San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rica’s Nery Brenes Strikes Gold in Puerto Rico

Costa Rica’s Nery Brenes blew past the competition in the 400-meter run to claim the nation’s first gold medal at the Central American and Caribbean Games Monday night in Puerto Rico.

Brenes, 24, from the Caribbean port city of Limón, set a Central American record Monday with his time of 44.84. He beat Henry Tabarie of the Virgin Islands, who finished with a time of 45.07.

“This win is a product of very intense, very committed training,” said Brenes’s coach Walter Salazar after the event. “He’s hitting his stride right now in his career, and he’s only getting better.”

With his mark of 44.84, Brenes tied the 10th fastest 400-meter time in the world this year, which he shares with U.S. runner Tavaris Tate. The fastest 400-meter run this year is held by Jamaican Jermaine Gonzalez, who ran a 44.40 earlier this month.

Brenes, who reached the semifinals of the 400-meter run at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China, is the first Costa Rican to win the 400-meter run at the Central American and Caribbean Games.

Through the first nine days of the 2010 Central American and Caribbean Games, Costa Rica is currently in 13th place. The Ticos have won a total of 17 medals, including 12 bronze medals, four silver medals, and Brenes’ lone gold. Mexico, who has won the games eight out of the 20 times they’ve been held, leads the way with 283 medals, including 101 gold medals.

Brenes will have a second shot at a medal when he competes in the 4×400-meter relay. The semifinals and finals of the event are being held, Friday.

–Adam Williams

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