Jamaican sprint stars Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell and Shelly-Ann Fraser took the spotlight in front of a 15,900 capacity crowd at Lausanne’s Athletissima, a Super Grand Prix status meeting, one of the final stops of the IAAF World Athletics Tour 2008.
Nine days after the end of the Olympic Games in Beijing where the Jamaicans dominated the sprint scene, Powell improved his position as the second fastest man in history with 9.72, Bolt equalled the meeting record in the 200 metres storming to 19.63 and Fraser won a close women’s 100 metres in 11.02.
Two more Jamaican wins were taken by 400 metres Hurdles Olympic champion Melaine Walker in 53.72 and Delloreen Ennis-London in the women’s 100 metres Hurdles in 12.60.
The other highlights of another super edition of the Athletissima were Andrei Silnov’s 2.35m in the men’s High Jump, Lashawn Merritt’s 43.98 in the men’s 400 metres and David Oliver’s win over Dayron Robles in the men’s 110 metres Hurdles.
Powell underscores his No. 2 all-time position
Without the pressure of big championships at stake Powell stormed to a fabulous 9.72 (the second fastest time in history and a new meeting record) to win the men’s 100 metres in his second post-Olympic race after his disappointing fifth place in Beijing. His superb peformance on the super-fast track of the Stade Olympique de La Pontaise followed up his impressive 9.87 in rainy conditions in Gateshead on Sunday.
Powell, an Olympic relay champion with the Jamaican 4x100m squad, threatened Bolt’s 9.69 World record. The Jamaican improved his PB set last year in Rieti by two hundredths of a second when he set his previous World record.
Behind Powell two men broke the 10 seconds barrier. Olympic bronze medallist Walter Dix came close to his PB sprinting to 9.92 ahead of Powell’s training partner Nesta Carter who equalled his PB set in Stockolm earlier this year with 9.98.
“I felt very confident coming here today, I knew I had it in me. I just had to put it on the track. And that’s what I did,” said Powell.
“I am happy, the track is fast and the crowd were wonderful,” Powell continued. “After all my problems this year, it’s great to set a new personal best.”
Bolt equals X-Man’s meeting record at a jog!
In the city which hosts the Olympic Museum triple sprint Olympic sprint champion and World record holder Usain Bolt tied Xavier Carter’s 19.63sec meeting record set two years ago winning a superb 200 metres. This was his first post-Olympic race over this distance since his incredible 19.30 World record and Olympic title in Beijing’s Bird’s Nest which made the Jamaican the greatest hero of the Olympic Games.
Bolt carved out a huge lead on the rest of the field in the first 140 metres of the race, then started to ease down, and with 20m to go shut his race down completely crossing the finish in what for him as a jog. Incredible, but how many times have we said that in the last few weeks about this extraordinary Jamaican.
Churandy Martina, who had originally won the Olympic silver behind Bolt but was later disqualified due to a lane violation, finished a distant runner-up in 20.24 ahead of America Wallace Spearmon, third in 20.54.
“I ran a good time,” said Bolt. “I didn’t run at my maximum at the end of my races because the season is finishing. It’s more important for me to win the races than to run a good time at the end of the season.”
Oliver over Robles
In the other much-awaited race of the evening the men’s 110 metres Hurdles Olympic champion Dayron Robles suffered his second defeat of the season to US Trials winner and Olympic bronze medallist David Oliver, who had already beaten him in Berlin in June. Robles was in the lead until he hit the last hurdle and was edged by fast-finishing Oliver who won in 13.02. Robles clocked 13.17 for second place.
“I am really happy I won beating Robles,” said Oliver. “I was confident I could beat him running a good time. I knew I could do better than in Bejing”.
“I took a good start but then I hit the hurdle,” said Robles. “My goal was to run faster. It happens. That’s life.”
Merritt sub-44 again
Olympic champion Lashawn Merritt ran an impressive 400 metres dipping under 44 seconds with 43.98. It was the third fastest time ever for Merritt who ran faster only in the Beijing final (43.75) and at last year’s World championships final in Osaka (43.96). Angelo Taylor, who won his second 400 metres hurdles Olympic title in Beijing eight years his first success in Sydney, ran his fastest time this year finishing runner-up in 44.38.
“I am closing up my season here, so I really wanted to finish with a victory,” said Merritt. “The track is fast, the atmosphere was great.”
Silnov threatens 2.41m
Andrey Silnov, men’s High Jump Olympic champion, cleared 2.35m in the first attempt to continue his superb season on a winning way. Silnov managed to clear all heights in his first attempt apart from two mistakes at 2.32m. The young Russian, who jumped a world seasonal best of 2.38, failed three final attempts at 2.41. In a repetition of the Olympic podium Germaine Mason finished second with 2.32 prevailing on countback over Yaroslav Rybakov at 2.32. Brazilian Jesse De Lima improved his fresh national record set in Padua last Sunday by one cm to 2.32.
“My season was very satisfying,” said Silnov. “I didn’t lack much in order to jump over 2.41. The World record? Why not. But I don’t like to plan too much ahead in the future.”
Fraser takes close 100m
Fresh Olympic champion Shelly-Ann Fraser from Jamaica confirmed her new status by winning the women’s 100 metres in 11.03 against a top-class field which featured six olympic finalists from Beijing. Jamaican sprinters were again the dominant force of world sprint in Lausanne. Kerron Stewart, silver in Beijing, finished runner-up again to Fraser in 11.06. Marshevet Hooker was the first US sprinter in third place in 11.09, ahead of former World champion Lawryn Williams, fourth in 11.11.
“It was a close race and I am really happy I won it,” said Fraser. “I lost in Gateshead, so I was a bit nervous. No one expected me to be Olympic champion, so I am very satisfied."
Melaine Walker, Olympic champion with an Olympic record of 52.64, continued her very successful season by breaking again under 54 seconds with 53.72.
Jamal dips under 4 minutes
Lausanne-based Maryam Yussuf Jamal who runs for Bahrain aroused the enthusiasm of the very supportive Swiss crowd with her win in the women’s 1500 metres in a new seasonal best of 3:59.86 which made up for her fifth place in Beijing. Shannon Rowbury, the U.S champion, continued her successful season finishing second in 4:01.97. Olympic fourth placer Lisa Dobriskey from Great Britain performed well for third place in 4:05.18.
World champion and Olympic silver medallist Janeth Jepkosgei finally managed to win an 800 metres race but the line-up did not feature Pamela Jelimo. Jepkosgei clocked 1:58.15 defeating former 400 metres Hurdles World Junior champion Yekaterina Kostetskaya (1:58.90) and Jamaican Kenia Sinclair (1:59.02).
Nineteen-year-old Asbel Kiprop, Olympic silver medallist in the 1500 metres, showed his potential in the men's 800 metres taking a narrow win in the closing stages in a new PB 1:44.71 over reigning World champion and Olympic bronze medallist Alfred Kirwa Yego (1:44.77).
Abakumova takes spirited Javelin contest
Mariya Abakumova from Russia, Olympic silver medallist in Beijing, won the re-match of the Olympic Games in a women’s Javelin Throw competition which featured the top three from Bejing. After two fouls and two throws below 60 metres in the first four attempts, Abakumova produced the winning release in the fifth attempt spearing 66.09 metres, so overhauling Germany's European champion Steffi Nerius who led until the fourth round with 64.47 from the first round. The other German Christina Obergföll took third place with 63.79 metres. World and Olympic champion and European record holder Barbora Spotakova from Czech Republic had a below-par competition to her standards finishing fourth with 62.24.
Bahrain’s Youssef Saad Kamel, better known as an 800 metres specialist, showed that he could emerge as a world-class 1500 metres runner when he won in Lausanne setting a new 1500 metres PB in 3:32.83 holding off world seasonal leader Daniel Komen Kipchirchir (3:33.03) and Zürich winner Haron Keitany (3.33.62). Kamel, the son of former three-times world champion Billy Konchellah, came to Lausanne with a previous PB of 3:33.11 set last week in Zürich.
“I like more and more the 1500 metres,” Kamel said. “There is no big difference between the 800 and the 1500 metres, but now I prefer the 1500 metres.”
Jamaican Delloreen Ennis-London edged out fresh Olympic champion Dawn Harper in the women’s 100 metres Hurdles, 12.60 to 12.63. Josephine Onya from Spain, winner in two Golden League legs in Berlin and Oslo this year, was third in 12.65. World Indoor 60m champion Lolo Jones finished a distant fourth in 12.86.
Brazilian Jadel Gregorio set a new seasonal best of 17.30 on his third attempt, which he backed up by a second best leap to 17.29 in the first round, to notch up the men’s Triple Jump win. Olympic bronze medallist Leevan Sands finished second with 17.13 ahead of Dmitrij Valukevic (17.07). Olympic and world champion Nelson Evora was well beaten in fourth place with 16.90.
Former heptathlete Naide Gomes from Portugal, reigning World indoor champion in Valencia, made up a little for the major setback of not getting through the qualifying round in Beijing with a win in the women’s Long Jump with 6.77. Gomes was second to World champion Tatyana Lebedeva’s 6.64 until the fifth round but clinched a last-round win leaping with 6.77.
Russian Yevgeniy Lukanenko, Olympic silver medallist and 6.01 performer in 2008, needed just two first-time clearances at 5.60 and 5.75 to take the win in the men’s Pole Vault.
As in the tradition of the meeting the 100 metres B race was very fast. US sprinter Travis Padgett took a solid win crossing the finish-line in 10.07 beating french 10.06 sprinter Martial Mbandjock, second in 10.16.
Shericka Williams from Jamaica, Olympic silver medallist in Beijing won unopposed the women’s 400 metres in 50.47 defeating russians Tatyana Firova (50.71) and Yuliya Gushchina (50.85). Shericka’s namesake Novlene Williams from Jamaica ran faster in the 400 metres B-race taking the overall win in 50.33.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF