IAAF Golden League Jackpot winners, Mexico's Ana Guevara and the Dominican Republic's Felix Sanchez’s participation in their respective 4x400m finals was the principle highlight of the last session of the athletics tournament yesterday at the 19th Central American and Caribbean (CAC) Games in San Salvador’s Flor Blanca Stadium, which close today, Saturday.
Guevara, 25, completed an impeccable season by winning the individual 400m, and yesterday the 4x400m relay at these Games, leading her team to a national record of 3:31.24 and the first win ever for her country in this event.
“I doubted if we could win because my team mates were too young, but I am very happy with my them because everyone did what was expected and then I was able to catch and surpass the Dominican Republic girl on the final lap”, said the world’s fastest one-lap runner this year.
America Rangel, Magalis Yanez and Gabriela Medina completed the Mexican squad.
Guevara, the IAAF World Cup winner thanked the Salvadoran public for their support.
“I have felt so much warmth from this people, so I think it was worth while coming down here to race twice and spend time with them. I had to stay in shape until this late in the season to be able to succeed at the Games. Right now I just want to rest and we’ll continue working hard to achieve higher goals.”
In the men’s 4x400m relay, Sánchez ran the fourth leg and anchored his country to first place and national record of 3.04.15.
After a month long holiday, the 400m Hurdles World champion decided it was only possible to run the relay at the CAC Games and teamed up with Arismendis Peguero, 400m winner Carlos Santa and Jose Peralta.
“Things were easy because I got the baton in first place. This was a team win, because I needed them and they needed me”, said the Dominican star.
In general, the track and field results of the Games were substantially diminished due to Cuba’s absence. Mexico easily dominated the medal tally with 17 gold, 10 silver and six bronze, followed by the Dominican Republic (9-5-1), Colombia (4 -9–7), Venezuela (4-4-8) and Puerto Rico (3-8-4).
San Salvador witnessed eight CAC records and six athletes with a golden double in their respective events: Mexico’s Liliana Allen (100-200), Guevara (400-4x400), Pablo Olmedo (5000-10,000), Dulce Rodriguez (1500-5000), Dominican Republic’s Marcia Espencer (long and triple jumps) and Carlos Santa (400-4x400).
Two of the undoubted world stars who were in San Salvador were Surinam’s Letitia Vriesde (800) and Haiti’s Dudley Dorival (110m hurdles), both bronze medallists at the 2001 Edmonton World Championships. At 38, Vriesde clinched her third consecutive 800m CAC gold and fifth overall in the Games.
The best mark belonged to Dominican Republic’s Juana Arrendel, who won the women's high jump in a CAC record of 1.97m. Arrendel, 24, successfully defended her title from Maracaibo’98, the first gold medal achieved by her country in athletics at the Games. Four years later in El Salvador, Dominicans took nine gold as a good sign prior to hosting the Pan American Games next August. They improved their times considerably in all relays, in which they set four national records and won three titles.
Of the eight records, only two fell in the track events, when Mexico’s Dulce Rodriguez took the 5000m to 16:38.92, and her countryman Pablo Olmedo covered the 10,000m in 28:36.67.
Colombia’s 17-year old Milena Agudelo improved the CAC pole vault record to 3.90m, while her countryman Zuleyma Aramendiz set the inaugural javelin standard with a modest 56.63m, as the women's new model was for the first time being used in the CAC Games.
The women’s debut over 20km walk saw Mexico’s Victoria Palacios set the standard in 1:36:36.
In the men’s events, Venezuela’s Yoger Medina bettered his CAC shot put record to 19.63m, as Dominic Johnson improved the pole vault best to 5.41m to take Santa Lucia’s first gold ever in the 76-year history of the Games.
Jamaica, one of the area's strongest countries in athletics, did not send many of its stars to San Salvador, as they are resting or beginning their training towards the 2003 season. The only exceptions were four-time World Championships 100m hurdles finalist Dionne Rose-Henley, who took the Island’s only title in San Salvador, and then announced her retirement. The other was 2001 World 200m silver medallist, Christopher Williams who finished second this time.
Cuban-born Liliana Allen achieved her third 100-200m 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 100m in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, now ties with Cuban Ana Fidelia Quirot as the two most decorated female athletes at the Games, with eight titles each.
Elsewhere, Dion Crabbe set a national record to take the first gold ever for the British Virgin Islands and Raul Rivera dominated the hammer throw to give Guatemala its first title since the 1966 Games.
Cuba’s absence forced the cancellation of the men’s 50km walk, Decathlon and the women’s 10,000 meters, and the tournament produced below par results in many events, the worse in the last twenty years, such as men’s long and triple jumps. There were a total 11 countries with gold and 18 with at least one medal.
Javier Clavelo Robinson for the IAAF
The CAC Games athletics champions are as follows:
100 m: 11.34 Liliana Allen MEX
200 m: 23.34 Liliana Allen MEX
400 m: 51.87 Ana Guevara MEX
800 m: 2:04.50 Letitia Vriesde SUR
1500 m: 4:18.91 Dulce Rodríguez MEX
5000 m: 16:38.92 CR Dulce Rodríguez MEX
Marathon: 2:54:14 Isabel Orellana MEX
100 m H: 13.67 Dione Rose-Henley JAM
400 m H: 57.39 Ivonne Harrison PUR
HJ: 1.97 CR Juana Arrendel DOM
PV: 3.90 CR Milena Agudelo COL 3.90
LJ & TJ: 6.20-13.57 Marcia Espencer DOM
SP: 17.04 Flor Vasquez DOM 17.04
DT: 55.11 Luz Dary Castro COL
HT: 60.39 Amarilys Almestica PUR
JT: 56.63 CR Zuaima Aramendiz COL
20k W: 1:36:16 CR Victoria Palacios MEX
Heptathlon: 5.279 Francia Manzanillo DOM
4x100: 44.90 Dominican Republic
4x400: 3:31.24 Mexico
100 m: 10.28 Dion Crabbe BVI
200 m: 20.97 Juan P. Toledo MEX
400 m: 45.83 Carlos Santa DOM
800 m: 1:48.71 Manuel González VEN
1500 m: 3:43.71 Juan Luis Barrios MEX
5000 m:14:07.82 Pablo Olmedo MEX
10,000m: 28:36.67 CR Olmedo
Marathon: 2:17:38 Procopio Franco MEX
110 m H: 13.82 Dudley Dorival HAI
400 m H: 50.46 Oscar Juanz MEX
3000 m St: 8:42.39 Alexander Greaux PUR
HJ: 2.18 Gerardo Martinez MEX
PV: 5.41 CR Dominique Jonson LCA
LJ: 7.48 Sergio Sauceda MEX
TJ: 15.57 Albin Renteria COL
SP: 19.63 CR Yoger Medina VEN
DT: 55.43 Héctor Hurtado VEN
HT: 65.99 Raul Rivera GUA
JT: 75.32 Manuel Fuenmayor VEN
20k W: 1:26:32 Alejandro Lopez MEX
4x100: 39.41 Dominican Republic
4x400: 3:04.15 Dominican Republic
CR- Championships Record.