SANTIAGO, Chile — Marileidy Paulino, one of the few stars participating in the Pan American Games in Chile, was clear when she said she did not feel any pressure for being the most successful track and field athlete in attendance.
Still, the 27-year-old sprinter from the Dominican Republic did not let her public down.
Paulino easily won the women’s 200-meter race in 22.74 seconds on a cold evening at the National Stadium in Santiago.
That is half the distance she ran at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to get a silver medal that made her a hero at home. Cuba’s Yunisleidy Garcia finished 0.59 seconds behind on Thursday while Brazil’s Ana de Jesus was third.
One of the favorites for a gold medal in the 400-meters at next year’s Paris Olympics, the Dominican woman chose to compete in a distance that is not her favorite, hoping to improve her start and acceleration.
Before the final, Paulino said she wanted break the 200-meter Pan American record of 22.43 seconds set by Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce four years ago in Lima, Peru. The wet track and unusually chilly weather for spring in Santiago affected all the athletes.
“Thank God I felt well on the track,” she said. “The only really bad thing is the cold weather, and I am anti-cold. When we race we don’t feel that much, but before we surely do.”
The sprinter also led the Dominican Republic’s mixed 4×400-meter relay team to a gold medal — another event she earned silver for in Japan — and the women’s team to a bronze in the 4×100-meter race.
The Dominican is one of the few athletes at the pinnacle of the sport to compete at the Pan American Games. Most track and field athletes finished their seasons in September and are taking a rest.
Paulino also won gold in the 400-meter race at the Budapest world championships in August. Last year, she finished first in the 4×400-meter mixed relay race at the world championships in Eugene, Oregon.
Image credits: AP