Ostrava, Czech RepublicLiving up to the promise he made yesterday, Usain Bolt delivered a “good time” in his third 100m outing of the season to cap a thoroughly entertaining 48th edition of the Golden Spike Ostrava – IAAF World Athletics Tour.
Bolt - 'Second worst start I ever had'
While his 9.77 (wind + 2.1) performance was more than a quarter of a second ahead of his closest pursuer, Bolt had to work particularly hard to overcome a sluggish start, and the effort he produced clearly showed on his face as he accelerated towards the finish.
“That’s probably the second worst start I ever had,” he said of his 0.206 reaction time, the slowest of the field by far. Approaching midway, he was in third or fourth position, before finally shifting gears in his typically stronger second half.
“I saw that I was behind and I really wanted to run a fast time here, so I really pushed hard to get back. That’s why you saw me really dipping at the line. I’m always good in the second half and that was when I got back into the race.”
Bolt confirmed that his sub-9.8 dash, under all conditions equal to his fourth fastest clocking ever, was a nice confidence booster after his last outing in Toronto, where he ran 10.00 in wet conditions. “Now I’m really looking forward to the (Jamaican) trials.”
Craig Pickering, last year’s winner here, was second in 10.08, and Ronald Pognon third in 10.15.
Melkamu’s stunning momentum continues
While the sold out Mestsky stadium crowd packed every nook and cranny of the facility to catch a fleeting glimpse of the world’s fastest man, the 20,000-plus were treated by several solid performances and entertaining head-to-head battles. And all things considered, it was Meselech Melkamu who arguably produced the strongest performance of the evening.
After her stunning run in Utrecht on Sunday, where she became the second fastest woman ever in the 10,000m clocking 29:53.80, Melkamu could have been forgiven for not having the freshest of legs in 5000m field. But the Ethiopian clearly illustrated that her better known compatriots, Tirunesh Dibaba and Meseret Defar, now have some very serious company on the track.
As expected, it was Melkamu, along with Kenyans Linet Masai and Vivian Cheruiyot who were the key players, but the Ethiopian didn’t hide behind her apparently tired legs. Continually pushing the pace, she and Masai exchanged the lead several times, keeping the pace honest, with Cheruiyot trailing just a few metres back. When Cheruiyot dropped out of contention with three laps to go, the two forged on continuing to exchange the lead. Masai led at the bell, but Melkamu carried the lead off the final bend and held on to win with a world-leading 14:34.17. Masai, who finished fourth in the 10,000m in Beijing last summer, was just a few ticks back in 14:34.36, a personal best for the 19-year-old.
“It was a very hard race,” said Melkamu, the reigning World indoor silver medallist at 3000m. “I had a very fast run in the 10,000m three days ago. And I’m very tired. But I’ve had really good training and I’m very well prepared.” In recent memory, no remotely similar performances have been produced just days apart. Dibaba and Defar, take note.
13.04 world lead for Robles
A year ago, Dayron Robles broke the World record in the high hurdles here in just his third race of the season with a sensational 12.87 performance. In his encore this year, he produced a world-leading 13.04 in his second outing of the year.
But the 22-year-old Cuban wasn’t necessarily content.
“Even if it was a world leading time, I didn’t feel well today,” Robles said, reeling of a short list of reasons why he wasn’t quite on his game. “I think I need another week of training and it will improve.”
Despite that self-critique, Robles was cool and relaxed from the gun, and was already in control of the race by the third hurdle. But he did have American Dexter Faulk for company, who continues to impress. Unaffected, Robles powered on before simply coasting over the final barrier through the finish.
Faulk, who false-started in the first go, produced his fifth PB of the season to finish second in 13.13. Further back, Bahamian Shamar Sands was third with a national record 13.38.
In the women’s race, Two-time World champion Michelle Perry held a narrow lead from hurdles two through nine, but faltered noticeably over the penultimate barrier, an opportunity that Delloreen Ennis-London took full advantage of. The Jamaican pulled away to take her second victory of the season in 12.79. Perry, who false-started out of this race two years ago, was second in 12.86 with American compatriot Danielle Carruthers third in 12.90.
Rudisha takes 800m showdown
In a contest as packed as the men’s 800m, it literally could have been anyone’s contest. Alfred Yego, World champion and Olympic silver medallist, was the first to take command, making his move as the field reached the bell. His lead was short-lived, as he was soon overtaken by Ahmed Ismael, the Olympic silver medallist. The Sudanese padded his lead to carry a strong advantage off the final bend. Yego began to fade at this point, leaving David Rudisha to pick up the challenge. Slowly closing the gap, Rudisha ate up the difference before pulling away for the 1:44.09 victory less than three strides from the finish.
“It’s not a bad time,” said Rudisha, who clocked a 1:43.53 career best in Hengelo two weeks ago. “I didn’t start very fast and wanted to run from behind.
Closing strongly as well, Olympic 1500m silver medallist Asbel Kiprop was third (1:44.54) and Berlin 1500m winner Augustine Choge fourth with a 1:44.86 PB.
The B race was fairly swift as well, With South African Samson Ngoepe kicking past Kenyan Jackson Kivuna, 1:45.17 to 1:45.29, both personal bests.
In the women’s 800m Briton Marilyn Okoro nabbed a strong victory running from the front. The only woman to follow the quick pacesetter, Okoro was challenged in the home straight but hung on to take her first win of the season in 2:00.21. Frenchwoman Elodie Guegan was a surprise second (2:00.44) and another Briton, Jenny Meadows, third (2:00.48). Olympic Steeplechase champion Gulnara Galkina-Samitova was never a factor, finishing well back in 10th (2:01.98.)
Keitany cruises in the Mile, Kemboi takes the steeple
With his key rivals thus far this season contesting the 800m here, Haron Keitany was given some breathing room and ably took the mile with a solid 3:49.57. Briton Andy Baddeley, winner at Oslo’s Dream Mile last year, gradually worked his way from fourth to second over the last lap to finish second in 3:51.83 in his first 1500/mile of the season.
The increasing winds in the early evening ruined any World record ambitions Ezekiel Kemboi may have had in the men’s steeplechase, so he was content with a solid victory over key rivals Brimin Kipruto and Paul Koech. Kemboi prevailed in 8:09.55, with Olympic champion Kipruto second (8:09.95) and Koech (8:10.22) third. Benjamin Kiplagat set a Ugandan national record of8:12.98 in sixth.
Jackson hurdles to 48.32 world lead
In the men’s 400m hurdles, it was all Bershawn Jackson. The 2005 World champion who raced to Olympic bronze a year ago, dominated the field with a commanding 48.32, another world leader. Never headed, the 26-year-old appeared comfortable and relaxed down the homestretch en route to his fourth straight victory. Felix Sanchez made up some ground over the final stretch to finish second in 49.20.
Abakumova prevails in Olympic javelin podium reunion
In an eagerly-anticipated face-off between all three Bejing Olympic medallists, it was Russian Maria Abakumova who rained on local favourite Barbora Spotakova’s parade. The Russian set the early tone with a solid 66.89 throw, which would wind up as the best of the night. The Czech and long-time rival Christina Obergföll battled for the runner-up spot, and it couldn’t have been tighter. The German reached 65.92 in the second round, a mark Spotakova matched in the fourth. But Obergföll responded with a 66.88 heave in the final round to settle the score.
A 'tired' Vlasic content with 2.00m clearance
Admittedly tired from three competitions in the span of a week, Blanka Vlasic was content with yet another victory in Ostrava. The reigning World champion needed all three attempts before sailing over 2.00m, and concluded the competition with three tries at a would-be world leading 2.06m.
“I felt great at the beginning of the competition, but I knew that energy wouldn’t last,” she said. “I just didn’t have the power at 2.06.”
Russians Svetlana Shkolina and Irina Gordeyeva finished second and third, both topping out at 1.95m.
Mokoena – 8.33m again, and again, and again
Olympic silver medallist Godfrey Mokoena won his third straight Long Jump competition, and for the third straight time produced an 8.33m winning leap. French record holder Salim Sdiri was second with an 8.19m best, and Australian Fabrice Lapierre (8.13m) third.
In the women's Long Jump, Poland's Malgozata Trybanksa's 6.56m effort from the second round set the tone until the fourth, when Olga Kucherenko took command. The Russian took the lead with a 6.57m leap, padded it by two centimetres in the penultimate round before ending the competition with a 6.76m leap, for the decisive win.
Tune’s near miss
As last year, the pre-programme kicked off with a long distance World record assault, but this time around Dire Tune came up a bit short. First, in a bid to add to her One Hour World record set here last year (18,517m), The Ethiopian missed by 215 metres, tallying 18,302. She forged on to tackle the 20,000m distance as well, eventually reaching the line in 1:05:35.3, nine seconds shy of Tegla Loroupe’s 1:05.26.6 World record from 2000. Tune’s was nonetheless the second fastest performance ever in the latter.
Kenyan Leah Malot was well back in second in both races (17,343m/1:10:35.0).
Elsewhere, Mark Frank of Germany won the men's javelin with an 83.51m throw, beating Belgian Tom Goyyaerts, whose 82.25m last round effort, and Paul Hessian of Ireland took the 200m in 20.44.
Click here for full results
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF