Dayron Robles en route to the Pan Am title in Guadalajara (© Getty Images)
29 October 2011The last day of athletics at the Telmex Stadium ended on a high note with five Pan American Games records and world class results by Cuba’s Dayron Robles, Lazaro Borges, Yarelis Barrios, Guillermo Martinez and Colombia’s Caterine Ibarguen.
The quartet of Robles, Barrios, Martinez and Borges led a Cuban feast on Friday (28) as the Island collected seven of the 12 gold medals contested to ratify themselves on top of the medal tally.
Robles ran 13.10 in the 110m Hurdles while Daegu medallists Yarelis Barrios (Discus Throw, 66.40m) and Guillermo Martinez (Javelin, 87.20m) set personal bests to defend their titles.
Lazaro Borges and Caterine Ibarguen confirmed their medals in Daegu with convincing wins and Games records in the men's Pole Vault (5.80m) and women's Triple Jump (14.92m), respectively.
Solid late season form
Sixth off the blocks, Robles took the lead after the first hurdle and cruised to a comfortable victory in 13.10, seven hundredths of a second faster than the previous record of 13.17, set by his countryman and 2000 Olympic champion Anier Garcia in Winnipeg ’99.
“I had a minor contraction in the femoral biceps of my lead leg, but I was still in great shape. That’s why I could run at 90-92% and win,” said the 2008 Olympic champion and World record holder, who became the first Cuban to successfully defend the Pan American crown in the sprint hurdles.
Robles pushed Colombian Paulo César Villar and Cuba’s Orlando Ortega to personal bests of 13.27 and 13.30 for second and third. Villar was only 0.02 seconds shy of the South American standard.
On the infield, Barrios flung the Discus to a new personal best of 66.40m in the first round to renew her continental gold and break the 24-year old Games record by almost one metre (65.58m), set by her compatriot and 1992 Olympic champion Maritza Marten.
“I broke the Pan American record, held by a great Cuban for many years. My training partner told me I could break it today. I was feeling in good form and it’s a great feeling to end the season like this. I look forward to a well-deserved rest and prepare for the Olympics,” said a smiling Barrios after the victory lap.
USA’s 2003 Pan Am Games winner Aretha Dawn Thurmond (59.53m) and Cuba’s Denia Caballero (58.63m) joined her on the podium.
In the men's Javelin Throw, Martinez’s only valid throw was a massive 87.20m in the first round, a national and Games record in the 14-man final. This effort now ranks him fourth on the 2011 world lists.
“I could not materialize my full potential in Daegu due to no prior competitions and a long flight from Cuba. I knew I had a farther throw in my arms and I achieved it today. I am happy to bring the gold medal to my daughter. I will continue to aim high, at 90 metres and a medal in London," said Martinez, who eclipsed his compatriot Emeterio Gonzalez’s Games record of 81.72m, set in 2003.
USA’s Cyrus Dean Hostetler (82.24m) grabbed silver, ahead of Argentina’s 18-year old Braian Ezequiel Toledo, who improved his personal best by nearly three metres to 79.53m to move up to third on the 2011 world junior lists.
Ibarguen concludes 'unforgettable' year
A much awaited duel between Daegu bronze medallist Caterine Ibarguen and two-time former World and Pan Am defending champion Yargelis Savigne ended with a clear victory and a new continental mark for the smiling Colombian, who landed at 14.92m in the sixth and final round to smash the Cuban’s Games record of 14.80m, set in Rio 2007.
The Colombian had secured the gold from the first attempt with a Games record equalling 14.80m and completed an excellent series with two other leaps over 14.70m (14.73m and 14.75m).
“It has been an unforgettable year. This performance (her second best ever) is the result of hard work. The Pan Am Games are one of the biggest events in the Olympic cycle. This marks the end of the season and I will continue to aim big and work hard to achieve my goals,” said a happy Ibarguen, who added this gold to the bronze medal in the Long Jump.
Coming back after a minor muscle injury sustained at the World Championships, Savigne was never a major threat and had to settle for silver with 14.36m, ahead of her compatriot and 2009 World silver medallist Mabel Gay (14.28m), who repeated her bronze from four years ago.
Borges in commanding form
World Championships runner-up Lazaro Borges ended his impressive season in great fashion, claiming his first Pan American gold in a new Games record of 5.80m.
Confirmed as a winner after three clean jumps and a first clearance over 5.70m, the 25-year old went on to shatter USA’s Patrick Manson’s Games best of 5.75m by one centimetre on his third attempt. He sealed a great afternoon with a 5.80m first-time clearance.
“I am excited to have broken the record and become the first Cuban man to win the Pole Vault in the Pan American Games history. My coach (Ruben Camino) won silver in 1987 and I am happy to have bettered that today,” stated Borges, who erased the sad memory of failing to score a valid height in Rio 2007.
Jeremy Scott (5.60m) and 2007 runner-up Giovanni Lanaro (5.50m) joined him on the podium. Brazil’s Daegu finalist and defending champion Fabio da Silva was never a factor and finished fifth with 5.40m, the same height that gave him gold in 2007.
Brazil sweeps 4x100, Cuba 4x400
Aided by Guadalajara’s 1558m altitude, both Brazilian 4x100m teams and the Cuban 4x400m squads posted world class times. The South Americans equalled their Games record of 38.18, set in 1999.
Ailson Feitosa, Sandro Viana, Nilson Andre and Bruno de Barros formed the quartet. Without 2003 World champion and 2011 bronze medallist Kim Collins, Saint Kitts still secured silver with three of their Daegu bronze winning squad members: Jason Rogers, Antoine Adams and Brijesh Lawrence. Delwayne Delaney ran the third leg. The USA finished third in 39.17.
The Brazilian girls, who ran the final in Daegu, improved their South American record (42.92) set in the Korean city to 42.85 to win their country’s first ever women’s 4x100m gold at the continental level.
The quartet was formed by 200 winner Ana Claudia Silva, Vanda Gomes, Franciela Krasucki and 100m champion Rosângela Santos. The USA (43.10) and Colombia (43.44) completed the medallists.
With three quarter milers, Cuban 4x400m team posted an impressive 2:59.43, their first sub three-minute clocking since winning the 1992 Olympic bronze. Noel Ruiz, 400m Hurdles champion Omar Cisneros and 2010 World Indoor silver medallist William Collazo were joined by Triple Jump specialist Yoandri Betanzos, who ran the second leg.
A close final led the Dominican Republic (3:00.44) and Venezuela (3:00.82) to national records.
In the women’s race, the Cubans successfully defended their 4x400m title in 3:28.09, ahead of Brazil (3:29.59) and Colombia, who ran a national record of 3:29.94.
Brazilian Kleberson Davide left Andy Gonzalez some room in lane one and the Cuban outsprinted him in the last 30 meters to claim the most important victory in his 800m career.
Gonzalez ran a season’s best of 1:45.58 to deprive the Brazilian from a much-expected gold. Davide (1:45.75) had to be content with silver as in Rio 2007. Another Cuban, Raidel Acea, launched a strong finish to grab bronze in 1:46.23.
Other winners on Friday were Sara Marie Hall of the USA (10:03.16) and Jose Peña of Venezuela (8:48.19) in their respective 3000m Steeplechase races.
Cuba is the clear winner of the athletics tournament with 33 medals (18 gold, six silver and nine bronze), ahead of Brazil (9-6-7), the USA (4-8-4), Mexico (3-4-8), Colombia (3- 3-2), Venezuela (2-1-2) and Guatemala (2-1-0)
Friday’s performance propelled the Caribbean Island to the second place in the overall medal tally, behind the USA and ahead of Brazil for the first time since the Games started on 14 October.
Two more events will be contested this weekend before the Games officially close on Sunday: the 50km Walk on Saturday and the men’s Marathon on Sunday.
Javier Clavelo Robinson for the IAAF