21 SEP 2002 General News Madrid

African men win fourth consecutive team title, as Russians take women’s Cup - WORLD CUP - DAY TWO

Okkert Brits in action (Getty Images)Okkert Brits in action (Getty Images) © Copyright

There's nothing like a local victory to fill the stadium. And the 5000m win by “Madrileño Alberto García sent Friday night's crowd home happy, and filled the stands of the Estadio Comunidad de la Peineta on Saturday for Day 2 of the 9th IAAF World Cup. And there was immediate payback for their enthusiasm, when in the second track event of the evening, Antonio Manuel Reina surged down the finishing straight to peg back the leader Djabir Saïd-Guerni, and win the 800m in a new personal best and Spanish record of 1:43.84.

The ecstatic applause soon died down, to be replaced with a reverential quiet as Süreyya Ayhan took apart the women's 1500m field in her now familar fashion. The young Turk had 50 metres lead after one lap, and was ten seconds ahead of her notional pursuers at the bell. Her opponents woke up, and began what was a race for second, for any notion of catching Ayhan would have been a fruitless chase. She won in 4:02.57, with Tatyana Tomashova finishing second in 4.09.74.

The Oceania team often gets overlooked in this competition, even if Beatrice Faumuina won the discus on Friday. But Craig Mottram put them centre stage in the final individual track event of Saturday evening, the 3000m. The 21 year-old Aussie has been threatening a breakthrough for years, and after some fine performances, battling a succession of Africans in both cross country and track, Mottram finally came into his own.

Reviving memories of the great Ron Clarke, Mottram took control virtually from the start and galloped away from the field in the final stages, winning in a new World Cup record of 7.41.37, and beating such track luminaries as Paul Bitok, twice Olympic 5000m silver medallist and Roberto García for the home nation. In fact, José-David Galván finished second, and gave Mexico something more to cheer about, until Ana Guevara bought the Americas team home first in the penultimate event of the evening, the Women's 4x400m.

There was some quality high jumping from the women, and World Champion Hestrie Cloete finished her season in similar fashion to last year - at the top. The South African won on countback from Kajsa Bergquist, with both on 2.02, and Marina Kuptsova third with 2.00. The closest individual contest in the men's competition came in the 200m.  Frank Fredericks looked as if he was going to edge ahead of Francis Obikwelu, but the recently naturalised Portuguese, running for Europe, threw himself at the line for a narrow victory in 20.18 to 20.20 for the Namibian veteran.

The men's field event performances of the night belonged to Robert Fazekas in the Discus, and Sergey Makarov in the Javelin, the Hungarian for Europe and the Russian were in a different class, both winning by over four metres.

Britain's two veteran champions and world record holders, Jonathon Edwards and Colin Jackson had mixed fortunes. Edwards won his final Triple Jump contest with two men, Christian Olsson and Walter Davis, who have been giving him a hard time this season. It remains to be seen whether his three 'longest-of-the-year' and a superior win-loss count will give him World Number 1 spot after losing the European title to Olsson. But it was a comprehensive enough victory for Edwards in a 'world' event, finishing with 17.34. Jackson, in contrast, lost the plot in the high hurdles. Trying to stay with the blistering pace of Olympic champion, Anier Garcia, which took the big Cuban to a distant victory in 13.10, Jackson overbalanced, hit the third hurdle, and stopped mid-race. He had the presence of mind to continue and try and pick up a point, but he was disqualified, thus, the last outdoor race of his career (he still intends to run the World Indoors in Birmingham next year) was as disappointing as his previous big title shot in Spain, when he was favourite for Olympic gold in Barcelona '92, and only finished seventh.

Olga Yegorova left it late to win her second race of the season (European Cup back in June was her first). The revelation of last year, with her demolitions of Gaby Szabo in the Golden League, and her world title victory in Edmonton suffered several defeats at the start of this season, and promptly disappeared. The Russian federation kept faith, and she rewarded them with a last lap sprint which took the wind out of fast finisher, Marta Dominguez. After a slowish race, following a suicidal opening lap of 61sec by Kenya’s Susan Chepkemei, Yegorova won in 15:18.15.
The African men's team cemented their grip on this World Cup contest, with their fourth consecutive victory, on 134 points, well ahead of the USA, on 119. And the 10 year rebuilding programme for the post-Soviet Russians finally came to fruition, when their women won with 126 points from Europe on 123.

Pat Butcher for the IAAF