WORDS FROM ONE WHO KNOWS: FELIX SANCHEZ PRAISES LIMA 2019
The double Olympic Champion in the 400M Hurdles and two-time World Champion is experiencing his first Pan American Games as a coach.
The athletics festival is well underway at the Pan American Games and with it the constellation of stars that make the king of all multisport events possible. One of these stars is the great Felix Sanchez, and while he is no longer competing, the most outstanding high performance athlete in the Dominican Republic in the last 20 years is at Lima 2019 as a coach. Sanchez is the Olympic Champion from Athens 2004 and repeated this feat eight years later at London 2012.
“Now I see the track very differently as a coach and now I have a lot more stress on this side. When the athlete enters the stage I can not control the result and that generates tremendous anxiety. Sometimes I warm up with the guys and they tell me that I could still run, but now I get to watch as a fan or coach,” Felix Sanchez says while laughing, happy in his role as the coach of two promising young Dominican Republic athletes competing at Lima 2019.
The track star known as “Super Sanchez” competed at the 2003 Pan American Games in his beloved home country of Dominican Republic, where he offered a show that will remain in the memory of all those in attendance that warm night in the capital of Santo Domingo. He was crowned Pan American Champion of the Men’s 400M Hurdles.
“The first time I went to Pan American Games was in Winnipeg in 1999 and then I got to compete at my home in Santo Domingo. Each Pan American Game has had different moments, each has given me distinct memories and now as a coach in my sixth Games, I hope everything goes well and that my athletes achieve their goals which is achieving a medal for our country,” he added from the fourth floor of the Athletics Stadium while looking out over the beautiful new complex at the Videna, undoubtedly one of the architectural jewels of the Lima 2019 Pan Am Games.
Sanchez praised the work that has been done in Lima to organize the most important event in the region. For the man who competed throughout two decades, the level of competition at Lima 2019 is not matched by many events around the world.
“This is impressive, I have gone to five Pan American Games and this is the closest thing I’ve seen to the Olympic Games, all these facilities could be used for World Championships. The warm-up track is similar to the one in London. This will be a beautiful athletic show at a very high level because these athletes are the best in the Caribbean and the United States. These countries dominate in athletics and many of the best athletes are here, so we will see many new Pan American Records given the talent that is here in Lima,” Sanchez tells Panam Sports.
On August 8, Felix Sanchez presented the medals to the winners of his favorite event, the 400m Hurdles. On the women’s side, Sage Watson of Canada took the gold, with Anna Cockrell of the United States winning silver and Rushell Clayton of Jamaica bringing home the bronze.
In the men’s 400m Hurdles, Sanchez’s young hopeful Juander Santos was leading the race after 350m, but lost balance while attempting to clear the final hurdle, falling to the track. Brazil’s Alison dos Santos went on to claim the gold medal, Amere Lattin of the United States won silver and Kemar Mowatt of Jamaica won bronze.
Juander Santos, the younger brother of Olympic silver medalist Luguelin Santos, remained laying on the track well after his competitors finished in visible agony, yet not from pain. Santos cried as he lamented his lost opportunity so close to achieving his goal of becoming a Pan American Games medalist. But the beauty of sport is that it always gives you a second chance, and at just 24 years old, Juander Santos has a long and successful career ahead of him.