Ottawa – Cuba’s Four-time World and Olympic medallist Leonel Suarez and Canada’s Jessica Zelinka lead a group of seven Olympians expected in Ottawa for the inaugural Capital Cup, June 19-21.
The event, to be held at Terry Fox Athletic Facility at Mooney’s Bay, will also serve as the Canadian Junior and Senior Championships and is part of the 2015 IAAF World Combined Events Challenge Series.
Suarez, bronze medallist at the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games, completed his first decathlon since the 2013 World Championships by taking the Cuban title with 8027 points in late May.
“I am excited to come to Ottawa as I continue my preparation to defend my title at the Pan American Games in Toronto. I have heard good things about the event and I can’t wait to compete with other top class athletes,” said Suarez, who won the silver medal at the 2009 World Championships and bronze at the 2011 edition.
The 27-year old will be joined by two-time Olympian Yordanis Garcia, who has won two consecutive Pan American Cup titles in Ottawa in 2013 and 2014. He opened his season last weekend with 8186 points, good for ninth place at the Hypo Gotzis Meeting in Austria, the unofficial world championship for decathlon.
Inaugural Pan American Cup champion and runner-up in the past two years, Jose Angel Mendieta, completes a trio of Cuban competitors in the open decathlon.
Two other Olympians with personal bests over 8000 points will be ready to battle for a podium finish: Grenada’s 2014 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Kurt Felix and Chile’s 2014 South American Games silver medallist Gonzalo Barroilhet.
Ottawa Lion Patrick Arbour is the top ranked Canadian heading in to the competition. Arbour hopes to improve his fourth place from 2014 as well as pick up his first national title.
In the women’s event, four-time World and Olympic finalist Jessica Zelinka looks forward to her first heptathlon since winning the silver medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Zelinka, also a 2012 Olympic finalist in 110m Hurdles, is preparing for the Pan American Games in Toronto. She clinched the continental crown in Rio de Janeiro 2007.
She is expected to find strong opposition from four other women with personal bests over 6000 points, including two-time Pan American Cup champion Yorgelis Rodriguez.
The Cuban, 2012 world junior champion and silver medallist at the 2014 global junior event, returns to Ottawa after missing the 2014 edition. She opened her 2015 season with 6094 points in Gotzis.
Other top contenders are 2012 Olympians Chantae McMillan of the United States, and Nigeria’s Uhunoma Osazuwa, who achieved her personal best of 6049 in Ottawa in 2012. Saint Lucia’s Makeba Alcide, a competitor in the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, boasts a lifetime best of 6050 points.
Sarnia, Ontario’s Jillian Drouin will defend her Canadian title won in Ottawa last year with a career best of 5972.
In total, 22 men and 21 women from eight countries are entered to contest the Capital Cup in the youth, junior and open categories.