Cuba’s 2005 World champion Zulia Calatayud claimed her first regional title, however her Cuban compatriot and fellow World champion Osleidys Menendez, lost the Javelin contest on the final day (Sat 29) of the athletics tournament at the 20th Central American and Caribbean Games.
Cartagena´s Pedro de Uribe stadium witnessed six records on the competition’s farewell, with other great performances by Jamaica’s Dorian Scott (Shot Put), Cuba’s junior Andy González (800m), Dominican Republic’s Juan Arrendel (High Jump) and Mexico’s Robison Pratt in the Pole Vault.
Dominican Republic’s Juan Rosario Arrendel (pic above) became the sixth woman to claim three consecutive titles in CAC Games history.
Pedestrian win for World champion
Facing a tactical women’s 800m race in which nobody wanted to set a fast pace, Zulia Calatayud simply waited for the last 120 metres to launch her strong kick and take the 800m gold in a pedestrian time of 2:05.26.
“Nobody wanted to run fast and I would not act as a rabbit. I just focused on winning the gold and I am sure I will improve my times in Europe”, said a calm Calatayud, who was followed by Colombia’s 1500m winner Rosibel Garcia (2:05.78) and Mexico’s Gabriela Medina (2:06.15).
In the men’s 800m, Trinidad and Tobago’s Sheridan Kirk took control of the race from the very beginning and entered the final straight with a good lead, but he faded in the last 60m and fast-finishing Andy González overhauled him with 20 metres to the finish fine.
The 18-year-old from Havana crossed the finish line in 1:46.26, a new Central American and Caribbean junior record. The time moved him up to the fourth place in the 2006 World Junior lists and confirms him as a major medal contender for the upcoming IAAF World Junior Championships in Beijing, August 15-20.
“I am surprised by the time, but I was ready to run a good race. I just tried to stay among the top three and then launched my attack at the right time. I want to be like Alberto Juantorena”, said the former basketball player.
Kirk (1:46.55) and Cuban Maury Castillo (1:47.60) completed the podium positions.
Injured Menendez struggles
Visibly affected by pain in the tibia of her left leg, World and Olympic champion and record holder Osleidys Menéndez could not throw more than 59.64m in the women’s Javelin.
Thirty-five year old Sonia Bisset, the 2001 World Championships bronze medallist and 1998 CAC Games winner, decided the gold in her favour after a second round effort of 63.30.
Eight years ago, a then junior Menéndez was second to Bisset at the 18th CAC Games in Maracaibo. “The CAC Games title is the only one missing in my career. The injury is not that serious, but it bothers at the time of throwing and affects my technique. I am disappointed, not for the silver, but for my performance. I will take the rest of the year off to rest and get ready for 2007 and 2008”, explained Menéndez.
Bisset easily erased the CAC record of 56.61, set by Colombia’s Zuleima Aramendiz at the 2002 Games in El Salvador. Aramendiz finished fifth this time.
“I am very happy with the gold and the result, but the heat tired me at the end. I may retire at the end of the season so it is good to add another title to my pedigree” commented Bisset.
Forty year old Laverne Eve of the Bahamas (57.29) repeated her bronze medal of Maracaibo´98.
Jamaica’s shot victory
Also on the infield, Jamaica’s Dorian Scott's performance in the women's Shot Put was immense and improved the Games record with a 20.34 metre toss. Scott, who had two other attempts over 20 metres, was never troubled as Cuba’s Alexis Paumier (18.26) and Reinaldo Proenza (18.03) were very distant. Venezuela’s Yoger Medina, the previous record holder at 19.63 who was seeking a third consecutive title, finished fourth in 17.94.
Three out of three for Arrendel
Dominican Republic’s Juan Rosario Arrendel was luckier in the High Jump as she became the sixth woman to claim three consecutive CAC Games titles. The 2003 Pan American champion and IAAF 2003 World Championships finalist cleared 1.93m in her first attempt, a season’s best, to join Cubans Miguelina Cobián (100m), Carmen Romero and Barbara Hechevarría (Discus), María Caridad Colón (Javelin) and Surinam’s Letitia Vriesde (800m) as the only female athletes who have claimed three CAC Games titles in a row.
The 28-year old had a good third attempt over 1.95. She was followed by Colombia’s Catherine Ibarguen, who was also second in the Long Jump, and Levern Spencer of Saint Lucia, both clearing 1.88.
Pole Vault record
Mexico’s Robison Pratt soared to 5.50m, a new record in the Pole Vault, having been faultless in his three attempts (5.20, 5.35 and 5.50) before failing three times over 5.60.
Saint Lucia’s Dominic Johnson, who was defending his CAC title and record of 5.42 from the 2002 Games, was second in 5.20, with Colombia’s David Alberto Rojas (4.60) as the other man who cleared at least one height for bronze. Another Mexican, 2006 World Indoor Championships fourth-place finisher Giovanni Lanaro, failed three times over his opening height 5.20.
Guevara leads home Mexico
The two other records came in the relays, with the Cuban women running 43.29 in the 4x100m and the Jamaican men clocking 3:01.78 in the 4x400m.
World and Olympic medallist Ana Guevara led the Mexican squad to secure the women’s 4x400m relay gold in 3:29.92 minutes.
Sanjay Ayre, Leford Green, Ricardo Chambers and Bryan Steele joined efforts to win the last final of the athletics tournament, the men’s 4x400m relay, in 3:01.78 minutes, followed by Trinidad and Tobago (3:02.65) and the defending champions of the Dominican Republic (3:03.25), a team that included 2004 Olympic and two time World 400m Hurdles champion Felix Sanchez as a first leg runner.
Record breaking five days
A total of 15 records fell during the five days of competitions in Cartagena, where three of the 47 athletic events were not contested due to the lack of competitors: the women’s 3000m Steeplechase and 10,000m as well as the men’s 50km Race Walk.
Multiple champions include Cuba’s Roxana Diaz (200m-4x100m) and Anay Tejeda (100m hurdles-4x100m), Mexico’s Ana Guevara (400m-4x400m), Juan Luis Barrios (1500m-5000m).
Guevara, Barrios, Procopio Franco of Mexico in the marathon and Arrendel were the only athletes of the 20 present in Cartagena who successfully defended their individual titles from El Salvador 2002. Mexico’s Gabriela Medina ran in both winning 4x400m relay teams (2002 and 2006).
Arrendel and Sonia Bisset won in 1998 and also in 2006. Another veteran and relay gold medallist from Maracaibo, Cuban Virgen Benavides ran the first leg to lead her country to the 4x100m title in 2006.
Only six events (four men and two women) had better winning results in 2002.
Cuba, with 60 athletes, led the tally with 42 medals (21 gold, 13 silver and 8bronze), followed by Mexico (8-3-4), Colombia (4-8-6), Jamaica (3-3-5), the Netherland Antilles (2-0-0) and Panama, the Dominican Republic (1-1-2), Venezuela (1-0-3), the British Virgin Islands and El Salvador (1-0-0).
Bahamas (0-3-2), Trinidad and Tobago (0-2-2), Grenada (0-2-0), Guatemala, Saint Kitts and Nevis (0-1-2), Puerto Rico (0-1-1), Barbados, Haiti, the US Virgin Islands, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines obtained at least one medal.
Javier Clavelo Robinson for the IAAF
Here are all the 2006 Central American Games champions:
100m Churandi Martina AHO 10.06 (0.6) CR
200m Xavier Brown JAM 20.74 (1.1)
400m Yeimer López CUB 45.28
800m Andy González CUB 1:46.26 AJR
1500m Juan Luis Barrios MEX 3:42.52
5000m Juan Luis Barrios MEX 14:09.08
10,000m José David Galván MEX 29:40.08
Marathon Procopio Franco MEX 2:24:35
3000m ST Néstor Nieves VEN 8:44.86
110m H Dayron Robles CUB 13.12 (0.7) CR
400m H Bayano Kamani PAN 49.44
HJ Gilmar Mayo COL 2.19
PV Robinson Pratt MEX 5.50 CR
LJ Irving Saladino PAN 8.29 (0.0)
TJ Yoandri Betanzos CUB 17.46 (0.8) CR
SP Dorian Scott JAM 20.34 CR-NR
DT Junior Lastre CUB 57.00
HT Noleysis Bicet CUB 69.56
JT Guillermo Martínez CUB 84.91 CR
Decathlon Alexis Chivás CUB 7.551 pts
20km walk Luis Fernando López COL 1:24:20
4x100m Netherland Antilles 39.29
(Brian Mariano, Prince Kwidama, Jairo Duzant, Churandy Martina)
4x400m Jamaica 3:01.78 CR
(Sanjay Ayre, Leford Green, Ricardo Chambers, Bryan Steele)
100m Tahesia Harrigan BVI 11.15 (0.5)
200m Roxana Díaz CUB 22.76 (-0.4) CR
400m Ana Guevara MEX 50.99
800m Zulia Calatayud CUB 2:05.26
1.500m Rosibel García COL 4:18.29 CR
5000m Bertha Sanchez COL 16:17.17 CR
Marathon Maria Elena Valencia MEX 2:45:49
100m H Anay Tejeda CUB 12.86 (0.4)
400m H Daimí Pernía CUB 55.32
HJ Juana Arrendel DOM 1.93
PV Maryori Sánchez CUB 4.10 CR
LJ Yudelkis Fernández CUB 6.37
TJ Mabel Gay CUB 14.20 (1.5)
SP Yumileidi Cumbá CUB 19.31
DT Yania Ferrales CUB 59.70
HT Yipsi Moreno CUB 70.22 CR
JT Sonia Bisset CUB 63.30 CR
Heptathlon Yuleidis Limonta CUB 5952 CR
20km walk Cristina López ESA 1:38:26
4x100m Cuba 43.29 CR
(Virgen Benavides, Misleydis Lazo, Roxana Diaz, Anay Tejeda)
4x400m México 3:29.92
(Ruth Grajeda, Ana Guevara, Gabriela Medina, Mayra González)
NR- National Record
CR- Championships Record
Full results can be found at http://www.cartagena2006.gov.co/informes/atletismo/