Report29 Jul 2023

Asinga breaks world U20 100m record at the South American Championships


Issam Asinga (270) on his way to a world U20 100m record at the South American Championships (© Oscar Munoz Badilla)

In his first international competition, Surinam’s Issam Asinga broke the world U20 100m record by clocking 9.89* (0.8m/s) on the first day of competition at the 53rd South American Championships in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Friday (28).

In what could arguably be one of the finest performances ever achieved at the the oldest area championships, Asinga improved the world U20 record of 9.91 set by Botswana’s Letsile Tebogo at the World U20 Championships in Cali last year. With his time, 18-year-old Asinga also broke the senior South American record, beating the 10.00 mark set by Brazil’s legendary Robson da Silva in 1988. 

Racing on the National Olympic Centre track (at 754m above sea level) at 2:14pm local time, Asinga won his semifinal in 10.03 (-0.6m/s) to better the 24-year-old championship record of 10.06 set by Brazil’s Andre Domingos da Silva. The final started at 3:38pm, when the temperature was 29°C with 40% humidity.

Asinga, running in lane 5, was dominant from the start. Brazilian Erik Cardoso also started well, but the second part of Asinga’s race was too much for the local sprinter. Despite relaxing in the final stages, Asinga stopped the clock in 9.89, leading the top three all under 10 seconds and inside the previous area record.

Cardoso ran a Brazilian record of 9.97, and Ronal Longa – also an U20 athlete – a Colombian record of 9.99. The depth and quality of the race was enhanced by another national record, 10.24 by Venezuela’s David Vivas, who placed sixth.

“I am very pleased with my performance,” said Asinga, who had previously dipped under 10 seconds on four occasions, but with wind-assisted times. “I knew the result would eventually happen, that it was only a matter of time.”

Asinga was born in Atlanta, USA, and grew up in Zambia, where his mother was born. His father is Surinam’s Tommy Asinga, who still holds the country’s national records for 400m, 800m and 1500m, and represented the nation at the 1988, 1992 and 1996 Olympic Games.

The women’s 100m had some drama and fine results. Brazilian Lorraine Martins, who was among the favourites having run 11.16 this season, suffered an injury after the start of the final. That opened the door for her compatriot Vitoria Rosa, who took victory in 11.17 (0.7m/s), a season’s best that also equalled the 24-year-old championship record.

After wins in 2019 and 2021, Rosa is the second sprinter to take three successive titles at the event, emulating another Brazilian, Lucimar de Moura, who achieved the feat between 1997 and 2001. Moura also won in 2005, 2007 and 2009. Ecuadorians Angela Tenorio (11.30) and Aimara Nazareno (11.38) completed the podium behind Rosa.

Dos Santos improves triple jump championship best

The first day also delivered other strong performances. One of those came in the men’s triple jump, where Brazilian Almir Cunha dos Santos improved the 30-year-old championship record with his 17.24m leap (0.6m/s) to claim his first South American title.

The 29-year-old, who was seventh at the World Athletics Championships in Oregon, opened with 16.78m, a season’s best, then fouled his second attempt and set the winning mark from his third jump. He passed his last three attempts.

“I had to start over after several injuries. I had to switch my take-off leg (to his left leg) and learn the technique over, from scratch, so I am very happy,” said Dos Santos, who trains in Portugal and achieved his best performance since 2018. Colombian Geiner Moreno was second with 16.58m, ahead of Venezuelan Leodan Torrealba (16.52m).

Brazilian Gabriele dos Santos won the women’s triple jump with 13.92m (1.1m/s) to claim her first South American title, beating Colombian Estrella Lobo (13.54m) and Ecuador’s Adriana Chila (13.42m).

In the men’s pole vault it was deja-vu for Argentina’s German Chiaraviglio. The 36-year-old veteran grabbed his fifth South American title, 17 years after his first, with a 5.55m vault, a season’s best. Chiaraviglio is now the athlete with the most titles in the event after victories in 2006, 2015, 2017 and 2021.

“I felt very comfortable throughout the event,” he said. “I started at 5.20m, which is a low height, because I wasn’t coming with good results, even though I knew I was in good form. Today I felt very comfortable, and I my technique was very consistent.” 

The women’s pole vault, held in the morning, saw Brazilian Juliana Campos win her first title with a 4.60m vault, achieved on her third attempt at the height. The 26-year-old set a personal best and beat Venezuelan Robeilys Peinado, bronze medallist at the 2017 World Championships, who managed 4.50m. Colombian Katherin Castillo was third with 4.20m.

“I am very pleased with how my season is going,” said Campos. “I switched coaches. I now train with former South American champion Karla da Silva (the last Brazilian to win this event, in 2013), and so far, I am having a very solid season. I had some good attempts at 4.73m.” 

It was also a positive day for Chilean athletes. In the morning session Carlos Diaz won the 10,000m in 28:57.18 (14:18.5 at 5000m) to gain his second South American gold after his 2015 victory at 1500m. In the afternoon Humberto Mansilla took the title in the hammer, his second - retaining the crown from 2021 with a championship record of 75.92m (74.56m, 74.52m, 75.92m, foul, 72.52m, 75.41), ahead of his compatriot Gabriel Kehr (75.57m) and Argentina’s Joaquin Gomez (73.77m). Also in the afternoon, Ivana Gallardo won her first shot put title with 17.39m.

South American record at the 4x400m mixed relay 

Colombian sprinters displayed their power by winning the 4x400m mixed relay emphatically. Jhon Perlaza, Lina Licona, Anthony Zambrano and Evelis Aguilar combined to run 3:14.79, an area record. After an even first leg, Licona opened a big gap, Olympic medalist Zambrano lost some ground, but Aguilar, the South American record-holder in the heptathlon, was too strong. Brazil was second with 3:18.02.

Venezuelan Rosa Rodriguez added a new title to her collection by winning the hammer throw with 68.12m, to reach her third South American gold after victories in 2013 and 2015. The 37-year-old is having a successful season after also winning the Central American and Caribbean Games.

The morning session also delivered tactical victories at both 1500m races and the women’s 10,000m. Argentinean athletes prevailed at 1500m. Fedra Luna (4:14.52) became the third athlete from her country (and first since 1995) to claim this event, while Diego Lacamoire took the men’s race in 3:47.99. Peruvian Luz Mery Rojas won the 10,000m in 34:25.0 (18:11.7 at 5000m), her first South American title. 

After the first day of the decathlon, Chilean Santiago Ford is leading with 4100 points (11.11, 7.39m, 13.47m, 2.05m, 50.11), ahead of Venezuelan Gerson Izaguirre (4035) and Brazilian Jose Fernando Santana (3997).

Eduardo Biscayart for World Athletics

*Subject to the usual ratification procedure