Paris, FranceThree outstanding performances blessed the tenth edition of the Meeting Gaz de France Paris Saint-Denis, the fourth of this year’s six fixtures which make up the ÅF Golden League 2008.
In the chase for the $1 Million ÅF Golden League Jackpot the two remaining candidates, Kenya’s Pamela Jelimo (800m) and Croatia’s Blanka Vlasic (High Jump), won with ease.
Jelimo parades her outstanding talent
The women’s 800m had three elements: the pace-making of Amy Mbacke Thiam (56 sec at 400m), Pamela Jelimo, and the clock. This was a demonstration of two lap running by the Kenyan junior. With 300m left to run she engaged top gear and powered to a 2/100th of a second improvement of her Area, and World Junior record in a time of 1:54.97*. This was not a ‘race’ it was a parade by an extraordinary talent.
“It was a test before the Games and I’m very happy with my success,” said Jelimo.
It’s a little unfair to say there was nothing more to this competition because behind Jelimo four of her opponents set personal bests which must be applauded: Lucia Klocova (SVK) 1:58.51 (2nd), Anna Rostkowska (POL) 1:58.72 (4th), Eloidie Guegan (FRA) 1:58.93 (5th), Jennifer Meadows 1:59.11 (6th).
Neither the present nor ancient World champions in the field tonight had any answer to Jelimo. In third place, 2007 World champion Janeth Jepkosgei’s 1:58.52 was a season’s best, while veteran global star Maria Mutola making her last race in the Stade finished respectively in seventh place, under-2 minutes (1:59.51).
Vlasic just concentrates on her technique
Blanka Vlasic, the other half of the Jackpot duo, initially struggled to clear 2.01m in the High Jump, her first attempts bringing down the bar heavily but her success at the third time of asking was as light as the air through which she sailed. Vintage Blanka!
But at the next height, 2.05m, Vlasic again looked heavy but then no one else at the moment has either the inclination or the ability to attempt such a prodigious height such is the peerless Croat’s domination of this event. This was her 30th consecutive 2m clearance and her 33rd victory in a row.
“My competition was ok even though it was hard. I only wanted to think about my technique,” said Vlasic.
Robles fluent hurdling takes him to 12.88
There is a famous scene in the film “Chariots of Fire” when future 1928 Olympic 400m Hurdles champion, and for that matter future President of the IAAF, Lord Burghley (GBR) practises his technique by balancing glasses of champagne on the top of a set of barriers lined up in a 100 yard line, with the intention that his hurdling style would be so smooth that it wouldn’t spill a drop from any of the ten vessels!
Had the organisers in Paris who are celebrating the tenth anniversary of this meeting gone to the trouble of using France’s world famous celebratory drink in a similar manner this evening atop of the 10 flights of the 110m Hurdles, then Cuba’s Dayron Robles would have come home 80% happy, as he clattered just two hurdles in his marvellous 12.88 sec (+0.5m/s wind) meet record.
The Cuban World record holder** is in brilliant form, and after two meets when he clocked above 13 secs he has now recaptured the controlled energy which took him to his global mark of 12.87 earlier this season.
“My aim was to run under 13sec here,” confirmed Robles.
Tonight’s performance was the second fastest time ever, matching the former World record of China’s Lui Xiang. Robles is the only man with two sub-12.90 times to his credit.
Double Olympic silver medallist Terrence Trammell was second in 13.19, while Antwon Hicks of USA was third, 13.27, and 2005 World champion Ladji Doucouré of France improved his season's best to 13.37 in fourth.
Wariner’s improves World season lead; regains pre-Beijing advantage
Tonight Jeremy Wariner reasserted his authority over the pretender to his Olympic 400m title, LaShawn Merritt. Dwelling in the blocks in his poorest start of the season the World and Olympic champion was the more fluent of the world’s two best quarter milers, and on the back-straight smoothly made up the advantage his opponents had initially gained.
This time there was to be no shoulder to shoulder battle to the line. Wariner had a chasm of day light between him and his adversary all the way down the finishing straight. There was to be no Merritt counter attack. In fact the World silver medallist’s finish looked strained by this usually high standard.
Wariner’s reward was an improvement of his world season lead of 43.86, which was also a meet record; Merrit was second in 44.35, the Bahamas’s Chris Brown third 44.76.
Jamal all the way, Rowbury impressive
The women’s 1500m was set up to be a Maryam Yusuf Jamal vs Gelete Burka duel and while at the bell it still followed that plotline, as the racing really began for real the Ethiopian was left heavy legged. Jamal, a former Ethiopian who now competes for Bahrain, began the decisive attack with the ringing of the last lap still reverberating around the Stade.
The World champion was never seriously threatened but making a promising pursuit was US champion Shannon Rowbury who will be delighted with her PB for second place, 4:00.33. The winner Jamal was under 4mins for the first time this season with a 3:59.99 result.
In her first outing at this level, newly crowned World Junior champion Stephanie Twell raced to a PB of 4:05.83. Just one pace ahead of the Briton, Burka was a disappointing seventh in 4:05.25.
Choge over Kiprop
The men’s metric Mile later in the night was won by Kenya’s Augustine Choge in a sprint finish from Asbel Kiprop – 3:32.40 to 3:32.78. Once the 21-year-old Commonwealth 5000m champion got his nose ahead there was no stopping him, with the two-year-younger Kiprop lost for pace, though just a week ago before his win in Rome this finishing time would have been a personal best.
Clement toys with Jackson
USA’s Kerron Clement may be World 400m Hurdles champion but his technique or at the very least his stride pattern needs working on. What saves him is his prodigious athletics talent. He was toying with Bershawn Jackson, his predecessor as global title holder today. On the back straight making up most of the lead that Jackson had quickly carved out in the first 100m, Clement was content to come off the final bend on his compatriot’s shoulder.
The World champion who was ahead by the final barrier stuttered badly before clearing, having miss-timed his approach but we need never have feared because once over he smoothly powered through the finish, winning in 48.33 sec. Jackson, the US champion this summer ahead of Clement, died in the last few metres and he ended up fourth (48.91), with Danny McFarlane of Jamaica (48.71) and USA’s Angelo Taylor (48.91) sandwiched between him and the winner.
Richard’s takes blanket finish in 200m
Sanya Richards prevailed in a very tight women’s 200m over Muna Lee, the US Trials champion at 100m and runner-up at the 200. Americans ultimately took the first four places but no one of that four ever looked confidently in control and in the end a final 20 metres surge brought Richards home in 22.26 sec in what was a blanket finish for the top three places - Carmelita Jeter (22.58), Lee (22.59). LaShauntea Moore (22.70) in fourth completed the US dominance of this race.
Kabuu and Soi highlight longest distances
A depleted field of just six runners, one of which was a pace maker, set out in the women’s 5000m with victory brought home by Commonwealth 10,000m champion Lucy Wangui Kabuu of Kenya in a meet record of 14:38.47. The longest men’s race, the 3000m was won with an exceptionally strong finish by Kenya’s Edwin Soi who led at the bell. His 7:36.71 held off a persistent challenge from Joseph Ebuya, 7:36.84, with a resurgent Abraham Chebii in third, 7:37.51. In fourth there was a European season’s lead for Ireland’s Alistair Cragg (7:38.21).
Taher a confident winner
There was also a European lead in the 3000m Steeplechase from Sweden’s 2007 World championship finalist Mustafa Mohamed who clocked 8:11.10 for third, in what was only his second steeple of the summer. That was not enough however to prevent Bahrain’s Tareq Mubarak Taher from taking a convincingly easy victory in 8:08.53, his season’s best. Kenyan Michael Kipyego got a PB in second (8:09.93).
World champion Irving Saladino had two valid efforts in the men’s Long jump, 8.15m in the third and a winning 8.31m in the fourth round, way enough to beat Saudi pairing Hussein Taher Al Sabee (8.25m also in the fourth) and Mohamed Al Khuwalidi (8.09).
Marc Burns of Trinidad took the men’s 100m in 10.14 sec (+1.2ms), while in the women’s 100m Hurdles Jamaica’s Delloreen Ennis London was the winner in 12.66 sec. (+0.2m/s).
The men’s Javelin Throw was settled in the last round by Olympic silver medallist Vadim Vasilevskis of Latvia with 85.61m. The lead had from round one been held by Oceania record holder and current world season leader Jarred Bannister of Australia who made his best performance since travelling north for the European summer season – 84.76m, which was good enough for took second. No one else got beyond 80m.
Australian six-metre performer Steven Hooker won the men’s Pole Vault with 5.70m on the same height as Germany’s Alexander Straub. The Australian took two attempts to clear and Straub three.
Chris Turner for the IAAF
* The time was not a world lead as earlier today at the Russian Championships a time of 1:54.85 had been established by Yelena Sobolova.
**World record holder subject to usual ratification procedures