Churandy Martina after his 9.97 win in Hengelo (organisers) © Copyright
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Martina defends 100m title, Brathwaite dominates the sprint hurdles in Mayaguez - CAC Games, days 1 and 2

Churandy Martina prevailed in a close final to defend his 100m title on Sunday (25) while world champion Ryan Brathwaite dominated the sprint hurdles as the athletics tournament of the 21st Central American and Caribbean Games (CAC) got underway in this southern Puerto Rican city.

Olympic fourth placer finisher Martina held off the strong challenge from 2010 World Indoor bronze medallist Daniel Bailey (Antigua and Barbuda) to give the Netherland Antilles its first gold medal of the Games.

Martina clocked 10.07, just one hundredth of a second off his Games record, set in Cartagena 2006. Bailey, who had run the same time in the semifinals, was a close second in 10.08, followed by Jamaica’s Lerone Clarke (10.15) and Oshane Bailey (10.20) in the fastest 100m final in the 84-year history of the world’s oldest regional Games.

Tahesia Harrigan also successfully defended her crown in a comfortable fashion. After a swift and windy 11.11 in the semifinals, the 2008 World Indoor bronze medallist confirmed her favorite status with a clear 11.19 win in the final to give the British Virgin Islands its fist gold in Mayagüez.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Ayanna Hutchinson (11.47) and Colombia’s Yomara Hinestroza (11.51) were distant second and third, respectively.

World champion Ryan Brathwaite proved he is good form as he ran unchallenged to the 110m Hurdles gold in 13.39, after having run 13.35 in the semifinals. Jamaica’s Eric Keddo posted a personal best of 13.52 to clinch silver, ahead of local favorite Héctor Cotto (13.71). Ryan’s younger brother Shane finished sixth in 14.04.

2009 IAAF Challenge winner and 2008 World Cup bronze medallist Eder Sanchez became the first athletics champion on Saturday as he held off a strong challenge from defending champion Luis Fernando López and Gustavo Restrepo of Colombia.

Second four years ago, Sánchez recovered the men’s 20km walk gold for Mexico and set a new Games record of 1:22:32, closely followed by Lopez (1:22:55) and Restrepo (1:22:56), who were also inside the previous mark, set by Mexico’s 1997 world champion Daniel Garcia (1:23:32) in Maracaibo 1998.

Colombia found redemption in the women’s race as Sandra Galvis came first in 1:38:27, ahead of Milangela Rosales (1:40:16) and Mexico’s Maria Sanchez (1:41:56).

The second Games record fell in the field as Venezuela’s 2005 World Youth Championships runner-up Keisa Monterola soared to 4.20 in the Pole Vault. Third in the previous edition of the Games, the 22-year old cleared 4.20m on her first attempt to erase the 4.10m mark set by Cuba’s Maryoris Sanchez. Monterola failed to equal her national record of 4.30m.

Other winners on the first two days were Trinidad and Tobago’s Aleesha Barber in the 100m Hurdles (13.09), Colombia’s Ely Moreno in the Hammer (66.98m), Arley Ibarguen in the Javelin Throw (78.93m) and Yolanda Caballero in the 10,000m (34:50.58). Venezuela’s Aldo Bello took the men’s Hammer gold in 65.10m. Jamaica’s Dorian Scott (18.92m) in the Shot Put.

The Marathon victories went to Mexico’s Marisol Romero (2:44:30) and Guatemala’s Jose Garcia (2:21:35), the first one for the Central American nation in the history of the Games. Two-time defending champion Procopio Franco finished a distant sixth in 2:28:54.

Eight finals will be contested on Monday on the third day of the athletics tournament: men’s and women’s 400m and 1,500m, as well as the men’s 10,000m, Long Jump and the women’s High Jump, Shot Put and Heptathlon.

Local fans will focus their attention of 2009 World Championships silver medallist Javier Culson, who will run the second semifinal of the 400m Hurdles. The first heat features two-time former World and 2004 Olympic champion Felix Sanchez of the Dominican Republic.

The athletics competition will be held at Mayaguez’ Estadio Centroamericano until Friday July 30, with a rest day on Wednesday. Cuba, the long-time overall leader in the history of the Games, in absent in this 21st edition.

Javier Clavelo Robinson for the IAAF

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