12 JUL 2003 General News Sherbrooke, Canada

Plethora of records and personal bests as athletes brave the wind and rain in Sherbroooke

Julio Cesar de Oliveira of Brazil winner of the Javelin Throw in Sherbrooke (Getty Images)Julio Cesar de Oliveira of Brazil winner of the Javelin Throw in Sherbrooke (Getty Images) © Copyright

The young athletes in Sherbrooke responded to the driving rain and gusting winds that plagued the earlier sessions with a succession of Championships Records and personal bests, with a record number of countries sharing the medal honours after eleven Finals had been contested.

The first final of the day saw Cristine Spataru from Romania wind up a series of four jumps (she elected to skip the two final rounds once her winning position was guaranteed), all of them over 13 metres, with the final clincher and record bound of 13.86 metres. “I didn’t think that 13.33 (ed.her opening performance) was going to be good enough to win the event, so I pushed myself to go further on my fourth jump and I set the record,” she said afterwards.

“It was a very good competition and the Mondo runway was very fast. It allowed me to get four good jumps.

“This is a great stadium and the fans were very loud. Their cheering helped to push me to a great result.”

There was more excitement in the battle for the other podium places, with Elina Sorsa from Finland winning the challenge to take the silver medal ahead of  Aliki-Yvoni Askitopoulou (GRE) with her final performance of 12.95 that bettered the Greek’s best mark by just 2 centimetres and pushed out of the medals Vanessa Alessiani from Italy, who had jumped a personal best of 12.91 with her last jump.

In a cliffhanger of a Javelin final, Julio Cesar de Oliveira snatched victory with his massive last effort as he made a massive improvement on his earlier throws and launched his spear out to a new Championship Record of 81.16 metres, after trailing the competition leader until then, South Africa’s Robert Oosthuizen. Neither of the two had bettered 80 metres until that last throw.

In a dramatic response, Oosthuizen made a massive final effort and, as the stadium crowd held their breath, his implement sailed out well over the 80-metre mark too. But then the results display came up with 81.07 (a new PB for the South African) and the gold went to Brazil. A personal record for Oosthuizen’s compatriot Raldu Potgieter gave him the third place on the podium. As de Oliveira said afterwards: “I knew that the other athletes had thrown better than me before, but I threw the best performance of my life.” And that is what athletics is all about.

After two days of effort, Andres Silva of Uruguay won his country’s first ever gold medal at an IAAF championships, in the Men’s Octathlon. Silva had largely led the competition until the seventh event, when he was momentarily ousted by Belarus’s Andrei Krauchanka, who wiped out Silva’s 200 point lead with some great throwing in the Javelin. But gutsy and determined Silva came back in the final event, the 1000 metres and running like that was his only event of the day regained the advantage and the gold medal. “I didn’t have a very good performance in the technical events, but I wasn’t worried because I knew that the event would come down to the 1000m run,” the neo champion said afterwards. “I was confident heading into the race that I would win it and the gold.”

Krauchanka said afterwards, “I feel very happy, today was a very difficult day. The wind wasn’t a problem. It makes me very happy to win a medal for my country.”

The next mark to go into the Championships Record ledger came in the women’s 100 metres Final where the wind dropped to 1.8m/s to allow Jessica Onyepunka to run a legal record time of 11.31 and take the gold medal. The race was a US double, as Onyepunka’s team-mate and rival Krystin Lacy came in second in 11.50. Kelly-Ann Baptiste took the bronze with her run of 11.58.

Asked what it felt like to be the fastest teenage girl in the world, Onyepunka said: “That sounds great! Having my teammate finish second made it even more special.

“I am so proud of both of us. We came out here and did what we were supposed to do. I mean not only did we make our country proud but we made our parents proud, our family proud and our coaching staff proud.

“Standing on the podium and hearing our national anthem is the world’s best honour right now.”

There was no Championship record for Texan Jason Richardson, but the young American who is on a quest for double gold in the hurdles events here in Sherbrooke nonetheless ran a world leading 13.29 to satisfy the first part of the challenge he has set himself. Overcoming the stress of 2 false starts, Richardson was away well, but was trailing Saudi Arabia’s Mubarak Al-Mabadi  until the final hurdle, where he drew level and then outsprinted Al-Mabadi to the line. Al-Mabadi clocked 13.41 for the silver, with bronze going to Alexander John of Germany in 13.50.

Just minutes before his win, it had almost looked as though Richardson might miss the final: “I was actually scared because my left calf was cramping badly. I had to go back and sit down, so I thought I might not be able to make it, let alone win.

“Because of the 45 minutes between (the 400m Hurdles semis and the 110m Hurdles Final) this is the most difficult. For 45 minutes I went into the tent and did a lot of stretching. We worked out a deal so I didn’t have to go down the stairs to the check in because 45 minutes is such a short recovery.

“I am not sure whether I will celebrate tonight; I may have to go to sleep.”

The final medallists of the evening session after a long day of competition exacerbated by delays caused by the foul weather earlier in the day came in the men’s Long Jump and Hammer Throw competitions.

Japan’s Naohiro Shinada, rounded off his competition with a final leap out to 7.61 metres, just so as to remove any uncertainty about his victory over France’s Yves Renaud, who had until that point matched Shinada’s longest mark of 7.44 metres, but was in second place after a better second best jump by Shinada. Ahmed Al-Sharfa gave Saudi Arabia that country’s third medal of the Championships, with his third place result of  7.15 metres.

In the Hammer Throw, Hungary finally had to relinquish its hold on the World Youth title, as Russia’s Mikhail Levin produced a superb release in the fifth round, hurling his implement out to 76.41 metres to take gold, leaving Hungary with the two lower steps of the podium, with Kristof Nemeth taking silver with his fifth attempt effort of 75.59 metres and Sandor Palhegyi bronze from his second round throw of 75.47.

At the end of the third day of competition, 23 countries had garnered medals from the eleven finals contested, with the United States heading the medal standings with two gold and one silver medal.