The long and short of the 11th edition of the TEAG Indoor Meeting in Erfurt last night ended up as the top moments of the evening, as the two longest races on the main programme - the men’s and women’s 800m - as well as one of the shortest - the men’s 60m Hurdles - yielded good performances.
Ceplak – still needing some training
Jolanda Ceplak of Slovenia was easily the biggest name on the start lists, but her arrival in the Thuringian capital on Thursday was anything but smooth. The World Indoor 800m record holder flew to Germany by way of Munich, which was under blizzard conditions much of the day. However, instead of arriving in Erfurt early in the afternoon, Ceplak saw her connecting flight repeatedly delayed until mid-evening.
No matter how unsettling this may have been to the reigning European 800 champion - indoors and out - Ceplak appeared calm as the race unfolded with the prescribed pace of 58 seconds precisely delivered by Ewelina Setowska of Poland (57.75).
By the time Ceplak reached the 600 mark (1:30.11), Sandra Stals of Belgium had appeared tightly on her shoulder. The pair matched strides throughout the final backstretch before the Slovenian’s strength carried her into the finish for a win in a season’s best of 2:00.62, as Stals was close behind in 2:01.03.
“This race shows that I need some training,” critiqued Ceplak afterwards. “I’m going to take the next three weeks off to train, and then I’ll return to compete in Chemnitz as a final race before Madrid.”
In looking ahead to her European Indoor title defence, Ceplak said confidently, “I know I’m going to be in good shape for Madrid.” She revealed that despite the current marks coming from Russian runners, she expects Maite Martinez to be her top threat, despite the fact the Spanish runner has had only a single, unchallenged race this year.
“She will be a tough opponent, competing in her own country,” Ceplak reasoned.
The B-section of the Women’s 800m was won by Sydney fourth-placer Brigita Langerholc in 2:03.52, a wire-to-wire performance which had more merit than the time may appear to indicate as no pacemaker appeared to help out the Slovenian.
McIlroy in splendid form
The men’s 800 race gave James McIlroy his second opportunity in the space of less than a week to show the splendid fitness level he attained during his recently completed training tour of South Africa. The British runner never was challenged on the way to a 1:46.68 clocking, which lowered the meeting record by more than a second.
McIlroy followed his pacemaker tightly through the first lap, and after 250 metres, he enjoyed a wide lead of as much as 15 metres over the rest of the field. Rickard Pell of Sweden led the remaining runners, and he began to close in on McIlroy at the halfway mark.
But after the tempo-setter departed with 300 left, McIlroy was sailing smoothly along with no runner in close pursuit. Only a late but transient move by Germany’s Wolfram Müller down the final backstretch provided any semblance of drama in the last stages of the event.
With his best indoor 800 performance in four years, Müller held on for second in 1:47.58, while local runner Andreas Freimann was a distant third at 1:48.95.
McIlroy revealed that during the week after his Stuttgart 1000-metre race, won in a PB and world-leading 2:19.49, he had been suffering from a cold which came as a result of the sudden temperature change from his previous sojourn in South Africa.
“It was 35C in Potchefstroom when I left, and then I arrived to minus 7 temperatures in Stuttgart,” said McIlroy. “That’s been kicking my system all week long,” necessitating his withdrawal from the Leipzig competition on Sunday.
In lowering his previous indoor PB of 1:50.32 by almost four seconds, McIlroy was predictably elated. “You haven’t heard that (kind of performance) from me for a while, have you?” he queried the English-speaking press. “But it means I’m qualified for Madrid.”
Hurdlers produce season leads
The hurdling men took it upon themselves to improve their event’s standing during this season after an uncharacteristically slow start.
With 7.62 holding the top spot on the world list going into this evening’s meeting, Austria’s Elmar Lichtenegger nudged the figure down to 7.61 in the first heat, only to have Athens fourth-placer Maurice Wignall answer with 7.60 in the second heat.
Wignall came back in the final an hour later to lower the season’s best to an even more respectable 7.54, as Lichtenegger stayed close to the Jamaican with 7.56.
NB. Wignall’s world season best was bettered only hours later in New York, as Allen Johnson sped to 7.53 to win at the Millrose Games.
The women’s 60m Hurdles saw Kirsten Bolm of Germany dipping low to eke out a win over American LoLo Jones, 8.01 to 8.04. Nadine Hentschke placed third with 8.10 before returning to the track later in the evening to finish second in the 60 Metres (7.25), as Karin Mayr-Krifka won with 7.22.
Tobias Unger captured the Men’s 60 metres in 6.65, ahead of Marc Blume’s 6.67, although Blume had the evening’s best time with a 6.61 heat performance.
Czyz comes close to achieving remarkable goal
Both of the Long Jump competitions had elements providing great spectator appeal.
The men’s event was easily and predictably won by another Jamaican with an Athens fourth place, James Beckford. The resident of nearby Bad Langensalza dithered a bit and didn’t come up with his winning 8.01 until the fifth round, but it was easily enough to best local jumper Andreas Pohle’s 7.73.
Of special interest was the participation of Polish-born German Wojtek Czyz. The victim of a soccer injury which ultimately resulted in the amputation of his right leg at the knee three and a half years ago, Czyz had publicly declared before the meeting that he would be within two metres of the winning mark.
The triple gold medallist in the Athens Paralympic Games (100, 200, and Long Jump) did put together a consistent series, but his 5.96 best narrowly missed his stated goal. Still, the enthusiasm shown by Czyz, whose untimely injury kept him from joining a team in Germany’s second league, endeared him to the sold-out audience throughout the competition.
Injury forces Becker into useful event switch
The women’s Long Jump was a big step forward in a new career for Annika Becker, the Pole Vault silver medallist at the most recent World Championships in Paris. A training accident last year, which saw Becker break a pole and land head-first in the vaulting box, caused a severe injury to her neck and upper spine.
Precluded as a result from further vaulting, at least in the short term, Becker switched her training during the fall to the long jump, an event she had dabbled in several seasons ago, before pole vaulting emerged as her full-time specialty. Tonight, with her winning performance of 6.45, Becker confirmed that she may have found the perfect career-extender.
The men’s Pole Vault is usually given a spot in German meetings, given the deep talent the country possesses in that event. Still, it was a Ukrainian (Ruslan Yeremenko) and an American (Brad Walker) who took the top two places, respectively, as both had 5.71 bests.
Breuer back from Achilles surgery
Six sections of the 400 metres - four for men and two for women - occupied a significant part of the programme.
In what may have been intended as the B-section of the men’s competition, European indoor and outdoor silver medallist, David Canal of Spain, controlled the race up until the final curve. That was the signal for Jerry Harris of the US to bear down over the final 70 metres for a 46.32 victory. Chris Lloyd of Dominica clipped the fading Canal right at the finish, 47.12 to 47.13.
In the A-section immediately following, two-time Olympic finalist Davian Clarke unleashed a 21.73 over the first 200 metres, but the Jamaican could not capitalise on the fast pace, despite easily winning in 46.38 over Germany’s Sebastian Gatzka (47.20).
One of the most riveting events of the night came as two top German 400 runners became locked in a tight duel. Holding a slim advantage at the 200 (24.69), Grit Breuer felt pressure from Claudia Marx throughout the final back straight. The talented pair rounded the final turn and charged to the finish, with the result appearing as a virtual dead heat. The two waited patiently on the track as the photo was read, with Marx being declared the winner, 52.47 to 52.48. Despite her narrow loss, Breuer's performance signaled a successful return to active competition after a year's recovery time after Achilles surgery.
The other section was easily won by Nadine Balkow in 52.83.
Ed Gordon for the IAAF
(all GER unless noted):
60 Metres: 1. Unger 6.65; 2. M Blume 6.67; 3. Wesley (USA) 6.70; 4. Goebel 6.72; 5. Kosenkow 6.73; 6. Baumann (SUI) 6.73; 7. Broening 6.76; 8. Helmke 6.84.
Heat 1: 1. Kosenkow 6.75; 2. Baumann 6.77; 3. Helmke 6.80; 4. Muravyev (KAZ) 6.84; 5. Ostwald 6.85; 6. Jarrett (JAM) 6.85.
Heat 2: 1. M Blume 6.61; 2. Unger 6.65; 3. Wesley 6.69; 4. Goebel 6.74; 5. Broening 6.75; 6. Schulte 6.79.
400 Metres: Race 1: 1. Hackelbusch 47.14; 2. Wilhelm 47.86; 3. Funke 48.26; 4. Breitenstein 48.61. Race 2:
800 Metres: 1. McIlroy (GBR) 1:46.68; 2. Müller 1:47.58; 3. Freimann 1:48.95; 4. Jaworski 1:51.00; 5. Peter 1:51.86; 6. Pell (SWE) 1:53.82 . . .
1000 Metres: 1. Eberhardt 2:22.28; 2. Waldmann 2:22.41; 3. Köhler 2:24.86 . . .
60 Hurdles: 1. Wignall (JAM) 7.54; 2. Lichtenegger (AUT) 7.56; 3. Blaschek 7.63; 4. Schindzielorz 7.88; 5. Doskozsynski 7.94; 6. Mathiszik 8.14; 7. John 9.28 . . . Edorh disqualified (false start).
Heat 1: 1. Lichtenegger 7.61; 2. Blaschek 7.62; 3. Schindzielorz 7.91 . . .
Heat 2: 1. Wignall 7.60 (world leader); 2. Edorh 7.82; 3. Doskozsynski 7.90; 4. John 7.91; 5. Mathiszik 7.92; 6. Fenner 7.93.
Pole Vault: 1. Yeremenko (UKR) 5.71; 2. Walker (USA) 5.71; 3. Ecker 5.61; 4. Lobinger 5.61; 5. Otto 5.61; 6. Rans (BEL) 5.41; 7. Spiegelburg 5.41 . . .
Long Jump: 1. Beckford (JAM) 8.01; 2. Pohle 7.73; 3. Winter 7.70; 4. Lister (USA) 7.63; 5. Garenamotse (BOT) 7.57; 6. Czyz 5.96 (amputee).
60 Metres: 1. Mayr-Krifka (AUT) 7.22; 2. Hentschke 7.25; 3. Bertenbreiter 7.39; 4. Müller (AUT) 7.46; 5. Wakan 7.47; 6. Köhler 7.54; 7. Möllinger 7.54; 8. Fink 7.58.
Heat 1: 1. Bertenbreiter 7.45; 2. Müller 7.50; 3. Möllinger 7.55; 4. Köhler 7.55 . . . Heat 2: 1. Mayr-Krifka 7.33; 2. Hentschke 7.34; 3. Wakan 7.49; 4. Fink 7.61 . . .
400 Metres: Race 1: 1. Balkow 52.83; 2. Beljnar (POL) 53.76; 3. Rücker 54.05; 4. Neupert 54.81. Race 2: 1. Marx 52.47; 2. Breuer 52.48; 3. Hoffmann 52.95; 4. Hilgendorf 56.03.
800 Metres: Race 1: 1. Langerholc (SLO) 2:03.52; 2. Goldfuss 2:04.07; 3. Oberstolz (ITA) 2:04.21; 4. Rüdiger 2:04.71; 5. Hartmann 2:06.58. Race 2: 1. Ceplak (SLO) 2:00.62; 2. Stals (BEL) 2:01.03; 3. Gradzki 2:02.27; 4. Gesell 2:02.38; 5. Serwaa (GHA) 2:07.20.
60 Hurdles: 1. Bolm 8.01; 2. Jones (USA) 8.04; 3. Hentschke 8.10; 4. Ritz 8.30; 5. Rehwagen 8.47; 6. Smith (USA) 8.58 . . . Did not finish: Moh and Ringel.
Long Jump: 1. Becker 6.45; 2. Otto 6.33; 3. Schulte 6.29; 4. Edwards (BAH) 6.06.