110m hurdles heats - Anier Garcia (© © Allsport)
The Cuban National Championships (Copa Cuba), which took place yesterday and continue today in La Havana are also the qualifying trials for the IAAF World Championships in Athletics which will take place in Seville on 20-29 August.
Although pregnant and unable to compete, the 800m reigning World Champion Ana Fidelia Quirot was watching from the stands, as most of the stars of Cuban athletics confirmed their good physical condition and readiness to travel to Seville.
One notable exception was double World Champion Ivan Pedroso, who made the effort of warming up before announcing his withdrawal from the competition.
"I’m suffering from a very bad flu, I have a fever, I really don’t feel like competing today. I’d rather not take any risks and compromise the rest of the season."
He will, however, still be able to compete in Seville because of the Wild Card option open to defending champions. In his absence, the long jump was won by Yoan Lino Martinez who defeated his young team-mate and 1998 World Junior bronze medallist Luis Felipe Melis by 4 cm.
1997 World Indoor 60m hurdles Champion Anier Garcia was victorious in the 110m hurdles with 13.34, a season’s best. Garcia who was forced to withdraw injured from Athens 97, is looking forward to the opportunity of claiming the outdoor title in Seville. "I know that it is going to be a tough race in Spain, but if I stay on good form, I will be ready to fight for gold".
In the women’s javelin, double World Junior Champion Osleidys Menendez confirmed her great talent by winning the contest with 62.99. According to the new javelin rules established by the IAAF on April 1 1999, her performance will become the new national record.
Yamile Aldama demonstrated excellent form by winning the triple jump with 14.50, a season’s best and third best in the world this year.
Highlights of day two will include the men’s triple and high jump contests, two areas in which Cubans have established world wide renown. Two years ago in Athens, Cuba took gold in three of four men’s jump events with victories for Sotomayor (HJ), Pedroso (LJ) and Quesada (TJ). Just the pole vault title evaded them with Ukrainian Sergey Bubka winning his sixth consecutive title.
The national triple jump title will probably be the most coveted. World class athletes such as Aliecer Urrutia, Yoelbi Quesada and Yoel Garcia will be challenged by 21 year-old Michael Calvo, who has already jumped 17.06 this year, third best in the world so far.
After hesitating about his participation, reigning outdoor and indoor high jump World Champion Javier Sotomayor finally announced his intention to compete and plans to clear 2.35.
400m 1. Tellez 46.52; 2. Mesa 46.73; 3. Hevia 46.93
110m hurdles (+.09) 1. Garcia 13.34; 2. Hernandez 13.58; 3. Battle 13.67
Long Jump 1. Martinez 8.18m; Melis 8.14m; Pedroso dns
Shot Put 1. Paumier 16.10m
400m 1. Calatayud 52.78; 2. Bonne 53.49; 3. Duporty 53.80
1500m 1. Pie 4:19.64; 2. Lara 4:22.13; 3. Dubois 4:22.13
10000m 1. Gonzales 35:10.3
100m hurdles (+0.8) 1. Lopez 13.08; 2. Neyra 13.33
Triple Jump1. Aldama 14.50m (+1); 2. Martinez 13.95 (-0.6); 3. Cepero 13.89m (+0.7)
Shot Put 1. Laza 18.10m
Javelin 1. Menendez 62.99m; 2. Lopez 61.66m; 3. Rivero 61.31m
Hammer 1. Moreno 62.92m; 2. Balanten 62.88m