As the Colombia’s Juegos Nacionales draw to a close, Oli Pritchard takes a look at the action
Bogotá was pipped to the post in the 20th Juegos Nacionales, taking 127 golds to Antioquia’s 130. The two giants of Colombian sports were neck and neck right up to the final weekend, but in the end the paisas were just too much for the rolos and now have bragging rights until 2016. The Bogotá delegation was leading into the final day but snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. The games include all the usual disciplines such as cycling, swimming and athletics, as well as local favourites such as tejo and billiards.
Not everyone was happy about the way the event was held across a number of places, with Mauricio Mosquera of Indeportes commenting to El Tiempo that “we can say with a lot of sadness and pain that they are the worst games ever”.
Harsh words, it would seem, but there were grumbles from others, such as squash player Catalina Peláez, who was disappointed that the athletes were in different hotels. A fair comment perhaps, for a competition nominally in Chocó and Tolima that featured such faraway venues as Ubaté and Cali.
Notable medallists included Jessica Morales Linares, who took gold in the sabre category of fencing at just 14 years of age. The ninth-grader was born in Massachusetts, but represented Valle del Cauca through her caleña mother.
Olympic gold medallist Mariana Pajón easily won the BMX time-trial, head and shoulders above her rivals. The only big-name road cyclist to compete was Jarlinson Pantano, who finished in the pack that was out-sprinted by Bogotano Brayan Stiven Ramirez Chacón.
In gymnastics, North Santander’s favourite Jossimar Calvo won a staggering seven medals, putting to bed his recent poor showing in the last World Cup of gymnastics. Nobody else won as many individual medals, although the capital’s Danilo Caro also took seven, including four in team events.
Although the triple jump was not on the schedule, Caterine Ibargüen competed in the long jump, which she won with ease to help the Antioquia delegation towards its eventual victory.
The Boyacá delegation predictably dominated tejo, winning four of the nine available golds. Bogotá came second in the national sport with two golds. Antioquian boffins cleaned up in chess, taking a whopping 12 medals in total, more than half those available.
Bids have started to come in for the hosting of the next Juegos Nacionales, which are expected to be based in the Coffee Zone.