Despite the endless rains that drenched the Croatian capital throughout the day, Tatyana Lysenko and Irving Saladino keenly illustrated why they are their respective events biggest stars at the 57th edition of the Hanzekovic Memorial on Wednesday (04) evening, a Grand Prix status event as part of the IAAF World Athletics Tour 2007.
While the unforgiving skies – coupled with unseasonably chilly temperatures - affected many of the performances and kept the enthusiastic crowds away, they certainly didn’t do much to dampen the competitive ferocity of Lysenko and Saladino. Indeed, the pair didn’t seem to notice.
Despite the rains, Lysenko near 77m
Competing on a rain-soaked throwing ring, The Russian World record holder quickly took control of the competition, opening with a 75.26 effort, following up with a 76.24, and improving yet again to 76.74 to add 20cm to the meeting record she set last year. Given better conditions, the 23-year-old would have certainly threatened her 78.61 World record set at home in Sochi in May.
As in Ostrava a week ago where she twice threw beyond 77 metres, four of her five legal throws sailed farther that the best the runner-up could produce. Finishing second was Cuban Yipsi Moreno, who reached 73.89 in the second round. German record holder Betty Heidler, who engaged Lysenko in a thrilling battle here last year, was third this time around, with a 73.25 throw, also from the second round.
Home crowd favourite Ivana Brkljacic, the national record holder who broke through the 75m barrier this year, finished a distant fifth, with a 70.92 best in the fifth round.
Saladino sails 8.45
Saladino, last year’s premiere long jumper, seems to have picked up precisely where he left off after his last competition. In rainy and cool conditions in Eugene a month ago, the 24-year-old Panamanian dominated the field to win with an 8.49 leap. This evening, in even worse conditions, he nearly matched that effort in the opening round, sealing his fourth victory of the season in as many outings in striking fashion.
“There were some problems tonight with the steady rain, the wind and the cold,” he said, “But I was pleased overall.” Saladino said that given more ideal conditions, he could have reached 8.70.
After a foul and a run through, he reached 8.13 in the fourth round and 8.37 in the fifth. Saladino competes next in Lausanne on Tuesday before returning to his training base in Sao Paulo, Brazil, to fine tune his preparation for the Pan-American Games.
Finishing nearly half a metre back was American Miguel Pate (7.96) to take second.
Robles cruises to 13.35
The momentum continued for Dayron Robles. Following up on his victory in Athens on Monday night, the 20-year-old Cuban was already ahead for good before he cleared the second hurdle en route to a comfortable 13.35 victory in the meeting’s signature event.
“I couldn’t expect a much faster performance tonight on the wet track,” said Robles, who last year emerged as one of the world’s finest high hurdlers. “I really wanted to win after losing here last year.”
Robles races next in the Paris leg of the IAAF Golden League on Friday night where he’ll face the season’s two fastest hurdlers, World record holder Lui Xiang and American champion Terrence Trammell. Is he ready?
“I’m ready for anything,” he said.
Closing strong, David Payne won the battle for second in 13.56, with Ron Bramlett third (13.59). Leaving behind a trail of downed barriers, Osaka-bound American David Oliver survived a rough second half to finish fourth (13.61).
The women’s race was won in equally dominant fashion by Delloreen Ennis-London, the 2005 World championships silver medallist, who powered away from the field to win unchallenged in 12.92. Perdita Felicien, the 2003 World Champion, closed strong to edge American Damu Cherry, with each clocked at 13.03.
Klocova stuns Cherkasova in 800m
After a pair of aggressive and impressive victories in Ostrava and Athens, Svetlana Cherkasova certainly had momentum on her side heading into her third 800m race in seven days. And as she moved to the front with 250 metres to go, the Russian looked poised to bag yet another win. But coming into the homestraight, Cherkasova had company as unrelenting as the rain. Lucia Klocova, the young Slovak who finished second in Ostrava with her first career sub-two minute run, overhauled the Russian over the final 15 metres to score an upset in 2:01.56. Cherkasova held on for second (2:01.80) with Jolanda Ceplak, in her best outing in recent weeks, closing fast to finish third (2:01.97).
Vlasic, as expected
Blanka Vlasic, the world leader in the High Jump at 2.04 and the host nation’s biggest star, won as expected but her winning height of just 1.90, was below expectations even considering the uncooperative weather.
Jumping without a miss at 1.80, 1.85 and 1.90, Vlasic bowed out with three tries, the last extremely close, at 1.95. On the rebound from a sinus infection, the Croatian expects to be back at full strength for a much more difficult encounter on Friday night in Paris.
Swede Emma Green was second at the same height, but needed a pair of tries.
Osovnikar takes men’s 100, Moore and Boone-Smith swap 1-2 finishes in 100 and 200
After a pair of false starts, the second claiming Jamaican Dwight Thomas, the men’s 100 was decided by the 60 metre mark when Slovenian Matic Osovnikar pulled away en route to a commanding 10.19 (+2.0) win, equalling his season’s best.
“It feels really good to win at a Grand Prix,” said Osovnikar, who lowered the national record to 10.14 to take bronze at last year’s European Championships.
American Greg Bolden was a distant second in 10.29, with Briton Jason Gardener edging American Mark Jelks for third, with both clocking 10.34.
LaShauntea Moore held off the late race charge of Rachelle Boone-Smith to win the women’s 100 by .03 seconds in 11.19. It was certainly good news for the 23-year-old Moore, a former U.S. high school standout who nabbed her first career Grand Prix victory. But the race brought bad news for Angela Williams, the winner of the 100m in Athens on Monday. Leading the race at the midway point, Williams pulled up in agony at about 55 metres. The immediate diagnosis was a pulled left hamstring.
Over the half lap, the American pair swapped finishes, with Boone-Smith, the reigning World silver medallist, getting the edge 23.17 to 23.20. After carrying a narrow lead off the final bend, European champion Kim Geveart was third in 23.23.
The men’s 200, the evening’s final event, was just as close, with Briton Tim Abeyie edging Jamaican Christopher Williams, 22.67 to 22.69.
Fabulous finish in women’s 3000
In terms of sheer drama, the finest finish of the evening came in the women’s 3000. Ethiopian Belaynesh Fekadu carried a two metre lead off the final bend, with Olga Komyagina, the woman who helped set the pace for Meseret Defar’s 5000m World record in Oslo last month, in hot pursuit. Fekadu maintained a narrow edge down the homestretch until Komyagina, unrelenting, produced a Defar-like close of her own to get the edge after a sprint style dip in 8:52.03, a mere 0.01 ahead of the Ethiopian.
Still recovering from her swift victory in the 3000m Steeplechase in Athens on Monday, Gulnara Samitova-Galkina came home third (8:56.14).
Kenyan Micah Kogo, last year’s fastest over 10,000m, broke away from Ben Limo in the latter stages to win the men’s race handily in 7:48.92, to Limo’s 7:50.04.
Marginally ahead of Russian Tatiana Veshkurova heading off the final bend, Ilona Usovich cruised away over the final 50 metres to win by 0.6 seconds in 51.73. After runner-up Veshkurova, no one else reached the line under 52.50.
Slovenian record holder Miran Vodovnik produced a season’s best 20.63 throw to win the Shot Put, well ahead of Poland’s Tomasz Majewski,who reached 20.08 in the final round. American Dan Taylor, third at the U.S. Championships, was third with a modest 19.90 best.
In the men's 400m Hurdles, Osaka-bound Derrick Williams, third at the U.S. Championships, led from the second barrier en route to a comfortable victory in 49.24. Running in the outside lane, Canadian Adam Kunkel closed well to finish second (49.73), with American Ricky Harris (50.26) a distant third.
Russian Igor Sukhomlinov won the Javelin Throw by nearly three metres with a 79.12 throw, and Alleyne Francique of Grenada held off Briton Tim Benjamin in the 400, 46.29 to 46.57.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF