Kleberson Davide holds off Rafith Rodriguez to win the 800m at the 2014 ODESUR Games (© Oscar Muñoz Badilla)
Brazil’s 800m runner Kléberson Davide brought the curtain down in impressive fashion on the final day of the 10th edition of the ODESUR (South American) Games that ended in Santiago de Chile on Sunday (16).
In front of an enthusiastic crowd of 30,000 in the Chilean capitals National Stadium, the 28-year-old Davide delivered an inspired performance by winning over two laps of the track in 1:45.30, the best time outdoors in the world so far this year.
Davide, silver medallist at the 2011 Pan American Games, imposed his usual front-running style and set the pace at 400m, reaching the bell in 51.21.
Aware of the quality of Colombia’s Rafith Rodriguez, the 2011 and 2013 South American champion, who lately had beaten Davide at several races in the area, this time the Brazilian conserved enough energy for the final part of the race and was able to hold off the Colombian’s charge by 0.08.
Davide’s gold, with him regaining the title he won in 2006 when the meeting was for under-23 athletes, was one of the four obtained by Brazil on Sunday, which saw the the ‘verde-ouro’ nation top the medal table with 14 gold, 13 silver and 14 bronze medals.
Brazil finished ahead of ahead of Colombia (7-7-10) and Venezuela (6-6-4) with, in total, 11 of the 14 competing nations getting a medal of some description.
Besides Davide’s triumph, Brazil took the men’s triple jump and both 4x400m relays in the final day.
Jonathan Silva won the triple with 16.51m (-0.6m/s) in round five. The relay times were 3:03.94 for the men, with Davide on the second leg and individual 400m winner Anderson Henriques anchoring the team for their second gold medals, and 3:35.07 for the women’s squad.
The host nation saved the best for last. Heading into the final day with only one gold medal, Chile added two more on Sunday.
Natalia Duco confirmed her role as favourite and took the victory in an entertaining shot put competition with 18.07m, while Víctor Aravena won the 5000m in 14:06.02.
Duco, the 2008 world junior champion and a world and Olympic finalist, opened with 17.41m, was passed by Venezuela’s Ahymara Espinoza in round two with 17.63m, but then grabbed the top place in round three with 17.65m.
Later, the Chilean improved to 17.77m in round four and 18.07m in round six while Espinoza had to settle second with her second-round effort being her best.
This was Duco’s third consecutive gold at the Games, a feat never before achieved by a woman and only by two men: Argentinian hammer thrower Andrés Charadia (1986, 1990 and 1994) and Paraguayan javelin thrower Víctor Fatecha (2006, 2010 and 2014).
Venezuela and Colombia also added two gold medals each on Sunday.
Venezuelan victories came through José Gregorio Peña in the 3000m steeplechase with 8:36.81 and Yulimar Rojas, the South American junior high jump record-holder and still only 18, with 1.79m.
Discus thrower Mauricio Ortega, with a national record of 59.95m, and Muriel Coneo in the 3000m steeplechase, which she won in 10:05.02, provided Colombia’s gold medals of the final day.
Uruguay’s Deborah Rodriguez got an unusual double when she took the 800m in 2:06.62. The 21-year-old had won the 400m hurdles on Saturday.
A total of 29 Games records were improved in Santiago, including eight on the final day. The ODESUR Games administration had kept the athletics competition as an under-20 meeting in 2002, and under-23 in 2006 and 2010. This edition of the Games brought the event back to a higher level.
Eduardo Biscayart for the IAAF