The 2013-2016 IAAF Strategic Plan has six Core Values: universality, leadership, unity, excellence, integrity and solidarity, and a Vision Statement: “To lead, govern and develop the sport of athletics in all its forms worldwide, uniting the Athletics Family in a spirit of excellence, integrity and solidarity.”
Javier Culson delivered again in front of his home crowd with a world season leading 48.00 second performance in the 400m Hurdles, while Ryan Wilson upset the script at the expected Dayron Robles-Jason Richardson duel with a fine win in the 110m Hurdles on Saturday 12 May at the Francisco "Paquito" Montaner Stadium in Ponce.
Long Jump and sprint World medallist Tianna Madison was the most versatile and successful athlete of the night, taking the women’s 100m and 200m, as well as third place in the Long Jump.
The Ponce Grand Prix is an IAAF World Challenge meeting.
Scheduled as the last race of the 20-event programme, the 400m Hurdles saw a full crowd of 11,500 standing to watch local hero Culson, who responded with a comfortable win and the second fastest time of his career.
In distant second and third were Jehue Gordon of Trinidad and Tobago, with a season’s best of 48.89, and USA’s former World champion Bershawn Jackson (48.96), the previous season leader, who faced some issues with the starting blocks.
"This race is very special for me and it gives me a lot of motivation in my preparation for the Olympics. This is my hometown and I am really happy to run a fast race for my people. I will continue to work hard to hear my national anthem sung in London," Culson told a frenzied crowd after the race.
Earlier, Ryan Wilson had taken victory over Olympic gold medallist and World record holder Dayron Robles and World champion Jason Richardson in the 110m Hurdles.
Wilson edged out Richardson in the photo finish by one thousandth of a second. Both were time 13.43. Dayron Robles followed them across the line in 13.47, but finished fourth overall on time, as World and Olympic medallist David Payne won heat 1 in 13.45.
"I knew it would be a good race. I am in good shape and was ready to run. It was an exciting race for fans and a very tight to win. It is nice to win a close race in front in such a field. You can’t be disappointed with you come out on top," said Wilson.
Britain’s 2012 World indoor silver medallist Tiffany Porter dominated the women’s 100m Hurdles in 12.79, ahead of Kristi Castlin (12.91) and Tiki James (13.21). Coming back to Ponce after missing the 2011 edition, 2005 World Long champion and 2012 World Indoor bronze medallist Tianna Madison had and almost perfect evening as she ran two personal bests to break the previous Ponce meet records and also finish third in the Long Jump.
She first took the 100m race in 11.01, ahead of Ivory Coast’s 2012 World Indoor silver medallist Murielle Ahoure (11.17) and USA’s Shalonda Solomon (11.32). She them posted an impressive personal best of 22.37 in the 200m, the second fastest in the world this year so far and a huge improvement of almost one second on her previous best.
Her closest rivals were USA’s Jeneba Tarmoh (22.66) and Laverne Jones-Ferrette (22.93) of the US Virgin Islands.
Back to the Long Jump, she sailed out to 6.48m to secure third place, behind Colombia’s 2011 World Triple Jump bronze medallist Catherine Ibarguen (6.66m w) and Ukraine’s 2011 winner Viktoriya Rybalko (6.53).
"Training has been going well and things are starting to pay off. I love competing here. The crowd is great and I look forward to a great season after these fast times," said Madison after the 200m.
The crowd was treated to another exciting race in the men’s 800m, as Rafith Rodriguez went out fast in 50 seconds half way. In a dramatic sprint finish, the 22-year old Colombian prevailed with 1:45.41, his fastest so far this year. He propelled Puerto Rican junior Wesley Vazquez (1:45.63) to a new national record and Robert Novak (1:46.59). Vazquez, 18, has become Puerto Rico’s no. hope for the World Junior Championships in Barcelona.
Natasha Hastings added a third consecutive win here in the women’s 400m with 50.72, a season’s best and a meet record, while Bahamas’ 2012 World indoor runner-up Demetrius Pinder took the men’s race in 45.15. In his first 400m race after taking the World Indoor title in Istanbul, Costa Rican Nery Brenes finished third in 45.51.
Another meet record fell when 2011 World silver medallist Lazaro Borges cleared 5.60m in the Pole Vault, the same height achieved by runner-up Mark Hollis.
Other winners were Trinidad and Tobago’s Keston Bledman in 100m (10.12) in negative wind (-1.9 m/s), Puerto Rico`s Miguel López in 200m (20.70), USA`s 2005 World Triple Jump champion Walter Davis (16.85), Maggie Vessey in 800m (2:00.19) and Lauren Bonds in 1500m (4:16.16), as well as Canada’s Moss Curtis (75.32) and Cuba’s Yainelis Ribeaux (59.47) in the Javelin Throw.
Held every year since 2007 after hosting 2006 Iberoamerican Championships, Ponce has joined in Kingston and Belem as the only three cities hosting IAAF World Challenge meets. The evening ended with a parade to celebrate the IAAF Centenary.