The Spanish 400, the jewel in the crown, disintegrates in the series. To finish his first, and achieve a good street in the semifinals, the Asturian giant Iñaki Cañal throws himself over the line, collides with the Belgian Alexander Doom who is squeezing him on the outside, and falls to the ground on his shoulder, like a judoka untrained. He finishes first, but with his clavicle out of place – “an acromioclavicular subluxation”, in medical terms, says the team’s doctor, Christophe Ramírez. “It is very difficult for him to be able to run more because it limits his arm movement” -, which he reintroduces in his place and regrets. “As soon as I saw it, I knew that the European had finished,” says the sprinter, who knows that for the 400m, the European went beyond the individual test. The Spaniards arrived so brightly, the four usual starters and the two youngsters, that few doubted that they would be the favorite team for the relay.
Cañal’s problem is not the only one. In his series, the national leader, Óscar Husillos (45.48s this winter, the second best European brand of the year after the Norwegian Karsten Warholm, who walks and amazes, and his initials, KW, are his brand, the kilowatts he moves in his starts and first steps) shame to finish second. He qualifies for the semifinals (17.43, this Friday), but with a but. He must forget about Calle 5, his favorite, the best, the one whose wide radius does not penalize the amplitude or the frequency of his steps. “I will get the three or the four”, says the Astudillo Express. He touched the four in his semifinal in which the third fit Spaniard was not present either, Manuel Guijarro, from La Mancha, from Villarrobledo, who ran with a cumbersome bandage on his right thigh and lamented the pain of the insertion of the hamstring tendon in his knee . He was eliminated. Toni Puig, the person in charge of the relay, must surely give way to David García Zurita from Extremadura, 17 years old, 46.65s this winter, and the Basque Markel Fernández, 20 (46.87s).
Jaime Guerra, 23 years old, runs so fast and jumps so much, and he likes playing sports so much, any sport, that he would be, perhaps, a magnificent left or center fielder in the baseball team of his town, Sant Boi de Llobregat. “But I’m clumsy with my hands, and I don’t even know if I could grab one with my glove,” he confesses. “So I do everything with my feet.” And with his feet he jumps so as not to touch the ground, and dream in the air, and, perhaps for this reason, his name on Instagram is Aerolíneas Guerra, and he is already the best long jumper of the moment in Spain (8.08 meters this summer last and also this winter), and in Istanbul he shouts liberated, a great competitor, after a third attempt that takes him to 7.99 meters and qualifies him for the final on Sunday (8.12) with the fourth best jump, behind perhaps inaccessible Miltiadis Tentoglou (8.03m, the Greek, current Olympic, world and European outdoor champion, unbeaten in major competition the last two years) and Thobias Montler (8.14m, the Swede), and behind the surprising Romanian Gabriel Bitan (8.03m). “The medals will be for the eight meters, and I will be there, to the death for them, to infinity and that, as Buzz Lightyear says,” says Guerra, who trains in Cornellà with Maria Durán and is not from Espanyol, but from of Barça, and who reaches the length after going through the triple, like other great jumpers in Spain, Antonio Corgos or Yago Lamela, perhaps due to a propensity to suffer muscle injuries that have robbed him of continuity and greater progress. “But despite having a small problem on January 11, this winter has gone very well. Continuity gives consistency and regularity”. And he, as in the Bosphorus, in a band, the federation coach who marks his jumps, Iván Pedroso, and in the front stands, his coach, who advises him, and he goes from side to side, and jumps far. Those who know say that 8.25 meters is already within his reach.
Esther Guerrero, dominant, and Águeda Marqués (formerly Muñoz, the order of the surnames was changed to bring her mother’s, which she likes more, and also her father’s first, “and why does the surname of the father have to come first? Father, huh?”, says the Segovian middle-distance runner) they qualified for the 1,500m final (Saturday, 6:00 p.m.). For Guerrero, an injury in February that had him stopped all of 2022 made him lose even his faith. “I thought that I would never be what I was,” says the 33-year-old athlete from Banyoles, who does not tremble thinking that in the final she will have to face the untouchable Scottish Laura Muir and another Brit in great shape, the Londoner Katie Snowden. “But the sciatic pain, which was still clinging to me in December, made me change training. I did much more volume, almost like the Norwegian method, and I arrived in January, at the competition, thinking that it would be impossible for me to go below 4m 9s, the federation minimum. But in Boston the bells rang, I ran the mile passing the 1,500m in 4.06m and asked, please, that the year end here. I’ve already done everything I wanted to do. I felt like an athlete again… I’m sure it was the large volume of training that gave me speed”.
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