Sean WallaceJones reports from Rome
Morocco's Hicham El Guerrouj has shattered the previous world record in the 1500m. Running a perfect race, El Guerrouj broke away from the pacemakers at the 1400m mark and kicked out for home, a new world record time of 3:26:00, a $50,000 dollar Golden League world record bonus and confirmation that he is very much in the running for the million dollar IAAF Golden LeagueEricsson Jackpot. El Guerouj was asked in a press conference here yesterday what the figure 3:27 meant and he answered then "a world record", nobody thought to ask him what the numbers 3:26 would have meant. It's pretty unlikely also that the media in Rome for the Golden Gala, second stage of the IAAF Golden League who were asked to guess the time for the 1500m in a prize draw proposed by jackpot sponsor Ericsson would have considered this time as anything more than the height of optimism. Hicham is not short on optimism now. Speaking after his record run, he said: "My dream is to run 3:24. I hope to do it before this season is out; if not, God willing, I will be back to do it here next year. Before it was Aouita's time, then it was Morceli's, now it is Hicham's time. We are all Moslems, all brothers."
El Guerrouj literally wiped out the previous mark of 3:27:37 which had been set by
Aleria's Noureddine Morceli almost three years ago to the day, on 12 July 1995, in
Nice.His split times were: 400m 0.55; 800: 1:50.73; 1100: 2:32.73, 1200: 2:46.34 - 39.66
for the last 300 metres!
This may have been the most spectacular result of this evening, but it took none of the shine off the other performances. The crowd in Rome's Olympic stadium roared with delight as Michael Johnson stormed to victory in the 400m in 44.40, dashing the jackpot hopes of Britain's Mark Richardson, second with 44.62, in the process. Johnson had disappointed in Oslo when he trailed in third behind Richardson and fellow Briton Iwan Thomas, tonight he steamed ahead in classic Johnson high-striding style and looked every inch the man who took double gold in Atlanta and came back against the odds to win the 400m in Athens last year.
No surprises in the women's 100m. Marion Jones left the field way behind as she came out of the blocks in a perfect start and rapidly built up a lead she was to maintain to the finish line. Her 10.75 mark was her fourth fastest time of the year and 25 hundredths better than second-placed Chrystie Gaines. Jones went on to round off the evening with victory in the long jump, where she defeated the Italian champion Fiona May with her second jump of 7.23m. It is obvious that Jones needs to continue the work on her long jump that she started during the past winter. At the moment she is winning with speed and power, her potential looks awesome if she can manage to fit in the time to perfect her style.
The surprise was to come in the men's race. Frankie Fredericks proved yet again that when the chips are down he is the man to beat. With 9.97 Fredericks marked his 22nd sub-10 second 100m and confirmed his chances in the Golden League Jackpot stakes.The task was particularly valuable noteworthy this evening with both Maurice Greene (USA) and his friend and training partner Ato Boldon in contention. In the end, it was Boldon who was beaten to the tape by the most consistent world class sprinter in history. Maurice Greene came in third, 8 hundredths behind Fredericks in 10.04 and 5 hundredths behind Boldon (9.99).
Bryan Bronson confirmed his domination of the men's 400m hurdles, winning the event in 47.76 with a large advantage over second-placed Morgan Dinsdale (JAM), who came in second with 48.13.
IAAF Golden League Ericsson Jackpot possibles after the Golden Gala:
100m Frank Fredericks (NAM); 1500m Hicham El Guerrouj; 3000m (5000m/10,000m) Haile Gebrselassie(ETH); 400m hurdles Bryan Bronson (USA); Triple Jump Jonathan Edwards (GBR);
100m Marion Jones (USA); 400m Charity Opara (NGR); 1500m Svetlana Masterkova (RUS);
First round winners in Oslo knocked out in Rome:
Mark Richardson (GBR) - 400m, Jeff Hartwig (USA) - Pole Vault
Melissa Morrison (USA) - 100m hurdles; Tanja Damaske (GER) - Javelin