The lure and attraction of a championship was amply illustrated during a thrilling first night of competition at the 14th IAAF World Indoor Championships in Istanbul where we were treated to a string of World leading times and a stunning World record in the women’s Pentathlon.
Much of the pre-event attention had been focused on the one-two in the Heptathlon at the 2011 World Championships – Jessica Ennis of Great Britain and Tatyana Chernova of Russia. Yet it was the “forgotten woman” Natallia Dobrynska who delivered when it counted to set a new global mark of 5013pts.
First woman to break 5000 points
The Ukraine athlete, who remember is Olympic Heptathlon champion and a two-time World Indoor silver medallist in the five-event competition, grew stronger as the competition progressed to finally erase the 20-year-old figures of 4991 set by Irina Belova of Russia.
Dobrynska enjoyed a solid first morning with a 8.38 60m Hurdles, 1.84m High Jump and 16.51m Shot and after three events she sat third overall behind Ennis and Austra Skujyte of Lithuania.
The pivotal competition, though, proved to be the Long Jump. It was here where Ennis’ realistic chances of gold perished as she could record only 6.19m – the seventh best of the eight competitors and well shy of her personal best.
By contrast Dobrynska set an indoor personal best of 6.57m (her outdoor best is 6.63m), catapulting herself into the gold medal position and opening up a 87-point gap on Skujyte and a 93-point gap on Ennis. Effectively, this was a 6.5 second lead going into the 800m and she had the added incentive of chasing an 800m time of 2:12.69 for a new World record.
Yet from the gun the 29-year-old Ukrainian approached the challenge with relish and tracked Ennis for most of the race. While the Briton crossed the line in a personal best of 2:08.09 Dobrynska always looked in range for the gold. Yet when a time of 2:11.15 was confirmed - a time 0.19 better than her outdoor best - it was Dobrynska who was celebrating a famous win.
Ennis managed to leapfrog Skujyte to take the silver in a national record of 4965pts. The Lithuanian never a strong runner clocked 2:19.99 – to take bronze and also post a national record.
A below par Chernova finished down in equal fourth on 4725pts.
Whiting extends US streak in Shot Put
Ryan Whiting secured victory in a compelling men’s Shot Final – the day’s only other medal event. The 25-year-old’s victory also extended the USA’s streak to five straight gold medals in this competition.
It was an immense World leading effort and lifetime best of 22.00m in round five which elevated Whiting up from bronze to the gold medal position. He then followed this up with a mighty 21.98m to further ram home his superiority.
World outdoor champion David Storl had looked a likely winner for so long after a personal best 21.88m in the first round. He also fired the shot out to 21.86m in round three but on this occasion the young German had to concede to Whiting.
Tomasz Majewski, the Olympic champion, also played his part by setting three Polish records including a best of 21.72m in round five for bronze.
Eaton still on World record pace
We may see a second multi-event World record here in Istanbul as Ashton Eaton is some 76pts ahead of the pace after four event compared to when he set the mark in Tallinn last year.
The US athlete opened with a solid 6.79 in the 60m followed by a monster 8.16m Long Jump, a personal best and the longest ever in a Heptathlon competition. He finished the day with a 14.56m Shot and 2.03m High Jump and holds a dominant 165pt lead overnight from his nearest pursuer Oleksiy Kasyanov of Ukraine. Russia’s Artem Lukyanenko (3289) sits third.
Area record for Pearson
Sanya Richards-Ross led the qualifiers into the Women’s 400m final with an impressive victory in the third semi-final. After earlier cruising to a heat win in Round One she stepped up again to win her second race of the day in 50.99 –a full 0.80 ahead of the second quickest qualifier Aleksandra Fedoriva of Russia.
Elsewhere, Sally Pearson recorded a blistering 7.85 to win her heat of the women’s 60m Hurdles and record the quickest time leading into tomorrow’s semi-finals. It was only the Australian’s second ever indoor 60m Hurdles race but she will take all the beating, especially as one of her chief rivals Kristi Castlin, the World leader from the USA, failed to finish the race mistakenly thinking there had been a false start.
The first round of the 60m saw a major casualty as Jamaica’s Lerone Clarke, the World’s second fastest man this year, never recovered from a shocking start in heat three and limped home fourth in a pedestrian 7.05. Spain’s Angel Rodriguez and Justin Gatlin, the 2003 World Indoor champion, led the qualifiers for tomorrow’s semi-finals in 6.64.
On the endurance side World leader Genzebe Dibaba of Ethiopia comfortably advanced into the women’s 1500m final with a heat one win in 4:11.17. Meanwhile, the men’s 3000m heats served up great drama as Bernard Lagat, the defending champion, stumbled after clipping the inside kerb down the home stretch but kept his balance to finish third and qualify for the final. World 5000m champion Mo Farah of Great Britain also progressed in second, although the Kenyan duo of Edwin Soi and Augustine Choge were the two heats winners.
In this morning’ s first session Ilham Tanui Ozbilen filled the vociferous Turkish crowd full of optimism that he can prevail in Saturday’s men’s 1500m final. The Kenyan-born athlete was an eye-catching winner of the first heat in 3:41.93 and will be strongly favoured to deliver Turkey’s first ever medal at these championships.
Meseret Defar is firmly on track for a record fifth successive World Indoor 3000m title. The Ethiopian distance star looked in total control, winning heat one in 9.11.76, although it was her compatriot Gelete Burka, the 2008 World Indoor 1500m champion, who led the qualifiers with 9:01.32.
In the field Mauro Da Silva of Brazil produced a World leading effort of 8.28m to advance into the men’s Long Jump final. Meanwhile, the 39-year-old veteran Yamile Aldama of Great Britain topped the qualifiers in the women’s Triple Jump with an impressive first round effort of 14.62m – which also doubled as a World Over-35s record.
World leader Malika Akkaoui was the surprise casualty of a tough qualification round of the women’s 800m. The Moroccan finished a distant fifth in heat two and exited the competition. Russian Elena Kofanova of Russia led home the qualifiers for Sunday’s final in 1:59.80.
In the men’s equivalent the 2010 World Indoor silver medallist Boaz Lalang of Kenya was the quickest man to book his place in Saturday’s semi-finals with 1:49.50. Russia’s World outdoor champion Anna Chicherova was one of six women who secured a place in Saturday’s final courtesy of achieving the automatic qualification mark of 1.95m.
Steve Landells for the IAAF