Karlstad, SwedenWhen Stefan Holm on Thursday afternoon (26) left his Karlstad home to venture down to the local Tingvalla arena he was looking for good competition and finally this summer nice weather. Because after setting a training PB of 2.35 during the weekend he knew that his physical shape was perhaps better than ever.
Something which was underlined during the warm-up carried out in the gentle afternoon sun when Stefan cleared 2.10 with the scissors technique. But then dark clouds began to appear on the horizon and when it was time for Holm to enter the competition at 2.20 the sun was gone, the temperature had dropped a few degrees and the first raindrops had begun to fall.
The rain never became intense but the unfriendliness of the conditions was illustrated by the fact that the other jumpers ended up 5-10 centimetres under their 2007 bests. But it still didn't stop Holm from clearing 2.30 (for the 108th time ....) and barely miss at the would-be Stadium record height of 2.33.
Despite winning the competition by a full 10cm ahead of Finn Oskari Frösén and freshly crowned European U23 champion Linus Thörnblad, Holm’s frustration with the weather was evident when he - half-jokingly – afterwards commented:
"And my next meet this year will be London and what the weather has been like in England this summer we have all seen on TV .... So next summer I will only compete in places like Italy, Spain or Greece."
Kallur blitzes to 12.75
Just about as impressive and outstanding was Susanna Kallur in the 100m Hurdles. Despite claiming to still be in a period of heavy training Sanna blitzed away from the field increasing her lead by some quarter of a metre with each crisp hurdle clearance to win by 0.27 from consistent sub-13 American Danielle Carruthers.
Perhaps even more noticeable was the fact that kallur’s winning time of 12.75 meant that she eclipsed the eight year old Stadium record of 12.90 belonging to former Olympic and World Champion Ludmila Engquist. And the new record holder was as always all smiles afterwards:
"I am very happy with my time considering that I am training hard at the moment. What I have been focussing on recently in my training is to try to become "crazily aggressive" in attacking the hurdles. The first seven-eight hurdles were good today, but at the last ones I became a little bit too upright."
In the wake of Susanna Kallur, her twin sister Jenny as well as heptathlete Carolina Klüft both ran new seasonal best marks being just a metre behind Carruthers and finishing ahead of recent European U23 silver Christina Vukicevic. Klüft's 13.18 was actually just a couple of hundredths off her PB and further underlines that she is now back to her best speedwise.
Currently the only real "problem" seems to be her Javelin Throw where she is bothered by a shoulder pain when she is not technically sound. The power is certainly there for much longer throws but then she must succeed in keeping the javelin tip down at the release. Now it was way too high with the consequence that the implement stalled and dropped down at just 43 meters in all her three throws this evening.
Wissman keeps the crowd happy
In the men's 200m the organisers had brought together an unofficial Nordic Championship with the European silver medallist of last year Johan Wissman being up against Norway's Jaysuma Saidy Ndure (20.25 just a couple of days ago) and Finland's Visa Hongisto (European U23 champion).
Wissman had heavy legs warming up feeling the effect of a couple of weeks of tough 400m training followed by a 10.51 for 100m and 20.39 for 200m just two days ago in Sundsvall. He even thought seriously about not running today but decided to not make the Tingvalla crowd – some 4,000 – disappointed.
And he certainly didn't! Off to his usual slow start having Ndure in the lane inside on his shoulder already halfway through the bend Wissman seemed to shift gears and came into the straight even with the Norwegian. And even though the long legged ex-Gambian traditionally is strong in the second half of the race he was not able to keep up with Wissman who gradually moved away to win by over a metre in 20.43.
So despite feeling no freshness in his legs and despite the chilly evening the Swede was just five hundredths off his PB and NR set when winning the silver medal in the Europeans last year. Obviously he has become an even better 200m runner this year – although he is now training for the double distance:
"But I have absolutely no plans to change my priorities for Osaka. At the World Championships I will run the 400m. However, I hope to get the chance to run also a 200m against top runners in good conditions. Because if I could run 20.43 under the circumstancies today I should be capable of something considerably faster in warm weather."
In the women's Discus Throw, second placed Norwegian Grethe Etholm Snyder, normally consistent at 53-55 metres, had to settle for just 50.44 on a day when the wind was of no help at all (rather the opposite) as it came from behind. But it didn't stop Anna Söderberg from showing consistency around the 60m-line with 61.53 as her winning distance.
Other undisputed winners were Robert Kronberg in the 110m Hurdles (13.77w – won by 0.24), Natallia Kareiva of Belarus in the 800m (2:03.89 after slow first lap) and Cecilia Nilsson in the Hammer Throw (66.15 leaving 67m-throwers Bethany Hart and Mona Holm several meters behind).
The 5-meet Folksam Grand Prix series of 2007 will conclude next Wednesday (1 August) at the classical (home of the first sub-14:00 at 5000m and the first sub-3:50 in the mile) Slottsskogsvallen arena in Gothenburg. One of the main attractions then will be Christian Olsson's first triple jump competition since the Rome Golden Gala in early July.
Lennart Julin for the IAAF