Suarez adds 127 points to his own national record
In his first Decathlon since March, Suarez started slower than expected with 11.07 in the 100m, but recovered with a personal best of 7.42m in the Long Jump. He also scored 14.39m in the Shot Put, 2.09m in the High Jump and a personal best of 47.65 to total 4325 points to end the first day, close to his compatriot Yunior Diaz (4354).
On Saturday, Suarez took the lead after running 14.15 in the 110m Hurdles and moved clear thanks to his personal best in the Discus (46.07m). He soared to 4.70m in the Pole Vault and impressed with a 77.47m effort in the third round of the Javelin.
The 21-year-old sealed his outstanding performance with a 4:27.29 effort in the 1500m to improve his own national record from Beijing (8527) and the previous world leading 8522, set by Germany’s Michael Schrader in Gotzis.
“I have been training well after recovering from injury,” a smiling Suarez said shortly after finishing the 1500m. “The high altitude training camp in Ecuador was key to achieve such results. I didn’t think I could break the 8600 barrier today. Yordani Garcia (8496) and I are ready for a good performance in Berlin.”
Since the times of 8200-point men Raul Duany and Eugenio Balanque in the 1990s, “There has been a better work at the grassroots level and the results are starting to emerge now,” Suarez said, explaining Cuban progress in the combined events.
Second in the 2008 IAAF Combined Events Challenge, he also smashed the CAC record of 8644, set by Jamaica’s Maurice Smith in 2007 and the Championships mark of 7877, held by Claston Bernard since 2005.
In the lead-up to Berlin, Suarez is scheduled to do another high altitude training camp in Ecuador. “I depend a lot on endurance and that would help me improve my 400m and 1500m. I will focus psychologically on every event, regardless of how I perform in the previous one.”
Yunior Diaz´ consistency was also rewarded as he tallied his second Decathlon over 8000 points (8013). Still not fully recovered from injury, 2005 champion Bernard finished third with 7698.
4x100m Relay titles to Trinidad’s men and St. Kitts’ women
Trinidad and Tobago clinched its fourth consecutive victory in the men’s 4x100m while the girls from Saint Kitts and Nevis set a new national record of 43.53 to win the women’s 4x100, to capture the first gold by women from these islands in the history of the Championships.
Rondell Sorillo, 100m winner Emmanuel Callender, Jovon Toppin and Keston Bledman made up the Trinidadian squad, who clocked 38.73. Callender and Bledman also ran in the team which won silver at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Jamaica came second in 39.31, ahead of Bahamas (39.45), anchored by 2007 Osaka world championships runner-up Derrick Atkins.
“We are tying to get it done (qualification to Berlin). Today we fell short,” said Atkins. “Hopefully we’ll have another chance to get it. I want to help out the guys and not be the only person. All the relays are qualified and the men’s 4x100m is the only missing one.”
With Berlin in sight, Atkins added, “I will put all the work I can. I will give it all when it comes down to it. Right now, I am working on getting back in form. I had an injury and was off for like a month. I know, God willing, I will stay healthy. I will put the work in and should be right there in the money.”
Two-time 2006 CAC Games medallist Virgil Hodge anchored the Saint Kitts and Nevis quartet, which also made up of starter Tanika Liburd, Meritzer Williams and Tameka Williams.
“Our goal was just trying the make the World championships time and we broke it. Our focus was to get out and make sure the baton got around. We ran a national record and we are really happy about that. We have different schedules, but we will try to get together a week before Berlin and reach the final,” Hodge said.
Colombia came second in 43.67 and Trinidad and Tobago finished third in 43.75.
Showdown time - Sanchez vs Culson in the 400m Hurdles
Felix Sanchez and Javier Culson confirmed the crowd’s expectations as they dominated their respective semi-finals of the 400m Hurdles.
Running for the first time in Cuba, Culson and Sanchez clocked 49.40 and 49.55, respectively. Cuba’s 19-year-old Omar Cisneros was the third fastest in 49.75.
“I felt a bit slow at the start, but I managed to run smoothly and I felt the usual support of the crowd. It is very hot. I am ready to beat the 48.99 CAC record. The most important thing is to win,” said Sanchez.
“It is a fast track, but hydration is limited. I know the athletes well. That’s how I started. I am not focused on the record. The final will be very exciting and I just want to give gold to Puerto Rico,” stated Culson.
Two-time World championships finalist Guillermo Martínez threw the Javelin to 82.16m in the first round to erase the 81.66m set by Emeterio González in San Juan 1997. Colombia´s Dayron Márquez (78.91m) and South American champion Arley Ibarguen (75.16m) rounded out the podium.
A few days after breaking the 18-year-old Cuban national record, José Alberto Sánchez erased the 24-year-old CAC Champs record with an 8:30.08 effort in the 3000m Steeplechase to renew his 2008 title from Cali.
Saint Lucia´s Lavern Spencer claimed her fourth CAC Champs High Jump gold since 2001. Other winners were Venezuela’s Edgar Villanueva in the 1500m (3:42.23), El Salvador’s Walter Sandoval in the 20km Walk (1:33:10) and Puerto Rico’s David Díaz in the Pole Vault (5.00m).
Cuba added three more wins, thanks to Yanelis Conte in the 10km Walk (46:46), Roberto Janet in the Hammer (73.80m) and Yadira Bataille in the women’s 1500m (4:23.82).
Sunday’s finals include the 200m, both 4x400m relays, the 400m Hurdles and the Men’s Triple Jump, with the Cuban trio of David Giralt, Alexis Copello and Yoandri Betanzos expecting to go around 17.60m again.
Javier Clavelo Robinson for the IAAF
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