Spain’s Eusebio Caceres and USA’s Barbara Pierre were crowned as ‘the best performers’ at the Meeting de Madrid, the annual IAAF World Challenge Meeting in the Spanish capital on Saturday (19).
However, gusting winds that picked up throughout the evening meant their impressive respective winning performances, 8.16m for Caceres in the long jump and 11.08 by Pierre over 100m, were wind-aided.
In the long jump, the last field event to finish, South Africa’s former world and Olympic silver medallist Godfrey Mokoena was the early leader with a 7.93m effort in the opening round but the reigning European under-23 champion Caceres leapt 7.97m in round two to take the top spot.
However, it would be his fellow Spaniard, Jean Marie Okutu, who would be the author of the first 8.00m-plus leap with 8.05m in round three.
USA’s Tyron Stewart, who can boast of a personal best of 8.39m set in April, came close to the lead when he reached 8.02m with his fourth jump but the fireworks only took place in the final round when the 22-year-old Caceres landed at a wind-assisted 8.16m to win the contest ahead of Okutu and Stewart, with Mokoena in fourth also reaching 8.00m
Caceres, who finished a fine fourth at last year’s IAAF World Championships in Moscow, commented: “I felt very strong physically but I still have to improve my technique."
Asked of his expectations for the European Championships next month, a cautious Caceres said: “I only think now about my next competition which will be the Spanish Championships next weekend, but I’m optimistic of my chances in Zurich."
As was the case 12 months ago, Barbara Pierre took the win in the women’s 100m although the 27-year-old US sprinter could not run as fast as last year and had to settle for an 11.08 clocking, despite a tailwind of 2.6m/s.
Pierre was pushed to the finish line by Jamaica’s Kerron Stewart, who was given the same time but not the verdict.
“I like the new track, I think it’s fast but it will faster when time goes on," said Pierre, who has a career best of 10.85. "I’m very consistent this season running under 11.10 and hope to dip under 11 (seconds) soon."
Nazarov beyond 80 metres again
The men’s hammer throw, part of the 2014 IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge, saw Egypt’s African record-holder Mostafa Hicham Al-Gamal take an early lead with with an opening throw of 76.00m but soon was overtaken by Dilshod Nazarov’s 77.61m second effort.
Al-Gamal regained the lead from the prolific Tajikistan thrower, with Madrid being his 13th contest already in 2014, in round two thanks to a 78.23m effort but Nazarov’s response in the third round was a huge toss of 80.51m to head the contest at the halfway point. It was his second-best throw of the year and his third best ever, just 20cm short of his career best set last year.
Neither Nazarov nor Al-Gamal could go further with their remaining three attempts and so the victory went to the 32-year-old Nazarov, who finished fifth at last year's World Championships in Moscow.
Nazarov consolidated his second place in this year's IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge, in which the best three competitions are taken into account and metres are converted into points. He now has 241.37 points but he is still effectively more than two metres in arrears of challenge leader Krisztian Pars from Hungary.
There were two sparkling performances over one lap of the track from Jamaican women.
Jamaica’s world indoor 400m silver medallist Kaliese Spencer took the women’s 400m hurdles in 55.08. This season’s world leader was still fresh after her commanding win at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Monaco the night before, where she ran 54.09.
“To be honest, I felt a little bit tired after yesterday’s race in Monaco," she said. "In addition, it was quite windy and it also hampered my performance. I’m now heading to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow where my primary goal will be to set a career best (52.79). If I can do that, I should win a medal there."
Getting on the podium in Glasgow would ease her frustration at major championships successive fourth places at the 2009 and 2011 World Championships and the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Ukraine’s Hanna Titimets came home a solid second in 55.49.
No blues for McPherson on new track
Jamaica’s Stephenie McPherson, fourth at the World Championships, ended a five-month drought in her favourite event when she won the 400m comfortably in 50.45. Spain’s Indira Terrero finished a distant second in 51.65.
Cuba’s rising star Orlando Ortega was the overwhelming favourite in the 110m hurdles following his massive personal best of 13.01 in Monaco the night before, but the 23-year-old felt some discomfort on his right leg and decided to give up the race after only negotiating the first two barriers.
Ortega confirmed afterwards: “the injury is not important, I just dropped out of the race as a precautionary measure but I’m OK."
With Ortega out, USA’s Alec Harris proved to be the quickest and won in a windy 13.18.
A powerful second-round heave of 20.91m gave USA’s two-time world indoor champion Ryan Whiting an easy win in the men’s shot put ahead of Jamaica’s O’Dayne Richards, who was second with 20.33m.
Latoy Williams of The Bahamas was an impressive winner of the men's 45.17, holding off Trinidad and Tobago’s fast-finishing Renny Quow who had to settle for second in 45.36.
The 15-event programme was held at a newly refurbished blue track in the Madrid suburb of Moratalaz on a windy evening which saw temperatures steadily drop over the main two-hour programme, finishing at about 16 degrees Celsius.
Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF