The men’s High Jump show of all the events produced the most exciting moment at the Annual Star Games indoor meeting in Tampere, Finland on Saturday (12 Feb).
Reigning World Champion Jacques Freitag of South Africa jumped 2.27 at is first attempt, while Italy´s Andrea Bettinelli cleared 2.24 at the first jump but failed once in 2.27. He moved his two last to 2.29 but was not even close.
But Freitag was not satisfied with the win because he wanted to perform better on the home soil of his manager Jukka Härkönen.
"This is a fantastic track and these spectators positioned very near the athletes deserved 2.29, but felt tired,” confirmed Freitag. “I missed my season best by only one cm and I believe I can make an improvement in Stockholm next week."
Fellow South African Godfrey Mokoena set a nice series of 7.76 – 7.81 – 7.94 - foul – 7.92 and 7.90 in the men’s Long Jump and that was enough to beat the other jumpers. Jonathan Chimier of Mauritius produced 7.83 in his 4th attempt and Tommi Evilä of Finland in his home hall, 7.81 on his 6th jump.
"A very, very good track and a good competition,” said Mokoena. “My new personal best is a good sign for the future, but now I’ll fly back home for training more. I certainly want to come back for the Helsinki World Champs next.”
Mokoena won the Junior World title in the Triple Jump and silver in the Long Jump, and many coaches recognise him as one of the biggest talents for the future, but Mokoena can not yet tell which event will be his main event in the future. "Even my coach Edna de Beer does not know it", smiled Mokoena.
Below Par Nelson
The world season’s best Shot Putter with 21.66m Adam Nelson of the USA was far from his best form last night. The double Olympic silver medallist put 19.26 and 19.93 and produced then four fouls. The winning result was a disappointment for Nelson himself as well as for about 1000 spectators.
"My left groin felt tight and I could not spin as usual, but that is not an excuse. Everything here was better than me today: the crowd, the circle and everything. I promise to come back in August at the World Championships in Helsinki much stronger!” Nelson said.
Nelson has one competition left in this indoor season, the USA champs in Boston in two weeks time.
Mika Vasara, World Junior Bronze medallist in 2002, set his new PB of 19.65 and beat Czech Petr Stehlk by 18 cm. Vasara is now only 15 cm from the entry standard for the European Indoor Championships held in Madrid 4 - 6 March.
Allen and Herbert are flying high
Charles Allen of Canada was the fastest hurdler of the day. The men ran two races, and Allen won both of them: first easily 7.81 and 50 minutes later 7.65. Finland´s Matti Niemi placed second in 7.80. Allen, the Olympic 7th in Athens, was very satisfied and said he would have been ready for 110m H which has been in Tampere programme for many years.
“Yes, I am well and in a good shape. Next year I must be even better this time of the winter, because I’d like to ran both at the World Indoors in Moscow and the Commonwealth Games in Australia,” confirmed Allen.
Llewellyn Herbert of South Africa won the men’s 300m Hurdles in 35.43 in the men´s 300 m Hurdles - 0,51 seconds slower than his unofficial World best of 3492 set in the same Pirkka-hall in 1999. Finnish Youngster Jussi Heikkilä was second 0.53 seconds behind Herbert.
Herbert was again on the track a half on hour later as a new World best was in the sights of his compatriot Mbuluani Mulaudzi´s in the men’s 600 metres.
Herbert paced 300 metres in 39.92 and jumped from the track at 400 metres. Mulaudzi, the silver medallist in the Olympic 800m in the Athens Olympics last summer, could not keep the speed up until the finish and clocked 1:17.25. So the World best remains with Germany´s Nico Motchebon´s 1:15,12 run in Sindelfingen in 1999.
Antti-Pekka Sonninen for the IAAF