News02 Jul 2012

CAC region ready to shine in Barcelona


Trinidad and Tobago's Keshorn Walcott (© Paul Voisin)

Athletes from the Central American and Caribbean region showed they are ready to shine at the upcoming IAAF World Junior Championships in Barcelona, 10-15 July, judging from the stellar results produced over the weekend at the 19th CAC Junior Championships.

Jamaica emerged as the overall winner with 44 medals (20 gold, 15 silver and 9 bronze), combining results in both categories (junior and youth). Mexico (11-6-2), Trinidad and Tobago (8-6-9), Puerto Rico (7-10-7), Cuba (7-4-1) and Barbados (6-6-6) followed in the medal tally.

A record 526 athletes (306 boys and 210 girls) from 28 countries competed at San Salvador’s Flor Blanca stadium. Fifteen countries won at least one gold medal and 23 nations clinched at least one medal. Around 30 records were shattered or established during the three days of competition.

Leading the highlights was Trinidad and Tobago's Keshorn Walcott, who threw 82.83m in the Javelin to move up to the fifth place on the all-time world lists.

The 19-year-old, who joined the 80-metre club in late May, opened with 72.56m and then unleashed a massive 82.83m to send a clear signal of his ambitions in Barcelona. After a foul in the third round, he passed all his remaining attempts.

On the track, Yordan Luis O`Farril ran a world leading 13.27 in the 110m Hurdles and moved up among the 10 fastest ever in the discipline. He wants to become the first Cuban to win the World junior gold since 2000.

In the same event, Trinidad and Tobago’s Reubin Walters took the youth gold in 13.49, in a photo finish final over Tyler Mason (13.50) of Jamaica.

Puerto Rico’s Wesley Vazquez also confirmed his fine form in the lead up to Barcelona with a double win in the 800m (1:46.89) and 1500m (3:53.91). It was a championship record in the shorter distance and the 18-year-old is now looking forward to taking on the African runners over the two-lap race.

Mexico’s 16-year-old Jose Ricardo Jimenez also set a new championship record in the same event (1:52.40) among the athletes aged under 18 years.

In the sprints, Cuba’s Yoandys A. Lezcay savoured a 200-400 double with 20.87 (20.91 in the semis) and 46.17. He plans to run both events in Barcelona.

The younger boys also produced stellar performances in the sprints. Jamaica’s Jevaughn Minzie prevailed over Anguilla’s Zharnel Hughes in the 100m final by two thousandths of a second. Both were time 10.46. Minzie and Hughes, both with 10.42, and Antigua and Barbuda’s bronze medallist Cejhae Colin Greene (10.46) had all eclipsed Trinidad and Tobago’s 12-year-old championships record of 10.47 in the heats.

Hughes took revenge in the 200m with 20.98, ahead of Minzie (21.02) and Green (21.14). The Jamaican (20.85) and the Antiguan (20.90) had posted faster times in the semifinals.

Minzie anchored his team to a CAC record and victory in the 4x100m relay with 40.17. Michael O'Hara, Raheem Robinson and Gawaine Williams completed the quartet.

Youth Olympic champion Odean Skeen, Tyquendo Tracey, Senoj-Jay Givans and Jazeel Murphy sealed a relay sweep for the reggae boys in the U20 with a new record 39.39, the joint second fastest junior time in the world this year. Bahamas (39.80) and Trinidad & Tobago third in 39.99 followed them home.

Among the girls, Monique Spencer, Christania Williams, Deandre Whitehorne and Shawnette Lewin ran 44.51 to secure gold, as Natalliah Whyte, Saqukine Cameron, Chanice Bonner, and Claudette Allen did for victory (45.53) in the younger category.

In other notable performances, Dominican Republic’s sprinter Fanny Chalas took the 100m-200m double in 11.53 and 23.79, as her compatriot Alexis Panisse did in the 1500m and 5000m.

Barbadians also produced fine hurdling as Sade-Mariah Greenidge took the U20 gold in 13.48 and Shakera Hall the U18 win in 13.53, closely followed by Jamaican Tishanna Montieth (13.55).

Another Barbadian, 17-year old Akela Jones excelled in the High Jump (1.81) and Long Jump (6.36). 16-year old Jamaican Christoffe Bryan (2.11) and Jeannelle Scheper of Saint Lucia emulated her in their respective categories.

Cubans were strong as usual on the field. Sixteen-year-old Rosalia Vazquez won the youth Discus in 50.24m and Lismania Munoz threw the Javelin to 55.20m. Liuba Zaldivar (13.78m) and Pedro Pablo Pichardo (16.40m) dominated the Triple Jump. Jamaicans Ashinia Junior Miller (19.70m) and World youth champion Fredick Andray Dacres (59.99m) were solid in the Shot Put and Discus, as Mexican Diego Alan del Real was in the Hammer (73.96m). They all set new championships records.

After their stellar display in San Salvador, the CAC athletes are now looking forward to leaving their mark on the world stage in Barcelona.

Held every two years since 1974, the CAC junior championships has witnessed the first international wins of many of the region’s World class athletes, including Olympic champions Veronica Campbell Brown and Usain Bolt. El Salvador previously hosted the 1996 edition. Guatemala will host the 2014 edition. During the championships, Alan Jean Pierre of Haiti was elected the new president of the Central American and Caribbean Athletics Confederation (CACAC), taking over from Puerto Rico's Victor Lopez, who had led the organization since 1998.

Javier Clavelo Robinson for the IAAF

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