The summer of 2018 had proven to be hot but Suriname’s Olympian Renzo Tjon A Joe has proven to be to be just as hot in the pool in swimming’s fastest event the 50 metre freestyle taking titles at the South American Games, CCCAN in Aruba and now the CAC (Central American Games).
BOLIVIAN BLAST OFF
The summer sizzle started in Cochabamba Bolivia at the South American Games when he entered the competition with a career best placing of a Bronze medal in Chile in 2014 with a time of 22.88. But there were be no swimmer to best him in Bolivia as on May 29 he took the event in his best time at the Championships of 22.65.At the G.A.M.C. Aquatics Center at Mariscal Santa Cruz Park he staved off the challenges of Venezuelan Olympian Cristian Quintero 22.71 and Brazilian André Calvelo 22.80. The first stage of the regional tour was complete and the first Gold was in the chest.
ACCELERATING IN ARUBA
Renzo never stepped off the gas when competing at the CCCAN Championships at the Pisina Olimpico Roly Bisslik in Aruba. He treated the crowd at hand to a sub 23 clocking in the morning heats on July 3 with a time of 22.86. The audience at hand would get another opportunity of viewing elite speed when he took the final in a time of 22.88. Silver in the race went to Bahamian Gershwin Greene 23.52 and the Bronze to Panama’s Franco Reyes in 23.65.
When Renzo arrived in Barranquilla Colombia his appetite for regional Gold had not been satisified and he was a man on a mission to win all 50 metre freestyle races . In Veracruz, Mexico four years earlier he had the earned the second rung on the podium with a time of 22.62. Winning the Gold was regional legend and Olympic medallist Trinidad and Tobago’s George Bovell III who completed his own trifecta of CAC Gold medal wins in the event 2006 22.67,2010 22.23 and then 2014 22.30.
The morning heats gave him the top time of 22.28 , mere 5 hundredths of a second off the Championship record. History beckoned in the final. When the gun fired in the evening’s Championship final on Wednesday July 28 it would be another Olympian from the twin island republic that had the early lead as Dylan Carter worked his underwater kicks well to have the initial advantage. Renzo seeing that early surge being right beside him was building into his swim. He cut into that lead until the two CARIFTA region stars were about even at the 25 metre mark .
Renzo edged ahead after that and maintained that lead into the wall to win and crown himself the THE FASTEST MAN IN THE REGION and take the Gold in a new PB , national record and CAC Games record of 22.18. Silver went to Carter in 22.38 and the Bronze to Venezuela’s Alberto Mestre 22.47.
DON’T CALL IT A COMEBACK
Don’t call it a comeback
I’ve been here for years
I’m rocking my peers
In the words of legendary rapper LL Cool J don’t call it a comeback . The victories by Renzo cannot be seen as a comeback but another highlight of Renzo’s sprint legacy and him leading his cohort from the CARIFTA region in this event from the junior ranks.
As juniors Renzo and Dylan had another hotly contested 50 metre freestyle at CARIFTA 2013 on a hot night in Kingston on April 2 .Renzo had set the then CARIFTA record of 23.37 in the heats before nipping Carter for Gold in the final 23.44 to 23.46. The victory a first for Suriname at the CAC Games was also the 20th fastest in the world.
When draftingthecaribbean spoke to Renzo he spoke about the CAC victory and training leading up to this moment
“It’s been a long road to getting back in race shape post Rio 16. I had taken a small “break” from the sport to focus on my academics. I credit my past 3 victories to training with Sergio Lopez and Tyler McGill. I officially got back in the pool January 2018 and my goal honestly this summer was just getting back to swimming fast. I had no idea it would’ve happened this quickly. Dylan played a huge role in my swim last night, It’s always exciting racing against him because of our shared history.
Getting George Bovell’s record also meant a lot since he’s some I’ve always looked up to and still do.He’s an Olympic medalist and has a legendary status.The trifecta and a best time just sealed a perfect summer”.
He also elaborated about his future training plans
I will be moving down to South Florida to train with Olympians Australian Coach Brett Hawke and Brazilian Bruno Fratus (2017 World Championships 50 metre freestyle Silver medallist )”.
On the horizon for the rest of the year will be the South American championships November 8-12 Trujillo,Peru, Swim Cup Amsterdam October 19 to 21 Amsterdam Netherlands and the 2018 World Short Course Swimming championships Hangzhou China Dec 7 -11.