Kevin Lopez of Spain competes in the men's 800 metres semi finals during day two
As has become tradition, the middle distance events produced the main highlights at the Spanish Indoor Championships held over the weekend (25-26 February) at the ‘Pista Coberta de Cataluña’, as some of the country's best athletes geared up for the 14th IAAF World Indoor Championships to be held in Istanbul from 9-11 March.
In addition to the victories signed by Kevin López (800m) and Francisco Javier Abad (1500m), there was another standout athlete in the guise of the 20-year-old Eusebio Cáceres who leapt 7.94m in the Long Jump to take his second gold medal as a senior athlete. There were no remarkable performances in the women’s section but the in-form Isabel Macías (1500m SB of 4:08.80) proved she may be a force in Istanbul.
López beats Marco
The eagerly awaited men’s 800m final witnessed a tactical affair between the hot favourites in the guise of the 2009 European Junior champion López, his training mate 2009 European indoor silver medallist Luis Alberto Marco and Antonio Reina, the fastest man so far this year with a 1:47.36 clocking. On a curious note, the three are Seville-born athletes.
The 21-year-old López took the lead from the gun to set a reasonable pace of 54.16 for the opening 400m with the 30-year-old Reina and Marco close to him. López’s rhythm slowed in the third lap (1:22.7 at the bell) but the Barcelona Europeans seventh placed López managed to hold off the late challenge from his rivals to win convincingly in 1:50.16. Marco overtook Reina over the homestraight to take second timed at 1:50.39 for Reina’s 1:50.52.
López, who brought Marco’s supremacy to an end – the latter had succeeded the previous four years - will skip the Worlds which will allow the Spanish record holder (1:45.25) Reina to compete in Istanbul.
Abad wins by inches
Even in the absence of the reigning European 1500m champions Arturo Casado (outdoor) and Manuel Olmedo (indoor) all eyes on Sunday were set on the men’s 1500m final. With only two Istanbul spots on offer, it seemed clear that the triumvirate of Francisco Javier Abad, a 3:35.55 outdoor performer who beat Olmedo over the distance a fortnight ago in Zaragoza, the reigning European U-23 bronze medallist David Bustos and Álvaro Rodríguez (SB of 3:40.61) should fight fiercely among them and it proved to be so.
The 12-man final opened at a moderate rhythm (59:98 for the 400m split) set by the Worlds junior 1500m fifth placed Alberto Imedio, who also went through first the 800m point in 2:01.14. Just before the 1000-metre mark the Soria-based Abad moved to the front closely followed by Bustos and Rodríguez.
With some 130 metres remaining it was Bustos, the 2009 European Junior champion, who took the lead ahead of the 30-year-old Abad. Bustos’ exhilarating acceleration seemed to decide the race in his favour but Abad never surrendered and pipped Bustos barely 15 metres to the line, 3:44:16 and 3:44.25 their respective times while Rodríguez had to settle for third in 3:45.06.
In the unusual absence of Jesús España, who will contest the Spanish XC championships next Sunday in Gijón, the 3000m was taken by his training mate Víctor García in 7:59.16 after a brisk 2:31 closing kilometre while Antonio Abadía, the 2009 European Junior 3000m steeplechase champion came runner-up timed at 8:00.94.
Cáceres (7.94m) shines in the infield
Reigning World junior Long Jump silver medallist Cáceres (SB of 8.01m) captured the gold medal thanks a 7.94m second-round effort although he also produced a massive foul in the last round estimated beyond 8.25m not to be dismissed for the Worlds. Cáceres beat Olympic seventh placed Luis Felipe Meliz (SB of 7.98m) who couldn’t go beyond 7.70m on his only valid attempt.
Also in the infield, the reigning Youth Olympics Games Pole Vault champion and European Junior bronze medallist Didac Salas set a national U-20 record and career best thanks to a first-try 5.45m clearance to win the title at the age of 18.
The 60m event went for the 31-year-old Ángel Rodríguez (SB of 6.64), author of respective 6.66 performances in semifinals and final while Jackson Quiñónez grabbed the gold medal in the 60m Hurdles with a 7.76 time.
In the women’s section former World junior Long Jump champion Concha Montaner produced a 6.54m effort while Naroa Agirre had a 4.35m success in the Pole Vault to bag her tenth national title and the reigning World indoor bronze medallist Ruth Beitia could only clear 1.88m to add another (11th) High Jump title. Also in the infield, Úrsula Ruiz secured an Istanbul berth thanks to a 17.83m Shot Put heave.
Isabel Macías had no opposition to retain her 1500m crown in 4:23.41 and Paula Rodríguez stamped her authority in the 3000m with a 9:15.22 time to her credit.
There were a group of Cuban athletes competing in Sabadell. Alexis Copello produced a fine SB of 17.02m Triple Jump effort for David Giralt’s 16.74m while Mabel Gay landed to 14.14m at the same event. Carlos Veliz also of Cuba managed a PB of 19.74m in the men’s Shot Put ahead of local Borja Vivas, who took the title in 19.09m.
Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF