Belgium’s European 400m champion Kevin Borleé highlighted the ‘Meeting de Madrid 2011’, an IAAF World Challenge Meeting, on Saturday (9).
In a perfectly executed race in lane four, the 23-year-old ace lowered his career best to 44.74 to come just o.o3 off the national record set by his twin brother Jonathan. The other highlight of the night was Justin Gatlin’s tight win (10.10) in the 100m in his first ever race in Spain.
Borlée beats the others, and stomach problems!
Entering yesterday’s event with a season’s best of 45.37 Borlée proved to be in stellar form by smashing also his PB which remained at 44.88 since the Beijing Olympics semifinals. The joyful victor declared: “I didn’t expect to perform so well today since I’m suffering from stomach problems since last Monday. In addition, I was hampered by the headwind in the home straight but I’m really satisfied with my new personal best. My next races will be at home, a 4x400 relay in Heusden next Saturday and the National championships where I’ll be contesting the 200m.”
Asked on whether his life has changed after his European title in Barcelona last summer, Borlée, who has relocatd back to Belgium after his university days in the USA, said: “Not at all, I have to train even harder than ever as this year I have to compete at the Worlds. I would like to make the final there. My brother and I are training pretty good and we look forward to the Worlds.”
Cuba’s William Collazo finished runner-up in a season’s best of 44.95.
Gatlin holds off Chambers’ challenge
The men’s 100m produced a fascinating duel between America’s 2004 Olympic champion Justin Gatlin and Britain’s Dwain Chambers, the reigning World and European 60m indoor champion. In the absence of sub-10 performances into a headwind of 1.6m/s, the clash between the pair didn’t let anyone down.
Gatlin got off faster from the blocks but the 33-year-old Briton ran extremely close to him throughout. Finally, the American kept Chambers at bay to romp home in 10.10 for his rival’s 10.13.
“It was OK,” said Gatlin, who finished second at the US championships late last month. “It’s not a great time but I have to go race by race, step by step. I’m now really focused on what I’m doing and that’s the most important thing. My goal is to have a great start, then a strong mid part of the race and also finish powerfully.”
Mulder outclashes Borzakovskiy
The much-awaited men’s 800m witnessed a determined Yuriy Borzakovskiy following on the pacesetter’s heels and the 30-year-old former Olympic champion reached midway on top in 51.6 closely chased by America’s Tyler Mulder. It was by the 600m point that Mulder overtook the Russian with surprising ease to build a five-metre gap throughout the last bend and enter the home straight in full command of the race.
The American was victorious in 1:45.10 and some metres behind the Spaniards Manuel Olmedo – who had ran a 1500 PB of 3:34.44 the previous day in Paris – and Kevin López threatened Borzakovskiy’s second place until the tape. Finally, the Russian prevailed in 1:45.57 to Olmedo’s 1:45.67 and López’s 1:45.74, a new personal best for the 21-year-old European indoor bronze medallist.
Ali, a win hampered by the wind
America’s Nia Ali was an overwhelming victor in the women’s 100m Hurdles with a praiseworthy 12.83 time into a strong headwind of 2.5m/s, head and shoulders ahead of her compatriot Tiki James timed at 13.08. Actually, Ali was rewarded – as it was Borlée in the men’s section – with the most valuable female performance of the meeting. The Philadelphia-born athlete ran arguably her best ever race as she holds a 12.73 PB from the US trials where she finished fifth.
Fernández and Sánchez cheered by the home crowd
Spain’s Nuria Fernández performed a perfectly judged 1500m race. The reigning European champion travelled at Russia’s Yekaterina Martinova’s shoulder in a not particularly fast race (2:12.15 the 800m split) to pip her with 50m to go to win in 4:06.00 to the delight of the crowd assembled. The Russian came second in 4:06.27 ahead of Ethiopia’s Tizita Bogale (4:06.47).
Spain’s Sergio Sánchez also provided the local fans something to cheer about when the 28-year-old reigning World 3000m indoor medallist outsprinted Kenya’s Yusuf Biwott in the 3000m with respective times of 7:49.45 and 7:49.80 while Qatar’s James Kwalia had to be satisfied with the third spot in 7:51.62.
The win in the men’s Hammer Throw went for the evergreen Italian Nicola Vizzoni – already Olympic silver medallist back in 2000 - thanks to a second-round release of 78.82m ahead of Poland’s Pawel Fajdek – 16 years his junior! - who managed a career best of 78.13m to better Slovenia’s reigning Olympic and World Primoz Kozmus’s 77.06m, both efforts also in the second try. Also in the infield, Latvia’s current European under-23 champion Madara Palameika produced the furthest throw in the women’s Javelin with a 60.88m effort and Russia’s Yevegeniy Lukyanenko took a 5.72m victory in the men’s Pole Vault.
A below-par men’s Discus contest saw Cuba’s Jorge Fernández’s win with a 63.81m effort ahead of Spain’s Mario Pestano’s 63.58m. Also on the infield Ruth Beitia and Bulgaria’s Venelina Veneva tied at 1.92m but the Spaniard took the contest after the tie-break. In two sprint races with a headwind, Tyrone Akins won the 110m Hurdles in 13.45 for his fellow American Joel Brown’s 13.49 while Jamaica’s Schillonie Calvert (11.27) kept at bay America’s Tiffany Townsend (11.31) and Tianna Madison (11.33) in the women’s 100m.
Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF