Cuba had an exciting day in track and field at the V Parapan Am Games in Toronto on Tuesday, August 11. This was guaranteed by world-class results from Omara Durand and Leinier Savón, as well as a fourth Parapan Am gold for discus thrower Leonardo Díaz.
Durand has set world records three times in the 100 metre T12 sprint, and is used to running without serious competition. Starting with her November 19, 2011 win in Guadalajara she became the first woman to finish that race in under 12 seconds.
On Monday, August 10, Durand set another record in a qualifying heat at York University Stadium with a time of 11.65 seconds. In the August 11 final she won gold, Cuba’s first in track and field in Toronto. In the process she shaved off another one-hundredth of a second, although the tailwind of 3.7 m/second was outside the conditions for setting records, which permit a maximum of 2.0 m/second.
“I always go out to compete against my own times even though I don’t have much pressure from my competitors. Right now I am in the best shape of my life and had to show that,” Durand told JIT after the race.
“The wind was there but I feel great and am looking forward to more,” Durand said.
Minutes after Cuba won its first track and field gold of the Games, runner Leinier Savón managed another in the men’s 100 m T12 with a time of 10.61 seconds. He also ran with a tailwind of 2.8 m/second. The world record of 10.66 set by Elchin Muradov of Azerbajian in Bologna, Italy in 2010 still stands, but Savón showed he has a great future ahead of him in the sport.
Savón, from Guantanamo province was first out of the blocks and took an early lead, ending up several metres ahead of Josiah Jamison of the U.S. (11.15) and Manuel Martínez of Mexico (11.18).
“Yesterday my coaches spoke to me because at first I wasn’t using my arms right, so I paid attention to them and ran relaxed as I usually do and have now corrected that,” Savón explained.
“Our track and field team has made its presence known and that is crucial to what everyone is aiming for. For my part I will go out to get more golds for my people,” he predicted.
Cuba’s third track and field gold of August 11 came from discus thrower Leonardo Díaz. He achieved a distance of 40.65 metres in the F54-55-56 event, amounting to 954 points. Díaz did not manage to surpass his world records set over the course of four Parapan Am competitions beginning with Mar del Plata 2003 because of new rules that do not permit moving one’s feet off the chair.
As of the morning of August 13, Cuba has 17 track and field medals – seven gold, six silver and four bronze. Overall, Cuba stands in seventh place in the medal standings with 13 gold, 11 silver and eight bronze.