Martina Weil on her way to the 400m title at the South American Championships (© Oscar Munoz Badilla)
Chile’s Martina Weil and Brazil’s Izabela Rodrigues da Silva delivered two of the best performances on the second day of competition at the South American Championships in Sao Paulo, Brazil, on Saturday (29).
Weil won a competitive 400m to grab her first South American title in 51.11, setting a championship record despite the cold conditions. The 24-year-old from Santiago imposed a strong pace from the beginning and it paid off as she controlled the surge of Colombia’s Evelis Aguilar, second with 51.41, and Ecuador’s Nicole Caicedo, third with 51.53 (national record). Martina became the second Chilean to win the distance at these championships, after Alejandra Ramos’s victory in 1975.
Weil, daughter of 1992 Olympic bronze medallist and 400m South American record-holder Ximena Restrepo and shot putter Gert Weil (eight-times South American champion, two-times Pan American Games champion and Olympic finalist) bettered the championship record that Brazilian Maria Magnólia Figueirêdo held since 1991 with 51.56.
“I am now training in Europe,” said Weil, who throughout this season has reduced her PB from 51.90 to 51.07. “My season is going very well, and I am very pleased with the victory, especially because my parents came to these championships and saw it. I hadn’t seen them since May; now I have a record that my mom doesn’t have.”
Rodrigues da Silva won the discus with 61.26m, retaining the title she won in 2021. Rodrigues da Silva, Olympic finalist in Tokyo, dominated clearly with 59.81m from her first attempt and followed with two fouls, 61.26m, a foul and 60.15m. Chile’s Karen Gallardo was second with 59.92m.
The men’s discus had a dramatic ending. Coming into the final round, Ecuador’s Juan José Caicedo was leading with 61.96m. With the penultimate throw of the competition, Chile’s Claudio Romero delivered a 63.24m effort that displaced Caicedo from the first place. The Ecuadorian responded with his best throw of the day, 62.46m, but it was only good to consolidate his silver medal. Colombian Mauricio Ortega, the South American record-holder (70.29m) was third with 60.15m. The title was Romero’s first at the senior area championships.
After a warm first day, conditions changed on Saturday. The temperature dropped, and a minor drizzle was present early in the morning, which helped the 20,000m race walk events – a discipline in which South America continues to produce magnificent competitors.
Peru’s 22-year-old Mary Luz Andia won the women’s race with an area record of 1:29:07.5 (22:23.8 at 5000m, 44:42.9 at 10,000m and 1:06:59.2 at 15,000m), ahead of Ecuador’s Paula Torres (1:33:06.1) and Brazilian Gabriela Muniz (1:33:31.8). Andia’s compatriot Luis Henry Campos took the men’s race in a national best of 1:21:25.6 (20:49.2 at 5000m, 41:03.4 at 10,000m and 1:01:29.0 at 15,000m) after a close fight with Ecuador’s Jonathan Amores, who clocked 1:21:42.9. Brazilian Max Gonçalves dos Santos was third with 1:23:21.7.
Colombia’s South American record-holder Anthony Zambrano, silver medallist at the World Championships in 2019 and Olympic Games in 2021, continued his return to form after a disappointing 2022.
Even though weather conditions weren’t the best (14C), the 25-year-old won the men’s 400m title in 45.52, winning his second South American title and equalling his season’s best. Zambrano held off the strong charge of Argentina’s Elián Larregina, who was running in lane one and entered the home stretch in a distant fourth place. Larregina was second with 45.63, while another Colombian, Jhon Perlaza, was third with 45.86.
In the preliminary round, Brazil’s Lucas Carvalho clocked a championship record 44.79 to take the first heat, but he only managed 47.64 in the final and placed eighth.
The 3000m steeplechase finals were slightly different. South American record-holder Tatiane da Silva of Brazil dominated the women’s event from the beginning to gain her third consecutive title with 9:55.73. Her compatriot Simone Ferraz was second with 9:59.44, while Argentina’s Clara Baiocchi was third with 10:19.71.
The men’s race was decided on the final lap. Argentina’s Marcos Julián Molina was much stronger than Colombia’s Carlos Sanmartín, who was the leader from the start (2:46.2 at 1000m and 5:44.3 at 2000m). With 200m to the finish, Molina unleashed a strong attack and won with 8:36.47, a season’s best, ahead of Sanmartín’s 8:39.23. Peruvian Julio Palomino was third with 8:48.93.
The women’s high jump saw the victory of Brazilian Valdiléia Martins, her first title, with 1.84m.
Decathlon championship record
Brazil’s José Fernando Santana grabbed the decathlon title with a championship record and personal best of 8057.
After sitting in second place at the end of the first day, the 24-year-old Santana put together a fine series of marks on day two, clocking 14.00 in the 110m hurdles, throwing 45.61m in the discus, clearing 4.90m in the pole vault, throwing 67.83m in the javelin and clocking 4:58.04 in the 1500m. Chile’s Santiago Ford, who led at half way, was second with a PB of 7845.
The Brazilian team controls the medal table with 21 (10 gold, 7 silver, 4 bronze) and the points classification with 224. The 4x100m relays provided two of those gold medals.
The women’s team (Ana Carolina Azevedo, Vitória Rosa, Bárbara Leôncio, Rosângela Oliveira Santos) won with 43.47 ahead of Colombia (44.18) and Chile (44.40, national record). The men’s team (Paulo André de Oliveira, Felipe Bardi dos Santos, Erik Cardoso, Rodrigo do Nascimento) grabbed the victory with 38.70 ahead of Paraguay (39.25, national record) and Venezuela (39.55).
The championships, held for the first time in 1919, will conclude on Sunday (30).
Eduardo Biscayart for World Athletics