Anna Chicherova celebrates her 2.02m victory in Eugene (Kirby Lee - Image of Sport) © Copyright
The significance of the Championships is stressed by the enormous quantity of the participants: teams from 67 regions of Russia, 891 athletes (496 male and 395 female) have been registered! A kind of a record was set before the start. 96 athletes were going to run Men’s 1500m and 72 would start the Women’s 200m.
Day 1 (3 July) – European Steeplechase lead
The Russian federation (ARAF) declared before the championships that a group of the top class Russian athletes including all their 2011 World champions would not take part and were selected to the Olympic team. However Daegu World champions Anna Chicherova (High Jump) and Marya Savinova (800m) still took part on Day 1 with the latter Savinova notably winning her heat clocking 1:57.42.
Another World champion Yulia Zaripova also competed and duly took the women’s 3000m Steeplechase in a European leading time 9:09.99 ahead of the World record holder Gulnara Samitova-Galkina 9:25.92, with Yelena Orlova (Sidorchenkova), third in 9:31.37. Zaripova asked Samitova-Galkina to set the pace at the first kilometer – 3:05.84, and after that Zaripova passed Samitova and led proudly and lonely, absolutely dominating the race. The margin between the winner and the runner – up was 16 sec by the finish!
Nickolai Chavkin only started to run the 3000m Steeplechase a year ago. But he turned out to be the winner of the men’s championship in 8:26.38. Dmitriy Balashov got the silver medal - 8:29.17. Unexpectedly the many time champion Ildar Minshin was only third - 8:29.58 just ahead of the European Junior Steeplechase and Cross Country champion Ilgizar Safiulin.
Day 2 (4 July) - World season leads of Chicherova and Antyukh
Eventhough Anna Chicherova, the current world season leader in the Women’s High Jump (2.02) had already been selected for the London Olympics as she is the World champion, she decided to compete in the capital of the Republic of Chuvashiya, and in the final came away with a 2.03m clearance on her first attempt. Chicherova, whose previous injury concerns are now just a memory, and her long-time coach Yevgeniy Zagorulko are sure she is on the right track fo London success, and her confidence showed when she took an unsuccessful attempt at a Russian record (2.08).
But don’t forget Svetlana Shkolina who improved her personal best to 2.01m for second at the championships, and Irina Gordeyeva who finished third with a promising effort of 1.99. It looks like the Olympic hopes of the Russian jumping trio are quite real.
This season the 400m hurdler Natalya Antyukh has been slightly in the shadow of Irina Davydova who took the European Championships title in Helsinki last week with a world season lead of 53.77 sec. Confident of Olympic selection Davydova didn’t compete in Cheboksary and in her absence Antyukh totally dominated the final setting a new world season’s best time of 53.40. The margin between the winner and the silver medallist was solid with Yelena Churakova finishing in 54.90. There are reasons to believe that Antyukh, Davydova and Chrakova may do well in the British capital.
Viatcheslav Sakaev won the Men’s 400m Hurdles clocking 49.59 so making the Olympic 'B’ standard.
It’s unbelievable but mother of two Tatyana Lebedeva after persistent injuries is back again taking the Russian Triple Jump title with 14.68m ahead of Viktoriya Valyukevich, 14.64, and Veronika Mosina, 14.50.
Lebedeva tripled on her first effort to 14.54 and then bettered her result on her fifth attempt with 14.68. Her worst effort was 14.47. Her long-time coach Vyatcheslav Dogonkin was not surprisingly very happy.
In the women’s Long Jump, European Indoor champion Darya Klishina has become the new jumping Icon in Russia but in Cheboksary she was far from her jumping best finishing fifth with 6.75m behind another top name Olga Kucherenko who had a best of 'only’ 6.81. Yelena Sokolova won with a 7.06m personal best with a still wind, finishing ahead of Anna Nazarova 6.88 who also jumped with no wind assistance, with Lyudmila Kolchanova in third with 6.87 (+0.4).
The Council of coaches will have to weigh up all the pros and cons now of the different compositions of the Russian women’s jumping line-up. The choice is so broad especially as Kucherenko has a best of 7.03m this season.
Former World Pole Vault champion and record holder Svetlana Feofanova cleared 4.65m. She experimented with the poles but failed to conquer 4.75. The new comer Anastasiya Savchenko cleared 4.60m and Aleksandra Kiriashova was third with 4.55, though of course the third spot in the Russia Olympic line-up will go to Yelena Isinbayeva.
In the 800m, the World champion Marya Savinova who made the final decided not to run and instead did some speed work at 400m setting her personal best in the semi-final with 51.43sec. So there were only 7 runners in the 800m final. In Savinova’s absence Yekaterina Poistogova won in a European U23 record of 1:58.15 (former 1:58.26; Mariya Dryakhlova, 2006) with a very dissatisfied European champion Yelena Arzhakova, second in 1:58.47.
Showing the amazing strength of Russian two-lap running, in third came Yekaterina Kostetskaya in 1:58.83, and in fourth was Yelena Kofanova in 1:59.18.
The men’s 800m was by contrast to the speed of the women’s race, a dull game of tactics. Ivan Nesterov won with the modest 1:48.05.
A head wind was against the sprinters. Mikhail Idrisov was the fastest in the men’s 100m clocking 10.39sec (-0.5). The winning time in the women’s dash was 11.40 (-0.9) by Yelizaveta Savlinis. Natalya Rusakova was second in 11.43 but had run faster in qualification, 11.32 in the semis.
Absolutely unexpected was the win of Yulia Vasilyeva in the women’s 5000m in 15:20.41, a personal best, with Yelena Nagovitsina in second in 15:23.58. Andrei Safronov clocked 13:30.30 for the men’s 5000m.
In the Men’s Discus Throw, the mighty Bogdan Pishchalnikov made it a one man show. He was dominant with his effort at 65.64m that is 14cm better than the Olympic "A" Standard. It was Pishchalnikov’s seventh Russian title, his sixth win in a row. Unfortunately he wasn’t supported by his opponents. The best of them Nickolai Seduk remained far behind, with 58.90.
It was the same picture in the Women’s Javelin Throw where nobody even dared oppose the World champion Mariya Abakumova. She won easily with 64.41m leaving Marina Maksimova far, very far behind with 58.53.
In the Men’s Javelin Throw the battle was tough. It was Ilya Korotkov who won in his last effort – 79.61. Aleksei Tivarnov got a well-deserved silver – 79.11. The public’s attention was focused on the young silver medal winner of European Championships in Helsinki, Valeriy Iordan. But it was evident that it was hardly likely for him to repeat his recent deeds, with 78.63 and third place the result. Veteran Sergey Makarov, the former World champion did not compete in the final
The Women’s Shot Put reminded us of the times when Soviet and Russian shot putters were second to none. At least Yevgeniya Kolodko who is the leader of the Russian season confirmed her super leadership with an extremely solid effort of 20.15m. Anna Avdeyeva, who won the European Indoor Championships, was second with a promising effort at 19.00. And the silver medal winner of the European Championships in Helsinki, Irina Tarasova was third only 4cm behind – 18.96.
In the men’s Shot, Maxim Sidorov overpowered his constant rival Ivan Ushkov – 21.51m and 20.77. Soslan Tzirohov was third with 20.00.
Nickolai Dolgopolov and Rostislav Orlov for the IAAF
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2006 Evergreen Mutola