Ladies lead the medal count in Santo Domingo

Diana Casas came within a whisker of four titles (Photo Martin Avila)

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Three titles apiece for Colombia’s Diana Casas, Peru’s Milagritos Gorriti and Brazil’s Natalia Lucena; it was the ladies who concluded proceedings the most successful at the 2016 Latin American Veteran Championships which ended in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on Sunday 27th November.

The only man to equal the feat was Ricardo Rodriguez, like Diana Casas from Colombia.

Notably, Diana Casas, who competed in three World Championships, being present in 1989 in Dortmund, in 1997 in Manchester and two years later in Eindhoven, came within a whisker of securing four titles.

She won women’s team 45 to 54 years in partnership with colleague Claudia Garcia; before securing the mixed doubles 39 to 49 years title in harness with Ricardo Rodriguez and later the women’s singles 45 to 49 years top prize.

Women’s doubles 45 to 54 years: the Dominican Republic’s Blanca Alejo (left) and Olga Vila (right) emerged successful in a dramatic final (Photo: Martin Avila)

The one title to go astray was the women’s doubles 45 to 54 years crown; at the final hurdle, in harness with Claudia Garcia, defeat was experienced by the very narrowest of five margins. They were beaten by the host nation’s Blanca Alejo and Olga Vila (12-10, 4-11, 11-9, 6-11, 12-10).

Successful in partnership with Diana Casas; earlier in the week, Ricardo Rodriguez had claimed the Men’s Team 40 to 44 years’ top prize in partnership with compatriot Roberto Valendia, prior to being crowned the men’s singles champion in the same category.

Impressive performances, it was the same from Milagritos Gorriti and Natalia Lucena.

Women’s Singles 60 to 69 years: success upon success for Brazil’s Natalia Lucena (Photo: Martin Avila)

In the 35 to 44 years of age category; in harness with Magali Montes, the duo won women’s team and women’s doubles gold prior to Milagritos Gorriti claiming the top prize in the women’s singles event.

Similarly in the women’s team and women’s doubles events in the 55 to 64 years of age category, Natalia Lucena partnered Sandra Lopez to success before winning the women’s singles 60 to 69 years title.

Titles for Brazil, Colombia and Peru but the most successful gold medal haul belonged to Chile; overall they won eight events with one name standing out above all others.

Men’s Doubles 45 to 49 years; it was runners up spot for Chile’s Patricio Valle (left) and Juan Papic (right) but later Juan Papic secured the Men’s Singles 45 to 49 years title (Photo: Martin Avila)

Juan Papic, a stalwart of the national team since making his debut at the 1993 World Championships in Gothenburg and on duty at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games, won men’s singles 45 to 49 years.

Always Juan Papic sets the example, winning is important but to him the sport itself is the most important; in Santo Domingo, as always, he set the standard for his colleagues to follow and they responded.

In the men’s singles events, Marco Gomez won 50 to 54 years title, René Aguirre secured the 55 to 59 years crown with Valentin Ramos being crowned the 65 to 69 years champion.

Men’s Singles 50 to 59 years: Chile’s René Aguirre was crowned champion (Photo: Martin Avila)

Meanwhile, in the remaining men’s singles events, Peru’s Renzo Luza won the 35 to 39 years category, colleague Alejandro Tapia secured the 70 to 74 years title; the 60 to 64 years top prize went to Venezuela’s Ricardo de Armas, whilst Argentina’s Alfredo Meyer was anointed the 75-79 years champion.

Success for Argentina, there was also success for the South American country in the women’s singles competitions; Anabel Vitullo won Class 55 to 59 years. Titles for visitors and there was a title of note for the hosts, Blanca Alejo won women’s singles 55 to 59 years.

A total of 36 events were contested with Chile finishing the most successful country ahead of Peru and the Dominican Republic.

Men’s Singles 75 to 79 years: Argentina’s Alfredo Meyer emerged the winner (Photo: Martin Avila)