SAN SALVADOR – USA’s Shelbi Vaughn and Barbados’ Akela Jones, re-wrote meet records as the 9th North American Central American and Caribbean (NACAC) Under 23 Championships went off Friday at the Jorge “Magico” Gonzalez stadium in San Salvador.
Preparing for the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro next month, Vaughn erased the previous record in the discus throw as Jones did in the high jump, two of the 11 finals contested on the first day of competition.
The versatile Jones, the 2014 world junior long jump champion, soared over 1.91m to improve by 4cm the championship mark set 12 years ago.
“I felt well and this competition with warm temperatures here are a good build up in my preparation for the Olympics,” said a happy Jones, who will seek two more victories in the 100m hurdles on Saturday and the long jump on Sunday.
Vaughn threw the discus to 57.20, ahead of the 56.70m set by her countrywoman, Anna Jelmini, in 2010.
The fastest man and woman were also crowned on Friday: 2014 world junior champion Kendal Williams of the USA and Jamaica’s Sashalee Forbes.
In a final affected by the disqualification of two finalists due to a false start, Williams ran 10.23 while Forbes stopped the clock in 11.51 into negative wind.
One of the two defending champions competing here – Canada’s Jenna Westaway – successfully defended her crown in the 1500m with 4:16.03. She will aim for a second gold at 800m on Sunday.
The USA delegation, the largest competing here with 88 athletes, dominated seven of the 11 finals contested on Friday. Other champions were Becky Famurewa (hammer), Brian Williams (discus), Henry Wynne (1500m), Devin King (pole vault) and Erik Peterson (10000m).
One of the most dramatic finals was the men’s long jump. 22-year old Ifeanyi Otuonye improved his national record to 7.88m in the last round to win Turks and Caicos’ first gold ever in the history of the championships.
Barbados, Bahamas, Mexico, Guatemala, the British Virgin Islands and the Dominican Republic also picked up medals on Friday.
The NACAC U23 Championships continues on Saturday with 11 finals, starting with the men’s hammer throw. Rio-bound Diego del Real of Mexico will defend his title won in 2014.
For the first time in recent history, an international athletics competition is broadcast live by local TV in El Salvador (Canal 4). You can follow the broadcast live starting at 16h30 ET at http://www.esmitv.com/