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Reigning World championship silver medallists Olga Kucherenko and Krisztián Pars continued their strong early consistency to highlight the 17th edition of the MinersFest meeting in Velenje, Slovenia, on Thursday (14).
Kucherenko, who took European bronze in 2010 as a prelude to her Daegu silver, dominated the competition from the outset to win her third outdoor meet in as many starts this season.
Working out the rust with an opening round 6.58m, the 26-year-old Russian improved to 6.77m in the second before sealing the victory with a 6.90m leap in the third. Already one of this season’s two seven-metre jumpers – she leaped 7.03m at the Russian Team Championships in Sochi late last month – Kucherenko also defeated a formidable field at the Samsung Diamond League fixture in Oslo one week ago.
Here, the field didn’t pose much of a challenge - each of Kucherenko’s leaps would have bested the best of Serbian record holder Ivana Spanovic whose 6.53m for second was a season’s best. Patience Ntshongila of South Africa was a distant third with 6.19m.
Pars dominates, Kozmus improving steadily
The same held true for Pars who led from his modest 77.37m opening round effort until his 81.48m blast in the fourth. It was the third farthest throw of the season – Ivan Tsikhan of Belarus leads the world at 82.81m and Pars threw 82.28m to win in Ostrava – but perhaps more pleasing to the 30-year-old Hungarian was his consistency just two weeks before the European Championships. He reached 80.01m in the second round and improved marginally to 80.16m in the third and decided to call it a day after round four.
Reigning Olympic champion, 2011 World bronze medallist and local hero Primoz Kozmus was second, courtesy of a final round 77.35m toss, a massive four-metre improvement on his season opener late last month.
National 800m record for teenager Rudolf
There were however three home victories to please the enthusiastic capacity crowd that filled the city’s intimate municipal stadium for Slovenia’s premiere annual athletics meeting – none more than teenager Žan Rudolf’s gutsy run in the 800m.
The 19-year-old (9 May 1993) ran closest to pace setter Silas Too over the first lap and never relinquished the lead, despite some heavy pressure from fast-finishing South African miler Johan Cronje. He clocked 1:46.79 to chip 0.05 from the national senior record that was set a year before he was born.
Rudolf is among Slovenia’s brightest hopes at next month’s World Junior Championships where, he said, his aim is to move into sub-1:46 territory.
Other Slovenian victories came on the infield courtesy of Martina Ratej and Marija Sestak. Ratej won the Javelin Throw by more than two metres with her 61.25m second round effort, comfortably ahead of Russia’s Lyubov Zhatkina who reached 58.10m. Sestak, who’s on a comeback from injury, won the Triple Jump with a 14.26m best ahead of Belgian Svetlana Bolshakova (13.85m) who is also on the mend.
Cuba took home a pair of wins, also off the track. Lazaro Borges, another 2011 World silver medallist, topped 5.60m to win the Pole Vault, and added a couple good attempts at 5.70m before bowing out.
Although she wasn’t terribly pleased with her performance, Former World champion Yipsi Moreno won the women’s Hammer Throw handily with a 71.75m best from the second round. Eva Orban of Hungary reached 68.41m in the final round to move ahead of Slovenia’s 20-year-old record holder Barbara Spiler, who topped out at 68.25m.
Lucia Klocova sprinted past Hilali Siham over the final 50 metres to win a tactical 1500m contest in 4:14.45 to the Moroccan’s 4:15.01. Reigning Olympic champion Nancy Langat was never really a factor and finished a distant eighth in 4:18.00.
The women’s 100m Hurdles featured a showdown between some of the region’s national record holders – Beate Schrott of Austria, Czech Lucie Skrobakova and Slovenia’s Maria Tomic – along with Irish standard bearer Derval O’Rourke. Steadily inching away from the field from mid-race, Schrott pieced together a comfortable 13.11 victory, with O’Rourke just getting the better of Tomic as each was credited with 13.26.
In the men’s 400m Italian Marco Vistalli carried a narrow lead off the final turn into a convincing victory in 45.70 with Slovenia’s Brent Larue, a 400m Hurdles specialist, a distant second in 46.39.
And finally, Daniel Talbot of Great Britain won the 100 in 10.24 ahead of Jamaican Ainsley Waugh (10.33), Anaso Yobodwana of South Africa took the 200m in 20.50.