Argentina's Jorge Balliengo setting a South American record in the discus, reaching 66.32m in Rosario (CADA) © Copyright
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Balliengo improves South American Discus record to 66.32 in Rosario

Argentinean Discus thrower Jorge Balliengo improved the South American record to 66.32* at a meeting in his hometown of Rosario on Saturday 15 April.

Competing at the third stop of the 2006 South American Grand Prix, the 28-year-old Balliengo improved on his own previous mark of 64.69 set at the same venue on 3 May last year. His series was consistent: 63.94, 63.51, 66.32, foul, 62.93, foul.

Compatriot Marcelo Pugliese was the runner-up, with a  59.50 throw.

Comeback from back surgery

Balliengo underwent back surgery at the end of 2005, after putting together the best season of his career in which he had improved the 13-year-old Area record, and he had also won the South American Championships in Cali. At the IAAF World Championships in Helsinki, he was 22nd in the qualifying round with a 60.40m toss.

“I came back to competition on 4 February, mostly to try to see how I felt after the surgery, and I ended up throwing 61.44m” said Balliengo. “Then I had a problem in one of my abductors, so my next competition was on 18 March,” where he threw 60.34.

“The eventual record was a total surprise, and after throwing 63.39m last Saturday in Buenos Aires, I was only trying to throw relaxed in Rosario. Still, my first one was almost 64m, and then I thought the day could bring something special.”

“We still have so much to work on with my coach, Adrián Marzo, but today the feeling is very special, because I know that performances like this one could bring me up to the world class,” Balliengo added.

The following day (16 April) the city of Santa Fe, located some 160Km away from Rosario, hosted another stage of the South American GP. There Balliengo won again, this time with a 62.92 mark, while Pugliese was second with 61.27m.

Other notable marks achieved in Santa Fe included a 5.35 clearance in the Pole Vault by Argentine junior Germán Chiaraviglio in his season debut; a 13.77 (w –1.6) performance by Colombian Paulo César Villar in 110m Hurdles; and 8:39.37 and 9:58.81 performances in the 3000m Steepelchase by Brazilians Fernando Alex Fernandes and Zenaide Vieira. The latter improved the South American record to 9:53.40 in São Paulo on 7 April to became the first South American female to run under 10 minutes in the event.

* pending retification

Eduardo Biscayart for the IAAF