Olympic champion Sally Pearson was the star attraction in Chonburi, Thailand, on Wednesday (8) as she ran in the 4x100m Relay for Australia in the second leg of the Asian Grand Prix series at the IPE Chonburi Campus.
The Australian women expectedly won the 4x100m with ease, but the time of 44.06 fell short of the World Championships qualification standard by an agonising 0.06.
The Australian team was here as a ‘guest’ entry and their presence gave the locals a glimpse of Pearson, reigning World and Olympic champion, and the 2011 IAAF World Athlete of the Year.
It was the first time that an athlete of the stature of Pearson was competing in the 11-year-old Asian circuit, though the Thais did not see her in her pet event, the 100m Hurdles, but in the 4x100m Relay.
It was Pearson’s first competition for almost three months, having been forced to pull out of several domestic meetings due to a minor injury.
Monica Brennan, Melissa Breen and Ashleigh Whittaker were the other Australians in the winning team. Thailand clocked 44.70 for second while China timed 45.33 for third.
Most of the first-leg winners won again, though with lesser performances than those achieved in Bangkok on Saturday (4).
Kazakhstan’s Roman Valiyev was able to retain his hold on the Triple Jump with a leap of 16.69m, compared to his 17.10m in Bangkok. This time, Indian Renjith Maheswary was right behind him, just a centimetre separating the two. Another Indian, Arpinder Singh (16.53m) took third just as he had done in the first leg.
Chinese 21-year-old Su Xinyue registered a personal best of 61.67m in the women’s Discus, improving on her previous best by 1.35m and pushing India’s Olympian and Commonwealth champion Krishna Poonia into second. Poonia, seventh at the London Olympics, had to take the backseat yet again, despite throwing a season’s best 59.43m.
In the absence of Iranian Sajjad Hashemi, Indian Arokia Rajiv had his first taste of Asian-level success when he clocked a personal best 46.54 in winning the 400m. In Bangkok, the 21-year-old had finished second to Hashemi, Asian junior champion in 2010, and winner of two of the three legs last year.
Asserting his supremacy once again was Kuwaiti sprint hurdler Abdulaziz Al-Mandeel, though his second win came in 13.69 against a headwind of -1.9m/s. India’s Sidhanth Thingalaya, second last time, was pushed into third place by Thai Rittidet Jamaras.
Guo Fan of China, who had clocked a PB 10.30 in the last leg, could place fourth only in 10.60 in the main 100m race won by Iranian Reza Ghasemi in 10.32. Oman’s Barakat Al Harthi, bronze medallist at the 2010 Asian Games, came second in 10.35.
Three athletes tied at 2.21m with Jithin Thomas in the High Hump, but the 22-year-old Indian, who has a PB of 2.22m, managed to retain his hold on a count-back. Jin Qichao of China, Hiromi Takahari of Japan and Anton Bodnar of Kazakhstan finished behind the Indian with the same height.
Chinese 24-year-old Wang Like once again won the Shot, this time with a heave of 18.86m, five centimetres short of his first-leg effort. Team-mate Guo Yanxiang (18.86m) and Uzbek Grigoriy Kamulya (18.51m) followed Wang. Indian Olympian Om Prakash Singh, who has a best of 20.69m from last season, once again disappointed with a throw of 17.64m in sixth place.
Bobur Shokijonov of Uzbekistan took the Javelin title ahead of first-leg winner Huang Shi Feng of Chinese Taipei, with a season’s best 77.50m after finishing second last time.
Hong Kong provided a surprise by surpassing the qualification standard for the World Championships in the men’s 4x100m Relay, clocking 39.17 to win the ‘B’ race. The other was won by Singapore in 39.45 with favourite China coming second in 39.79.
Tang Yik Chun, Lai Chun Ho, Ng Ka Fung and Tsui Chi Ho comprised the winning Hong Kong quartet – the same four runners who last year broke the national record with 38.47 before going on to compete at the Olympic Games.
Viktoriya Zyabkina was once again the best in the women’s 100m, clocking 11.69 – the fastest in three races that helped the 20-year-old Kazakh win the main race that also featured multiple Asian Grand Prix winner Ghuzel Khubbeiva of Uzbekistan, who was second here in 11.75.
Another Kazakh sprinter, Anastasiya Piplenko, retained her 100m Hurdles title in 13.67 after the event was re-run due to a technical issue.
Darya Reznichenko of Uzbekistan was down 10cm on her first-leg effort in the Long Jump with 6.42m, but still won with plenty to spare from team-mate Yuliya Taraasova who could manage only 6.15m.
Uzbek Nadiya Dusanova took the High Jump title at 1.86m, while first-leg winner Sahana Kumari of India faded to fifth with 1.79m.
Sri Lankan Nadeeka Lakmali won the Javelin for the second time on the trot with 55.99m, down a little from the first leg.
Another Sri Lankan, W.K.L. A Nimali, took the 800m in the absence of Japan’s first-leg winner Ruriko Kubo in 2:07.08, in a close finish with Vietnamese Do Thi Thao who finished 0.02 behind.
A correspondent for the IAAF