27 APR 2013 Report Des Moines, USA

Silva and Simpson shine, Aries Merritt beaten at Drake Relays

Yarisley Silva (Getty Images)Yarisley Silva (Getty Images) © Copyright

The 104th edition of the historic Drake Relays in Des Moines featured a number of re-matches from the London 2012 Olympic Games but arguably none was better than the women’s Pole Vault which saw Cuba’s Yarisley Silva win with an Area record of 4.85m on Friday (26).

Silva needed three attempts to get over 4.63m and 4.73m but, with the competition won, she asked for the bar to go straight up to 4.85m and then cleared at the first time of asking to move up to equal fourth place on the all-time list, before having three unsuccessful attempts at 4.90m.

USA’s 2012 Olympic champion Jenn Suhr decided to come in at 4.63m and got over that height with her third attempt, but that was to be her only successful vault of the day as she then had three failures at 4.73m.

Perhaps the most surprising result of the day was Jamaican Andrew Riley’s victory in the men’s 110m Hurdles in all the events heralded as ‘London Games Rematch’.

Even before the starter’s gun went off, London silver medallist and reigning World champion Jason Richardson did, and the American hurdler was called for a false start and disqualified.

The next start was good, especially for the lightly regarded Riley, who was away the best along with Aries Merritt.

Riley gained a slight lead by the third hurdle and held it to finish a half-a-metre ahead of the 2012 Olympic Games gold medallist and World record holder in 13.43. The time was nothing special but it should be noted that the race was into a 3.2 metres-per-second headwind.

Merritt was second in 13.48, with Barbados’s 2009 World champion Ryan Brathwaite third in 13.55.

Simpson strong over 1500m

The women’s 1500m turned out to be an easy win for the USA’s 2011 World champion Jenny Simpson, who followed rabbit Renee Tomlin for most of the first three laps, then took off and left the rest of the field 40 metres behind to win in a 2013 world-leading  4:03.35.

“The weather was actually pretty good. I was really happy and excited that there was some sunshine and the wind had died down some. When we got on the track, the wind had died down some so I just thought I’d tuck in behind the rabbit and use her as much as I can,” reflected Simpson.

“She had mentioned that she was going to go at anywhere from 800 to 1000 metres, so it was my job to follow her. When she stepped to the outside at 800 metres I knew without knowing splits we must have kept a pretty honest pace,” she added.

Canada’s Sheila Reid took second in 4:07.92, with USA’s Kate Grace third in 4:08.24.

In sixth place was the prodigious Mary Cain, who turns just 17 on Friday, and who  set a US high school record of 4:10.77.

The time was, by far, the fastest by a girl so far in 2013 and continues to press Cain’s credentials as the gold medal favourite for the event at the IAAF World Youth Championships in Donetsk, Ukraine, this summer.  

Both men’s 400m races, with and without the barriers, were sizzlers.

In the 400m, Dominican Republic’s Luguelin Santos ran a strong third 100m and sailed home in 44.74, just 0.02 short of Kirani James’ 2013 world lead.

The 2012 Olympic silver medallist finished six metres in front of 2004 Olympic champion Jeremy Warner, who clocked 45.35.

Tinsley times it right

In the men’s 400 Hurdles, the London silver medallist also won, as Michael Tinsley caught leader Johnny Dutch 30 metres from the finish to win in a world-leading 48.55, with Dutch holding on for second in 48.73, and London bronze medallist Javier Culson third here too in 49.33.

The women’s Long Jump ran pretty much to form as Olympic and World champion Brittney Reese came through in the last round with a wind-assisted 6.94m to overtake London bronze medalist Janay DeLoach’s’6.92m

As seems to happen so often, Reese had problems getting on the board in the early rounds and fouled her first two attempts before reaching a windy 6.73m. However, DeLoach had produced her best distance, which was also windy, in the second round and so Reese was playing catch-up throughout the competition.

Dusty Jonas, who didn’t compete outdoors at all in 2012 after a horrendous Achilles tendon tear, showed that he is fully recovered by winning the High Jump with a first-time clearance at 2.31m before unsuccessfully attempting 2.35m.

“I had surgery in February (2012) and I finally took a jump with tennis shoes just before Thanksgiving. I jumped seven foot so I am still working on my strength. I think some of the misses at some of the earlier bars kind of hurt me a little bit. I was not trying to save myself, but I think it took some of my energy,” commented Jonas.

The Bahamian pair of 2007 World champion Donald Thomas and Trevor Barry were second and third respectively, with both men clearing 2.25m.

Jim Dunaway for the IAAF