Yipsi, the Lady of the Hammer Throwing

With her birthday on such notorious date as November 19th, Day of Physical Culture and Sports in Cuba, Yipsi Moreno was meant to shine in athletic sports.

In Agramonte town, in the central-eastern province of Camagüey, she took her first steps in 1981, although it wasn’t until 15 years later that her name began to sound nationwide, when she broke the domestic record on her specialty after a throw of 64.54 meters in 1999.

In that same season she did not stop until she obtained the youth world record with 66.34 meters, which reaffirmed her as the greatest promise on the specialty, besides winning the second place in Winnipeg 1999 Pan American Games, with a record of 63.03.

In Sydney 2000, with only 19 years old, she ended fourth, and a year later she would climb for the first time to the top of the podium in a top-level competition, when in the world championship of Edmonton she surpassed the Russian Olga Kuzenkova by only four centimeters (70.65 by 70.61). It was the birth of a star in the sky of athletics.

In 2003 her specialty was a walk in the park and won again the World Championship in Paris, where she shattered all the hopes of the local Manuela Montebrun.

Earlier she won at the Pan American Games of Santo Domingo, despite the harsh rivalry of the Trinitarian Candice Scott. That year she raised the bar to 75.14 meters as her best achievement.

Although on paper she was favorite to win the clear gold medal in the Olympic Games of Athens 2004, she finished runner-up, unprecedented in the history of that discipline in Cuba, and the bronze medal went to the neck of her compatriot Yunaika Crawford.

In April that same year, she had thrown 75.18 meters in Savona, Italy, and the world record was expected to be broken before her foreseeable drive.

However, only two valid shots doomed her to second place on the awards podium of Athens, behind Kuzenkova, who probably made the best competition of her life (75.05) and snatched the golden dream from Yipsi (73.36 ).

She also won a silver medal in the World Championship of Helsinki 2005, with a record of 73.08, under 75.10 of the veteran Russian hammer thrower. Anyway in her heart there was nothing but happiness, because she was coming out of a serious of injuries and with a lot of training time lost in physical recovery plans.

However, in the world final of hammer throwing, with venue at the Hungarian city of Szombathely, Yipsi surpassed all her competitors. Her 74.75 score left behind no less than the last two Olympic champions: Poland's Kamila Skolimowska (Sydney 2000), and Kuzenkova (Athens 2004).

On top of that, she sent off the podium the world record holder, the Russian Tatiana Lysenko (77.06 meters on July 15th that year), fourth now at the Magyar event.

2007 saw her break the continental barrier in the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, reaching 75.20 meters, well away from the remaining medalists, her colleague Arasay Thondike (68.70) and Argentina's Jennifer Dahlgren (68.32).

In the World Cup that year she finished just two centimeters behind the gold medal, with 74.74 meters against 74.76 of the German Betty Heidler, the comeback took place the following year, in the Beijing Olympic Games.

In the competition she finished second, with 75.20 meters, behind the Belarusian Aksana Miankova, but years later it was found that the European athlete had competed under the effect of drugs, and the gold medal went to her in 2016, a bit late, but it was hers. Two years earlier she had officially retired after winning the Central American and the Caribbean Games of Veracruz 2014, leaving a score for these competitions of (71,35).

She currently works as National Commissioner of Athletics, and she is also a Member of the State Council, but nobody forgets the Lady of the Hammer Throwing.

Silver for Jamaican Ronald Levy in Continental Cup

Ostrava, Czech Republic, Sep 9 (Prensa Latina) Representing the Americas team, Jamaican Ronald Levy won the silver medal today in the 110 meters hurdles of the Continental Cup of athletics, which is held in this city.

Levy stopped the clocks in 13.12 seconds to record his best time of the year, although the gold medal went to the panniers of the Europa team, through the Russian Sergey Shubenkov (13.03).

The bronze was in the power of the French Pascal Martinot-Lagarde (13.31).

Jamaica and the Americas won a bronze medal in the 800 meters for women, through Natoya Goule, who scored 1: 57.36.

South African multi-champion Caster Semenya (1: 54.77) won gold in that specialty, while American Ajee Wilson (1: 57.16) took the silver.

In the male hammer, meanwhile, Dilshod Nazarov, of Tajikistan, won with a record of 77.34 to give the triumph to the Asian-Pacific delegation.

The Egyptian Mostafa Elgamel (Africa, 74.22) and the Hungarian Bence Halász (Europe, 74.80) got the silver and bronze respectively, while the Mexican Diego del Real was fourth with 75.86, his best shot of the season.

Bahamian sprinter Shaunae Miller-Uibo dominated today the 200 flat meters of the competition.

The Olympic champion of Rio de Janeiro-2016, representative of the Americas team, obtained the victory with a record of 22.16 seconds, ahead of the Dutch Dafne Schippers (Europe, 22.28) and the Ivorian Marie-Josee Ta Lou (Africa, 22.61).

In triple jump for men, the American Christian Taylor also gave the title to the combined Americas, to impose with record of 17.59 meters.

Hugues Fabrice Zango, of Burkina Faso, and the Indian Arpinder Singh took the silver and bronze metals with 17.02 and 16.59, respectively.

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Cuba sends 12 athletes to NACAC Track and Field Championships

Six Barranquilla 2018 champions head the group of 12 Cubans who between next August 10-12 will compete in the NACAC Track & Field Championships in the Canadian city of Toronto, with the presence of several Olympic and world medalists.

The aforementioned group features women Yarisley Silva (pole vault), Yaime Perez (discus throw) and Rose Mary Almanza, the latter was Cuba´s sensation in Barranquilla with wins in 800, 1500 and as member of the 4x400 relay, while men Yoandys Lescay, Adrian Chacon and Leandro Zamora (4x400 relay) will be this time accompanied by Ruben Rey Caballero, who couldn’t attend the Central American and Caribbean Games.

Yipsi Moreno, former hammer thrower and current member of the Cuban Athletics Federation, noted that the list also includes triple jumper Jordan Diaz, short hurdler

Roger Iribarne, Pedro Acuña (800-1500) and Arnaldo Romero (200), in addition to the woman Zuriam Echevarria (400m hurdles).

The organizers confirmed that the contest will be attended by athletes from 28 countries including mega-stars such as Jamaican sprinter Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce, twice Olympic champion, and American pole vaulter Sandi Morris, one of Silva´s toughest rival in the current world circuit. (ACN)

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Cuban Jumper Confirms His Quality with 8.40-Meter Record

Cuban long-jumper Juan Miguel Echevarría proved that his 8.40-meter jump at the World Indoor Athletic Championships on Friday was not a fluke.

The 19-year-old athlete set the record in the outdoor season at the Rafael Fortún stadium in this central Cuban and ratified his excellent physical fitness after competing in the British city of Birmingham, where he won the gold medal with an 8.46-meter jump.

However, his coach Daniel Osorio, who took over his training a few months ago, noted that Echevarria's results are not a surprise.

'He has an ideal physique, I had seen him years ago, when he was still in Camagüey, and I followed his evolution closely,' he told Prensa Latina.

'Last year, he made very good jumps, over eight meters, so I predicted that at some point he would explode,' the coach of the national team noted.

After concluding his career in the junior category with a discreet performance at the World Championships in London last summer, Echevarria went on under Osorio's supervision in the senior category and his training focused on the psychological aspect.

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Did Usain Bolt do well Running one More Year?

Watching the bitter farewell to the best sprinter of all times, many wonder if Usain Bolt should have said good-bye after winning his third Olympic gold medal in a row.

But first let’s turn to the motives to stay. Competitively, he had given all he had; he wasn’t interested either, judging by the little interest he showed in his training for this competition. Then, why continue?

He said he wanted to dedicate his last campaign to his fans and, although I don't distrust of his good intentions, it doesn’t seem as a convincing argument to me.

Now we get to the point: how much did Bolt win to continue for one more year? According to Forbes magazine, almost always well informed in money issues, it was more than 30 million dollars earned by the Jamaican bolt this season.

The greater part was not earned winning races, not even running, but by sponsoring. That is, no matter what he did, his account was going to get fat enough. It’s not like he desperately needed it, because in his brilliant career as a runner he is estimated to earn around 150 millions, but not bad to keep going for a few months without the pressure of having to win it all neither the demand of the gyms.

We go back to our opening question: did he do well or bad?

To me, watching Bolt is a unique show, and these months have been a priceless gift. It’s also true he didn't have the expected ending, but we must not forget his opponents trained with only one objective in mind to defeat him, and if he is not at his best, it could happen what we saw in the 100-meter final.

The lesion in the relief final was no surprise either, because when you push your body to the limit and you haven’t had the necessary training for that, lesions occur, as it just happened to him.

I have dreamt these last days that he is not injured and he performs the feat of surpassing Christian Coleman and Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake, as he did many times before with other rivals, but it’s just that, an impossible dream.

Anyway, I feel privileged to have seen all his career, and this bad moment does not clouds his legend, neither erases his message that to be the best it’s not necessary to get dope, but working very hard. The bolt fades, but thunders will come.

Amilkal Labañino Valdés/ Cubasi Translation Staff

On Athletics: Usain Bolt documentary doesn’t go where it should

The plan was to be in London this weekend for the world premiere of I am Bolt and instead that changed to appearing on the Friday lunchtime radio show at Blackrock College. These events may not be as disconnected as they appear. Now read on. 

The invitation to attend the premiere came a few weeks back, and it looked promising. I am Bolt has been in production for over a year and essentially follows Usain Bolt as he prepares to defend his three Olympic sprint titles in Rio – which of course he did. 

It’s shot documentary style and judging by the trailer features several hero-worship contributions (from Serena Williams to Pele) and lots of goofing around with his mates and his coach Glen Mills.

“I really enjoy training,” says Bolt, collapsing on the track. “Ah, let me take that back.” 

Except all is not what it seems. According to Geoffrey Macnab of the London Independent, “there is a dispiriting sense here that the filmmakers don’t have full control of their own movie”.

Certain subjects, he writes, are skirted over (and he’s not just talking about Bolt’s love interests): “There are managers and agents helping call the shots. The directors only refer very fleetingly to the drugs scandals that continue to dog the sport . . . Nor do they look in any depth at the Jamaican sprinting programme from which Bolt emerged.”

Anyway, this may not be the exact reason why my invitation to the premiere was withdrawn. Although not long after it arrived, it was sent back with a note from Bolt’s agent, Ricky Simms, which said: “No need to ask (me) to attend or to write anything positive about our athletes as we already know his opinion and prefer not to read it.” 

Athletics agency

This wasn’t entirely surprising – even though I’ve known Simms since his club running days back in Donegal, before he moved to London and took over the ropes at PACE Sports Management, the athletics agency business first set up the late Kim McDonald.  

By “our athletes” he clearly meant Mo Farah, who Simms also represents. Because his note contained several links to articles that raised some of the concerns about Farah’s performances in Rio (such as this one: http://www.irishtimes.com/sport/other-sports/farah-runs-into-history-books-but-can-t-outsprint-suspicion-1.2756192

As noted at the time, the problem for Farah is twofold: he continues to produce unbreakable displays of championship distance running, winning his fourth Olympic gold in Rio, only the second ever 5,000m-10,000m double-double after Finland’s Lasse Viren.

At the same time he continues to associate himself with distance running coaches of some disrepute, not just the American Alberto Salazar, who single-handedly transformed Farah from mostly also-ran to mostly invincible, but also Jama Aden, the Somalian-born, Ethiopian-based coach who was arrested by Spanish police in June for possessing an array of performance enhancing drugs. 

Simms, it seems, would rather these concerns be ignored, or at least not written about. Farah, by the way, also has a new documentary coming out, No Easy Mile, available on DVD and Digital Download from December 5th.

“Good is not enough to win the gold medal, you’ve got be to excellent,” Farah says in the trailer, which also features some hero-worship from Usain Bolt.

The Aden association will most likely be ignored. This after all is the same athlete who three years ago released his autobiography, Twin Ambitions, without a single mention of doping in athletics.

Bolt, critically, has never associated himself with anyone of disrepute in doping terms, and yet at the same time concerns remain about Jamaica’s anti-doping record, particularly the gaping absence of out-of-competition testing in the five months prior to the London Olympics, which resulted in the resignation of their anti-doping chief. 

Tested positive

Jamaican sprinters won eight of the 12 individual sprint medals available in London, and the following year, five of their top sprinters tested positive. Bolt is also in danger of losing the gold medal he won with in the 4x100m relay team in Beijing in 2008, after the retesting of samples, carried out by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), found that one member of that team, Nesta Carter, should have been originally expelled after testing positive for the banned stimulant methylhexanamine.

This IOC re-testing is ongoing, and on Monday revealed that another six weightlifters will be stripped of medals won at London 2012 due to retrospective failures. As things stand, Poland’s Tomasz Zielinski, who originally finished ninth in the men’s 94kg, is now promoted to bronze, and must now fancy his chances silver if not gold.

There was also the Wada report, last month, which recognised “serious failings” in the drug testing in Rio, with 50 per cent of target testing aborted on some days, while of the 450 planned Athlete Biological Passport blood tests, only 47 were carried out. 

Still, some of us in this business are expected to sit back and watch I am Bolt and No Easy Mile and not wonder or question if all is really as it seems – or at least offer some opinion. 

The students at Blackrock College radio, thankfully, aren’t open to such tomfoolery. Their show goes out for one week, every year, on 97.3FM, and Friday’s lunchtime sports slot was dedicated to the Rio Olympics.

Co-presenters Ed Brennan and Mark Murphy were open to lots of hard questions: Have the Olympics lost all morals? Should we narrow the focus of our sports to win medals? And what on earth is golf doing in there? 

Despite this, and all the other negativity that surrounded Rio, they still believed in the credibility of the Olympics, and that by confronting the issues, rather than ignoring them, there was enough reason to be optimistic about their future, at least for Tokyo 2020.

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