Ostrava, Czech Republic – As expected, Usain Bolt won his second 100m outing of the season but it was his compatriot Veronica Campbell-Brown’s sensational 10.76 victory in the women’s 100m that was the performance of the night as the Ostrava Golden Spike celebrated its 50th anniversary on Tuesday (31).
Bolt content with another 9.91..
Breaking away from world leader Steve Mullings before the 60 metre mark, Bolt sped to his second 9.91 clocking of the season, leaving his compatriot 0.06 in his wake. But Bolt insisted that his performance, despite the time, was not identical to his season opener in the Italian capital last week.
“I felt better in this race, and that’s a good sign, like I’m actually running again, so that’s a really good sign,” Bolt said. “I had a good first 50 metres and as long as I get to 50 metres first, I’m not going to let you pass me.”
Loose prior to start, Bolt toyed with the stadium cameraman and played to the crowd’s anticipation as the field was announced to the municipal stadium’s capacity audience, but when the towering 24-year-old took to the blocks, he was all business.
To his inside, the much smaller Mullings built a slight lead 20 metres into the race, a gap that Bolt’s long fluent stride filled by the time the pair reached midway. Bolt then pulled away for good some 30 metres before the finish. As they crossed the line, Mullings looked up and across to Bolt, offered a wide smile and a quick pat on the shoulder.
A pair of late spring 9.91 performances may not be what the world expects from the double sprint World and Olympic champion and World record holder, expectations Bolt takes in stride.
“I think people are expecting me to run extremely fast,” Bolt said. “But you need to remember that this is only my second race in nine or ten months. I can’t just come out and run 9.8 or 9.7. It’s just not going to happen. I’m probably not going to start running fast until late July.”
Campbell-Brown ‘surprised’ with career best 10.76
If Veronica Campbell-Brown’s progression will be anything like what Bolt’s predicting, then the world is in for some very fast sprinting indeed as the summer rolls forward.
Running just ahead of compatriot Schillonie Calvert and Bahamian veteran Debbie Ferguson at the midway point, Campbell-Brown hit her next gear and followed up with another she perhaps didn’t know she had to burst away and cross the line all alone, knocking 0.02 from her previous best set last year and in the process equalling Evelyn Ashford as the eighth fastest women in history.
"It was a surprise (when I saw the time)," said Campbell-Brown, also the 2007 World champion over the distance. "My goal was to run faster than 10.92," her season's best prior to tonight. "So this was a surprise.” And a pleasant one indeed.
Her performances – she ran a relaxed 11.13 in the heat earlier - tonight underscored her double intentions at this summers World Championships but didn’t change her humble demeanor.
“I’m just going home now to keep training hard and to see what the next races bring.” She won’t race again until the Jamaican championships and World Championships trials at the end of June where she will contest both the 100m and 200m.
Ferguson, the 2009 World 200m bronze medallist, improved her season’s best to 11.09 for second, with Calvert crossing the line third in 11.13.
van Zyl’s momentum continues – another 47.66
LJ van Zyl continues to impress in the 400m Hurdles. From the third barrier when he already had a clear lead, the 25-year-old South African was never threatened en route to another thrashing over a strong field, this time equaling his own 47.66 world lead. And he looked very comfortable doing so.
“It was pretty easy for me today,” said van Zyl, who now owns the world’s five fastest time this season – and all four sub-48-econd clockings – and is gradually assuming the role of man to beat for this summer’s World Championships. “I trained very hard before the start of the season and I hope I can stay in good shape until the World Championships.”
European champion David Greene, the runner-up behind van Zyl in Rome, was second this time around as well, coming home in 48.47. American Johnny Dutch dipped under 49 seconds as well in 48.72 to finish third. Two-time defending World champion Kerron Clement was never in the hunt over the second half, and faded to sixth, stopping the clock in 49.53.
Dayron Robles returned to his World record setting stomping grounds to produce a convincing 13.14 victory in the 110m Hurdles, a bit shy of his 13.07 season's best set in Hengelo on Sunday. But the Cuban wasn't disappointed.
"I feel a bit tired but on the other hand I'm happy to win here for a fourth straight time," said Robles, who set the current World record of 12.87 here in 2008.
Jamaican Dwight Thomas was second for the second straight race, clocking 13.24, and American Terrence Trammell third with a season's best 3.30.
Abakumova twice beyond 65m
Mariya Abakumova rained on Barbora Spotakova’s home court advantage parade with an impressive victory in the women's Javelin Throw. The winner in Rome's Samsung Diamond League fixture, Abakumova laid down the gauntlet early, reaching a season's best 65.56m in the first round. Spotakova, the Olympic champion and World record holder, came close in the second round with a season's best of her own, but that 64.78m effort would be her best on the day. The Russian improved further with the final throw of the competition, reaching 65.81m.
Sunette Viljoen of South Africa was third with a 61.72m throw from the third round, just ahead of Czech Jarmila Klimesova, who reached 61.12m in round two. Both were season's best. Slovenia record holder Martina Ratej, who threw a world-leading 65.89m at a Slovenian Grand Prix meeting in Slovenska Bistrica on Sunday, couldn't regroup quickly enough from that competition. She finished a distant fifth here with a 58.55m effort from the second round.
The winning throw in the men’s competition also came in the final round, with German Matthias De Zordo prevailing after a season’s best 85.78m. The German, who surprised with European silver last year, wrestled the lead from Finn Tero Pitkamaki, who reached 82.31m in the fifth round. Czech Petr Frydrych, the winner in the Samsung Diamond League opener in Doha, was third, reaching 81.81m, also in the fifth round.
Anderson, Gonzales and McCorory prevail in long sprints
The men’s 200m produced a minor upset, with Marvin Anderson fighting back upstart Yohan Blake. Carrying a marginal lead over his Jamaican compatriot through the bend, Anderson held it down the straight and through the finish line to win in a season’s best 20.27, well ahead of Blake’s 20.38. Mario Forsythe finished a Jamaican 1-2-3 sweep in 20.43 equalling his career best.
Underscoring the day’s Jamaican theme, Jermaine Gonzales continued his return to form from early season injury, improving to 45.07 with a commanding victory in the 400m. He was never particularly tested through and beyond the final turn, with Bahamian Chris Brown coming closest with 45.17. American Jordan Boase was third at 45.34 with no others coming home in under 45.50.
In the women’s 400m, American Francena McCorory held off World champion Sanya Richards-Ross and Czech Denisa Rosolova down the final straight to notch her first international win.
The 22-year-old, who took the 2010 NCAA title, clocked 50.64, 0.14 outside of her personal best from earlier this season, but more importantly, well ahead of her much better credentialed compatriot.
Richards-Ross carried a small lead into the homestraight, but ran out of steam with about 30 metres remaining, allowing McCorory, and then Rosolova, to pull away. The Czech clocked a personal best 50.84 ahead of the 50.99 for Richards-Ross.
Solo 8:02.55 steeplechase run for Koech
In the 3000m Steeplechase, Paul Kipsiele Koech narrowly missed the world lead with his commanding 8:02.55 victory, but it wasn't for lack of trying.
The pre-race plan called for a 5:22 split through the first 2000 metres; that was right on target but it was Koech, not the pacesetter, who was already in the lead it that point, and some 20 metres ahead of his nearest rivals. He maintained his form over the waning stages to take nearly four seconds from Wilson Boit Kipketer's meet record from 2002, and more than ten seconds clear of his Kenyan compatriot Hillary Yego, who reached the line in 8:12.63. Ethiopian Gary Roba was third, his 8:15.16 a season's best.
Melkamu defends Ostrava 10,000m turf
Kicking away from Priscah Jepleting at the top of the home stretch, Meselech Melkamu won the women’s 10,000m here for the second straight year, reaching the line in 31:14.83. Throughout the second half of the contest, Melkamu, the reigning World silver medallist and African record holder in the event, took turns at the front with Kenyan Prischa Jepleting and Ethiopian Belaynesh Oljira, but the pair were little match over the final 60 metres.
Jepleting was second in 31:14.83 with the 20-year-old Oljira third in 31:17.80, an improvement of nearly 50 seconds from her previous personal best.
With a solid homestraight run, Australia's rising middle distance star Jeff Risely scored an impressive win in the 1000m, clocking 2:16.75, the fastest in the world this season over this rarely run distance. Poland's Adam Kszczot, the Hengelo 800m winner, was next in 2:16.99, a national record form Poland. Kenyan William Biwott edged Czech Jakub Holusa for third, each credited with 2:17.08.
Elsewhere on the infield
In the men's High Jump, Ivan Ukhov and Raul Spank were forced into a tie-break competition after nearly identical records through success at 2.32m and three misses apiece at 2.36m.
As the bar was gradually lowered, the Russian finally prevailed with another clearance at 2.32m, which the German missed. Both took down the 2.31m meet record set by Czech Jan Zvara back in 1987.
As expected, Silke Spiegelburg took the honours in the women's Pole Vault, topping a 4.60m season's best on her first attempt. The next four - Russian Aleksandra Kiryashova, Briton Holly Bleasdale, Kristina Gadschiew of Germany, and Czech Kristina Ptacnikova - each topped out at 4.50m, with the Russian taking second on countback.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF