David Rudisha stole the show at the Rieti IAAF Grand Prix breaking the African record for 800m with a marvellous 1:42.01 which improved the long-standing continental record of 1:42.28 held by Sammy Koskei since August 1984.
Rudisha has become the fourth fastest 800 metres runner in history behind Wilson Kipketer (1:41.11), Sebastian Coe (1:41.73) and Joachim Cruz (1:41.77).
The Rieti meeting is a Grand Prix status meeting as part of the IAAF World Athletics Tour.
The time of Rudisha, son of Daniel Rudisha, 4x400 relay Olympic silver medallist at 1968 Mexico City Games, was not surprisingly also set the world season’s best!
It is the sixth time Rieti has thrown up the world seasonal best in the 39-year-old history of the meeting and threatened the meeting record by now IAAF Ambassador Wilson Kipketer who ran 1:41.83 in 1996.
Three men dipped under 1:43: 2007 world champion and 2009 world silver Alfred Kirwa Yego was runner-up in a new PB of 1:42.67 ahead of Berlin world champion Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, third in 1:42.86.
Dutchman Bram Som clocked an impressive sub-1:44 time of 1:43.59, with World bronze medallist Youssef Saad Kamel, the 1500m winner in Berlin, fifth in 1:44.83.
Rudisha was not even in the starting lists of the Rieti meeting until Friday night when immediately after his win in Brussels a phone call was made to the meeting organisers asking for him to be added.
For the 20-year-old tall Kenyan, the 2006 World junior champion, the African record is a big redemption after crashing out in the semi-finals in the only cool and rainy day of the World Championships in Berlin.
Rudisha’s post Berlin form has been excellent, today’s run scoring his third post-championships win after Zürich (1:43.52) and Brussels (1:45.80).
“I knew that I was in good shape and that I was ready to run 1:42. I am happy because I have bounced back after missing the World Champs final. During the semifinals held on Friday 21 August it was very cold after the rainfall. I loved running in Rieti and I want to return next year,” said Rudisha.
“I come from a small village in the Southern part of the Rift Valley. I am coached by Father O’Connell. I started with the decathlon but I was advised by my coach to try the 400 metres, the distance I was used to run in the past. I started running the 800 metres in 2005,” recalled Rudisha.
Headwinds hinder successful Jamaican parade
Asafa Powell was in the spotlight again on his “home-track” of Rieti where he set his last World 100m record in 2007 with 9.74 sec. This time headwind conditions hindered fast times in the sprint races but Jamaican sprinters produced a great show winning via Powell, World and Olympic women’s 100m champion Shelly Ann Fraser, Kerron Stewart in the women’s 200 metres and sprint hurdlers Brigitte Foster Hylton and Dwight Thomas.
Powell, winner in cool and rainy Brussels on Friday in 9.90 ahead of Tyson Gay, eased up in the first heat of the men’s 100 metres where he took first place in 10.12 (headwind -0.5 m/s) ahead of Britain’s Simeon Williamson (10.37). The headwind was even stronger in the second 100 metres heats reaching -2.4 m/s. Here Powell’s training partner Nesta Carter, clocked 10.27 edging Briton Harry Aikines Aryeteey (10.32).
In the final Powell produced another superb race in headwind conditions (-1.5 m/s) cruising to his fifth win in Rieti in 9.99. Carter showed improved form taking second place in 10.08 ahead of Williamson, third in 10.18.
“To be running fast times is outstanding. Before I was the man to beat, now I have someone in front of me, so I really have to push myself. There was a very strong wind. When I arrived here I did not expect it. When I saw the wind blowing, I said. Today it is not going to be a very fast race,” said Powell
Shelly-Ann Fraser, Jamaican record holder with 10.73 sec, won for the second time in a row in Rieti in 11.18 but had to battle against a strong headwind of -2.4 m/s beating the returning to form Olympic silver medallist Sherone Simpson, who had a knee operation last autumn, runner-up in 11.37.
“I was not getting the technique properly today. I really felt the headwind”, said Fraser. “Now I am going back to my training base in Lignano Sabbiadoro where I find warm weather in preparation for my last race of the year at the World Athletics Final in Thessaloniki,” said Fraser.
Kerron Stewart, World and Olympic 100m silver medallist, made a sprint hat-trick for Jamaica winning the 200 metres in 22.62 sec against a headwind of -2.0 m/s, the event at which she is Olympic bronze medallist. Shericka Williams, World 400m silver medallist in Berlin, finished close to Stewart in second place in 22.69.
Spearmon restores some US sprint pride
Wallace Spearmon, World 200m bronze medallist in Osaka and Berlin restored some pride for US sprinting notching up the 200 metres in 20.27sec against a headwind of -0.9 m/s.
But it was back to Jamaican dominance in the sprint hurdles despite strong headwinds.
Berlin World champion Brigitte Foster-Hylton showed that she is the best form of her life. Following the champs there has been a world seasonal lead of 12.46 sec in Zürich and first place in Brussels in 12.49, and today another victory of 12.78, a time affected by a strong headwind of -2.5 m/s. Nickeshia Wilson made one-two for Jamaica taking runner-up spot in 12.84, ahead of USA’s Damu Cherry (13.15).
It was another Jamaican affair in the men’s 110m Hurdles. Jamaican record holder Dwight Thomas, winner at the Golden League meeting in Zürich in 13.16, continued his solid season taking the tape in 13.36 sec (-1.3 m/s) beating his compatriot Maurice Wignall (13.43) by a solid margin.
Solo run nets meet record for Bisibori; Dobriskey holds off Jamal
Kenyan Ruth Bisibori, seventh in Berlin broke the meeting record in the 3000m Steeplechase with 9:13.92, taking the lead from the very beginning and passing the 2 km mark in 6:05 inside the pace of the meet record held by 2005 World champion Dorcus Inzikuru, and she continued to push in the final kilometre.
The women’s 1500m featured the top three from the World champs but this time Lisa Dobriskey from Great Britain, the silver medallist in Berlin, held off double World champion Maryam Yusuf Jamal from Bahrain in a dramatic neck-to-neck battle to the finish-line.
Jamal took the lead at the bell and led with 300 metres to go but Dobriskey launched her attack in the final bend. Jamal kept a small margin in the final straight but Dobriskey managed to take a very narrow win in 4:01.23 to 4:01.29. US World bronze medallist Shannon Rowbury took third place in 4:03.46.
The men’s race went to William Biwott, who broke the World Junior Mile record in the Dream Mile in Oslo. The Kenyan put his name to the prestigious list of winners of the 1500 metres in Rieti taking the metric mile race in 3:33.00 beating US Leonel Manzano, second in 3:33.59, and Geoffrey Rono (3:33.59).
Joseph Kiplimo took a narrow win in 7:31.20 after a hard-fought race against Sammy Mutahi (7:31.41) and last year’s Rieti winner Edwin Soi (7:31.48) in the men’s 3000 metres which was the final track competition of another fantastic edition of the Rieti meeting. The first Ethiopian was Abreham Cherkos Feleke in fourth place in 7:31.81, a new PB. Seven men dipped under 7:33 to underline the quality of the race.
World 5000 metres silver medallist Sylvia Kibet took the women’s race in 8:43.93 winning the battle against Ethiopian Kalkidan Gezahegne, second in 8:44.33 and Kenyan Mercy Cherono third, 8:44.67. World 10,000 metres silver medallist Wude Ayalew finished fourth in 8:45.10.
In the women’s Long Jump, Russian Irina Meleshina leapt to a winning 6.91m beating this year’s World silver medallist compatriot Tatyana Lebedeva, who jumped 6.85. It was an all-russian competition with Olga Kucherenko third with 6.77.
Russian Irina Gordeeva cleared 1.97 to take the first place in the women’s High Jump ahead of last year’s Rieti winner Chauntie Howard (1.94).
Olympic and World silver medallist Yarelis Barrios from Cuba clinched the win in the women’s Discus Throw with 64.95m on the sixth and final attempt. Zaneta Glanc was leading with 62.81 but Barrios, who was in second place thanks to 62.26 in the first round, after four fouls, produced a solid 64.95m in the final attempt. World champion Dani Samuels from Australia, took third place with 61.60m.
Olympic bronze medallist Leevan Sands from the Bahamas jumped 16.77 to take the first place in the men’s Triple jump affected by headwind which also disrupted the progress of the Pole Vault won jointly by Russian Viktor Chistiakov and Ukraine’s Maksym Mazuryk with 5.52.
The men’s 400 metres went to Briton Robert Tobin in 45.30; Luis Alberto Marco won the B-race of the 800 metres in 1:46.60.
The Rieti’s meeting was introduced by a moving minute’s silence dedicated to the victims of the tragic earthquake which hit the Italian region of Abruzzo on 6 April.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF