Russia’s Yelena Isinbayeva unexpectedly established a 4.82m World record in the women’s Pole Vault, the very last action of tonight’s Norwich Union Super League in Gateshead International Stadium, Sunday 13 July, the fourth IAAF Super Grand Prix meeting of 2003.
The 21 year-old Russian who was already leading the 2003 world lists with 4.73m after winning in Poznan, Poland on 29 June, had opened her evening at 4.30m progressing successfully through 4.44m, 4.54, 4.64, 4.74 prior to attempting the record height. However, what had made Isinbayeva’s successful clearance at 4.82 all the more unexpected was that all those heights except 4.30 and 4.54, were taken on the second attempt. As such, as she began her approach to the bar, again for the second time at the height, only 1000 spectators of the earlier 10,000 crowd had bothered to stay behind to watch.
The clearance was by no means smooth, in fact the bar wobbled violently on the pegs for a few seconds after Isinbayeva had landed in triumph on the mat below. It didn’t matter, the crowd roared their approval and Stacy Dragila’s 4.81 World record set in 2001 had been bettered.
“This was not unexpected because I have been jumping quite well in training sessions,” confirmed an elated Isinbayeva. “I was just waiting for the moment to come when this would happen. I have jumped 4.80 numerous times in training. Today was my moment.”
“As I came up to jump I was thinking this is not a world record jump, it’s just one of those jumps I do in training everyday. It’s only 4.82, I have done that many times before (in training). Just go for it without any worries.”
A cheque for $50,000 was handed to Isinbayeva moments after her record vault, which must have been a slightly odd moment for World Indoor record holder Svetlana Feofanova who had had to give best to her Russian colleague, ending up in second on count back from three other jumpers on 4.54. The last time Feofanova had competed on these shores she had received the same prize, after taking the World Indoor record (4.80m) in March. Then the roles had been different, Feofanova having won the World Indoor title, and Isinbayeva the silver medal.
Olsson defeats a sprightly Edwards
Before the Isinbayeva's spectacular vault, the highlight of the meet had been a tremendous men’s Triple Jump which saw Britain’s sprightly 37 year-old world record holder Jonathan Edwards jump to an impressive season’s opener of 17.61m. He followed this leap up with two fouls before retiring, citing a strain to his lower spine.
It was a remarkable jump for the World and Olympic champion but to the local crowd’s disappointment it was not good enough to improve on the 17.69m which Sweden’s European champion Christian Olsson had already leapt to on his opening attempt.
The Swede was also to improve to 17.74m in the next round, and bounded to a tremendous windy (3.4m/s) 17.92m, before registering his last mark in round four with 17.61m. Olsson also pulled out - of his final jump - having felt in his words “a bit of an injury niggle”, similar to Edwards. In a quality field, six men jumped over 17 metres the first time that has occurred in Britain.
Edwards was very pleased by his 17.61m for second place – “I can honestly say I was delighted at my performance today. 17.61 is the best ever opening-jump of a season I have had.”
Backley on form
Another British veteran to be in good from was quadruple European javelin champion Steve Backley, who was taking part in only his second competition since a knee operation last winter.
Backley whose 2003 best before today was 79.66m, threw a consistent series of five 80m plus throws, topped and tailed by two 85 metres efforts, the best of which was his opening release of 85.69m. European bronze medallist Boris Henry of Germany was second with 83.85m, and Russia’s Aleksandr Ivanov, third with 81.69m.
“The World championships this year are wide open, anyone who is in it can win and I will be there to do that,” confirmed Backley.
El Guerrouj - 'easy and relaxed'
In the men’s 1500m, Morocco’s three time World champion Hicham El Guerrouj showed very little signs of fatigue after his 3:29 win in Rome on Friday, and took his specialist distance in 3:33.41, having taken the bell in the lead in 2:38. Down the finishing straight he was challenged determinedly by Kenya’s Paul Korir, but El Guerrouj was never seriously in danger, as the Kenyan was a few metres back as the clock stopped. Korir was second 3:33.63, with World Indoor 800m champion David Krummenacker a distant third in 3:35.15.
“My aim today was just to run very easily and stay relaxed. I will run harder at other meetings later this season….I had something in my eye at the end of the race – I don’t know what it was, a fly maybe, but it didn’t affect my running,” confirmed El Guerrouj.
Mutola just too good for Ceplak
'The Maria Mutola versus Jolanda Ceplak road show' which has led to two brilliant sprint finishes in the last fortnight, seemed to be on course again as the World and Olympic champion from Mozambique, and the World Indoor record holder from Slovenia came out of the final bend side by side, as had been the case in Oslo (27 June) and Paris (4 July). However, this time Mutola produced such a devastating kick that Ceplak was immediately overtaken and lost in her wake. Mutola won in 1:58.80, with Ceplak under two minutes too, with 1:59.96.
3000 metres - good wins for Chebii and El Kamche
Zahra El Kamche of Morocco took the women’s 3000m with a brave front run in 8:36.24, which demolished the hopes of the favoured World Junior champion Meseret Defar (fourth, 8:47.67) of Ethiopia, and Ireland’s Sonia O’Sullivan (fifth 8:49.46), the World record holder for 2000m.
The 30 year-old Moroccan who was fifth at the World Indoor championships last March, and who nearly beat Gabriela Szabo with a similar styled run in Paris on 4 July - when she set her personal best (8:34.85) - held on in gutsy fashion as Australia’s Benita Johnson (third, 8:38.06 national rec.) and Britain’s Joanne Pavey (second 8:38.06) chased her down the final 100 metres, gaining all the time before the line came to the Moroccan’s rescue.
Kenya’s Abraham Chebii who vanquished the elite of Ethiopia’s dominant distance running dynasty in Rome on Friday, left his final winning attack in the men’s 3000m very late, having entered the final lap (1000m 2:39.68 – 2000m 5:18.14) sandwiched between his compatriots Leonard Mucheru and Luke Kipkoskei, the World indoor bronze medallist.
The final attack was decisive when it came, with just 60m to go, and the Kenyan sensation of the season broke the tape in a 7:45.93. The modest time was at least in the winner’s opinion down to the weather. “It was very hot out there, it would have been better if the race had been held later.” Though the temperatures in Gateshead were an unusually hot 27c degrees today, this has got to be the first time a Kenyan has ever complained about the heat in the north east of England!
Windy times in the sprints
Hot the day might have been but it was also very windy, and that desperately effected the sprinting times in both the flat sprint and Hurdles races.
Into a very heavy head wind (-3.5m/s), the men’s 110m Hurdles was the cream hurdles event of the evening, with World champion Allen Johnson, who has a best this season of 12.97 (world lead), flying smoothly and cleanly over the barriers in lane six to clock 13.37 for the win.
“I felt great over those hurdles today, they even seemed lower today. Everything is going well for me now and I am in the best form of my life, so I am really looking forward to the World Championships,” said Johnson.
The women’s sprint hurdles which took place in a kinder -2.5m/s wind was taken by USA’s Melissa Morrison in 12.80, who was followed home by Spain’s European champion Glory Alozie (12.92) with American Jenny Adams in third (13.01).
The women’s 100m was won by USA’s Torri Edwards in 11.46 into (-3.9m/s). The 26 year-old who took a bronze at the World Indoor championships at 60m has been in great form recently setting personal bests at both 100m (11.05) and 200m (22.28) in Rome on Friday night.
Bizarre men's 100m
The men’s 100m was a bit bizarre, as three of the main runners Bernard Williams the US champion, Commonwealth victor Kim Collins and John Capel who won in Rome on Friday, didn’t hear the recall gun after the first false start was called and ran the whole cancelled race at full pelt. With only eight minutes between that false start and the re-start, these three combatants were in terms of energy expended, effectively ruled out when the starter called the eight runners to the blocks for the second time.
Taking advantage of the situation was European record holder Dwain Chambers who flowed to a convincing 10.27 win, a good time into a strong headwind (-3.2m/s). Mark Lewis Francis was next over the finish (10.35), and Olympic 200m silver medallist Darren Campbell close behind (10.36). Incidently, Capel was 4th 10.41, Williams 6th 10.56; Collins 8th 10.65.
400m - Merry continues returns and Blackwood dominates
Britain’s Olympic bronze 400m medallist Katharine Merry who was making only her second race since her comeback from two years of injury (previously 52.42 on 4 July) looked very heavy legged (5th 52.42) in a race won by USA’s Demetria Washington in 51.29. All the same it was an improvement for Merry (52.35).
The men’s one lapper was won with a dominant run by Jamaica’s Commonwealth Games champion Michael Blackwood who cruised to 44.85 in lane 3, unchallenged by the rest of the field which included reigning World champion Avarad Moncur of the Bahamas (45.57 – 4th).
“I was trying to run an even race to get ahead at the first 100m and maintain that,” said Blackwood. “The headwind was always a bit strong.”
Ukraine’s Aleksey Lukashevich, the European champion took a low key men’s Long Jump from world season’s leader Savante Stringfellow of the US, the distances 8.19m to 8.10, this time unlike the sprints, set in the direction of the strong wind.
In the men’s High Jump, double World Indoor champion Stefan Holm of Sweden jumped 2.30m for the win in what was only his third competition of the summer so far, having worried himself at 2.23 with a first time failure. In second was USA’s Jamie Nieto on 2.27, beating European champion Yaroslav Rybakov of Russia into third on the same height, the American taking it on count back, having had no failures at his three earlier heights.
Home 200m sweep
While Jamaica’s Beverley took the women’s 200m in 23.09, in front of Britain’s Joice Maduaka (23.25), the men’s race which concluded the night’s track programme was very much a home dominated spectacle with the first five athletes being British. The win went to Olympic finalist Christian Malcolm in 20.73, ahead of Chambers (20.75), with World Indoor champion Marlon Devonish third in 20.78.