Fabiana Murer of Brazil celebrates victory in the women's pole vault final during day four (© Getty Images)
Headed by Brazil’s Fabiana Murer, nine individual World Championships medallists from Daegu 2011 will take centre stage in the athletics tournament of the 16th Pan American Games, starting on Sunday (23) at the brand new 8500-capacity Telmex Stadium in Guadalajara.
Eight days after the opening of the quadrennial event, over 660 athletes from 39 National Olympic Committees will highlight the final week (Oct 23-30) of the most important multisport event of the region, also known as “the Olympics of the Americas”.
Murer is the only Daegu World champion who has made the trip to the Mexican city, hoping to renew her Pole Vault title won in Rio 2007.
“I am motivated. I took two weeks of rest after Daegu. I did little physical activity but I was more active in the second, but without the poles,” Murer told the Brazilian press before flying to Guadalajara on Friday (21).
With USA’s 2008 Olympic Games silver medallist and 2008 World Indoor silver medalist Jenn Suhr a last-minute absentee, Brazil’s first ever outdoor World champion should face her toughest challenge from Cuba’s Yarisley Silva, improved her CAC record by 20cm to 4.70m to clinch the fifth place in the Korean city.
“I remember her (Silva) from the 2007 Pan American Games, when she finished third,” Murer recalled. Their rivalry could erase the Brazilian’s Games record of 4.60 from the previous edition.
Another interesting Brazil-Cuba duel is expected in the men’s Pole Vault, with Fabio Silva trying to defend his crown against Cuban sensation Lazaro Borges, who improved his national record by 18cm in the Daegu final to take a surprising silver. Borges wants to end his season on a high note, after failing to clear a height in 2007.
Other Daegu Winters coming to defend their 2007 titles are Canadian shot putter Dylan Armstrong and Cubans Yarelis Barrios (Discus) and Guillermo Martinez in the Javelin Throw.
Completing the medallists from Daegu are Leonel Suarez, hoping to improve his Decathlon fourth place in Rio against defending champion Maurice Smith of Jamaica; Colombian Luis Fernando Lopez goes against local favourite Eder Sanchez in the 20km walk; Colombian triple jumper Cathrine Ibarguen will meet Cuba’s two-time World gold medallist and defending Pan Am champion Yargelis Savigne.
In the sprints, St. Kitts’ 2003 World champion and 2011 bronze medallist Kim Collins is back to improve on his 5th place in Rio 2007. Cuba’s Olympic champion and World record holder Dayron Robles will line-up to defend his crown in the 110m Hurdles.
Other top names are the Bahamas’ 2010 World Indoor champion and 2007 Pan Am winner Chris Brown and 2007 World champion Dwight Thomas in the High Jump, Brazil’s Kleberson Davide in the 800m, 2008 Olympic champion and defending Pan Am gold medallist Maureen Higa Maggi in the Long Jump, as well as the Cuban duo Alexis Copello and Yoandri Betanzos in the Triple Jump.
In his fourth Pan American Games, Dominican Republic’s former Olympic and two-time World champion Felix Sanchez will try to regain the crown which he won at home in 2003.
In total, 18 athletes will defend their 2007 titles, including the decorated Cuban Yipsi Moreno, who is seeking her third consecutive gold. She was also second as a teenager in 1999.
Athletics kicks off on Sunday with the men’s and women’s 20km Race Walks, as well as the women’s Marathon, with Madai Perez looking to become the first Mexican woman to win the continental 42.195 gold in 20 years. 1999 Pan Am winner and record holder Erika Olivera of Chile is also on the starts list.
Held every four years since 1951, the Pan American Games are held for the third time its history in Mexico, but for the first time outside Mexico City. Nearly 6000 athletes will contest 361 events in 36 sports in seven cities in the western state of Jalisco, with the capital Guadalajara as the main venue, located 1556m above sea level.
Javier Clavelo Robinson for the IAAF
The Pan American Games records in athletics are as follows:
100m 10.06 Leandro Peñalver CUB 1983
10.06 Churandy Martina AHO 2007
200m 19.86 Donald Quarrie JAM 1971
400m 44.45 Ronald Ray USA 1975
800m 1.44.58 Yeimer Lopez CUB 2007
1500m 3.36.32 Hudson Santos de Souza BRA 2007
5000m 13.25.60 Ed Moran USA 2007
10000m 28.08.74 José David Galvan MEX 2007
Marathon 2:12:43 Jorge Gonzalez PUR 1983
110m H 13.17 Anier Garcia Ortiz CUB 1999
400m H 48.18 Félix Sanchez DOM 2003
3000m ST 8:14.41 Wander do Prado Moura BRA 1995
HJ 2.40 Javier Sotomayor CUB 1995
PV 5.75 Patrick Manson USA 1995
LJ 8.75 Carl Lewis USA 1987
TJ 17.89 João Carlos de Oliveira BRA 1975
SP 20.95 Reese Hoffa USA 2003
DT 67.32 Luis Mariano Delis CUB 1983
JT 81.72 Emeterio Gonzalez CUB 2003
HT 79.61 Lance E. Deal USA 1999
20km W 1:20:17 Bernardo Segura MEX 1999
50km W 3:47:55 Carlos Mercenario MEX 1995
Decathlon 8272 Maurice Smith JAM 2007
4x100m 38.17 Brazil 1999
4x400m 2.57.97 Jamaica 1999
100m 11.02 Mikele Barber USA 2007
200m 22.45 Evelyn Ashford USA 1979
400m 49.61 Ana Fidelia Quirot CUB 1991
800m 1:58.71 Ana Fidelia Quirot CUB 1991
1500m 4:05.7 Mary Decker USA 1979
5000m 15:30.65 Adriana Fernandez MEX 2003
10000m 32.54.11 Sara Slattery USA 2007
Marathon 2:37:41 Erika Olivera CHI 1999
100m H 12.65 Delorren Ennis–London JAM 2007
12.65 Perdita Felicien CAN 2007
400m H 53.44 Daimi Pernia CUB 1999
3000m ST 9.51.13 Sabine Leticia Heitling BRA 2007
HJ 1.95 Colleen Sommer USA 1987
LJ 7.45 Jackie Joyner USA 1987
TJ 14.83 Yargeris Savagne CUB 2007
PV 4.60 Fabiana Murer BRA 2007
SP 19.34 Maria Elena Sarria CUB 1983
DT 65.58 Maritza Marten CUB 1987
JT 65.85 Osleidys Menendez CUB 1999
HT 75.20 Yipsi Moreno CUB 2007
Heptathlon 6290 Magaly Garcia CUB 1999
20km W 1:34:19 Graciela Mendoza MEX 1999
4x100m 42.62 Jamaica 1999
4x400m 3:23.35 USA 1987