Yordanis Garcia in the decathlon pole vault (© Brian Rouble)
Cuba’s Yordanis Garcia claimed his third consecutive title and Yorgelis Rodriguez regained hers at the NACAC Capital Cup Combined Events Invitational, an IAAF Combined Events Challenge meeting, held in Ottawa on June 19-20.
Garcia achieved his most comfortable victory in Ottawa, due in part to Grenada’s day-one leader Kurt Felix failing to achieve a valid clearance in the pole vault.
After trailing Commonwealth bronze medallist Felix by almost 200 points on day one, Garcia made up substantial ground in the 110m hurdles with the fastest time among all athletes with a season’s best of 14.00.
But Felix, who clocked 15.15 in the sprint hurdles, extended his lead once more in the discus, throwing a lifetime best of 45.76m, almost six metres farther than Garcia’s best, 40.09m.
Felix’s failed attempts over 4.10m in the pole vault led the way for Garcia to move to the lead for the first time. He equalled his personal best of 4.90m, a height he had not cleared since 2011.
He went on to win comfortably with 7977, his lowest winning score in Ottawa but enough to win by more than 400 points. Dominican Republic’s Juan Carlos de la Cruz improved his pole vault and 1500m bests en route to a national record of 7504 for silver, 21 points ahead of USA’s Kevin Lazas.
“I am happy with the win,” said two-time Olympian Garcia. “Things did not work out as anticipated, but this is preparation for the Pan American Games. It was nice to clear 4.90m in the pole vault. If Felix had a valid clearance, things would have been much closer.”
Second in Rio de Janeiro 2007 and third in Guadalajara 2011, he is eying the pan-American gold in Toronto. “The gold is my goal. I will focus on those events where I can score higher: 100m, 400m and hurdles,” he said. “But I am also concerned about a shoulder pain today that affected my performance in the javelin.”
Rodriguez pulls away from Osazuwa
In the heptathlon, Uhunoma Osazuwa – who shared the lead with Rodriguez after day one – left the Cuban in second place after dominating the long jump with 6.09m, the only woman to jump beyond six metres.
But 2012 world junior champion Rodriguez responded by throwing the javelin to 42.82m, four more meters than Osazuwa, and then running the 800m three seconds faster than the Nigerian to secure her second win in four years.
The 2014 world junior silver medallist totalled 6068 and broke the competition record of 6063, set by Sharon Day in 2009. The Nigerian was rewarded with the second 6000-point heptathlon of her career, 6008, just 41 points shy of her own national record.
“It is important to win again here after missing last year’s edition,” said Rodriguez, who was just short of the 6096 season’s best she score in Gotzis last month. “I am satisfied overall. My goal was to score higher than Gotzis. I guess I was a bit anxious today after a good first day.
“It builds my confidence in preparation for my first Pan American Games,” she added. “I am looking forward to Toronto and reaching the Olympic standard there. Between now and the Games, I will focus on the long jump and the hurdles.”
The event also served as the Canadian Combined Events Championships. Third overall, Maddie Buttinger improved her heptathlon personal best to 5643 to dethrone last year’s winner Jillian Drouin. Patrick Arbour was the country’s top decathlon scorer with 7147.
Third overall after the first day, 2012 Olympic finalist Jessica Zelinka did not start on Saturday as she continues to recover from ankle and achilles problems in preparation for the Pan American Games in Toronto.
The NACAC Capital Cup Combined Events Invitational has attracted more than 40 athletes from nine countries in the youth, junior and open categories. The competition ends on Sunday with the youth and junior categories.
Javier Clavelo Robinson for the IAAF