Yarelis Barrios of Cuba automatically qualifies in the women's Discus Throw (Getty Images) © Copyright
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Barrios throws 68.03m in Havana 

World and Olympic medallist Yarelis Barrios unleashed a massive personal best of 68.03m to provide the highlight of the Cuban National Championships, held over the weekend (March 22-24) at Havana’s Estadio Panamericano.

Twice world medallist Guillermo Martinez challenged a strong wind and threw the Javelin to 82.72, while Yipsi Moreno (73.50m) and Roberto Janet (77.08m) also produced fine performances in the Hammer.

Other top athletes, including 110m Olympic champion and World record holder Dayron Robles, Alexis Copello and Yargelis Savigne skipped the competition to focus on their Olympic preparation.

In her third outing of the season Barrios gave it all on her first attempt and followed with two 60-metre efforts and three fouls.

“This huge result shows I am on the right path. I have been on the podium at the major championships since 2007, but gold is missing. I am working hard to win that elusive color in London before starting a family,” said a smiling Barrios, who became the fifth Cuban to join the 68-metre club.

CAC Champion and Daegu finalist Denis Caballero, who had improved her personal best by over two and a half metros (65.60m) two weeks earlier, was second with a respectable 64.82m, ahead of Yaimé Perez (62.27m). The men’s title went to Pan American Games champion and Daegu finalist Jorge Fernandez (64.14m).

Barrios now ranks second on the 2012 world lists behind Germany's world silver medallist Nadine Muller, who threw 68.89m on 18 March, the farthest throw in seven years.

The throwers produced other notable marks. World and Olympic medallist Yipsi Moreno threw the hammer to 73.50m, a competition record, while Roberto Janet moved second on the all-time national lists with a 77.08m toss.

Facing a strong wind, twice World Javelin medallist Guillermo Martinez threw a season’s best of 82.72m and had two other rounds over 82 metres. Yanet Cruz won the women’s event (62.75m).

Carlos Veliz dominated the Shot Put with a Championships Record of 20.50m. Former World and Olympic finalist Misleydis González (18.51m) earned the top honours among women.

The battle for a spot on the Olympic Triple Jump team promises to be hard fought.  Twenty-year old Ernesto Revé, who equalled the 40-year-old national junior record of 17.40m in 2011, took his first senior national crown with a second round leap of 17.13m, ahead of Arnie David Girat (17.10m) and Yoandri Betanzos (16.87m).

The women’s gold went to two-time World junior champion Dailenys Alcántara (14.41m), followed by Josleidy Ribalta (14.24m) and Yarianna Martínez (14.09m). World medallists Yargelis Savigne, Mabel Gay and Alexis Copello did not jump.

Daegu runner-up Lazaro Borges surprisingly missed 5.20m three times, but Yarisley Silva just needed 4.40m to win the Pole Vault as her training partner Daylis Caballero only cleared it on her third attempt.

Yunior Diaz won the Decathlon with 7956 points, while Pan American Games winner Roberto Skyers dominated the 200m in 20.64.

The event drew guest competitors from nine countries. The only foreign winners were Peru's Jorge McFarlane (7.82m) in the Long Jump and Ecuador’s Alex Quiñónez (10.42) and Lucy Jaramillo (59.65) in the 400m Hurdles.

The National Championships marked the end of the first phase of preparation for the Cuban elite team in this Olympic year. After a short break, the country’s best athletes will resume their training before joining the IAAF tour in late May or June.

Javier Clavelo Robinson for the IAAF