Jamaican sprinter Rasheed Dwyer (© Getty Images)
Rasheed Dwyer, Kyra Jefferson and Quanesha Burks produced world class performances on the final day of the 2nd NACAC Senior Championships in San Jose, Costa Rica, when 15 of the 16 finals contested saw championship records on Sunday (9).
Two days after equalling the championship record with 20.17 in his 200m heat, Jamaica’s Commonwealth champion Rasheed Dwyer lowered it to 20.12 to confirm his medal ambitions at the IAAF World Championships in Beijing later this month.
The second-fastest man in the world this year, with 19.80 to his name, was followed home by Dominican Republic’s Yancarlos Martinez, who was just 0.06 short of his national record with 20.28.
In the women’s 200m, US sprinter Kyra Jefferson took the win in 22.50 in a close finish with Trinidad and Tobago's Semoy Hackett, who improved her national record to 22.51. In a high-quality race, USA’s Dezerea Bryant took third in 22.58.
Earlier in the day, 20-year old Jefferson anchored her team to a commanding win in the 4x100m, the US quartet winning in 42.24. Barbara Pierre, Lekeisha Lawson and Bryant completed the quartet. In second place, Puerto Rico lower their eight-year-old national record to 43.51.
Another notable performance came in the women’s long jump, when USA’s Quanesha Burks rode a perfect 2.0m/s breeze in the third round and improved her lifetime best by nine centimetres to 6.93m to claim the gold medal. Chantel Malone added four centimetres to her own British Virgin Islands mark with her first-round effort of 6.69m.
Puerto Rico’s Javier Culson posted a confidence-boosting victory in the men’s 400m hurdles with 48.70, almost a second faster than anyone else, with Cuba’s 19-year-old Jose Luis Gaspar second in 49.67. In fifth place, Dominican Republic’s two-time Olympic champion Felix Sanchez, who turns 38 later this month, improved his season’s best to 50.23.
In the women’s race, Tiffany Williams produced an equally commanding win with 54.37 for her first major international title. The 32-year old two-time world championships and 2008 Olympic Games finalist also ran the third leg for the USA squad which took the 4x400m gold medal in a championship record of 3:25.39.
Another gold medal went to the USA when NCAA champion Jonathan Jones won the shot put with 20.54m.
After disappointment in the 100m finals, Jamaica shone in the men’s 4x100m final with an impressive 38.07, the country’s second and the world’s fifth fastest time this year.
Mario Forsythe, Jason Livermore, Oshane Bailey and Sheldon Mitchell collectively held off the USA, who were second in 38.45 with Barbados third in a national record 38.55.
Two continental winners repeated their victories from the Pan American Games.
Saint Lucia’s Levern Spencer cleared 1.91m for the high jump gold medal while USA’s Ashley Higginson won the 3000m steeplechase in 9:56.75.
World indoor 800m champion Chanelle Price confirmed her status as favourite and clinched the 800m gold medal with a win over two laps of the track in 2:00.48 while Pan American Games bronze medallist Ryan Martin broke 1:46 for the first time this season and took the men’s event in 1:45.79.
Surprisingly, Cuba’s only win at the NACAC Championships came in the men’s hammer with national record-holder and Pan American Games silver medallist Roberto Janet throwing 72.72m to win by almost a metre.
Fielding the largest delegation, the USA easily dominated the overall standings with 47 medals, including 27 gold.
After the championships, the NACAC region held a special gala in honour of outgoing IAAF president Lamine Diack, who will step down after 16 years at the helm of the world’s governing body for athletics.
Various athletics legends from the area and beyond joined President Diack and NACAC chairman Victor Lopez at the gala, including Carl Lewis and IAAF Vice Presidents Robert Hersh, Sergey Bubka and Sebastian Coe.
Javier Clavelo Robinson for the IAAF