The 4th Pan American Combined Events Cup gets underway Friday at the Terry Fox Athletics Facility at Mooney’s Bay. The event, hosted by the Ottawa Lions in the past four years, is an annual fixture on the IAAF World Combined Events Challenge Series and brings together the best heptathletes and decathletes in the western hemisphere.
As in 2015, the 2016 Championship will include both youth and junior categories, and will also serve as the Canadian Junior and Senior Championships for both the heptathlon and decathlon.
Leading the field of 47 decathletes and 34 heptathletes are Grenada’s Kurt Felix and Canada’s Jessica Zelinka. They are both looking for redemption in Ottawa after failing to finish their competition last year.
Leader after seven events in 2015, Felix did not clear a valid height in the pole vault and it paved the way for Cuba’s Yordanis Garcia to claim his third consecutive continental title in Ottawa. Since then, Felix went on to claim silver at the Pan American Games in Toronto and finish eighth at the World Championships in Beijing with then national records of 8254 and 8302 points, respectively.
Two-time Olympic finalists and Pan American Games gold medallist in 2007, Zelinka returns to Ottawa for her second heptathlon of the year. She scored 5944 in Götzis on May 29, her first completed heptathlon since claiming silver at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
Returning to defend their Canadian titles from 2015 are Ottawa Lions’ Patrick Arbour and Madelaine Buttinger. 2014 winner Jillian Drouin is hoping to return to the Cup podium after missing a medal by 28 points last year. Georgia Ellenwood, who represented Canada at the World Indoor Championships in Portland, is also a strong contender for the medals.
The men’s field also includes Canada’s James Turner, third at the 2014 Pan American Cup. Since then, he picked up the NACAC Under 23 title and finished fifth at the World University Games in 2015.
Dominican Republic’s Juan Carlos de la Cruz improved his national record to 7504 to claim silver last year. He hopes to improve that performance to stay on the podium.
The 4th Pan American Cup features athletes from Canada, the United States, Mexico, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Peru, Haiti, Guatemala and the Dominican Republic. Cuba is absent for the first time since 2012.
Live results available at: http://liveresults.athletics.ca/Live_Results/2016/Panamerican_CE_Cup/