Good news for Central American and Caribbean rowing
The 2018 Central American and Caribbean Games is the oldest regional sport competition in the world and rowing has been a part for many years. This time it was in Lake Calima, close to the city of Cali, Colombia.
Seeing competitors from countries like Nicaragua and Trinidad and Tobago battle for medals against more powerful rowing nations like Cuba and Mexico was encouraging as they returned home with medals and helped open the door for conversation about rowing in areas where the sport is not so well-known.
Of the 11 nations participating, eight brought home medals.
After a clear sweep of the golds by the Cubans at the 2014 Central American and Caribbean Games regatta (ten out of ten available golds), Mexico was the most triumphant nation winning six of the 11 events with Cuba winning the other five. The remaining countries fought for silver and bronze medals. Venezuela won three bronze and one silver, Guatemala and El Salvador two bronzes each and Nicaragua and Puerto Rico took one bronze each.
Trinidad and Tobago won the final medal. Aisha Chow, 41, a well-respected scientist and a Rio 2016 Olympian in the women´s single sculls managed to row the waves and stay focused to finish in second place, well ahead of much younger athletes who simply revered her performance.
Participation by World Championship medalists and Olympians was the highlight of the regatta. Angel Fournier Rodriguez from Cuba was the biggest attraction of the events in which he participated. Fournier won easy golds in the men´s single sculls, double sculls and pair. It was Mexico’s rising star, Alexis López who lead the team. Lopez easily won the lightweight men´s single sculls and lightweight double. Alexis is a two-time under-23 World Championship medalist, a two-time Central American Games champion, a Panamerican Games champion and a two-time World Champion in indoor rowing.
Other former Olympians also showed up in Lake Calima; Adrián Oquendo and Yislena Hernández (Cuba), Kenia Lechuga and Juan Cabrera (Mexico), Jakson Monasterio (Venezuela) and Roberto López (El Salvador).
What´s next for rowing in the region? We will be expectant to see how our newest FISA member federations are doing when they compete at the Central American and Caribbean Games in Panama in 2022. These nations include Jamaica, Barbados, Costa Rica, Panama and Bermuda.
The Colombian team, despite their level of inexperience, still managed to come in fourth place two times bodes well for the success of new rowing nations as they develop over the next four years. World Championships and World Cups are very important at the elite level, but regattas like the Central American and Caribbean Games are huge and sometimes the only chance for many countries to compete at a higher level.
Copy thanks to Santiago Fuentes