Olympic medallists Yumileidi Cumbá, Osleidys Menéndez, Yunaika Crawford, Yipsi Moreno and Guillermo Martinez provided the highest note of the Cuban National Championships (Copa Cuba), held Thursday to Saturday (23-25 March) at the Estadio Panamericano in Havana.
In the jumps, 2005 Helsinki World championships silver medallists Victor Moya, Yoandri Betanzos and Yargelis Savigne also showed their good early season form to claim national titles.
Cumbá reaches to 19.52
Cumbá, the 2004 Olympic champion, claimed her 10th national title in the Shot Put after a 19.52 effort, her third farthest ever. The best two are her personal best of 19.97 from the 2004 Iberoamerican Champs in Huelva, Spain, and her winning mark of 19.59 in the Athens Olympics.
“I feel in great shape and I think I could have thrown farther," said Cumbá. “The Indoor Worlds could have been better, but things happen,” she added about her fifth place showing in Moscow.
“I am happy with my results in the first part of the year. I had a stress fracture and had to modify my training. It worked out well. If I stay injury-free, we will have a better second half and I hope to finally reach the 20-meter mark and break the CAC Games record of 19.36, set by my friend Maria Elena Sarría,” in 1982.
Menéndez combats the flu and throws 64.13
Menéndez, the World and Olympic champion in the Javelin, renewed her national title with a 64.13-meter effort, well ahead of 2001 World Championships bronze medallist Sonia Bisset (59.52) and Maria C. Alvarez (58.09).
“I am content with the result, considering I used a five-step run-up. I am still in general training phase and this week was not particularly good as I have the flu. I hope to extend my run-up later in the season as I had an ankle injury,” the World record holder (71.70) said. She is scheduled to make her international debut in Brazil in May.
“We have worked on volume, not much intensity. We are setting the basis for 2007 and 2008," said her coach Dionisio Quintana.
The men’s winner was Guillermo Martínez, with a third round release of 83.33, his second farthest throw ever, to beat Emeterio González (79.94) and Máximo Rigondeaux (73.51).
“I missed a lot of training due to personal problems in December and January, but my rhythm in the run-up went well and the javelin flew far. I aim to achieve my first international title this year and represent the Americas at the World Cup in Athens,” said Martínez, who finished 10th at the 2005 World Championships.
Crawford 71.92, Moreno 70.73 in the Hammer
Yunaika Crawford, the 2004 Olympic bronze medallist in the hammer Throw, showed she learned the lessons of 2005, when she failed to qualify for the 2005 World Championships final.
As in the past outings, the 23-year-old from Havana stayed consistent over 70 meters (71.92, 71.22 and 71.34), including her second best ever, to renew her national title.
Yipsi Moreno, the 2001 and 2003 World champion and 2004 Olympic silver medallist, returned to competition with 70.73-meter effort in the sixth round, after throwing 70.01 in the fifth.
2005 Pan American junior champion Arasay Thondike (67.45) and Mexico’s Jessica Ponce de León (60.03) were third and fourth, respectively.
“I have certainly learned the lesson from a bad 2005 and I hope this year will be like 2004, when I won the Olympic bronze. You always want more, but I am obviously happy. It’s great to have Yipsi as a team-mate and we all celebrate everyone’s success,” said Crawford.
“I had to stop training due to an injury in my left ankle and then my boyfriend had an accident. That obviously affected me, but I was happy to throw over 70 metres. I did my best and will continue to train and aim for the CAC Games gold and renew the Iberoamerican Championships title in Puerto Rico,” said Moreno, who had made her season debut a week earlier with 69.85.
Moya 2.31, Betanzos 17.29, Savigne 6.56
Víctor Moya, Yoandri Betanzos and Yargelis Savigne, the three Cuban jumpers who won silver medals at the Helsinki World Championships in 2005, each won the national crown in their respective events.
In the High Jump, Moya cleared 2.31 with his second attempt, his best mark on home soil, to win his first Cuban title. He then tried 2.37 and had a close first attempt. He stopped after his second miss.
“I am happy with the first part of the season. I want to stay consistent over 2.30. I tried 2.37 because I want to achieve that mark in the summer. My first Indoor Worlds in Moscow was a good experience. Last year, I jumped 2.29 in Cuba and ended the season with 2.35. This time I jumped 2.31 so we’ll see what happens in the summer,” a smiling Moya explained.
Argentina’s Erasmo Jara, junior Osvaldo Hernández and Raul Tousset all shared the silver with 2.15.
Betanzos wanted to please the crowd with a long Triple Jump, but the weather changed exactly while the contest was being held, raining for a short while.
His second round leap of 17.29 was enough to secure the win, closely followed by Alexis Copello (17.21), who has jumped over 17 meters in the eight meetings he has entered this year.
“I could only do one good jump," said Betanzos. "I felt a wind in my back, a strange feeling and I did not want to risk it. With such bad weather I did not push myself. I am happy with the first part of the season [after improving his best to 17.63 and winning the World Indoor bronze in Moscow] and I hope to perform better in the summer. It will be a close battle with Brazil’s Jadel Gregorio for the Americas spot in the World Cup.”
Savigne still felt the jet lag tiredness from her recent indoor debut. She landed at 6.56 to take the Long Jump title, ahead of Yudelkis Fernandez (6.40).
“The Indoor Worlds in Moscow was very demanding and I have decided to focus on the Triple Jump in major competitions like the World Champs and the Olympics. I prefer the Long Jump, but I am more successful in the triple. However, I will try to do both events in the World Cup,” Savigne confirmed.
The men’s winner was Ibrahím Camejo, who leaped 8.11, ahead of 20-year old Wilfredo Martínez (8.01).
“I was ready to do three jumps only as I feel some pain in my take off leg. I am in good form and I hope this will be my breakthrough season,” said the 2002 Iberoamerican champion, who has already jumped over 8.30 four times this season.
On the track - Calatayud second in the 1500m, Pernía returns in the 400m hurdles
As in 2005, current 800m World champion Zulia Calatayud made her season debut running 1500m and was second in 4:21.73, behind Yuneisi Santiusti (4:16.07).
“The 1500m is a tough event," Calatayud said. "Personally, I don’t like it that much, but it helps me prepare for the 800m. I could have run faster. I want to run 400m and 1500m in Cuba before running the two laps in Europe in June. I hope to run around 4:15 later in the year.”.
Her training partner Daimí Pernía, the 1999 400m Hurdles World champion, made her first competitive return since the 2004 Olympics, winning her fourth national title and the first one since 2001. The 29-year old ran unchallenged and clocked 58.00.
“I was a bit nervous as I had not raced in a while. I will continue to improve as the season progresses. I wanted to try my event, the 400m hurdles. I have struggled with pain and injuries, but I am glad to be back on track”, Pernía affirmed.
Both Calatayud and Pernía ran for their respective provinces in the 4x400m relay. Calatayud overtook 2005 World Youth bronze medallist and 2006 national champion Aymée Martinez in the final leg to give Ciudad de La Habana the gold.
Dayron Robles, who 19-year-old who won the silver medal in Moscow in his only indoor competition ever, claimed his first national title, clocking 13.70 in the 110m Hurdles. Six-time World Championships finalist (indoors and out) Yoel Hernandez was second in 13.90, followed by 2003 Pan American Games champion Yuniel Hernandez (14.39), who had won his semi in 14.00.
Multiple and multi winners
Roxana Díaz, the 2003 American Games champion at 200m, took the 100-200 double and added a third gold in the 4x100m relay. Yuneisi Santiusti and Mauri Surel Castillo both completed the 800m-1500m double, as well as 20-year-old Jose Alberto Sanchez in the 3000m steeplechase and the 5000m. Yordanis Garcia, the 2005 World Youth Champion and holder of the World best in the Octathlon, won the decathlon with 7567 points. Three weeks earlier, the 17-year-old 1.93 meter tall athlete had scored a personal best of 7879. Alberto Juantorena Jr., the leader after the first day, abandoned after the Discus due to a belly problem. In the Heptathlon, 21-year-old Gretchen Quintana totalled 5931, the best result by a Cuban since 2003.
2000 Olympic champions Anier García (110mH) and Long Jumper Ivan Pedroso were the main absentees. García is back to training after he sustained an injury in February, while Pedroso was injured during the Indoor Worlds in Moscow. In total, 12 World and Olympic individual medallists from 2001-2006 participated.
Javier Clavelo Robinson for the IAAF
The 2006 Cuban champions:
100m Henry Vizcaíno 10.55 (-2.0)
200m Michel Herrera 20.5w (4.6)
400m Geymán Lopez 45.83
800m Mauri S. Castillo 1:47.89
1.500m Mauri S. Castillo 3:43.70
5.000m José A. Sánchez 14:25.05
10.000m Norbert Gutiérrez 31:04.08
110m H Dayron Robles 13.70 (0.0)
400m H Yaumell Poll 50.83
3.000m ST José A. Sánchez 8:41.21 PB
HJ Víctor Moya 2.31
PV Lázaro Borges 4.70
LJ Ibrahím Camejo 8.11 (0.3)
TJ Yoandri Betanzos 17.29w (3.0)
SP Yoisel Toledo 18.72
DT Lois M. Martínez 60.92
HT Noleysis Vicet 73.19 PB
JT Guillermo Martínez 83.33 SB
Decathlon Yordanis García 7567
4x100m Ciudad de La Habana 40.39
4x400m Santiago de Cuba 3:16.28
20km Walk Yubraile Hernández 1:27:33
100m Roxana Díaz 11.68 (-2.0)
200m Roxana Díaz 23.21w (2.3) 23.57SF
400m Aymée Martínez 53.56
800m Yuneisi Santiusti 2:05.13
1.500m Yuneisi Santiusti 4:16.07
5.000m Yadisleidis Castillo 16:34.31
10.000m Yarelis Torres 34:27.40
100m H Yahumara Neira 13.21
400m H Daimí Pernía 58.00
HJ Yarianny Arguelles 1.81
PV Yarisley Silva 4.10
TJ Mabel Gay 13.99 (1.3)
SP Yumileidi Cumbá 19.52
DT Yania Ferrales 62.34
HT: Yunaika Crawford 71.92
JT: Osleidys Menéndez 64.13
Heptathlon Grechel Quintana 5931 PB
4x100m La Habana 46.86
4x400m Ciudad de la Habana 3:41.16
20km Walk Yarelis Sanchez 1:38:50