Vriesde, 38, was never challenged in the two-lap race and easily won the event in 2:04.50 minutes, far from her season best (2:00.42), but good enough to defend her title from Ponce’93 and Maracaibo’98. She also has the 800m silver from Mexico City (1990) and the 1500m titles in Mexico and Ponce in her 22-year career.
She is the only Surinamese to ever win an athletics gold at the CAC Games and the only South American female athlete to win a medal at World Championships indoors and out: silver in Gotheborg’95, bronze in Edmonton’2001 and in Barcelona’95 (indoors).
“I am very happy to give another gold to my country and I’ll work hard to stay in shape until the 2004 Olympics. I’ll then be 40 so I may retire after that”, said a happy Vriesde wearing the green, red and yellow colours of her national flag.
The Paramaribo star plans to compete in both the indoor and outdoor World Champs in Birmingham and Paris, as well as the Pan American Games in Santo Domingo next year.
Elsewhere on the track, Cuban-born Liliana Allen achieved her third 100-200 CAC double, the first ever for Mexico in the 76-year history of the Games. Her previous doubles were in Mexico City (1990) and Ponce (1993) representing her country of origin.
The 32-year old, eighth at 100 metres in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, won the 200 in 23.34, followed home by Colombia’s Norma Gonzalez (23.73) and Antigua and Barbuda’s Heather Samuel (24.13).
She will aim for her ninth CAC crown Friday in the 4x100 metres relay final.
In the men’s 200 metres, Mexico’s Juan Pablo Toledo successfully defended his title from Maracaibo, clocking 20.97 seconds, ahead of Jamaica’s 2001 World Championships silver medallist Christopher Williams (21.04).
Mexico’s Dulce Rodriguez broke the only CAC record of the day, fifth overall, when winning the 5.000 metres 16:38.92, better than the 16:43.48 set by her countrywoman Nora Rocha four years ago in Venezuela.
Mexico, with five titles won on Thursday, strengthened its lead in the medal tally with 12 gold, seven silver and six bronze, followed by the Dominican Republic (4-3-0), Colombia (3-7-4), Venezuela (3-2-5) and Puerto Rico (2-6-2). There are 11 countries with gold and 16 with at least one medal.
The region’s current best stars, Mexico’s Ana Guevara and Dominican Republic’s Felix Sanchez will run the 4x400 metre relay on the final day of athletics on Friday, featuring 13 finals, including both marathon races, the men’s 3000-metre steeplechase, high jump, shot put, the women’s 1.500m, triple jump, discus throw, heptathlon and the four relay races.
The Thursday medallists are as follows:
1. Liliana Allen (MEX) 23.34
2. Norma Gonzalez (COL) 23.73
3. Heather Samuel (ANT) 24.13
1. Letitia Vriesde (SUR) 2:04.50
2. Lysaira del Valle (PUR) 2:06.09
3. Gabriela Medina (MEX) 2:06.55
1. Dulce Rodriguez (MEX) 16:38.92 CR
2. Bertha Sanchez (COL) 16:39.23
3. Nora Rocha (MEX) 16:42.18
1. Ivonne Harrison (PUR) 57.39
2. Yamelis Ortiz (PUR) 57.52
3. Preciosa Oliveros (COL) 57.72
1. Juan P. Toledo (MEX) 20.97
2. Cristopher Williams (JAM) 21.04
3. Jose Carabali (VEN) 21.13
1. Manuel González (VEN) 1:48.71
2. Germaine Myers (JAM) 1:48.89
3. Marvin Watts (JAM) 1:49.11
1. Oscar Juanz (MEX) 50.46
2. Miguel Garcia (DOM) 51.05
3. Jose Carvajal (MEX) 51.62
1. Sergio Sauceda (MEX) 7.48
2. Jose Mercedes (DOM) 7.32
3. Kevin Arthurson (SKN) 7.26
1. Manuel Fuenmayor (VEN) 75.32
2. Noraldo Palacios (COL) 75.11
3. Ronald Noguera (VEN) 74.91