Fabiana Murer ups her South American record to 4.85m in San Fernando (CIASF/APD Cadiz - G. Cumbreras) © Copyright

Murer vaults 4.85m Area Record as Cuba and Spain dominate in San Fernando – Ibero-American Championships report

San Fernando, SpainA record number  29 countries contested the 14th ‘Campeonato Iberoamericano de atletismo’ held through the weekend (4-6 June) in San Fernando, southwest  Spain.

No less than eight championships records were broken but the vintage performance by far was signed by Brazil’s Fabiana Murer as the reigning World indoor Pole Vault champion managed an impressive 4.85m clearance to claim the most outstanding performance of the weekend. In doing so, the 29-year-old Brazilian proved that her gold at the World indoors in Doha was no fluke as she set an Area record and world leading mark in the process. In addition, Murer rises to world No. 4 all-time thanks to her stunning outing in San Fernando.

4.85m.. but still room for improvement

To give an idea of Murer’s superiority, suffice to say that she started off the competition once the rest of her rivals had already left the event as Spain’s Anna María Pinero snatched silver with a 4.30m (PB) clearance while Murer made her debut at 4.50m which she surpassed at her first try as she also did  at 4.65m and 4.76m, the latter height already a world leader bettering her own 4.75m from Rio de Janeiro on 23 May.

With a previous career best of 4.82m – both indoors and outdoors – Murer asked to raise the bar to 4.85m which she went over only at her third attempt. She then tried unsuccessfully three times at 4.93m in a clear bet to become the second all-time pole vaulter.

An obviously delighted Murer declared, “Today’s was only my second appearance this outdoor season and so I hope to better this performance throughout the rest of the season. Definitely, I’m sure I still have room for improvement.”

Lopez at the double - in a rush

Cuba’s Yeimer Lopez can arguably be regarded as the ‘male athlete’ of the weekend as the 27-year-old Berlin Worlds finalist leaves San Fernando with two golds thanks to his 800m and 4x400 titles which he managed in a gap of barely one hour on Sunday.

Firstly, Lopez contested his specialist event where he ran at Brazil’s Kleberson Davide’s shoulder for the first lap which was covered in 51.74. Once the 1.84-tall Cuban made his move with some 200m to go, there was not catching him and he romped home in a CR of 1:45.36 to Davide’s 1:45.82 while Spanish record holder Antonio Reina took bronze in a SB of 1:46.15.

In the very last event of the three-day programme, Lopez ran a powerful second leg to contribute to Cuba’s 3:04.86 4x400 relay win ahead of the Brazilian squad, runner-up in 3:05.43.

The only other men’s double gold medallist was Brazil’s Andre Nilson de Oliveira thanks to his 100 & 200m victories; at the shorter event he clocked 10.24 (-0.2)  followed by Cuba’s Junier Perez (10.37).

It’s worth mentioning that Portugal’s European champion Francis Obikwelu had a dreadful start – 0.360s his reaction time thinking that there had been a false start – and had to settle for seventh in 10.75 after being the fastest man in the semifinals (10.35).

De Oliveira completed his double with a career best of 20.94 (+0.2) over 200m well ahead of Honduras’ Rolando Palacios (21.20).

Cubans excel in the infield

Cuba’s reigning World Triple Jump bronze medallist Alexis Copello opened with a fine effort of 17.28m (+1.1)  to secure his win and a CR while the previous record holder and countryman Yoandri Betanzos came runner-up with a 17.19m (+0.8) fifth round leap. Brazil’s 2007 World silver medallist Jadel Gregorio had to be satisfied with a furthest effort of 16.82m for bronze.

Cuba’s Wilfredo Martínez took the Long Jump (8.04m) well clear of Spain’s Joan Lino Martínez (7.68m) while his compatriots Lozano Borges and Guillermo Martínez were convincing winners in the Pole Vault and the Javelin with respective performances of 5.60m and 81.71m (CR) .

Another CR took place in the Shot Put where Portugal’s Marco Fortes unleashed a last-round toss of 20.69 to move from third to the forefront of the contest. In addition, the 27-year-old produced a career best and a National record to better Argentina’s German Lauro’s PB of 20.43m and Cuba’s Carlos Veliz’s 20.20m.

Bustos leads Spanish hegemony in the middle-distance

Spain’s rising star David Bustos proved to be the strongest in the 1500m thanks to a powerful closing 300m which only took him 38.3 seconds. The 19-year-old reigning European Junior champion crossed the finish line unopposed in 3:43.19 clearly ahead of Venezuela’s Eduardo Antonio Villanueva (3:43.72) and Brazil’s Leonardo Prates who took at least some revenge from the local athletes by claiming gold the following day in a very slow 3000m from Reyes Estévez (8:15.55 and 8:15.58 their respective times).  Ayad Lamdassem also of Spain cruised to a comfortable 13:32.48 (CR) win in the 5000m.

Nery Brenes of Costa Rica – 4th at the last two World indoors – took the better of Cuba’s Williams Collazo in the 400m (45.19 vs 45.33) while Puerto Rico’s Hector Carrasquillo finished third in a PB of 45.60.

Mario Pestano and Frank Casañas made a 1-2 for Spain’s in the Discus thanks to a 63.01m and 62.08 mthrows respectively while the hurdles events witnessed the wins of Puerto Rico’s Hector Cotto (13.54) – in the absence of an injured Dayron Robles - and Cuba’s Omar Cisneros (49.19).

Fernández and Augusto in top shape

Murer aside, Spain’s Nuria Fernández produced one of the main highlights on the women’s section as the 33-year-old Spaniard gave the local crowd something to cheer about on Saturday with a 4:05. 71 1500m success in her outdoor opener. Portugal’s 2008 European XC silver medallist Jessica Augusto led the pack at a brisk pace throughout the early stages (1:04:39 the 400m split) but Fernández gave no options to the Portuguese over the final 200m where Augusto was also overtaken by the eventual silver medallist Brazil’s Juliana Paula Gomes (PB of 4:07:30 and 4:08.32 their clockings).

Augusto’s revenge only took one day to come as the Portuguese star took command of the 3000m event on Sunday at a frantic rhythm covering the opening kilometre in 2:52.34 to maintain that pace over the second section (5:45.39). Augusto was never threatened by the Spanish duo of Iris Fuentes-Pila and Diana Martín and a relaxed closing kilometre produced a European-leading 8:46.59. Despite these ‘speed’ exhibitions, Augusto is adamant to contest the 10,000m event at the Europeans in Barcelona.

Comfortable wins for Savigne and Tejeda

Cuba’s reigning World Triple Jump champion Yargelis Savigne had an overwhelming win thanks to a SB of 14.62m (+0.8) in round five to beat the CR while her compatriot Anay Tejeda had no real challenge in the 100m Hurdles as she was the only athlete dipping under the 13.00 barrier with a 12.84 (SB) time to her credit beating her own CR in the process.

Spain’s European Javelin bronze medallist Mercedes Chilla unleashed a third-round heave of 62.39m to take a nine-metre win in her hometown while Argentina’s Jennifer Dalhgren was a solid victor in the Hammer with a consistent series of throws topped by her 70.91m in round four from Spain’s Berta Castells 68.37m opener.

Overall, Cuba led the medal table by virtue of a highest number of gold medals (15 for Spain’s 11) although the local team managed more total medals, 32 to Cuba’s 25. It’s worth mentioning that Cuba, Spain and Brazil (27 medals)  won no less than 84 of the 132 medals at stake to confirm their undisputed hegemony in the Ibero-American area.

Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF