2.19m) as well as Osleidys Menendez, nursing a left ankle injury, in the Javelin Throw (57.40m).
The Barrientos Memorial is held since 1950 in honour of 1928 Olympian sprinter Jose Barrientos. Over 60 foreign athletes from 10 countries competed. The only foreign winners were Dominican Republic’s Yolanda Osana in the 400m Hurdles (58.64), Mexico’s Sergio Pedraza in the 5000m (14:16.57) and India’s Sharma Ankit in the Long Jump (7.73).
Cuba’s next goals include the ALBA Games in Venezuela in July and CAC Championships in Mayaguez July 15-17, in preparation for the World Championships and the Pan American Games.
Javier Clavelo Robinson for the IAAF
The Barrientos winners are the following:
100m Nelkis Casabona 11.41
200m Nelkis Casabona 23.51
400m Aymée Martínez 51.93
800m Diosmely Peña 2:02.41
1500m Urdileidis Quiala 4:20.38
5000m Yudisleidis Fuentes 16:26.43
10,000m Yudisleivis Castillo 34:37.34
100m H Yenima Arencibia 13.25
400m H Yolanda Osana DOM 58.64
HJ Lesyani Mayor 1.81
PV Daylis Caballero 4.40
LJ Suslaidys Girat 6.37
TJ Josleidy Ribalta 13.85
SP Mailín Vargas 18.01
DT Denia Caballero 62.94
HT Yunaika Crawford 66.18
JT Yainelis Ribeaux 59.47
Hep Yasmiany Pedroso 5664
4x100m Cuba A 44.44
4x400 Cuba A 3:31.80
100m Michael Herrera 10.34
200m Michael Herrera 20.63
400m Noel Ruiz 45.94
800m Raidel Acea 1:45.62
1500m Osmany Calzado 3:56.2
5,000m Sergio Pedraza MEX 14:16.57
10,000 Richard Pérez 29:56.32
3,000 ST José Alberto Sánchez 8:55.47
110m H Orlando Ortega 13.56
400m H Omar Cisneros 49.91
HJ Yordano Glemaud 2.19
PV Lázaro Borges 5.50
LJ Sharma Ankit IND 7.73
TJ Pedro Pablo Pichardo 16.09
SP Reinaldo Proenza 18.91
DT Jorge Fernández 64.77
HT Noleisis Bicet 72.47
JT Michel Miranda 73.78
Dec José Angel Mendieta 7682
10,000m W Rubén Goliat 42:53.9
4x100m Cuba A 39.91
4x400m Cuba A 3:05.52