Yaime Perez and Denia Caballero 1-2 in Birmingham

The top three places in the women’s discus reflected the 2019 world list with Cuban duo Yaime Perez and Denia Caballero getting the better of world and Olympic champion Sandra Perkovic.

Perkovic enjoyed a brief lead with her second-round effort of 61.97m but it was soon surpassed by Caballero’s 64.59m just minutes later. Perez responded in the third round with 64.87m to take the lead. Neither Cuban improved in the second half of the competition, but Perkovic moved closer with her fifth-round effort of 63.80m.

With one more scoring opportunity left before the IAAF Diamond League final, Perez, Caballero and Perkovic have all done enough to qualify.

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Pan American Athletics Summary Day 4

Venezuela’s Yulimar Rojas produced one of the most impressive performances of the 18th edition of the Pan-American Games, winning the triple jump with a 15.11m leap, a world leader, Games’ and national record on Friday (9) to highlight day four action at Lima’s Estadio de la Videna.

The 23-year-old from Caracas, world ranked No.2 and the 2017 world champion, was totally dominant over a quality field that didn’t include the 2016 Olympic champion and 2011 and 2015 Pan-Am Games winner, Catherine Ibargüen. The 35-year-old Colombian, world ranked No.1, decided not to compete in this event in Lima, where she only contested the long jump (and finished fifth with 6.54m on 6 August).

Rojas, who was fourth four years ago in Toronto, delivered an impressive series, in spite of the evening’s cold conditions. She produced three measured jumps, reaching 14.90m (0.7 m/s) on her first, 14.67m (-0.1) with her third and her 15.11m winner with her fourth. Her final effort, a foul by about seven centimetres, was a very long one, in the 15.50m area, which indicates that the tall Venezuelan could jeopardize the 24-year-old world record of 15.50 set by Ukraine’s Inessa Kravets on 10 August 1995 in Gothenburg. The leap also added five centimetres to her previous career best set in Huelva, Spain, on 20 June.

Rojas’ medal is only the second athletics gold by a Venezuelan woman in Pan-American Games history. Jamaica’s Shanieka Rickets, world ranked No.3, was second with a personal best of 14.77m (0.7 m/s), also after a solid series: foul, 14.76m (0.7), 14.76m (1.2), 14.43m (1.0) and 14.77m. Cuba’s Liadagmis Povea, world ranked No.4, was third with 14.60m (-0.6).

More honours for Fraser-Pryce

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, one of the most successful athletes of this time, added the Pan-American Games 200m title to her illustrious collection with a 22.43 (-0.1 m/s) performance to break the previous games record of 22.45 set by USA’s Evelyn Ashford in 1979.

Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce en route to the Pan-American Games 200m title (Getty Images)Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce en route to the Pan-American Games 200m title (Getty Images) © Copyright

The 32-year-old from Kingston, world ranked No.2 at 100m, and multiple Olympic and world champion, dominated the race entirely, running a smooth curve and finishing off with her traditional and powerful stride, even relaxing a bit over the last 10 metres.

“I want to think that I’m much better at 100m, but the 200m represent a bigger challenge for me”, said Fraser-Pryce, whose hair coloured green for the occasion. “I’m working on getting better at 200m and I’m also very happy to win this title for my country. I knew it was cold, but it was cold for everyone, not just for me, so I just wanted to execute the first 100m like my coach told me to do. Now, I thank god that I finished healthy and I can go back home and put on some more training.” Fraser-Pryce dedicated the victory to her son Zyon, who celebrated his second birthday a couple of days before the final.

Fraser-Pryce’s victory was, curiously enough, the first for Jamaica at the Pan-American Games. Brazil’s Vitória Rosa, world ranked No.16, was second with a personal best of 22.62, while Bahamas’ Tynia Gaither was third with 22.76.

Thomas-Dodd improves to 19.55m

Danniel Thomas-Dodd at the Pan-American Games in Lima (Getty Images)Danniel Thomas-Dodd at the Pan-American Games in Lima (Getty Images) © Copyright

Jamaica tops the medal table entering the final day of track and field. Danniel Thomas-Dodd provided the sixth gold for the Caribbean nation by winning the shot put with 19.55m, setting a new games and national record. Thomas-Dodd, world ranked No.4, achieved the winning mark in her final throw of the day with the victory already assured. Her gold was also the first for her nation at this event. Canada’s Brittany Crew was second with a personal best and national record of 19.07m, while USA’s Jessica Ramsey was third with a season’s best of 19.01m.

Three more gold medals for Brazil..

Brazil also had a good day, producing three victories and reaching five gold medals in all, second in the table. The South American nation won both 4x100m relays and the men’s 10,000m through Éderson Pereira.

The women’s team of Andressa Fidelis, Vitória Rosa, Lorraine Martins and Rosângela Santos was the most consistent at each exchange and clocked 43.04, a season’s best, to win the Games’ title for second time. Canada was second with 43.37, also a season’s best, ahead of the US who clocked 43.39.

In the men’s 4x100m, Brazil won for the fifth time in the last six games. Rodrigo do Nascimento, Jorge Henrique Vides, Derick de Souza and Paulo André de Oliveira clocked 38.27, beating Trinidad and Tobago (season’s best of 38.46) and the US (38.79).

In the 10,000m, Pereira delivered a strong kick over the last 1000m (2:37) to win with a personal best of 28:27.47. The field covered the first half in 14:12.33, pushed by USA’s Lawi Lalang, who took control of the pace for the greater part of the race to eventually finish third with 28:31.75, just behind compatriot Reid Buchanan (28:28.41). Pereira’s title is the third by a Brazilian at the distance.

..and two more for USA

The US team added two gold medals on Friday. Kara Winger triumphed in the women’s javelin with a season’s best of 64.92m, her best performance since 2015. Winger, the US record holder and world ranked No.8, threw beyond 60 metres with each of her efforts: 63.31m, 64.92m, 62.78m, 63.23m, 61.15m and 62.50m. The 33-year-old reversed the finish from Toronto 2015, where she was second behind Canada’s Liz Gleadle. This time Gleadle threw 63.30m, while Ariana Ince, the 2019 US champion, was third with 62.32m.

The second US gold for the day (and third of the athletics competition) came through Nikki Hiltz, who won the women’s 1500m in 4:07.14. Hiltz, world ranked No.30 and third at the recent US national championships, covered the last 300m in 47 seconds to outkick Jamaica’s Aisha Praught (4:08.26) and Alexa Efraimson, also from the US (4:08.63). The last US athlete to win this event was Marla Runyan in 1999.

Mexico’s Laura Galván, who finished fourth at 1500m with a personal best of 4:10.53, returned to the track 40 minutes later, to win the 5000m in 15:35.47, providing the third gold for Mexico. Profiting from her speed, the 27-year-old Galván ran the last kilometre in 2:54 to beat Canada’s Jessica O’Connell (15:36.08) and USA’s Kimberley Conley (15:36.95).

Pan-American Games 200m champion Alex Quinonez (r) leads Yancarlos Martinez (l) and Alonso Edward (c) (Getty Images)Pan-American Games 200m champion Alex Quinonez (r) leads Yancarlos Martinez (l) and Alonso Edward (c) (Getty Images) © Copyright

After a slow first part of his race, Alex Quinonez ran a formidable straight to take the men’s 200m title in 20.27 (-1.0). The 29-year-old Ecuadorian, world ranked No.4, obtained the first gold for his country in a track event, the eight overall and second of these Games. Panama’s Alonso Edward lead up to 120 metres, but faded to fourth in 20.55. Trinidad and Tobago’s Jereem Richards was second with 20.38, with Dominican Republic’s Yancarlos Martínez third in 20.44.

Cuba added its fifth medal of these Games through Luis Zayas. The 22-year-old won the hen’s high jump with a personal best of 2.30m. Zayas, the 2016 world U20 champion, came to the contest with a personal best of 2.27m and a season’s best of 2.25m.

Canada’s Michael Mason, who has topped 2.31m this season and is world ranked No.4, was second with 2.28m. Mexico’s Roberto Vilches was third with 2.26m.

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SILVA WINS THIRD STRAIGHT PAN-AMERICAN GAMES POLE VAULT TITLE

Cuban Yarisley Silva produced the best performance of the third day of track and field at the Pan-American Games on Thursday (8), topping 4.75m to win the pole vault on another cold night at the “Estadio de la Videna” in Lima.

The 32-year-old from Pinar del Río secured her third successive Pan-Am Games after an intense journey. Silva, the 2015 world champion and 2012 Olympic silver medallist who is currently world ranked No.7, opened her day at 4.25m but needed all three tries before topping 4.35m. She later settled in and cleared 4.45m, 4.55m and 4.65m with her first jumps. By then Silva’s only remaining competition was USA’s Katie Nageotte, world ranked No.4, who topped 4.65m on her second attempt. Nageotte, who has a 4.82m season’s best, took the lead after topping 4.70m on her second try. Silva missed twice then decided to attack 4.75m, which proved to be the winning height and a season’s best.

Canada’s Alysha Newman, world ranked No.4 and a 4.77m performer this season, was third with 4.55m, while Venezuela’s Robeilys Peinado, the South American champion and 2017 world bronze medallist was only fourth along with USA’s Olivia Gruver with 4.55m.

Silva became the ninth women to win three titles at this quadrennial competition, joining Mexico’s Ana Guevara (at 400m), Adriana Fernández (5000m), Brazil’s Maurren Maggi (long jump) Cuba’s Aliuska López (100m hurdles), María Elena Sarría (shot put), discus throwers Carmen Romero and Maritza Martén and Yipsi Moreno (hammer).

More history unfolded in the 100m hurdles where Costa Rica’s Andrea Vargas won in 12.86 (0.1 m/s) delivering her country’s second-ever gold medal, and first medal by a woman. Vargas upset USA’s Chanel Brissett, who was second with 12.99 and Jamaica’s Megan Simmonds, third with 13.01. Vargas improved her own national record to 12.75 in the semi-finals.

DOS SANTOS CONTINUES TO IMPRESS

Brazilian Alison Alves dos Santos extended his outstanding season to the Pan-Am Games and grabbed the 400m hurdles title with a South American U20 record of 48.45.

Javier dos Santos en route to the Pan-American Games 400m hurdles crown (Getty Images)Javier dos Santos en route to the Pan-American Games 400m hurdles crown (Getty Images) © Copyright

Dos Santos, bronze medallist at the 2018 World U20 Championships and world ranked No.9, entered the final 100m of the race behind Dominican Republic’s Juander Santos. Both were level at the final hurdle, but Santos clipped it and fell. Dos Santos won comfortably over USA’s Amere Lattin (48.98), while Jamaica’s Kemar Mowatt was third (49.09).

This is the fifth time that dos Santos improves his own South American U20 record in 2019. This season he also won the South American title, the Pan American U20 Championships and the World University Games. His 48.45 clocking places him third at the all-time U20 lists, while his victory in Lima makes him the second Brazilian to win the 400m hurdles after the three titles by Eronilde de Araújo (1991, 1995, 1999).

“The weather conditions weren’t ideal, but I am extremely pleased,” dos Santos said. “Before the beginning of the season I didn’t think it would be possible to run 48 seconds, but now I see it’s possible.”

Canada’s Sage Watson took the women’s title in 55.16. The 25 year-old, world ranked No.14, had been initially disqualified, but later was reinstated upon appeal. Watson ran a controlled race and delivered a strong kick to become the first Canadian to win this event. USA’s Anna Cockrell was second with 55.50 and Jamaica’s Rushell Clayton was third with 55.53.

ZAMBRANO AND JACKSON TAKE 400M CROWNS

Anthony Zambrano became the first Colombian to win the 400m with his triumph in 44.83. The 21-year-old, world ranked No.12, beat Jamaica’s Demish Gaye (44.94) in the closing stages. American Justin Robinson was third in 45.07.

In the women’s race, Jamaica’s Shericka Jackson, world ranked No.4, had to dig deep to beat Mexico’s Paola Morán. Jackson, 2016 Olympic bronze medallist, clocked 50.73, while Morán, the 2019 World University Games champion, ran a personal best of 51.02. USA’s Courtney Okolo was third with 51.22.

José Carlos Villarreal gave Mexico its first-ever gold medal at 1500m in 3:39.93. The 22-year-old was the strongest in the final 100m, beating USA’s John Gregorek (3:40.42) and Canada’s William Paulson (3:40.42).

Carlos Villareal of Mexico takes the Pan-American 1500m title in Lima (Getty Images)Carlos Villareal of Mexico takes the Pan-American 1500m title in Lima (Getty Images) © Copyright

The women’s high jump was an all-Caribbean affair. Led by Saint Lucia’s Levern Spencer. The 35-year-old retained the title she won four years ago in Toronto on countback at 1.87m. Antigua and Barbuda’s Priscilla Frederick also repeated her second place from Toronto topping 1.87m with Jamaican Kimberly Willamson third with 1.84m.

On a memorable day for Chilean athletics, Gabriel Kehr and Humberto Mansilla dominated the men’s hammer throw. Kehr, 22, threw 74.98m in the second round to secure the title. Mansilla was second with 74.38m from round five, while USA’s Sean Donnelly was third with 74.23m. The last Chilean to take a medal in this event was Arturo Melcher, who took bronze in 1951.

Cuba’s Adriana Rodríguez won the heptathlon with 6113 points, a personal best for the 20-year-old. Rodríguez, who was second after the first day 36 points behind Trinidad and Tobago’s Tyra Gittens, reached 6.46m (-0.3 m/s) in the long jump, threw a modest 33.59m in the javelin and produced a 2:18.49 personal best at 800m. Gittens didn’t start the final event after disappointing results at long jump (5.44m) and javelin (32.41m). USA’s Annie Kunz was second with 5990, while Colombia’s Martha Araujo was third with a personal best of 5925. Cuban Yorgelis Rodríguez, world ranked No.5 and defending champion, dropped out after a no-height in the high jump. 

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ECHEVARRÍA TAKES LONG JUMP CROWN

Juan Miguel Echevarría brought the men’s long jump title back to Cuba. The world indoor champion found a tough opponent in Jamaica’s Tajay Gayle.

The 20-year-old Echevarría opened with 8.09m, but Gayle responded with 8.17m in round two. Echevarría jumped 8.06m in round three, while Gayle recorded 8.10m. In the fourth round, however, the Cuban leapt to 8.27m, which proved sufficient to win as Gayle fouled his last three attempts. Uruguay’s Emiliano Lasa was third with 7.87m, retaining the bronze medal he earned in 2015.

The last Cuban to win the Pan-Am Games long jump title was multiple world champion Iván Pedroso, who won his third consecutive Pan-Am title in 2003.

Jamaica’s Natoya Goule took the women’s 800m title in 2:01.26. Goule controlled the race at 400m (1:00.10) and was the strongest on the second lap, holding off the challenge from Cuba’s Rose Mary Almanza (2:01.64) and Uruguay’s Deborah Rodríguez (2:01.66).

Trinidad and Tobago’s Tyra Gittens leads the heptathlon with 3766 points after clocking 13.63 in the 100m hurdles, clearing 1.83m in the high jump, throwing 13.43m in the shot put and running 24.19 in the 200m. Cuba’s Adriana Rodríguez is currently second with 3730 ahead of USA’s Annie Kunz (3613).

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South Africa’s Luvo Manyonga wins London DL long jump

World long jump champion Luvo Manyonga of South Africa set a season’s best distance of 8.37 metres to win the men’s event at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in London on Saturday.

Manyonga, who made an opening jump of 8.11 metres, finished ahead of Jamaica’s Tajay Gayle (8.32m) and compatriot Ruswahl Samaai (8.11m).

Jamaica’s Gayle managed to record a personal best with his jump.

Highly-rated 20-year-old Cuban Juan Miguel Echevarría, the world indoor champion, did not compete at the event.

Olympic silver medalist Manyonga has previously stated that he believes he has the ability to better the world record by American Mike Powell 28 years ago of 8.95 metres. His personal best stands at 8.65 metres.

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Former IAAF President Diack to stand trial in France

Former President of the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) President Lamine Diack is to stand trial in France on charges of corruption, influence-trafficking and money laundering, it has been reported today.

His son Papa Massata Diack is also to be put on trial, although he has so far remained beyond the jurisdiction of the French authorities.

The news that the 86-year-old Diack is to face trial was reported by news agency Agence France-Presse (AFP).

If found guilty, Diack could be sentenced to more than 10 years in jail.

Papa Massata Diack, who has refused to leave Senegal, is set to face trial for complicity in corruption and money laundering.

His case could be heard in absentia.

Among the accusations set to be levelled against the Diacks is that they helped cover-up positive drugs tests involving Russian athletes in return for cash.

"The freeze in sanctions in exchange for financial kickbacks was negotiated by Lamine Diack with Valentin Balakhnichev, who was both president of the Russian Athletics Federation (ARAF) and IAAF Treasurer," three French judges led by Renaud Van Ruymbeke said in their order to trial, dated June 19, a copy of which AFP claimed to have seen.

Balakhnichev is also due to face trial, along with former Russian national coach Alexei Melnikov, Lamine Diack's former advisor Habib Cisse, and the IAAF's former anti-doping chief Gabriel Dolle.

Like Papa Massata Diack, Balakhnichev and Melnikov have so far refused to cooperate with the French investigation and have not been questioned.

It is unlikely they would return to France for a trial.

Other allegations levelled at Lamine Diack and Papa Massata Diack include that they were involved in corrupting the Olympic bid process by accepting cash to help influence the decisions to award the 2016 Games to Rio de Janeiro and 2020 to Tokyo.

Diack was a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) between 1999 and 2013 but stood down as an honorary member in 2015 following his arrest in France.

News that he is to stand trial emerged as the IOC gathered here to pick a host city for the 2026 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The two candidates are Stockholm Åre in Sweden and Milan Cortina in Italy.

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FOCUS ON MAYER AND THIAM IN TALENCE

Nine months after his spectacular 9126-point tally, Kevin Mayer will return to the scene of his decathlon world record when he competes at the Decastar, an IAAF Combined Events Challenge meeting, in Talence this weekend. Fellow world champion Nifassatou Thiam will start as favourite in the heptathlon in her Decastar debut.

While he hasn’t competed in a full decathlon since breaking the world record by 81 points at last year’s edition of this meeting, Mayer has contested some individual events heading into this season. He threw 16.20m in the shot put in early May, 40 centimetres shy of his personal best, as well as 47.83m in the discus.

“He has his qualification slot for Doha, so he will just take this event by event,” said his coach Bertrand Valcin. “The point will be to enjoy the competition.”

“I did a good training session this week,” Mayer said, “but I feel tired after recent training weeks. I can’t say what I’ll be able to achieve. It’s a competition in the build-up for Doha.”

On paper, Mayer has a huge margin over his opponents. Leonel Suarez of Cuba has the second best PB of the field, but his 8654 score dates back to 2009, the year before he prevailed at the Decastar. Ilya Shkurenev's 8601 PB from 2017 makes him a serious contender. He wasn’t at his best in Götzis, finishing 16th with 7982, but he proved his ability when taking bronze at the 2019 European Indoor Championships.  

Like Shkurenev, Pierce Lepage has already finished on the podium at this event, placing third in 2016. The Canadian is in good shape as he recently set 100m and 110m hurdles PBs of 10.46 and 14.07 respectively.

Belgium's 2016 European champion Thomas Van Der Plaetsen will be keen to lay down a marker after his previous attempt of gaining a World Championships qualifier ended in frustration when a power cut effectively ended the decathlon at the South African Championships.

USA's Zach Ziemek, the seventh-place finisher at the 2016 Olympics, will also have a say.

THIAM'S FIRST TIME IN TALENCE

World and Olympic champion Thiam, whose last defeat in a combined events competition was in May 2016, is tipped to triumph in Talence.

So far in 2019, Thiam has clocked 13.62 in the 100m hurdles, leapt to a wind-assisted 6.65m in the long jump, thrown 52.71m in the javelin and improved her 200m PB to 24.37.

Another Gotzis win for Nafissatou Thiam (Jean Pierre Durand)Another Gotzis win for Nafissatou Thiam (Jean Pierre Durand) © Copyright

“My winter was tough,” said Thiam, who sits third on the world all-time list with 7013 from 2017. “I was off for a month and a half due to injury. But I’ve been feeling good since the beginning of the season and my goal will be to have a good test heading to Doha.”

One of the Belgian’s key opponents will be Latvian Laura Ikauniece, who scored 6476 in Götzis to finish runner-up, two years after improving her best to 6815 in the same meeting. In Götzis last month Ikauniece finished just ahead of Xenia Krizsan, the 2017 Decastar runner-up, who scored a PB of 6469. Ikauniece and Krizsan currently sit fourth and fifth in the Combined Events Challenge standings. 

In what looks one of the strongest Decastar heptathlon fields for quite some time, 2016 European champion and 2017 Decastar winner Anouk Vetter should also be a strong contender. The world bronze medallist holds the Dutch record with 6636.

French hopes will rest on the shoulders of the young and talented Solène Ndama. A finalist in the 100m hurdles at the 2018 European Championships in Berlin, she then took pentathlon bronze at the European Indoor Championships, improving her personal best to 4723 to equal the French record set by Antoinette Nana Djimou. The two-time European champion will also be competing.

Ndama, who has a 5932 lifetime best, is aiming to top 6000 points for the first time.

Quentin Guillon for the IAAF

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Local stars De Arriba and Mechaal get the cheers in Huelva

The 14the edition of the Meeting Iberoamericano in the southern Spanish city of Huelva, a European Atheltics Classic Permit Meeting, saw two outstanding world lead8ng performances in the field events from Venezuelan triple jumper Yulimar Rojas and Cuban discus thrower Denia Caballero but also good wins by local middle distance stars Alvaro de Arriba and Adel Mechaal.

Rojas, who is based in Spain and competes for the FC Barcelona club, leapt out to a personal best of 15.06m in the second round, the 2017world champion producing a personal best and the first jump by a woman over 15 metres in the world since 2016.

Spain’s reigning European indoor champion Ana Peleteiro had her first outdoor competition of the year and had a solid result of 14.33m to finish third to start her summer campaign.

Caballero uncorked a massive 69.20m in the second round to win by almost two metres from her compatriot Yaime Perez.

Arguably the biggest cheers of the night were reserved for another of Spain’s European indoor champions from Glasgow as de Arriba took the plaudits in the 800m to win in 1:46.28, coming home ahead of Poland's Mateusz Borkowski who was second 1:46.52.

The gun went for the 1500m barely 20 minutes after de Arriba had crossed the line and saw Adel Mechaal won the 1500m for the third time in Huelva, this time clocking 3:38.69 finishing ahead of Spanish 800m record holder Kevin Lopez, who was second in in 3:39.09.

The field events also generated European successes with Germany's 2015 European U23 bronze medallist Sara Gambetta winning the shot put with 18.40m, just six centimetres short of her personal best, while Greece's Mihail Anastasakis, a finalist at the last two European Athletics Championships and fourth in 2016, won the hammer with 74.44m.

In addition to Caballero, there were also notable wins for her Cuban compatriots Roxana Gomez in the 400m in 52.37 and for Zurian Hechavarria who won the 400m hurdles in 55.40 with Russia’s Vera Rudakova second in 55.82.

In third place was the emerging Spanish 17-year-old talent Salma Celeste Paralluelo, who ran 57.43 for not only a Spanish U18 best but also an U18 world-leading time.

She ran the 400m at the Glasgow 2019 European Athletics Indoor Championships but in only her third 400m hurdles race Paralluelo has propelled herself into medal consideration for the Boras 2019 European Athletics U20 Championships in a month’s time.

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