Rafith Rodriguez and Rosibel Garcia provided the highlights for a strong Colombian team that dominated the athletics events of the 17th Bolivarian Games (Juegos Bolivarianos) that took place in the Peruvian city of Trujillo, and ended after five days of competition on Saturday (30).
Rodriguez, 24, won an impressive 400m and 800m double in the Estadio Chan Chan, equaling the national record at the shorter distance with 45.62 and then setting a Games record over two laps of the track with 1:45.14.
“I’m very pleased with my victories in Peru, especially with the great time posted in the 400m. Training has been going very well in the last part of the year. I was able to recover from the disappointment at the World Championships and now I’m ready to focus on next season,” commented Rodriguez, who had been ill at the IAAF World Championships in August and unable to display his best form in Moscow.
“I’ll be training in the US and the goal will be to compete at the IAAF Continental Cup and to deliver a good performance at 800m, which is my main event,” he added.
Garcia also doubled, but at 800m and 1500m.
The 32-year-old from Cali took the victory over 800m in 2:01.98 and set a national and Games record at 1500m with 4:09.75, edging out her compatriot Muriel Coneo, who was second in 4:09.79.
“The idea was to force the pace along with Muriel, because the Panamanian girl (Andrea Ferris) is very strong. We showed great teamwork and we delivered quality performances," said Garcia, who held the previous Colombian record at 4:15.38 from the 2013 World Championships. "Training is going very well and we know we could have run even faster."
Another Colombian to post an outstanding performance was Mauricio Ortega.
The 19-year-old from Antioquia, who was fourth at the 2011 IAAF World Youth Championships and ninth at the 2012 IAAF World Junior Championships, set a South American junior record by almost two metres in the Discus with 59.67m.
Ortega improved the 19-year-old mark with the 2kg implement of 57.80m, set by Argentina’s Julio Pinero at the 1994 IAAF World Junior Championships where the latter got a silver medal. His distance was also a Colombian senior national record.
He leads the World junior lists with his performance and had previously captured the Area junior record with the 1.75kg Discus at the South American Junior Championships in Resistencia, Argentina, with 62.78m on 19 October.
Venezuelan athletes post plenty of positive performances
Among the Venezuelan victories were wins by Jose Gregorio Pena in the 3000m Steeplechase, pole vaulter and World youth champion Robeilys Peinado and hammer thrower Rosa Rodriguez.
Pena, who shone this season with a national record of 8:20.87 at the IAAF World Challenge meeting in Berlin, won over the barriers in a Games record of 8:26.6, decimating the ancient mark of 8:48.7 set by Colombia’s Víctor Manuel Mora at the 1973 edition of the Games in Panama City.
Peinado won with 4.30m while Rodriguez, the 2012 Ibero-American champion and 2013 South American champion, also set a Games record with 73.36m.
Sprinters Alex Quinonez and Angela Tenorio provided Ecuador’s best performances.
Quinonez won the 100m and 200m double with 10.52 and 20.47, the latter with a 0.0m/s wind was a Games record. The 17-year-old Tenorio, a double medallist in the sprints at the 2013 IAAF World Youth Championships, grabbed the 100m title with a 11.47 clocking into a -1.0m/s breeze.
Erick Barrondo, Guatemala’s London 2012 Olympic Games silver medalist, won the 20km Race Walk with a time of 1:23:25, beating Colombia’s Jose Leonardo Montana by 18 seconds.
Ines Melchor provided the best performances for the host nation by winning the 5000m and 10,000m long distance double.
Melchor improved her own national record at 5000m with 15:30.63 and won the 10,000m with 33:52.9, into the bargain setting two Games records.
Colombia topped the medals table with a total of 46 medals (16 gold, 19 silver and 11 bronze), ahead of Venezuela with 32 medals (10-12-10) and Peru third with 19 medals (7-4-8).
Hammer World youth best by Argentina’s Gomez
Argentina’s Joaquin Gomez, 17, set a World youth best of 85.38m with the 5kg Hammer on home soil at the Hugo La Nasa meeting in Buenos Aires on Saturday (30).
His big throw came in the fourth round and he had another throw over 85 metres.
The previous best mark belonged to Qatar’s Ashraf Amgad El Seify with 85.26m from July 2011 in Rhede, Germany. All of Gomez’s valid throws were well over 82 metres: 82.54m, 82.64m, 85.38m, foul, 85.03m, foul.
The World youth best performance will be partial compensation for Gomez’s disaster at the IAAF World Youth Championships in Donetsk, Ukraine, this summer.
Gomez posted three fouls in the qualifying round and did not made it to the final in spite of being arguably the pre-competition favorite. His previous best mark, which was the former South American youth best record, was 83.00m from 11 November in Mendoza.
He is coached by his father Daniel, who was the South American champion in 1977 and 1985.
Eduardo Biscayart for the IAAF