Four finals were held on the first day of the Russian Indoor Championships at the CSKA Indoor Arena in Moscow, but Kseniya Ryzhova stole the show with a world-leading 400m time of 51.06 on Monday (17).
In the 400m qualifying rounds, the world 4x400m gold medallist and individual 400m finalist Ryzhova sped to a huge personal best and world-leading time of 51.06 in the second race of 11 heats over two laps of the track.
It took a massive 0.67 off her previous indoor best set earlier this month on the same track at the Russian Winter IAAF Indoor Permit meeting and was more than a second quicker than anyone else on Monday.
"Back in the autumn, I decided with my coach that I will prepare for the World Indoor Championships. I would like to confirm my status after the Moscow World Championship, and I love to run indoors. The previous two years, for various reasons, I wasn’t able to do well indoors,” said Ryzhova, who ran an outdoor best of 49.80 last summer.
“My runs here and at the Russian Winter meeting prove that I’m in good shape and I know how to control my running. If I get in the top three in Sopot, I’ll be the happiest woman on earth,” she joked.
In the women’s pole vault, European indoor bronze medallist Anzhelika Sidorova won with an absolute personal best of 4.72m to move her up to equal third on this year’s world list.
It was a nice change of fortunes for the 22-year-old Sidorova, who was fourth at both the Russian indoor and outdoor championships last year and prior to Monday had finished second in all four of her previous competitions this year.
Lutkovskaya leaps into the limelight
However, although Sidorova booked her ticket to the World Indoor Championships in the Polish city of Sopot next month and Lyudmila Yeryomina finished second with a personal best of 4.56m, the prodigious 17-year-old European junior champion Alena Lutkovskaya also made a huge impression.
She set a Russian indoor junior record of 4.50m with her first attempt to finish third, beating many other well-known Russian vaulters, and move up to equal fourth on the junior all-time list under any conditions.
The previous record was 4.47m, set by a certain Yelena Isinbayeva back in 2001. It is also an early indicatior that Lutkovskaya could be the woman to beat at the 2014 World Junior Championships in Eugene, USA, this summer.
However, Lutkovskaya remained modest about her feat. “I did not expect it. If someone were to have told me beforehand that I was going to jump 4.50m in the Russian championships, I would just have laughed."
World 1500m finalist Yelena Korobkina had a decisive victory in the 3000m, clocking 8:51.48 after moving away from her rivals with three laps to go. Silver was taken by Natalya Aristarkhova in 8:57.03.
Korobkina, who was also the 2009 European junior champion over 3000m outdoors, later commented that the summer could see her move up seriously to the 5000m.
Rinas Akhmadeyev was the first national champion at the three-day event, which continues until Wednesday, when he added the Russian indoor 3000m title to his national indoor and outdoor 5000m gold medals from the past year.
He clocked 7:59.81 to take the win. Defending champion Valentin Smirnov was leading in the early stages of the race, but dropped out with five laps to go.
The 60m titles went to Yekaterina Voronenkova and Mikhail Idrisov in 7.36 and 6.67 respectively.
In the men’s 400m heats, the fastest time was registered by Lev Mosin, who clocked a personal best of 46.57.
Elena Dyachkova for the IAAF