South American champion Martina Vale capped three days of unprecedented performances for host nation Chile after six days of athletics action at the Pan American Games.
The daughter of two successful Games athletes, Weil, 24, collected her most prized medal on Wednesday (1). Pulling away at the start of the 400m final, she edged past her nearest rivals to take the women’s 400m in 51.48 on a cold and rainy night, competing in front of 50,000 fans in a packed stadium.
In a repeat of the South American Championships final three months ago, Ecuador’s Nicole Caicedo closed strongly to secure silver in 51.76, ahead of South American heptathlon record holder Evelys Aguilar (51.95) of Colombia, who won her first individual medal of the Games since bronze 4x400m 12 years ago.
Weil, whose photo appears on massive billboards in public spaces, inherited the athletic genes of her mother, 1992 Olympic 400m bronze medalist Ximena Restrepo, and her father, two-time Pan American shot put champion Gert Weil ( 1987-1991). Restrepo, now senior vice president of World Athletics, presented Weil with the gold medal.
Weil’s win was the first by a Chilean at the Games in 24 years and completed three magical nights for the host nation at the National Stadium, following Lucas Nervi’s discus win on Monday and Santiago Ford’s gold in the decathlon on Tuesday.
Weil added more joy for the local fans, running the second leg of the 4x100m to a historic silver medal. The team clocked 44.19, the second national record of the night. Anais Hernandez, national record holder Isidora Jimenez and host Maria Montt were part of a team effort for an unprecedented sixth athletics medal for Chile.
After a busy campaign that saw her win her first individual 400m world title in Budapest, Marilady Paulino became the first woman from the Dominican Republic to win a sprint title at the Games, this time in the 200m in 22.73. In a busy week, Paulino also ran the second leg in the quartet that won a bronze medal in the women’s 4x100m. On Monday, she anchored her team to gold in the 4x400m medley relay and will join her teammates on Saturday in the women’s 4x400m final.
Marilidy Paulino on her way to victory in the 200 meters at the Pan American Games (© AFP / Getty Images)
Two other global medalists from Budapest delivered for their respective countries. Shot put silver medalist Sarah Mitton won Canada’s first track and field gold in Santiago with three solid efforts over 19m, including her winning 19.19m. In the women’s triple jump, world bronze medalist Leiannis Perez led from the start with three jumps over 14.60m and a best of 14.75m. She sealed Cuba’s first victory in the women’s triple jump in 16 years.
With the 4x100m relays held on Thursday (2), many other medalists appeared on the track. Brazil’s 19-year-old Renan Correa became the youngest athletics champion at these Games with an impressive 20.37 in the men’s 200m to deny the Dominican Republic’s 100m winner Juan Alnardo Gonzalez (20.56) from the pair’s sprint. Correa then anchored the Brazilian men’s team as they renewed their crown for the 2019 Lima Relays.
With wins by Eduardo Rodríguez in the 110m hurdles (13.70) and Lucas Conceicao in the 400m (45.77), Brazil now tops the athletics medal table with five gold medals.
Women’s 100m champion Unislady de la Caridad Garcia settled for silver in the 200m (23.33) behind Paulino and added a second gold in Santiago as she leads Cuba’s 4x100m quartet.
Earlier in the week, Costa Rican 2019 World Championships finalist Ana Carolina Vargas became the second athlete of these Games to successfully defend her Lima title, winning the 100m hurdles in 13.06. In the process, the 27-year-old gave the Central American nation its first gold medal in Santiago in all sports. In the semifinals, she recorded her best time in two years with 12.78.
After a bronze medal at home in Toronto (2015) and a silver in the 5000m earlier this week, Charles Philibert-Thibouteau finally savored continental gold with a photo-finish victory in the 1500m (3:39.74) over his Canadian compatriot Robert Joseph Heppenstall (3:39.76).
Charles Philibert-Thibouteau and Robert Joseph Heppenstall battle for the 5,000m title in Santiago de Chile (© AFP / Getty Images)
The victories of Philibert-Thiboutot and his teammate Mitton came just a few minutes apart.
Other winners included South American record holder Jocelyn Brea of Venezuela in the 5000m (16:04.12) and 2019 US world champion DeAnna Price in the hammer (72.34m), World Championship finalist Bridget Williams in the pole vault (4.60m) and Erin Marsh in the heptathlon (5882). In her third Games, heptathlon runner-up Alisbeth Felix (5565) became the first Puerto Rican woman to win a Pan American Games medal.
Third in their respective events, Nadale Buntin (200m) and World Championship finalist Thea Lafon won their first St Kitts and Nevis and Dominica medals in Santiago in all sports.
Athletics action in Chile wraps up on November 4, when the mixed marathon walking relay – a new Olympic discipline – will make its Games debut.
Javier Clavelo Robinson for World Athletics