Osleidys Menendez of Cuba celebrates breaking the Javelin World record (Getty Images) © Copyright
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Powell, Menéndez CAC Athletes of the Year

21 October 2005Jamaican sprinter Asafa Powell and Cuban Javelin thrower Osleidys Menéndez were selected the best athletes of the Central American and Caribbean region for 2005.

Both Powell and Menéndez broke the World record in their respective events.

The 25-year-old Cuban consolidated her dominance in the Javelin and improved her own world record to 71.70 in the World Championships final in Helsinki. In the Finnish capital, she took her second World title following her first win in Edmonton 2001.

"I am much honoured to be selected the best woman of a region with so many great athletes," the 2004 Olympic champion said. "This is the best reward for all the sacrifice and hard work and I want to share it with my teammates who also had a great year."

The Cuban thrower won nine of the 11 competitions she entered in 2005, including the IAAF World Athletics Final in Monaco, and confirmed the No. 1 spot in the IAAF event rankings.

The men's trophy went to Jamaica's Powell, who became the world's fastest man when he clocked 9.77 in the 100m at the IAAF Super Grand Prix in Athens, Greece, on 14 June.

However, a groin injury prevented him from competing at the World Championships, and he was unable to contest any race after the Norwich Union London Grand Prix on 22 July.

Posting the season's three fastest times (9.77, 9.84 and 9.85), the 22-year-old sprinter was included among the five finalists for the IAAF Athlete of the Year and Performance of the Year Awards.

Powell became the fifth CAC athlete to currently hold an IAAF world senior record in an official event. The others are Menéndez, Cuban Javier Sotomayor (High Jump), and Mexicans Arturo Barrios (20,000m and the Hour) and Bernardo Segura (20,000m track walk).

Powell and Menéndez, selected by a panel of CACAC specialists, will receive the CAC Athlete of the Year Award in their respective countries, in the hands of CACAC and NACACTFCA president Victor Lopez.

The sprinter will be decorated during the CACAC Hall of Fame ceremony in his country and the latter will be honored at the Gala celebrating the centennial of Cuban athletics in Havana. Both events will be held in early November.

In Helsinki, the CAC region produced one of its best performances in the history of the World Championships, totalling 19 medals - four gold, eleven silver and four bronze. The medallists represented The Bahamas, Cuba, Jamaica, Mexico, St. Kitts and Nevis, and Trinidad & Tobago.

Previous CAC Athlete of the Year Awards went to Dominican Republic's hurdler Felix Sanchez and Mexico's Ana Gabriela Guevara (2002 and 2003). Last year, World and Olympic 400m Hurdles gold medallist Sanchez shared the honours with The Bahamas´ World and Olympic 400m champion, Tonique Williams-Darling.

Former Javelin thrower Dionisio Quintana, who has coached Menéndez since 1994, was named the CAC Coach of the Year.

In 2006, the region's main competitive focus with be the Central American and Caribbean Games in Cartagena, Colombia, and the IAAF World Cup in Athens.

Javier Clavelo Robinson for the IAAF