Reims, FranceRunning against a 2.0 metre/second wind, Dayron Robles impressed with a 13.16 victory at the Meeting International Reims-Champagne-Ardenne”, the fourth stop of the French Pro Athlé Tour on Tuesday (5).
Robles, the Olympic champion and World record holder (12.87) returned to Reims one year after having clocked a 13.09 track record. He made a good start and increased his lead hurdle after hurdle, the strong wind seemingly affecting all the competitors but him. His time of 13.14 was impressive in these conditions, but more impressive was his margin over a quality field.
Indeed, the runner-up Jason Richardson was well back in 13.39. To put these times in perspective, Robles won in Lausanne five days ago in 13.12, 0.05 over Richardson and 0.44 over Ryan Wilson. In Reims, the Cuban’s margin over these athletes increased to 0.23 and 0.80!
“I’m happy with this race and the time is satisfying considering the strong head wind,” Robles said. “I’m in good shape to run in Paris (Samsung Diamond League in Saint-Denis) in three days time and hopefully run under 13 seconds.” That’s a feat he achieved on eight occasions, but the last time was in September 2008.
Undefeated in six races this summer, Robles seems to be back to his highest level and ready to challenge David Oliver in Saint-Denis.
Barrios improves to 64.34m
His Cuban teammate Yarelis Barrios did well too. The silver medallist at the 2008 Olympics and 2009 World Championships, set the best female performance of the evening throwing the discus to 64.34m, to move up to No. 4 on this season’s world list. Yuneysi Santiusti took the 800m in 2:00.15 while 2009 World champion Caster Semenya of South Africa was only fifth in 2:01.02.
World junior 2000m best for Cheru
A rare event, the 2000m, was set up for local star Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad in an assault on the European record set by Steve Cram (4:51.39 in 1985) or the French Record set by Mehdi Baala (4:53.12 in 2005). The European 3000m Steeplechase champion asked for a 2:26 pace through 1000 metres, which he got, but the hero of Reims 2010 edition (setting a World Best at 2000m Steeple in 5:10.68) faded over the final lap and finished ninth in 5:00.17. In front, Ethiopian Tesfaye Cheru attacked with 200 metres to go and was all smiles when he crossed the finish line first. But the 18-year-old was surprised to learn that his time, 4:56.25 was a new World Junior Best, improving Kenyan Isaac Songok’s 4:56.86 in 2001.
“I’m very, very happy, I enjoyed a lot this race,” simply said the newbie, who first appeared internationally in the junior race at the World Cross Country Championships in March, where he placed 11th. “That was an 8km race, and this is a little bit long for me. I prefer the 1500m where I have run 3:35.93. This is not enough to get qualified in Ethiopian team for Daegu World Championships, but my goal in the future is to become a famous athlete. However in short term, if there is a good race against strong competitors, I think I can run between 3:31 and 3:33.”
Baptiste takes women’s 100m as Campbell-Brown false starts
The other star of the meeting, Veronica Campbell-Brown, double Olympic 200m champion and former world champion at 100m, was disqualified for a false start in the 100m. After she came out of the blocks well before the other sprinters, it was no surprise to her and to the public that she received a red card. Quietly, she sat down behind the starting-blocks and saw the Trinidadian Kelly-Ann Baptiste win in 11.11 (w-0.8) from Nigerian Oludamola Osayomi, 11.24.
“I have no idea what happened, I’m just disappointed,” said the Jamaican. “I’ll try to figure out what went wrong and fix it for my next race. I’m not the kind of athlete to false start, I think I did once indoors, but it’s not like I’m guessing the gun or anything like that, it’s not me. Doing a false start is always a waste of time. Now I’ll have to re-program myself mentally to make sure it won’t happen anymore.”
Hopefully she will be set for Friday’s 100m in Saint-Denis to show the form she displayed in running 10.76 in Ostrava and winning the Jamaican Trials a couple of weeks ago.
Bailey outleans Gatlin
There was no such drama in the men’s 100m which include such names as 2004 Olympic champion Justin Gatlin (USA), 2008 Olympic silver medallist Richard Thompson (TRI), World youth and double World junior champion at 100m Dexter Lee (JAM), 9.93 performer this year Keston Bledman (TRI) and Reims title defender Daniel Bailey (Antigua). The outcome of the race was undecided until Bailey dipped into the finish line, just ahead of Gatlin. The Antiguan’s time, 10.05, into a slight breeze of 0.3m/s, was just 0.05 shy off his own track record.
“I was the defending champion coming here so I really wanted to win again,” said the delighted Bailey, who is back to Europe after a training break in Jamaica. “I went back to training with the aim to execute and perform my races well on the circuit. I practiced a lot and improved my stride length and my technique, drawing attention to my arm movements and my drive phase. I’m getting better and better race after race,” he analysed. This win over Gatlin (10.08), Bledman (10.09), Patton (10.15), Thompson (10.17) and Lee (10.28) should boost his confidence.
“But this is no surprise for me to beat these guys,” the 24-year-old continued. “I’ve competed already at the Olympic Games and the World Championships and I’m confident I can race anyone.”
Gatlin, second, wasn’t disappointed. “It’s a good start for me in Europe,” said the runner-up at the USA Trials. “I still smile after every race even if I win or lose, because I know what it is to not run for a long time. I’m just coming back to sports and trying to get better than when I left,” he explained after his four year ban.
Earlier, the 200m had also been a close race, won by Alonso Edwards (Panama) in 20.28, 0.01 faster than Mario Forsythe (Jamaica).
Pole Vaulter Martina Strutz (Germany) jumped 4.70m for the fourth time this season, just one centimetre shy of her personal best. The revelation of 2011 at age 29, she missed three time 4.78m. For second place, Nikolia Kyriakopoulou cleared 4.60m to improve her own Greek record by five centimetres.
Jamaica took the first three spots in the women’s 400m, with their national Champion Novlene Williams-Mills first in 50.38, Rosemarie Whyte second in 50.53 and Davita Prendergast third in 51.14.
Pierre Jean Vazel for the IAAF