Report31 Jul 2023

Asinga completes sprint double at South American Championships


Issam Asinga on his way to winning the 200m at the South American Championships (© Oscar Munoz Badilla)

Suriname’s Issam Asinga delivered another strong performance on the closing day (30) of the South American Championships in Sao Paulo, Brazil, by winning the 200m in 20.19 (0.7m/s), his second championship record of the week.

Following his superb world U20 record of 9.89 to win the 100m on Friday, 18-year-old Asinga returned to the track of the National Olympic Centre, at the Vila Clementina neighbourhood, to win his semifinal in 20.63. Panama’s Alonso Edward, the South American record-holder, won the second heat in 20.57.

Their clash at the final produced the best 200m race in the history of the event. With an ideal temperature of 19C and favourable wind of 0.7m/s, Edward ran in lane five and Asinga in six. The start favoured the Surinamese, who entered the final 100m with a slight advantage over the 33 -year-old. Edward came closer to the lead with 50 metres to go, but Asinga dug deep and was able to win clearly in 20.19, ahead of the 20.30 season’s best by Edward. Paraguay’s César Almirón was third in 20.49.

Asinga, whose PB is 19.97, bettered the 20.42 championship record set by Colombia’s Bernardo Baloyes in 2019.

“I’ve enjoyed my time in São Paulo, and the city now holds a special place in my heart, because I was able to do historic things here; I will be sure to come back,” Asinga said. “It was a great weekend; I have been very busy, and it was great way to cap it off [with another victory]. I came here to win, and I was able to get the job done. Now there is a good momentum to take into the World Championships and get the best result possible.

“This year I am focusing more in the 100m and next year I want to focus more on the 200m, trying to be more consistent. I have time to perfect my 200m and get that race right.

“My biggest dream is to be the best,” he added. “That’s how great athletes think; they want to be the best; they don’t want to be mediocre. I can’t just be content with what I have. I’ve done a lot in one year, but the downfall is to get comfortable. My biggest goal is not to get comfortable and take it as far as I can.”

Up until this year, only three Surinamese athletes had obtained medals in the history of these championships: Letitia Vriesde (gold at 1500m and silver at 800m in 2001), Miguel van Assen (gold at triple jump in 2017 and bronze in 2019 and 2021) and Ifrish Alberg (bronze at 100m in 2015).

Ecuador’s Nicole Caicedo won the women’s 200m in 22.81 (2.0m/s), a personal best. Colombian Shary Vallecilla was second with 23.07, also a personal best, while Brazil’s Ana Carolina Azevedo was third with 23.13. Caicedo’s victory was special, as the 22-year-old became the first Ecuadorian to win the South American 200m title.

Dalmero shines in the long jump

Colombia’s Arnovis Dalmero also delivered a big moment on Sunday afternoon.

The 22-year-old led the long jump from round with 8.06m. Uruguay’s Emiliano Lasa, finalist at the 2016 Olympics and 2017 World Championships, jumped 8.02m in round three, then took the lead with 8.08m in round four. But Dalmero, the 2017 world U18 triple jump bronze medallist, then uncorked an 8.29m (0.6m/s) leap in round five to regain the lead, adding 11 centimetres to his own national record and five centimetres to the championship record.

Lasa recorded two long fouls and Dalmero decided not to take his last jump of the day and celebrated the important victory, retaining his title from 2021.

Brazil’s Eliane Martins, aged 37, claimed her third South American long jump title, winning with 6.62m, just 12 centimetres shy of her PB.

Colombia’s Flor Denis Ruiz also secured her third continental title, winning the javelin with 61.82m. Brazil’s Jucilene de Lima was the early leader with 60.68m, but eventually took silver. Colombia’s María Lucelly Murillo was third with 59.75m.

Two months after extending his own Brazilian record, Pedro Henrique Rodrigues won the men’s javelin with 80.26m.

Argentina’s Fedra Luna, winner of the 1500m earlier in the championships, completed a distance double by winning the women’s 5000m in 16:06.00.

Valentín Soca claimed Uruguay’s only gold medal of the championships by winning the men’s 5000m. In a close finish, he crossed the line in 13:55.42 to win from Argentina’s Julián Molina (13:55.75) and Brazil’s two-time winner Altobeli da Silva (13:55.91).

The championships ended with the 4x400m relays. Colombia (Lina Licona, Valeria Cabezas, Yenifer Padilla, Evelis Aguilar) took the women’s title in 3:31.39 after a close fight with Brazil (3:31.63). In the men’s race, Venezuela (Javier Gómez, Julio Rodríguez, Kelvis Padrino, José Antonio Maita) overcame Brazil’s early advantage to win by the slimmest of margins: 3:04:14 to 3:04.15.

Once again, Brazil dominated the medals table with a total of 44 (19 gold, 15 silver and 10 bronze), ahead of Colombia’s 26 (7, 10, 9) and Argentina’s 14 (6, 4, 4). All 11 participating countries won medals.

Eduardo Biscayart for World Athletics