Phil Minshull in Madrid for the IAAF
American sprinter Maurice Greene occasionally likes to
relax with a good cigar as a way of rewarding himself for some superlative feat.
However after the Madrid indoor permit meeting on Tuesday - the 15th Memorial Jose Maria Cagigal - the cigars will have to stay in their box for a little longer, perhaps until after the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Maebashi, Japan, next month.
Greene came to the Spanish capital with every intention of improving on the world record of 6.39 seconds that he set last year at the same venue, but this time he came up slightly short. Out of his blocks first, with his usual bullet-like start, his pick-up was slightly sluggish and he chose to ease up in the final five metres to preserve his tired and taut muscles, stopping the clock at 6.49 seconds.
"I was tired after a long flight from California," Greene commented afterwards. "There were delays and I only arrived in Madrid on Monday night. My body wasnt really here."
Although he failed to improve on his world best, a quick examination of this seasons statistics demonstrated how good an outing he had on the swift Madrid track, which has seen eight indoor world records. Despite the fatigue, he produced the third fastest (sea-level) time of the year and no one has yet run faster than him, except at altitude. Nigerias Deji Aliu, who ran 6.50 in Birmingham on Sunday, finished a distant second in 6.59.
Greene will now return to the United States after his sole European meeting of the winter. His next outing will be at the US Indoor Championships in Atlanta between 27-28 February. After Atlanta he intends to mark sure his bank balance stays healthy by picking up the $50,000 on offer to gold medallists in Maebashi and perhaps doubling his money with the $50,000 on offer to world record breakers there.
Greene may not have got the world best he wanted but someone else did. A new star emerged in Madrid in the shape of the winner of the womens 60m, Nigerias Joan Uduak Ekah.
The 1998 world junior 100m bronze medallist does not turn 20 until December next year but she showed class far beyond her tender years with a victory in 7.10 seconds, a world junior best over the distance. Uduak Ekah took two hundredths of a second off the long-standing mark held by Germanys Silke Gladisch, later Moller, since 1983.
Uduak Ekah left the better-known and more experienced Bahamian sprinter Svenatheda Fynes trailing in her wake and her delight at slicing a huge margin off her personal best was evident to everyone in the stadium, even though few people realised that she had gone into new territory for a teenager.
The crowd had a Spanish winner to cheer in the mens long jump with Yago Lamela going out to a national indoor record of 8.22m, and equalling the second best effort in the world this year, with the last jump of an enthralling competition.
American hurdler Duane Ross also clocked the second best performance of the year, winning the 60m hurdles in 7.43 seconds, a time that equalled his personal best.
Russias Maksim Tarasov, showed that so far this year there is no one to challenge his supremacy in the pole vault. The 1998 European Champion cleared 5.90m on his second attempt, only his third vault in the competition after coming in at 5.70m and clearing first time. Tarasov then went on to unsuccessfully attempt what would have been a world leading 6.01m.
Brigita Bukovec got the better of Glory Alozie, last years top womens 100m hurdler, in the 60m hurdles. The Slovenian athlete won in 7.82 seconds, after overhauling her Nigerian rival off the last barrier.
The Spanish-based Alozie clocked 7.83. However she can put her loss down to inexperience, as she was running in only her fifth-ever indoor meeting. "We do not have an indoor stadium in Nigeria," joked Alozie.
60m 1, Maurice Greene, United States, 6.49. 2, Deji Aliu, Nigeria, 6.59. 2, Vincent Henderson, United States, 6.61.
60m Hurdles 1, Duane Ross, United States, 7.43. 2, Courtney Hawkins, United States, 7.53. 3, Robin Korving, Holland, 7.64.
400m 1, Juan Trull, Spain, 48.30. 2, Juan Vallin, Mexico, 48.32. 3, Inigo Monreal, Spain, 50.31.
1000m 1, Roberto Parra, Spain, 2:25.13. 2, Pedro Esteso, Spain, 2:25.66. 3, Ignacio Rio, Spain, 2:26.50.
Pole Vault 1, Maksim Tarasov, Russia, 5.90. 2, Okkert Brits, South Africa, 5.60. 3, Javier Garcia Chico, Spain, 5.60.
Long Jump 1, Yago Lamela, Spain, 8.22. 2, Erik Walder, United States, 8.17. 3, James Beckford, Jamaica, 8.13.
60m 1, Joan Ekah, Nigeria, 7.10. 2, Sevatheda Fynes, Bahamas, 7.12. 3, Petya Pendareva, Bulgaria, 7.21.
60m Hurdles 1, Brigita Bukovec, Slovenia, 7.82. 2, Glory Alozie, Nigeria, 7.83. 3, Olga Shishigina, Kazakistan, 7.87.
1000m 1, Ana Menendez, Spain, 2:47.99. 2, Nuria Fernandez, Spain, 2:48.16. 3, Adoracion Garcia, Spain, 2:48.20.
Triple Jump 1, Conchi Paredes, Spain, 13.81. 2, Carlota Castrejana, Spain, 13,75. 3, Jimenez Mayo, Spain, 12.21.