Costa Rican sprinter Nery Brenes was eliminated in Semifinal 1 of the men’s 400-meter race in the Beijing Olympics this week.
Brenes ran a national record time of 44.94 seconds, finishing fourth in his group and just 0.12 seconds behind the final wild card qualifying time.
Jeremy Wariner of the United States won Brenes’ group with a time of 44.15 seconds, and Bahamian Christopher Brown also advanced to the finals. Brenes posted the 10th best time of the 24 runners, eight of whom advanced to the Aug. 21 final.
But it was Brenes’ performance in Heat 3 of the men’s 400-meter race on Sunday that may have been Costa Rica’s shining moment at the 2008 games.
Brenes put his homeland on the map with a 45.36 second run to win his heat, propelling him into the semifinal.
Three other Ticos competed over the weekend with considerably less success.
Costa Rican men’s 20-kilometer racewalker Allan Segura finished 39th out of the 49 athletes who finished the race, with a time of 1:27.10.
Valeriy Borchin of Russia took home the gold with a time of 1:19:01, two seconds behind the Olympic record. He was followed by Jefferson Perez, of Ecuador, at 1:19.15, and Jared Tallent of Australia, 1:19.42.
Costa Rican Marianela Quesada, the women’s 50-meter freestyle swimmer, finished eighth of eight in heat 6 of her event with a time of 28.11 seconds. Rugile Mileisyte of Lithuania won the heat with a time of 26.19 seconds; however, no one in the group qualified for the semifinals.
In the finals, Britta Steffen of Germany won gold with an Olympic record time of 24.06. U.S. veteran Dara Torres set an Americas record with the silver medal time of 24.07 seconds, and Cate Campbell of Australia secured the bronze in 24.17.
In the women’s marathon, Costa Rican Gabriela Traña finished 68th among the 69 finishers with a time of 2:53:45. Another 13 Olympians failed to finish.
Romanian Constantina Tomescu won the event with a time of 2:26:44, followed by Kenya’s Catherine Ndereba at 2:27:06 and China’s Chunxiu Zhou in 2:27:09.
In other regional Olympic news, Panamanian long-jumper Irving Saladino took home his country’s first-ever gold medal with a leap of 8.34 meters.
He joins sprinter Lloyd LaBeach, who won two bronze medals in the 1948 London Games, as the only Panamanians ever to bring home the hardware.
Brenes was Costa Rica’s consensus best shot at Olympic hardware, but Kristopher Moitland, competing in his second Olympics in taekwondo, could also make some noise at 11 p.m. on Friday when he enters the ring in the 80-kilogram division.
Cyclist Federico Ramírez will be the last Costa Rican Olympian to compete. His event, the men’s mountain bike cross-country final, is slated for 1 a.m. Saturday.