European Long Jump champion Andrew Howe leapt 8.36m on a great afternoon of celebrations in Rieti which staged a superb IAAF World Athletics Tour meeting with great results in the middle distances including Maryam Jamal’s 3:56.18 in the women’s 1500m, Mbulaeni Mulaudzi’s 1:43.09 in the men’s 800m, Isaac Songok’s 7:28.72 in the men’s 3000m, and a sub 3:30 time by Bernard Lagat in the men’s 1500m (3:29.68).
European gold medallist Vanya Stambolova smashed her own Bulgarian record in the women’s 400 metres with 49.53, in an IAAF Grand Prix which featured many new meeting records and new Italian records in the men’s and women’s 400m.
Howe – injury no bar to performance
Howe, who has been suffering from a back injury since his 8.19m performance in the Zürich Golden League meeting, produced just one leap over 8 metres which was enough to secure the win with 8.36m in the Raul Guidobaldi stadium.
“I am suffering from back problems and a minor injury in my leg,” said Howe. “But I did not want to miss the Rieti meeting in the town where I began my career. I jumped here for my friends and my fans. This win is for Rieti. I will continue to work on speed before the World Cup in Athens by competing in two sprint races in Rovereto and in Sardinia.”
Mulaudzi – 1:43.09, world season lead
Seven men dipped under 1:44 in a fabulous 800 metres which featured a ‘who’s who’ of this discipline. South African Olympic silver medallist Mbulaeni Mulaudzi finished in 1:43.09 which improved Amine Laalou’s previous world seasonal best of 1:43.25 set in the Rome Golden League meeting. The depth of this very fast race was shown by six more times under 1:44. World Indoor champion Wilfred Bungei smashed his seasonal best running 1:43.31 for second place ahead of Bram Som, who just missed his fresh Dutch record with 1:43.52 beating Bahrain’s Youssef Saad Kamel (1:43.61), US champion Khadevis Robinson (1:43.68), Laalou (1:43.68) and Alfred Kirwa Yego (1:43.89), in what was one of the best races of this season.
Such was the high-quality of the men’ 800 metres entry list that athletes like Canada’s Gary Reed, France’s Florent Lacasse and Italy’s Andrea Longo ran the B race which went to Reed with 1:43.93. Lacasse took second spot in 1:44.75. Andrea Longo set the Italian seasonal best with 1:44.86 in fourth place, two hundredths of a second slower than Spain’s Eugenio Barrios.
Jamal set new meet record – 3:56.18
This great middle distance afternoon was also highlighted by Bahrain’s Maryam Yussuf Jamal who improved the long standing meet record with 3:56.18. The previous record was held by Russian Yekaterina Podkopayeva who ran 3:56.65 in 1984. In the process the Lausanne-based Jamal also improved her own national record (3:56.79) set on the same track last year. Russian World Indoor champion Yulyia Chizenko prevailed over reigning World and European champion Tatyana Tomashova in the battle for second place in the closing stages of the race in 3:57.29 to 3:57.50.
Lagat under 3:30
Bernard Lagat stormed to an impressive 1500m victory in 3:29.68, narrowly missing a new US record he set last year in Rieti with 3:29.30. Tarek Boukensa of Algeria also ran a solid 3:31.58 which earned him second place.
“What makes Rieti so special for middle distance runners is that we have no big meeting feeling,” confirmed Lagat. “I do not feel pressure and I compete very relaxed. I ran badly in Zürich because I felt sick there. But after winning the 3000 metres in Birmingham I began thinking that I could run 3:29 in Rieti. I expect many things in the coming meetings. I will run the 5000 metres in Berlin next week where I face Kenenisa Bekele. I know that he can run under 12:50. If I ran 12:50, I would be very happy.”
Stambolova breaks national record – 49.53 sec
Bulgarian Vanya Stambolova, the European women’s 400m champion smashed her own national record by eleven hundredths of a second with an impressive 49.53. “I am very happy with my NR. I did not expect to run so fast when coming here”, said a delighted Stambolova.
The magic Rieti track, one of the fastest in Italy, also inspired Jamaican Novlene Williams who lowered her PB - set at this year’s Golden Gala - by one hundredth of a second with 49.64 to take second. World and Olympic champion Tonique Williams-Darling from the Bahamas took third place in 50.32.
In seventh a good result was produced by Daniela Reina, semi-finalist in Gothenburg, who improved the 400 metres Italian record with 51.18, three hundredths of a second faster than the previous national record held Virna De Angeli.
On the infield, European silver medallist Venelina Veneva earned Bulgaria a second win at the meeting by clearing 2 metres on her third attempt to take the women’s High Jump.
Songok saunters to 7:28.72 world lead
Back on the track, Isaac Songok, who already held the fastest 3000m time in the world this year with 7:28.98 set in Doha in mid-May, improved to 7:28.72 after a close and exciting tussle in the final straight with World Junior 5000m champion Tariku Bekele, who also dipped under 7:30 with a new PB of 7:29.11.
The race was launched at a very fast pace (1000 metres in 2.27.62 and 2000 metres in 4:59.91), while in the final lap Songok broke away closely followed by Bekele and Boniface Songok. In the final straight Songok launched his devastating kick which beat the young Bekele. Boniface Songok finished strongly in third with 7:31.33, prevailing over Abraham Chebii who was fourth in 7:33.52.
“I trained on my final kick this year. I wanted to run this time because it was my final race of the season," said Songok.
Jepkosgei improves meet record
Janeth Jepkosgei, world seasonal leader with 1:56.66, stripped Maria Mutola of the meeting record with 1:57.07 in a high profile women’s 800 metres race where seven athletes broke the 1:59 barrier. Tatyana Petlyuk from the Ukraine clocked 1:58.13 for second place over World Indoor bronze medallist Kenia Sinclair, third with 1:58.27. On a high local note, Italian Elisa Cusma improved her PB from 2:00.96 to 1:58.90 to finish in sixth place.
Fast women’s steeplechase
World seasonal leader Wioletta Janowska from Poland, the European bronze medallist in Gothenburg, clocked a solid 9:22.69 in a world-class 3000 metres Steeplechase. Kenyans Jeruto Kiptum, the World bronze medallist in Helsinki, and Salome Chepchumba took an early lead running at a fast pace in the first 2 kilometres (6:17.26 at 2 km). The two Africans slowed their pace after 2 km and Janowska closed the gap in the final km. The Pole ran a very strong final part of the race overhauling the Kenyans in the final lap clocking a final 9:22.48. Kiptum finished second in 9:23.35. Also under 9:30 was Chepchumba, third in 9:26.07.
44.46 for Kikaya
Gary Kikaya notched up a notable 400 metres win in 44.46 defeating Brandon Simpson, who set yet another Brahain national record with 44.64, the same time clocked by World Indoor champion Alleyne Francique. The magic Rieti atmosphere pushed Andrea Barberi to a new Italian record in fourth place with 45.19. In a great afternoon for Italian athletes, Barberi (fifth in the Gothenburg final and who will be a 4x400m relay squad member for Europe at the World Cup in Athens) improved the long standing national record held by Mauro Zuliani who ran 45.26 in the 1981 World Cup in Rome.
More meet bests
Russia’s Anna Pyathyk, who jumped over 15 metres for the first time in her career when she won the European Triple Jump silver medal in Gothenburg, improved the meeting record previously held by Italian Magdelin Martinez by one centimetre with a leap to 14.74m.
Reigning European champion Natalya Khoronenko set the new meeting record in the women’s Shot Put with 19.83m, while Franka Dietzsch did the same in the women’s Discus throw with 65.38m defeating the Czech Republic’s Vera Pospisilova (62.15).
Elsewhere on a packed programme…
US Lashinda Demus, world seasonal leader in the women’s 400 metres Hurdles, bounced back from last week’s defeat in the Monte Carlo, winning the opening race of a packed athletics afternoon in Rieti in a solid 53.67. It was a high-quality competition which featured six out of the best eight in the world this year. Tiffany Ross Williams, winner in Monte Carlo in a PB of 53.79, finished runner-up in 54.20 ahead of new European champion Yevgeniya Isakova from Russia, third in 54.25.
“I am satisfied with my final time. My legs are very tired. This season was good. I ran the fastest time in the world this year. In the final meetings of the season I expect to run under 53 seconds”, said Demus.
USA’s Jason Smoots edged out sub-10 seconds sprinter Marcus Brunson in the men’s 100 metres - 10.01 to 10.02.
Jamaican Kemel Thompson, Commonwealth Games bronze medallist, clinched the win in the men’s 400 metres Hurdles in 48.57.
Brad Walker vaulted 5.87m in the men’s Pole Vault taking his second win in a row in Rieti after last year’s 5.96m.
Double sprint European champion Francis Obikwelu showed good form after a demanding European Championship campaign, winning the men’s 200 metres in 20.20. Jamaican Christopher Williams ran 20.38 for second place. In the women’s 200m, US sprinter Stephanie Durst prevailed over Cydione Mothershill from Cayman Islands in a respectable 22.51 beating by a narrow margin Jamaican Shericka Williams (22.55). Third was Cydonie Mothershill from the Cayman Islands with 22.63.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF
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