Belize athletes win silver at the Central American Games

Friday, 17 March 2006

William Ysaguirre - Freelance Writer

A Belize national basketball selection won the silver medal and cyclist Marlon Castillo won a bronze at the Central American games hosted by Panama and Guatemala.

The 2005 Central American games scheduled for late November last year had to be postponed when the two host countries: Guatemala and El Salvador both suffered extensive damage from flooding in the wake of Hurricane Stan. The games were eventually set for this year with all seven countries except El Salvador and Belize hosting different sporting disciplines.

Panama elected to host the basketball competition and the Belize basketball selection left for Panama on March 5.

The Belize team won their first game against Guatemala 83-75. In that encounter Stephen “Muerte” Williams, star of the San Pedro Tiger Sharks, scored 21 points for Belize and Ian “AC” Augustine of the BTL Nets, scored 12 points.

Belize lost their second game to Nicaragua 69-73 and also lost their third game to the host team, Panama, 78-104. In that encounter Williams again led the Belize attack scoring 16 points and Keith “Superman” Acosta, also of the San Pedro Tigersharks, scored 15 points.

The Belize team won its chance in the medal round when they triumphed over Nicaragua in the rematch on Friday, which put them into the championship final for the goal against Panama on Saturday night. In that rematch Panama won over Belize again: 103-58 and Belize had to settle for the silver.

The Belize Cycling Association also sent a group of four cyclists: Marlon Castillo, 2001

Cross Country champion Ernest Meighan, Jeffrey Zelaya and Douglas Lamb to Guatemala, which hosted the cycling competition. Of these, the best result was a bronze medal won by Marlon Castillo, winner of the M&M Tour, won in the individual speed time trial on Saturday last.

In Sunday’s road race, the Guatemalans dominated, winning the first five places riding as a team. A Honduran cyclist placed sixth and Marlon Castillo, Belize’s best hope, rode in seventh place, with another Guatemalan cyclist in eighth position.

Jeffrey Zelaya placed 13th and Ernest Meighan finished in 15th position.

The Belize Triathlon Association had also sent a contingent of four triathletes to the triathlon event which was hosted by Costa Rica at La Fortuna de San Carlos on Sunday, March 5. Belize’s best performance was a sixteenth place finish by triathlete Jim Scott, who won the masters class in the 2004 Lionman Triathlon, finished among the top 10 in 2005 and placed second in the BTB Relay triathlon held in February of this year.

As Scott tells it, the Belizean triathletes all lost crucial minutes they could not make up later in the cold waters (60 degrees F) of the lagoon at the base of the Arenal Volcano, where the swim segment was held. Scott said he and the other athletes immediately began to cramp up in the cold water.

In the 20/20 vision of hindsight, he said they might have worn wetsuits, had they known how cold the water would be.

Scott said their cycling and running times were on par for the event, but the time lost in the swim could not be made up.

Other athletes who represented Belize included brothers Linden and Calvin Rojas and Rigoberto Rivas, all of the Belize Coast Guard.