Manuèla Montebrun smashed the Francophone Games record in the women’s Hammer Throw with a 70.26m heave on the 4th day of the athletics competition at the sixth edition of the Games which are being held in Beirut, Lebanon (4).
The French thrower, 5th in Beijing Olympic Games last year and three times a finalist at World Championships, concluded her frustrating 2009 season with a gold medal at what was her first Francophone Games participation.
Her season debut of 72.71 in February had given Montebrun high ambitions for this World championship summer, but knee surgery in May ruined her chances and kept her out of training for a month and a half though creditably she still participated in Berlin World Championships in August, placing 12th.
“It’s unusual for me to train in September”, said the 29-year-old national record holder (74.66). “Athletes are usually on holidays or just resuming training. After Berlin I had some downtime but had to come back again for these Games to finish the season on a good note.”
The win was still not easy for her since she faced the opposition of World Junior champion Bianca Perie (ROM), who took the lead at her first attempt with 67.67 – which would remain her best throw of the competition.
In fact Montebrun didn’t head the final until her third attempt (68.99), and secured her victory with her next throw measured at 70.26, a considerable improvement on the previous Francophone Games record (67.95).
“I’m now looking forward to a break in order to start the 2010 preparation on a good basis and injury free”, announced the winner.
Also back from injury
Another French athlete accomplished a comeback yesterday following health problems. Vincent Favretto, a precocious Pole Vault talent (World Youth silver medal in 2001, World Junior bronze in 2002, European Junior champion in 2003, French indoor Champion in 2005) has now fully recovered from a knee ligament problem which stopped his progression (5.65 in 2006) and kept him out of competition from May 2007 to March 2009.
“When I resumed training, I didn’t set targets and took all my time to comeback”. Favretto, now 25, only jumped on four occasions in 2009 before these Games with a season’s best of 5.50m (17 May). “I was very surprised when I learned that I was selected for these Games.”
The Frenchman was one of just four competitors taking part in the Pole Vault in Beirut, the three others being Canadians. After one failure, he jumped 5.00 and played a tactical game with the remaining Canadian Kristian Wilson who cleared 5.10 at his first attempt. Favretto didn’t try this bar and took the risk to raise it to 5.20, which he managed to jump on his third attempt. Wilson being unsuccessful at 5.25, the victory was Favretto’s, who increased his winning margin by clearing 5.40 at the first try. He then asked for 5.55m in order to better his season best, but missed three times.
In the Triple Jump, Hugo Mamba-Schlick from Cameroon dominated with his three valid jumps, topped by a 16.78 into the wind (-0.3m/s), all better than the 16.24m achieved by silver medallist Alin Anghel (ROM).
Mamba-Schlick opened with 16.40, followed by 16.78, his season best ever, behind his national record (16.92) set in Addis Ababa (high altitude) last year for his second place at the African Championships. He then fouled the third jumped, passed the 4th, fouled again the 5th and confirmed his leadership at the last one with 16.52.
This was the first international title for the France-based athlete who carefully prepared for the Games in Yaoundé (Cameroon) followed by a final training camp in Egypt, after his 21st place (16.63) at the World Championships.
“In Berlin, I didn’t managed to reach my goal to be a finalist, but I gained there a lot of experience in stress management. My next goal is now to break the 17m barrier,” he said.
Moroccan runners continued their dominance over the middle distance events. This time Morocco's men achieved a medal sweep over 5000m. All three runners had already gained medals in Beirut: Anis Selmouni and Hicham Bellani placed 2nd and 3rd, respectively, at 10,000m four days before, and Chakir Boujattaoui was 2nd the day before at 3000m Steeplechase.
They hid themselves in the pack for four kilometres before taking over the 5000m. Boujattaoui won in 13:42.72, from Selmouni 13:43.73 and Bellani 13:45.53, way ahead Frenchman Stéphane Lefrand 13:53.33.
During the morning, their countryman Zaid Laroussi won the Marathon in 2:24:08 under difficult conditions (Temperature 27°C, Heat 60%).
Moroccan women had their share of success as well yesterday, with their 400m hurdlers Hayat Lambarki, first in 58.40sec and Lamia Lhabz, second in 58.81.
More to come
Before the last day of competition to be held on Monday (5), Moroccans had gained no less than 11 medals in five men’s middle/long distance events (1500m, 5000m, 10000m, Marathon and 3000m Steeple) and 5 medals in the 3 female events (800m, 10000m, 3000m Steeple). The remaining finals in the men’s 800m, and women’s 1500m and 5000m, should bring them further trophies.
The last day of the Francophone Games will also feature the 200m finals. Mauritian Stephan Buckland was the fastest in each round (21.05 in heats, 20.78 in semi final) and will face 100m Francophone champion Ben Youssef Meite, who was Buckland’s runner-up in the semis (20.86).
On the women’s side, Kimberley Hyacinthe (20) improved her personal best from 23.48 to 23.26 in the heats to beat favourite and defending champion Kaltouma Nadjina from Chad (23.55), whose recovery from her 400m win on Saturday will be a determinant factor in today's final.
P-J Vazel for the IAAF
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