Kristen Hixson at the 2015 NACAC Senior Championships in Costa Rica (© Organisers)
Sprinters showed their superb form on the opening day of the 2015 NACAC Senior Championships in San Jose, Costa Rica, on Friday (7) which for many in the region will be the last opportunity to qualify to the IAAF World Championships Beijing 2015 which will be held in the Chinese capital from 22-30 August.
Two weeks after running a personal best and winning the individual 100m bronze medal and 4x100m relay gold at the Pan American Games, USA’s Barbara Pierre set the tone in the women’s 100m preliminary round with a championship record of 11.08 in the first heat.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Michelle-Lee Ahye went under 11 seconds in the second heat with 10.98, but her time will not go into the record books due to a 2.3m/s tailwind.
Jamaica’s Samantha Henry-Robinson then rewrote the record books again minutes later with her 11.01 time in the third heat, just 0.01 off her personal best.
Men also produced fast times at San Jose’s National Stadium.
Jamaica’s Sheldon Mitchell improved his personal best and the championship record to 10.07. Cayman Islands’ Kemar Hyman showed he is a serious medal contender after a swift wind-assisted 9.85 in the second semi-final. The 100m finals will be held on Saturday.
Sprinters also took to the track for the 200m on Friday.
Trinidad and Tobago’s national record-holder Semoy Hackett led the qualifiers to the final with a championship record of 22.59, the only woman under 23 seconds. The second-fastest man in the world this year, Jamaica’s Pan American Games silver medallist Rasheed Dwyer, equalled the championship record with 20.17 in his semi-final.
Seven 400m men ran faster than the previous championship record and one could not even make it to the final.
Trinidad and Tobago’s Lalonde Gordon posted his fastest time, 44.64, since winning the Olympic bronze medal in 2012.
Costa Rica’s 2012 world indoor champion Nery Brenes pleased his home crowd with a commanding 44.80 win in the first heat, the second-quickest time in his career, while Jamaica’s Ricardo Chambers was the third man under 45 seconds with 44.93.
In the women’s race, Courtney Okolo smashed the championship record by more than a second with a season’s best of 50.82. The two-time NCAA champion is making her debut wearing the USA uniform internationally.
Double delight for the Wingers
The USA dominated four of the six finals contested on Friday, led husband-and-wife team of Kara and Russ Winger.
The two-time time Olympian and national record-holder Kara took the javelin gold with 60.34m while Russ prevailed in the discus with 60.68m. As area champion, the latter will be now be able to join his wife on the US team for the IAAF World Championships for the first time as he is considered to have a achieved a de facto entry standard and finished second at the US trials.
Jamaica’s Shanieka Thomas impressed in the triple jump with a personal best of 14.23m for the gold medal.
The two other medallists joined the 14-metre club in San Jose. Dominican Republic’s national record-holder Ana L Jose Tima was second with a windy 14.21m but jumped a legal 14.03m in the third round while USA’s Lynnika Pitts claimed the bronze medal with 14.02m.
Dominica’s Yordany Duranona clinched the gold medal in the men’s triple jump with a best effort of 16.98m.
Other winners were the US trio of JaCorian Duffield in the men’s high jump with 2.25m, Kristen Hixson in the women’s pole vault with a clearance of 4.50m and Summer Pierson in the women’s discus with 56.64m.
In other preliminary races, Olympic and world championships medallist Javier Culson of Puerto Rico led the qualifiers for the 400m hurdles final with 49.65. In the women’s event, USA’s Tiffany Williams was the fastest with a championship record of 55.85.
Javier Clavelo Robinson for the IAAF