Daegu, KoreaThe finest women’s Javelin Throw competition ever capped a thoroughly entertaining Day Seven at the IAAF World Championships Daegu 2011, on a night when none of the six contests with a title up for grabs were lacking drama or in their own way, historical significance.
Abakumova’s victory one for the ages
Simply put, Maria Abakumova and Barbora Spotakova engaged in the finest Javelin Throw competitions in history. The Russian prevailed, but not before being pushed to a near World record performance.
World record holder Spotakova, the 2007 champion and 2008 Olympic winner, got things rolling with a solid 68.80m in the first round but her lead wouldn’t last long. In the second round, Abakumova sent the spear 71.25m, a Championships record that solidified her own position as the No. 3 thrower of all-time. She also became just the third to crack the 71-metre barrier. Things didn’t change until round five, when Spatakova’s throw sailed 71.58m, sending the Czech into a celebratory frenzy. But it proved to be a bit premature.
Abakumova’s response was as swift as it was devastating to the Czech’s ambitions. Throwing next, the Russian released another mammoth effort into the pleasant Deagu sky which finally landed at 71.99m, the second farthest throw in history.
In that same round, Sunette Viljoen yet again improved her own African record, reaching 68.38m to secure the bronze.
Cheruiyot clinches distance double
There was history in the women’s 5000m as well where give or take a few seconds, the race ended much same way as in Berlin two years ago, with Vivian Cheruiyot leading her Kenyan compatriot Sylvia Kibet and Ethiopian rival Meseret Defar across the finish line.
The big difference this time was that Cheruiyot had done so six days after taking the 10,000m title. The 27-year-old is just the second woman to turn the trick, following Tirunesh Dibaba in 2005. And she made it look stunningly easy, controlling much of the race’s second half before closing with a sub-59 second last lap.
Phillips takes fourth (!) Long Jump title
Dwight Phillips sent a clear message to his detractors after collecting a phenomenal fourth title in the Long Jump, matching the feat of Cuban legend Ivan Pedroso. His second round 8.45m was a season’s best, which easily turned back world leader Mitchell Watt’s 8.33m.
“This medal is the most important of my four gold medals,” Phillips, who also took bronze in 2007, said, “because I had lots of adversity this year. I had injuries all year. Nobody believed I could this, only my coach and my family believed.”
Campbell-Brown takes clash of champions
Veronica Campbell-Brown believed as well.
After spending nearly a decade on the short list of the world’s finest sprinters, the 29-year-old Jamaican finally won one of the few titles missing from her massive collection with her powerful run to take the 200m title from 100m winner Carmelita Jeter and three-time champion Allyson Felix.
Campbell-Brown, the twice Olympic champion in the 200m and former World champion in the 100m, entered the top of the homestretch with a narrow lead, but with Jeter gaining. When the Jamaican's advantage was all but gone, she found a gear Jeter couldn't and pulled away to win in 22.22, a season's best. Felix closed fast but couldn’t catch the slowing Jeter, who edged her teammate 22.37 to 22.42 for silver.
Storl leads changing of the guard in the men’s Shot Put
The onslaught by the youth brigades continued in the men’s Shot Put. After making the field take notice in yesterday’s morning qualifying round, David Storl outdid himself yet again, not once, but twice, to collect a wholly unexpected victory in the men’s Shot Put.
The 21-year-old German set the tone early, adding 10 centimetres to his one day old career best with a 21.60m throw, and didn’t lose the lead until Canada’s world leader Dylan Armstrong lived up to his surname in round four with a 21.64m effort. Storl’s reply? A 21.78m with his final throw to add the World crown to his World Youth and World Junior titles. He’s now the tenth member of that exclusive club, and the third to complete that triple at these Championships.
Andrei Mikhnevich of Belarus took bronze at 21.40m just ahead of defending champion Christian Cantwell’s 21.36m best. The last time the U.S. was shut out of the medals in the event was in Tokyo 20 years ago.
Another 4x400m title for U.S.
The evening capper was a thriller as well, with the quartet of Greg Nixon, Bershawn Jackson, Angelo Taylor and Lashawn Merritt taking another gold for in the event for the U.S. But they had to work for it! Particularly anchor Merritt, the 400m silver medallist, who received the baton in third place behind Jamaica and South Africa but managed to pounce near the top of the homestretch to cross the line in 2:59.31. South Africa took silver and Jamaican the bronze.
Bolt the centre of attention - semi-finals
The 200m semi-finals saw the second appearance of the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt, who didn’t have any problems moving on to take his place as the favourite in tomorrow’s final. If he hasn’t put the disappointment of his 100m false start behind him, it certainly didn’t show. He won the second heat in 20.31 shutting down some 50 metres from the line.
Christophe Lemaitre took the first of three heats in 20.17, the fastest of the round, just 0.01 shy of his personal best and the national record he shares. Walter Dix, the 100m silver medallist, took the third hit nearly as comfortably as Bolt, clocking 20.37.
In other action, the notoriously brutal women’s 800m semis took their toll, with 2009 bronze medallist Jenny Meadows missing the cut into Sunday’s final.
World champion Caster Semenya appears to be rounding into shape at just the right time, producing a 1:58.07 season’s best, the quickest of the round.
Elsewhere in qualifying –
There was opening round action in four events in the morning sessions, with few surprises emerging. 100m Hurdles favourite Sally Pearson wasted little time to strut her stuff, producing a quick 12.53 to lead all qualifiers by two-tenths of a second.
Zhang Wenxui of China led the women’s Hammer Throw qualifiers with a 74.17m throw, while Cuban Alexis Copello had the best leap in the men’s Triple Jump at 17.31m. 2009 champion Phillips Idowu and 2007 winner Nelson Evora moved on without difficulty as well.
Russia led qualifying in the women’s 4x400m Relay with a 3:20.94 world leading run.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF