Guevara Ready To Roll


Guevara is rested and injury-free
Tuesday 8 November 2005
After two years of below par performances by her previously peerless standards because of what she refers to as a “mysterious injury”, Mexican one-lap specialist Ana Guevara has announced that the problem has disappeared as suddenly as it appeared.

It was two years ago that Guevara started to feel twinges in the area around the left Achilles tendon that were to impede her preparation for the Athens Games. The niggles continued into this year, having a similar effect to the 2004 Olympic season when she could only secure silver in the Greek capital.

Williams-Darling and Guevara in Monterrey

A reduced work-load and missed speed sessions meant that in 2005 the 28-year-old once again failed to reproduce the peak condition she reached two years ago at the IAAF World Championships in Paris, when she captured gold in 48.89, making her the eighth fastest woman in history. This time in Helsinki it was bronze, repeating her performance from Edmonton 2001.

Simply needed a rest

Yet there may be a simple explanation to the fact that the injury has finally cleared up. Unlike last season Guevara has been taking things easy since the Helsinki World championships and it is her guess that this is what has led to her sudden improvement in health: “When I got back from the Olympics I was frustrated and shocked and I did not have time to recover. This time it has been different and maybe the rest has helped. The important thing is I feel really good,” she told the Mexican press.

Ana Guevara celebrates winning the 2003 World Championship 400m final
(Getty Images)

More light-heartedly in the immediate future Guevara will be running a five kilometre race in Guadalajara on 27 November together with golfer Lorena Ochoa and then participating over 18 holes later.

Renewed confidence – no event change

Guevara, who won her third World championship medal in Helsinki, returned home with a new confidence, announcing her intention to compete until the Beijing Olympics. She also took time out to deny reports that she was contemplating moving up to 800 metres. She added that she had no intention of starting a family and would concentrate on sport in what she estimated were the six remaining years of her athletics career.

Tonique Williams-Darling leads Ana Guevara in the Olympic 400m final
(Getty Images)

She can now confront the new season with renewed confidence that she will be able to prepare properly and it is no mean goal she has set herself. After being crowned World champion two years ago she was not too keen to see her crown pass to others simply because of a grumbling tendon and her coach, Raúl Barreda, has set his sights on relegating none other than Olympic and World champion Tonique Williams-Darling to second best.

The Bahamian will be Guevara’s principal rival for the 400m spot on the Americas’ team for the World Cup and it is Barreda’s firm belief that a fit Guevara will be able to wrest the mantle from the Bahamian: “Tonique’s fastest is 49.07 and Ana has run 48.89, so as long as she is at her best she can beat Tonique and represent the Americas in the World Cup,” he said.

Americas Relay Dream Team

On the other hand, in the relay Guevara sees Williams-Darling as an ally in a unique onslaught on the Russian World 4x400m record of 3:15.17 set 17 years ago in the Seoul Olympics. Christine Amertil (BAH) and Lorraine Fenton
(JAM) would make up a possible quartet for the Americas, but it is a stiff assignment. Two of that Russian World record breaking quartet, Olga Nazarova and Olga Bryzgina, dipped under 48 seconds. World Cup aside, other targets are the Central American and Caribbean Games scheduled for Cartagena, Colombia, in July and the European circuit.

Looking to improve by a half a second

In terms of times, Barreda has set the bar high and is looking to his charge to lower her winning Paris time by a full half second. With this in mind, training started at the end of last month and progress will be slow but steady with a view to Guevara starting next season in peak condition. Prior to stepping onto a track the Sonorense has been running on sand, swimming and playing golf. “We have not yet worked hard enough for Ana to reach her limits,” said Barreda. “She is capable of running 48.41 but she needs to improve a few things and maintain a steady pace throughout the whole race.”

For some time there were murmurs amongst the Mexican press that all was not well between her Cuban-born coach and herself, but Helsinki quashed all the rumours. After arriving in the Finnish capital without having gone below 50 seconds all season, in the final Guevara dipped well under the barrier with 49.81 and was close to snatching silver from America’s season fastest, Sanya Richards. Even so, the Mexican added to her lustre with her third consecutive World medal, consolidating her position as Mexico’s leading sportswoman.

Michael Butcher for the IAAF

Record aside, that could be some event with Russia and USA potentially giving good competition. The latter team could have many options with a Richards-Trotter-Hennagan-Felix/Henderson combo. Late in the season though.