Cheboksary, Russia855 athletes from 66 Russian regions have gathered in Cheboksary, the capital of the Chuvash Republic, for the Russian national championships which began on Thursday (21).
For many it’s the last chance to earn their spots on the national team that will take part in the IAAF World Championships in Daegu, Korea, 27 August to 4 September.
How will the final team selection be carried out? The top-two finishers will be included on the team without any doubts. According to the adopted practice, the Council of Coaches then has the right to name a third member who they deem worthy of the spot even without taking part in the national championships.
For example, Yelena Isinbayeva, the World record holder in the Pole Vault, is exempt from participation but has been already included on the team as number three. And if she illustrates solid form and experiences no consequences of her former injuries she’ll vault in Daegu.
The first day of the nationals was mostly devoted to preliminary heats and semi-finals. Only one gold medal at stake was in the en’s 3000m Steeplechase, won as expected by Ildar Minshin in 8:17.74. Minshin was dominant, with Andrei Farnosov a distant runner-up in 8:24.89 and Nickolai Chavkin, who was leading until the final water jump, third in 8:29.31.
“I feel disappointed,” Minshin said. “I hope, or rather promise, that I’ll break the national record the next time. I could run better and lack only 2.2 seconds to beat the old record that had been set in 2003. Maybe I spent too much time in the middle of the pack and only started to accelerate 700 to 800 metres before the finish line.”
World lead for Savinova
Mariya Savinova proved again that she is at her best, clocking a quick 1:58.03 in her 800m heat. Three others also dipped under two minutes: Yelena Kofanova (1:59.14), Svetlana Klyuka (1:58.7 and Yevgeniya Zinurova (1:59.94). It won’t be easy for Russian selectors to round out this trio as seven finalists have gone under two minutes this season.
The men’s 800m heats were a one-man show, with 2004 Olympic champion Yuriy Borzakovskiy taking his heat in 1:47.28. Ivan Nesterov clocked 1:47.71 and Artem Mukhin was third in 1:48.04.
It’s very hot in Cheboksary with the thermometer topping 30 degrees C. We asked Borzakovskiy why he decided to compete in the championships.
I compete every year,” he said. “Even if I’m not running my 800m, I’m running 400m or 1500m. And besides, the heat never bothers me.” The outcome could have been much faster, with Borzakovskiy, holding plenty in reserve, didn’t attack until the final 300 metres.
Happy birthday, Antonina Krivoshapka
The women’s 400m were as always at the centre of fans’ attention. Antonina Krivoshapka, the 2009 World Championships bronze medal winner, celebrated her 24th birthday clocking the fastest times in the heats at 51.77.
But as expected the evening’s semi-finals were considerably faster. Krivoshapka improved her result to 50.19, the fastest in Europe this season. The experienced veteran Anastasiya Kapachinskaya was the next fastest at 50.48 followed by Kseniya Vdovina, whose 50.74 was a personal best. Ludmila Litvinova was the fourth runner who dipped under 51 seconds at 50.99. Even after the semis it became clear that the Russian 4x400m Relay team will be one of the main contenders for the gold in Daegu.
On the men’s side Denis Alekseev was the best in the semis clocking 46.29.
Julya Guzshina, an Olympic gold medalist in the women’s 4x100m Relay, was the fastest in the 100m heats at 11.30.
The women’s Long Jump is another event that is also in the centre of public’s attention. No less than 26 jumpers competed in two sectors illustrating how many contenders Russia has in this particular athletic discipline. It was Anna Nazarova who won the qualifying round, landing at 6.88m. Yelena Sokolova leaped 6.76m while European champion Ludmila Kolchanova was fourth in the qualification at 6.66m.
Yevgeniy Lukyanenko is back. The 2008 Olympic silver medallist in the Pole Vault cleared 5.40m to lead the qualifiers.
Nickolai Dolgopolov and Rostislav Orlov for the IAAF