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Kazakhstan athletes swept all the women’s titles at stake in the two-day Asian All Stars meet in Almaty on Saturday and Sunday (1).
With the top Asian country, China, not entering any athlete in the meet and most of the other nations making only token representation, there was hardly any challenge for Kazakh athletes, especially in the events in which they are traditionally strong.
Kazakhstan’s athletes won a total of 10 events in the 15-event meet including all seven women’s titles. Iran and India had two apiece while Thailand claimed the other.
With many of the athletes busy with their Olympic preparations or competing elsewhere, the meet could not manage to attract the best in Asia.
Olga Rypakova, World championship silver medalist and Asian Games champion, led a Kazakh sweep in women’s Triple Jump with an effort of 14.49m. Having touched 14.71m in the Samsung Diamond League meeting in New York earlier in the month to win and 14.73m in Rome, Rypakova could have been expected to maintain a similar tempo as she approached the London Olympics. But that did not happen notwithstanding a spirited challenge from team-mate Irina Ektova who reached 14.29m.
A similar fare was dished out by Roman Valiyev in the men’s Triple Jump. Having crossed 17 metres in the Kazakh championship in June, Valiyev was the overwhelming favourite, but he could only reach 16.60m.
With none among the top Chinese present and with Indian Renjith Maheswary becoming a late pull-out, it was left to a young Indian to provide a semblance of a challenge to Valiyev. The Indian, looking for an Olympic 'A’ qualification standard of 17.20m, managed only 16.31m for second place, his second best for the season.
Tatyana Azarova of Kazakhstan clocked her season best in winning the women’s 400m Hurdles in 55.71 seconds, avenging her National championship defeat to Alexandra Kuzina (56.26). Syrian Ghofran Mohammed was third.
Kazakhstan’s Olga Bludova, Asian season leader (11.12) won the women’s short sprint with plenty to spare from team-mate Anastasiya Tulapina in 11.26. Tulapina, second in 11.60 and Vietnamese Vu Thi Huong (11.70) were outclassed.
Uzbek Guzel Khubbieva, originally entered, did not make it, depleting an already shorn-off field further.
A similar feat like Bludova was performed by Iranian Reza Ghasemi who clocked a personal best 10.24 in winning the men’s 100m. Vyacheslav Muravyev at 10.59 showed how lop-sided the fight was, with another Kazakh Grigoriy Volodin further down at 10.64.
Continental leaders from Japan, Qatar and China were missed in the sprints events in both sections.
In the fight among Asian Games champion Margarita Mukasheva (nee Matsko), Asian champion Truong Thanh Hang and the emerging Indian star Tintu Luka, the Kazakh woman won the 800m in 2:00.48, with a hundredth of a second separating Truong and Luka for the second place.
Kazakh Marina Aitova, Asian record holder, tied the continental best for the season at 1.95m with Uzbek Nadezhda Dusanova while claiming the women’s High Jump.
Vietnamese Duong Thi Viet Anh jumped a personal best 1.92m in coming second and to book her Olympic berth while disappointment was in store for Indian record holder Sahana Kumari who had only recently cleared 1.92m at home to gain Olympic qualification. She could only manage a 1.85m here for fifth place.
The Indians generally disappointed with Asian Games champion Joseph Abraham failing to gain an Olympic standard while winning the 400m Hurdles. He timed 50.22 and looked destined to miss the London Games.