Pan-American Games - Guadalajara - Mexico
Last week was very crazy and very intense! It was time for the PanAm Games in Mexico!!!
This track is brand new and its SUPER fast, believe me when I say it could be one of the fastest tracks in the whole world, the track is in a place with great altitude (Guadalajara, Mexico) and it’s a nice indoor track. I think it’s perfect for someone who’s planning to break a World Record.
The races were so much fun to watch, the first day Colombia broke the PanAm Record in the Team Pursuit (4.59) and they won the gold medal against the Chilean team, while the women from Venezuela won the Team Sprint against Colombia, Mexico came 3rd with a team led by the veteran Nancy Contreras.
It was good to see Njisane Phillip (Trinidad & Tobago) break the PanAm Record in the 200 metres (9.91) in the morning of the second day of competition, he’s very friendly and knows how to get the crowd going crazy. He calls himself “the black Mexican” and all the people in Mexico love him. Unfortunately, he lost in the semifinals against Hersony Gadiel Canelon from Venezuela and had to race from the bronze medal. The final podium: 1st Hersony Gadiel Canelon (VEN), 2nd Fabian Puerta (COL), 3rd Njisane Phillip (TRI)
Another great race to watch was the men’s omnium with Juan Esteban Arango from Colombia dominating the field from start to finish, he was never lower than top 5 in all six events of this tough race and won 3 events to finish with 13 points, Luis Mancilla (CHI) was 2nd with 20 points and Walter Perez (ARG) 3rd with 28pts.
In the women’s Team Pursuit Canada was the one who took the highest place in the podium posting a time of 3:21.448 with Laura Brown, Stephanie Roorda and Jasmin Glaesser (who is German and got her Canadian citizenship just weeks before the event). 2nd and 3rd places went to Cuba and Colombia.
Sofia Arreola Omnium - PanAms 2011 - Image Copyright Nancy Arreola
Of course my favorite event to watch was the women’s ommnium as my sister Sofia was riding for Mexico, if the crowd was going crazy with Njisane Phillip I don’t know how to describe it when Sofi was riding. The track was completely full and you could hear all the audience screaming “Sofia, Sofia, Sofia” and “si se puede, si se puede!” (its Spanish for “you can do it”). It was fantastic to be there, and it was a great experience for Sofi to be able to race this big event in her home country.
She started with the 250 flying lap and finished 4th behind Cuba, Venezuela and Canada but in the points race she was super aggressive all day and managed to get away with 10 laps to go and lapped the field at the very last moment, it was such an epic moment and the audience went wild!
After that it was time for the elimination race, Sofia was now in 2nd place in the overall standings and again gave us a great performance, she pulled at the front the whole race and at the end Angie Gonzalez from Venezuela beat her in the sprint. It was good, 3 events done and 3 to go and she was sitting in 2nd place with a good advantage.
The first event of the second day was the individual pursuit, she didn’t post a good time and finished 4th again, so the overall standings were close and Stephanie Roorda from Canada had a chance to move her from her second place so in the scratch race it was all or nothing because Sofi is not good in the 500mts so if she wanted to keep her silver medal she had to win the scratch.
The race started with many attacks but nothing that would last, the average speed was very high because everyone wanted to finish in a good position. With 6 laps to go Sofi took control of the bunch again, pulling on the front all the way to the finish and setting a very high speed. It was impressive, no one could pass her and she won the scratch as Venezuela, Cuba and Colombia finished far behind.
That put Sofia only one point away from the gold medal with only the 500mts to go and now with huge advantage on the 3rd and 4th place. Marlies Mejia from Cuba posted a very fast time in the 500mts (35.1) finishing first and that result put her in the top 3 in the final classification.
Sofia Arreola with her Silver medal PanAms 2011 - Image ©Copyright Nancy Arreola
Women’s omnium results: 1st Angie Gonzales (VEN), 2nd Sofia Arreola (MEX), 3rd Marlies Mejia (CUB)
This is just the start of the track season, the World Cups start next month in Astana!! It’s going to be super fun to see which riders qualify for the London Olympics because nothing is written in stone yet!
Nancy Back in Mexico for the Nationals
My sister had a little break from her training camp in Mallorca to do the Mexican Track Nationals. I was so excited because the last time I saw her was back in March at the Track Worlds in the Netherlands. Our schedules are so different I hardly get to see her.
We had some catch up time, we went to all our favorite restaurants (Mexican food of course!) and had a really good time before going to Aguascalientes for the track Nationals. We did a road trip two days before the competition, it was only six hours drive so it wasn’t that bad and it was a good opportunity to talk and get updates on what we’d both been doing in our lives.
When we arrived and did our first training session at the track we knew it was the moment of truth, we were going for all or nothing. All the training and the hard work was going to be tested and we had to compete one more time for that gorgeous Mexican jersey.
Unfortunately my competition was soon over due to a back injury that has been holding me back since the start of this year. On the other hand my sister did an awesome job, she won the individual pursuit on the first day and showed a superior level of skill at the rest of the competition, I guess training with the World Champion [Sarah Hammer] helps a bit!
Sofi in her "AH" Team Colours
Her coach Andy [Sparks] was very happy with her results, “Great first day of racing at the Champs of Mexico for Sofia, getting the fiesta started with a win in the individual pursuit”.
We started the omnium the second day. Sofi and my younger sister Chely raced with our local team “AH” and I raced with my team Horizon Fitness-Prendas Ciclismo RT, so we were rivals for the first time! It was weird, we always race together but this time it was completely different it added more fun to the competition.
Sofia won the flying lap and then I lapped the bunch 3 times to win the points race, the classification was very close and Sofia was beating me in the overall classification by one point. Then it was time for the elimination race, my back was in so much pain. Sofia won again and I finished in 4thplace, at the end of the day Sofia was leading the overall classification and I was still in
Sofi Arreola going for the win
contention for medals but my coach and I decided that it was better if I quit the competition because I didn’t want to have more damage done to my back.
Very disappointing news as I won two gold medals at the Nationals last year and was hoping to at least defend my titles but my health comes first.
The second day of the omnium started, Sofia was leading with a comfortable advantage and she did her best to keep the lead. She won the individual pursuit of the omnium and then it was time for the scratch race, I have to say that it was a very chaotic race!
There were several attacks as the 2nd, 3rd and 4thplace were very close in the GC [General Classification], then Chely made an attack and got away, in the final lap Sofi was way ahead in the sprint and everyone crashed behind her. One of the riders touched Sofia’s wheel by accident and that caused the crash. Some of the riders were in a very bad way and had to go to hospital, even one of the race’s commissaries was injured!
Accident At the Mexican Nationals
There were broken bones, blood and many, many scars! Only my two sisters were fine… it was devastating, so the judges decided to end the race right there and they didn’t do the omnium’s final event (500 metres).
So that meant that Sofia won another National Jersey to add to her big collection, she showed again she was the strongest in the competition but still she was very sad because her rivals crashed, “I can’t even think about the victory, I just hope the rest of the girls are ok…”.
Sofi Arreola racing at the Nationals
One of the biggest surprises of the championships was the comeback of Belem Guerrero (former Olympic silver medalist) and Nancy Contreras (former Jr World Champ of 500 metres). Belem retired after a bad season before the Beijing Olympics’ and Nancy just had a baby four months ago!
They were both in good form, Nancy was looking super fit even after having a baby! It seems like she’s worked really hard to get her fitness back to win two national titles. Belem was also looking very good, she was winning the points race after lapping the bunch once and just when she was getting ready to make another attack she crashed! It was again a bad crash… she broke three ribs and couldn’t keep on racing, such a shame! She is such a talented rider and an icon of Mexican Cycling.
This Championships had a lot of surprises, crashes and emotional moments. It was really nice to be there and have the whole experience (even if I had to end my race sooner than expected…).
With this results Sofia has secured her place in the PanAm Games [Pan-American Games] this October, this event is very important for Mexico because it’s a big competition, a huge test before the Olympic Games in 2012 and also because it will be held in Mexico this time! What a better feeling that racing for the National Team in your own country!
Sofia is now in an altitude camp in Colorado and will return to Mexico to ride the team pursuit and the omnium in the PanAm Games and after that she will be more than ready to start the World Cup season!
Let’s get this party started!
All images ©Copyright Nancy Arreola