Rodriguez and Mendieta to return to Ottawa to defend Panamerican Cup title

Ottawa – Cuba’s Yorgelis Rodriguez and Jose Mendieta will return to Ottawa to defend their Panamerican Cup title as the Canadian capital prepares to host the 2nd Panamerican Combined Events Cup June 1-2.

Rodriguez, 18, shone at the continental event last year before winning the world junior Heptathlon gold a month and a half later in Barcelona.

This season, the 2011 World Youth Championships silver medalist improved her continental junior record by over 300 points when she totalled 6186 at the National Championships in Havana in mid March.

“I have sweet memories from Canada last year. It was my first international win and a great boost in my preparation for the Junior Worlds. I look forward to competing again in Ottawa in June,” said Rodriguez.

The young Cuban will be joined by her training partners Yusleidis Mendieta and Yilian Durruty. 2011 World Youth champion Mendieta, 19, broke the 6000-point barrier (6024) for the first time in trailing Rodriguez at the National Championships in March.

Durruty, who shows a personal best of 5966 from 2012, wants to improve from her fourth place performance in Ottawa last year.

In the men’s field, Jose Angel Mendieta is also looking forward to defending his Panamerican crown.

“I am excited to return to Canada for a third time in four years. I competed at the Junior Worlds in 2010 and then won my first international event in Ottawa in 2012. I am still young and learning a lot in the Decathlon, so Ottawa will be another stepping stone in my career,” commented Mendieta.

The 21-year old set three personal bests in Ottawa en route to a 7782 score for the Panamerican gold. He improved his marks in three other events in mid March to take his Decathlon best to 7953 at the National Championships in Havana.

Mendieta will find a strong opposition from a more seasoned teammate. Yordanis Garcia won the NACAC Combined Events Cup in 2009 in a still standing personal best of 8496. The two-time Olympian and two-time World Championships finalist is expected to compete in his first decathlon of 2013 as he prepares for his fourth World Championships.

Manuel A. Gonzalez, who scored a best of 7535 at the National Championships, completes the Cuban trio. Coaches Gersin Luis and Yolaida Pompa will join the six athletes in Ottawa.

by Javier Clavelo