Battle of champions expected at Pan American Combined Events Cup

Ottawa – Defending Canadian champion Damian Warner and 2013 title holder Yordani Garcia of Cuba will battle at the 3rd Pan American Combined Events Cup, which will crown a new women’s champion in Ottawa July 16-18.

The Cup is part of the 2014 IAAF Combined Events Challenge, a 15-stop Series featuring the world’s top decathletes and heptathletes.

As the event will also serve as the Canadian Championships, 2013 World Championships bronze medallist Warner will defend his title from Moncton in 2013. Ottawa will be his first decathlon of the year, after competing at the World Indoor Championships in Sopot.

The 24-year old should encounter strong opposition from defending champion, two-time Olympian Garcia, who has shown impressive form this year.

Former World Youth champion and record holder Garcia opened his season with a world leading 8337 in Havana and confirmed his fine shape with 8299 for fourth place in Gotzis, considered to be the unofficial annual world championships for combined eventers.

Garcia, 25, won the continental cup in Ottawa last year with a score of 8141, a record that could be well be broken this time around.

His countryman and 2012 Pan American Cup champion Jose Mendieta is also expected to be a top medal contender, as well as Devin Dick, Derek Masterson and Kyle Brondyke of the USA, Cuba’s Manuel Gonzalez and Brazil’s Felipe Vinicius Dos Santos.

Second at the 2013 National Championships and eighth at the 2013 World University Games, Patrick Arbour will be the second Canadian representative.

In the women’s field, there will be will a new champion as two-time winner Yorgelis Rodriguez of Cuba opted out to defend her world junior crown a few days later in Eugene.

Her compatriot Yosleidys Mendieta is the only woman registered who have broken the 6,000-point barrier, which she has twice, in 2013 and earlier this year.

The 2011 World Youth and 2013 Pan American junior champion is looking for redemption in Ottawa after fading to fourth last year at the event following a poor 800 run.

The other two medalists from last year are back. Paraguay’s Ana Pirelli broke her national record to clinch silver in 2013 and has continued to improve following her gold medal performance at the South American Games in Chile.

Bronze medallist Lindsay Schwartz of the USA set a season’s best of 5942 earlier this year and will try to improve from her 9th placing at the National Championships.

Other top medal contenders are Cuba’s Yilian Durruthy, fifth in 2012, Canada’s Rachael McIntosh, eighth at the 2013 World University Game and Natasha Jackson, USA’s Lindsay Lettow, Deanna Latham and Brazil’s Tamara de Sousa.

The Cup is also open to junior and youth athletes, who will compete July 16-17. Elite athletes will contest the Heptathlon and Decathlon July 17-18. In total, close to 100 athletes from eight countries will compete at the Terry Fox Athletic Facility in Ottawa.

“As an organizer, it has been really gratifying to have the growth we have seen in the Pan Am Cup over the past three years with participation nearly doubling from 46 athletes in 2012 to 90 entries already this year. However, it’s not just the sheer number of athletes competing, even if it is the largest combined events competition ever in Canada, the depth of field is outstanding,” said meet director Andy McInnis.