Bogdan Bondarenko cleared 2.36m to win the eagerly-awaited men’s high jump at the Rieti IAAF World Challenge meeting in Italy on Sunday (7).
The world and European champion opened at 2.29m, which he cleared at the first time of asking. With no one else remaining in the competition, he had the bar raised to 2.36m, which he cleared on his third attempt. He finished with two attempts at the European record height of 2.43m but which were not particularly close.
World leader Mutaz Essa Barshim was not among his rivals this time, but his younger brother Muamar Assa Barshim was on hand and he finished in joint second place with Bondarenko’s Ukrainian compatriot Andriy Protsenko, the pair having a clean sheet up to and including 2.25m before three failures at 2.29m.
“There was little time to prepare for this competition after Brussels (where he finished second to Barshim senior with 2.40m on Friday) but the place is really beautiful and ideal to try records,” said Bondarenko.
“I enjoyed competing in front of the fantastic Rieti crowd," he added. "I will now train for three days in Italy before my last competition of the year at the Continental Cup in Marrakesh."
Kenya’s Silas Kiplagat, the current world leader and the fourth-fastest man ever over 1500m, kicked 200 metres from home to clinch his third successive 1500m win on the Rieti track in 3:31.44, holding off his compatriot Vincent Kibet who set a personal best 3:31.96.
“It was a matter of winning the race today. I have already set the world seasonal best. I had a great season with a very fast time and the win in the Diamond League,” said Kiplagat
Behind the top two runners, Kenya’s Collins Cheboi was third in 3:32.00 and Ethiopia’s Mekonnen Gebremedhin fourth in 3:32.79, both men running their fastest times of the year.
Makhloufi's first 800m win in 2014
Algeria’s Olympic 1500m champion Taoufik Makhloufi held off Qatar’s Musaeeb Abdulrahaman Balla in an exciting sprint for the line in the men’s 800m in 1:43.83.
Balla, the winner last year in Rieti, clocked his season’s best with 1:44.03 in second place.
Saudi Arabia’s Abdulaziz Mohamed also lowered his seasonal best to 1:44.30 but Poland’s European Adam Kszczot will have been disappointed to finish only fourth, despite clocking 1:44.35.
In a day generally typified by sprint finishes in the middle and long distance races on the hallowed track for these disciplines, Morocco’s Abdelaati Iguider edged Kenya’s Thomas Longosiwa in a close sprint down the final straight in the 3000m, setting a personal best of 7:34.99.
Longosiwa finished runner-up in 7:35.28 while Lawi Lalang took third place with 7:36.44 beating USA’s Ryan Hill into fourth with 7:38.64, both men setting personal bests.
Tunisia’s Habida Ghribi followed up her win at the IAAF Diamond League final in Zurich with a solid gun-to-tape victory in the women’s 3000m steeplechase in 9:21.14, more than 15 seconds clear of the rest of the field.
The men’s 100m, run in two races, produced super-fast times on the famous blue Rieti track.
In the first race, Jamaica’s former world record-holder Asafa Powell clocked 9.90 on his return to the track where he set a former world record of 9.74, which still stands as the Italian all-comers record.
Qatar’s Femi Ogunode clocked a personal best of 10.05 in second place.
In the second race, US sprinter Justin Gatlin stormed to 9.83 following up his 9.77 and 19.71 in one hour in Brussels. Jamaica’s Nesta Carter was second in 10.07 in this race.
Jeruto's two-lap joy
Kenya’s Agatha Jeruto improved her personal best by 0.32 to 1:59.52 when winning the women’s 800m, just holding off Ukraine’s Olha Lyakhova who also set a personal best with 1:59.92 and Poland’s Joanna Jozwik also who dipped under the two-minute barrier with 1:59.95. European champion Marina Arzamasova from Belarus was a little off her best form and finished fourth in 2:00.21.
Jamaica’s Stephenie McPherson, this year’s Commonwealth Games champion, pulled away in the last 100m to win the women’s 400m convincingly in 50.38, ahead of her compatriot Christine Day who was second in 51.08.
Another Jamaican win came in the women’s 100m from Carrie Russell, who clocked 11.10 to edge USA's Jessica Young by 0.03
In the men’s 300m, which commemorated Italian sprint legend Pietro Mennea, Poland’s Karol Zalewski set a world lead, a meeting record and national record with 31.93.
On a day when good Italian performances were thin on the ground, Matteo Galvan provided some joy for the local crowd by breaking Mennea’s 1979 national record of 32.23, set in Rieti in 1979, by clocking 32.01 to finish second on the track where he has been training for the past year.
In the men’s discus, Poland’s Robert Urbanek took the lead with his third attempt of 63.57m and improved to 64.57m in the sixth round.
Slovenia’s Martina Ratej won the women’s javelin with 63.61m on her fourth attempt while Nadezhda Dusanova cleared 1.94m on her first attempt to win the women's high jump.
Estonia’s Rasmus Magi, the 2014 European silver medallist, won the men’s 400m hurdles in 49.47.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF