After 18 years the National Championships returned to the Spanish capital on 27-28 July, where the most remarkable performances came from European 1500m bronze medallist David Bustos, rising sprint talent Bruno Hortelano and Julia Takacs, who broke the Spanish 10,000m Race Walk record with a world-leading 42:37.74.
Bustos retains in style
As has become a long-standing tradition, the men’s 1500m was one of the most highly-anticipated events of the weekend, despite the fact that none of the big contenders had this season achieved the ‘A’ qualifying standard of 3:35.00 for the IAAF World Championships in Moscow in two weeks’ time.
For the first time at a major championship in more than 20 years, there will be just one Spaniard in the men’s 1500m as this year’s fastest men – Bustos, 2010 European champion Arturo Casado and Adel Mechaal – have each run only the ‘B’ standard.
It was Jose Manuel Cortes who made the early pace in the 1500m final but he set a quite moderate rhythm with a split of 1:02:30 for the opening 400m. Casado then moved to the front to pass through 800m in an even slower 2:07.19. The 30-year-old continued to lead at the bell while Bustos ran dangerously boxed in the middle of the still packed group.
Midway through the final bend, Bustos finally managed to move on to Casado’s shoulder then overtook him with ease on the home straight, winning in 3:47.11 after a closing 300m of 39.6. While Casado had to settle for silver on this occasion (3:47.39), his training mate and Alcobendas-born Victor Corrales landed bronze in front of his home crowd, timed at 3:47.49.
“This year my only focus is the World Championships and so I’m not yet at my 100% which I hope to reach in the coming two weeks,” said Bustos. “It was a risky tactic as I could have been out of the team since only the gold medal was enough to gain berth for Moscow but I was confident of my sprint finish and luckily it paid off.”
Lopez prevails over Marco
Spanish 800m record-holder Kevin Lopez stamped his authority ahead of his training mate Luis Alberto Marco, the 2009 European indoor silver medallist.
The 23-year-old Lopez took command of the race before the bell which was reached in a slow 54.72. Fresh from a 1:43.93 clocking in Monaco which puts him at ninth on this year’s world list, Lopez maintained his lead until the finish line to win in 1:47.96, comfortably ahead of Marco, timed at 1:48.42.
“This year I feel stronger than last season when I set a Spanish record of 1:43.74,” said Lopez. “It’s true that I’m inside the top-ten on the season’s lists, but it will be really complicated to make the final in Moscow even in the absence of David Rudisha, as there are a large contingent of athletes in the 1:43-1:44 range. I would pick Ethiopia’s Mohamed Amman for gold and Nick Symmonds of the US for silver but I still leave a question mark for the bronze (laughs).”
Long Jump star Caceres opts for the 100m
European under-23 Long Jump champion Eusebio Caceres decided to contest the 100m on this occasion and the 21-year-old took bronze in a season’s best of 10.43. The event was won by Angel David Rodríguez in 10.26 while the US-based Bruno Hortelano finished runner-up in 10.43.
“This year my primary goal was the European Under-23 Championships; Moscow will be a bonus for me,” said Caceres, who sits third on this year’s world lists with 8.37m. “I’d like to enjoy the Worlds, I feel no pressure, it will come next year onwards. My favourite for gold is Russia’s Aleksandr Menkov; he will perform at home and has a great consistency over 8.30m.”
Still 21, Hortelano can arguably be tipped as one of the stars of the weekend. In addition to his 100m silver, he landed the 200m title to equal his career best of 20.58, beating Sergio Ruiz, who earlier this year broke the Spanish record with 20.51.
“I’m very satisfied with my tally this weekend. I now look forward to competing at the Worlds at both the 200m and the 4x100m Relays,” said Hortelano, who spends most of the time in the US where he is a fourth-year Biological Engineering student at Cornell University.
“How fast I can run the 200m? That’s impossible to predict. After Moscow, I’ll return to the US to complete my degree as I only have one year left but it’s still early days to know what I will do afterwards. Anyway, I have a clear target which is the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.”
The women’s 10,000m Race Walk, which was held at 11pm, witnessed the only Spanish record of the weekend. The Hungarian-born Julia Takacs smashed her PB by more than a minute to win in 42:32.74.
The 24-year-old, who took silver at the 2011 European Under-23 Championships, now moves to ninth on the world all-time list in the event, having bettered Beatriz Pascual’s national record by eight seconds.
The lead changed several times in a close Discus contest. After opening with 60.88m, Spanish record-holder Mario Pestano was overtaken by Olympic finalist Frank Casanas with his second-round throw of 63.67m. But in the fourth round Pestano responded with 63.87m to beat his domestic rival by just 20 centimetres.
Elsewhere, European champion Ruth Beitia won the High Jump with 1.93m, while Auri Lorena Bokesa smashed through the 52-second barrier for the first time, winning the women’s 400m in 51.77.
Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF