A notable comeback by Olympic Triple Jump champion Nelson Evora and a 66.47m African Javelin Throw record by Sunette Viljoen were among the key highlights of the 26th World University Games, or Universiade, which concluded in Shenzhen, China, on Sunday (21).
The multi-sport games were a big success for the Chinese city. It was a superbly organised championships. In a brand new stadium, which was filled daily with at least 30,000 spectators, several world class performances were achieved.
The leading country in the medal table was Russia with 11 gold, 11 silver and nine bronze. Jamaica was second with six gold medals and Turkey was third with five gold.
After two down years, Evora’s Asian success continues
Defending Triple Jump champion Nelson Evora (POR) bounced back from a severe injury, which saw him out of action for two years, to claim the gold. The World and Olympic champion, leapt 16.88m on his opening attempt, which led until round three, when Viktor Kuznietsov (UKR) jumped 16.89m. Evora jumped 16.88m again before catapulting himself to 17.31m in round five to successfully defend his title. Kuznietsov did not improve, but his 16.89m was good for silver and Yevgeniy Ektov (KAZ) took bronze with 16.83m.
Evora said after his first competition in two years after needing screws inserted in his tibia to repair damage caused by serious stress fractures, “It’s my first jump over 17 metres and I cannot be happier then I am at this moment. I am happy to compete at the Universiade because I think it is an example to other athletes that it’s important to study and that it’s possible to be a top athlete and student too.”
Evora thanked the Portuguese federation, his physiotherapists, family and friends for helping in his return to the sport, which was further delayed by the death of his father. “They made it possible for me to be here and to come back to a high level,” he said. “It was very hard to be injured because I couldn’t do what I loved, which is doing this kind of competition.”
“I also lost my father. They were two things that were very hard for me so that’s why it’s taken a long time for me to come back and jump far.”
Evora’s success at Shenzhen 2011 continues his 100 per cent winning record in Asia. “This is my lucky place. I like this kind of (hot) weather. My coach knows that when we come to this kind of place to compete that I stay happy because my body responds very well. Asia is special for me.”
Evora, who won the gold at the 2007 Osaka World Championships and the 2008 Beijing Olympics, will now set sights on the World championships in Daegu, Korea, which begin next week. “I cannot promise medals in Daegu,” he said. “I just want to qualify and advance to the final and then anything is possible. I want to enjoy it.”
Other men’s highlights
The 100m final ended in a close finish. Favourite Jacques Harvey (JAM) managed to beat Rytis Sakalauskas (LTU), with both men recording a time of 10.14. It was only to his better finishing that Harvey could pass his opponent. China’s Bingtian Tsu rode a wave of enthusiastic in the stadium by taking third in 10.27.
Also in the 200m Harvey kept the Jamaican sprinting dominance, flying to a 20.20 gold-medal finish. Behind him a dual developed between Jaon Young (JAM) and Thuso Mpuang (RSA) who hit the line together. The judges deliberated for 10 minutes before declaring a dead heat and awarding two silver medals.
European junior champion Marcell Deak Nagy (HUN) stormed home over the last 100 meter to claim the 400m final ahead of Peter Matthews (JAM). His winning time was 45.50.
In the 800m Australian Lachlan Renshaw overtook the whole field in the last 50 metres and finished in 1:46.36, leaving Chinese Haining Teng the silver in a personal best time of 1:46.62.
The men’s 1500m was a classic contest of strategy, with Algerian twins Imad and Abdelmadjed Touil executing the perfect race to claim gold and silver, just ahead of Valentin Smirnov (RUS).
Jamaica’s Hansle Parchment won a dramatic men’s 110m Hurdles. In the first of the three semi finals Gianni Frankis (GBR) was disqualified for a false start. His semi was won by Dmitri Bascou (FRA) in 13.62. Jiang Fan (CHN) won the second semi in the same time and Parchment (JAM) won the third semi in the fastest time of 13.56.
Frankis then appealed against his disqualification, arguing he had not false started. The appeal was upheld and he was added to the final starting line-up. In the final Parchment was in control from the second hurdle. Behind him Bascou, Ronald Brookins (USA) and Balazs Baji (HUN) were having a great battle. Parchment won in a personal best of 13.24, just three hundredths of a second outside the Universiade record set in 1977. Jiang stormed home to edge out Brookins for silver in 13.55 to 13.56.
USA champion and world no. 2 Jeshua Anderson showed his class in the 400m Hurdles final, accelerating off the final hurdle to win comfortably in 49.03. Takayuki Kishimoto (JPN) took silver and Kurt Courto (MOZ) bronze.
Alberto Paulo (POR) won the 3000m Steeplechase in style, taking control some three he laps from the finish, holding off Universiade 2007 champion and event record-holder Halil Akkas (TUR). Paulo ran 8:32.26, with Akkas finishing in 8:34.57.
European junior champion Bogdan Bondarenko (UKR) was a comfortable winner in the men’s high jump final with a 2.28m leap, ahead of Polands Wojciech Theiner and Sergey Mudrov (RUS).
One of the best events was Pole Vault. Four vaulters achieved 5.45m. Viktor Kozlitin (RUS) cleared 5.55m, but went out at 5.65m leaving the three remaining - Lukasz Michalski (POL), Mateusz Didenkow (POL) and Alexander Gripich (RUS) - to fight out the medals. All three cleared 5.75 m. on their third attempts. As none of them were successful it left Michalski as the winner as he had no prior misses. Didenkow and Gripich tied for the silver medal, as both had the same number of misses.
The last field event of the championship brought the gold medal to organising country China. The stadium filled with a crowd of 50,000 persons saw Xiongfeng Su taken the gold with a jump of 8.17m with Marquise Goodwin (USA) second with 8.03m.
In the men’s Discus Throw, favourite Mart Israel (EST) waited till his fourth attempt before taking the lead with 64.07m. He was followed by Pzremyslaw Czajkowski (POL) and Ronald Juliano (BRA), who threw a new national record with 63.30m.
Fatih Avan (TUR) produced the fourth-longest throw in Universiade history to claim the men’s javelin gold. With a 83.79m throw he ended the hopes of early leaders Roman Avramenko (UKR) who had to accept silver and Igor Janik (POL) who became third.
In the men’s hammer throw Pawel Fajdek (POL) took the lead with his opening throw and won easily with 78.14m.
The gold medal in decathlon went to Russian Vasiliy Kharlamov. He took the lead after the third event and ended with a personal best of 8166 points. He had a 309 points advantage to Gael Quetin (FRA) who changed 5th position after nine events with an impressive 1500m in 4:11.56.
In the 4x100m Relay the team of favourite Jamaica was disqualified in the heats, leaving the gold medal for South Africa in 39.25. In the 4x400m Relay the gold medal went to Russia in 3:04.51.
In the morning of the third day of the competition the 20K Race Walk was held. Brazilian Moacir Zimmermann set a cracking pace in the first half of the competition. At half way he was still at the lead, but the Russian pair Andrey Krivov and Mikhail Ryzhov made their move. Krivov built up a small lead and won comfortably in 1:24:15 seconds, ahead of Ryzhov and Choch Leon (ECU).
The women’s 100m was dominated throughout the qualifying rounds by Carrie Russell (JAM), who improved her personal best to 11.05 in the semi finals. The 21-year-old then equalled her new best time in the final, taking gold ahead of Khrystyna Stuy (UKR), who finished with a season-best time of 11.34. Lithuania’s Lina Grincikaite finished third in 11.44 to claim the bronze.
Also in the women’s sprint events there was a double success for Jamaica. Anneisha McLaughlin produced a personal best time of 22.54. She was ahead of Tiffany Townsend (USA) in 22.96 and Anna Kaygorodova (RUS) who took the bronze in 23.16.
The women’s 400m saw Russians Olga Topilskaya and Elena Migunova going head-to-head. Both had run strong semis and their only danger were Diamond Dixon (USA) and Olga Tereshkova (KAZ), the Asian champion. Topilskaya and Migunova took control of the race early and then battled it out between themselves down to the straight with Topilskaya prevailing in 51.63.
In the women’s 800m, Elena Kofanova (RUS) executed her trademark plan of going straight to the front and trying to head off any challengers, but this time it didn’t pay off. The Russian tired as she entered the home straight and was passed by Ukrainian Olha Zavhorodnya. The winner finished in a personal best of 1:59.56 as Kofanova just held on to beat Liliya Lobanova (UKR) to the silver medal in 1:59.94.
Binnaz Uslu (TUR) was dominant in the 5000m final, taking the lead with five laps to go and increasing it with each remaining lap en route to victory in 15:41.15 ahead of Portugal’s Sara Moreira.
The fifth gold medal for Turkey went to Asli Alpketin, who finished in 4:05.56 in the 1.500m. She was followed by Anna Mishchenko (UKR), and Ekaterina Gorbunova (RUS)
Japanese Mai Ishibashi took the lead in 10,000m until the seventh kilometre when she was overtaken by Fadime Suna (TUR) and her countrywoman Hanae Tanaka. Fadime Suna was the strongest during the remaining distance and finished in 33:11.92 for Tanaka in 33:15.57. Ishibashi could secure the bronze medal in 33:41.90.
Hunger could not stop Nia Ali (USA) from claiming victory in the women’s 100m Hurdles. Ali, a practising Muslim, observed the Ramadan holiday before her semi final and final by fasting through the daylight hours, but she showed no sign of weakness as she took the gold in 12.85. “I am so happy,” Ali said. “I’m starving but will be able to eat tonight.” Silver was for Natalya Ivoninskaya (KAZ) in 13.16 and Christina Manning (USA) took bronze in 13.17.
In the women’s 400m Hurdles, Nagihan Karadere (TUR) and Veronica Wanda Theron (RSA) ran side-by-side into the final straight but race favourite Anna Yaroshchik (UKR) surged to a strong finish, striding past Karadere and Davydova to take the gold medal in 55.15 ahead of Davydova in 55.50 and Karadere in 55.81.
Binnaz Uslu (TUR) took early control of the women’s 3000m Steeplechase final and was never headed, winning the gold medal by more than 10 seconds from Ludmina Kuzmina (RUS) and Jun Yuan (CHN).
In the women’s Long Jump final, the favourite Anna Nazarova (RUS) won easily. In her opening jump she leaped 6.72m. She was well clear of teammate Iulia Pidluzhanaia who jumped 6.56m, while Germany’s Melanie Biauschke took the bronze medal.
Ekaterina Koneva (RUS) won the women’s Triple Jump with a 14.25m personal best.
Two athletes topped 1.96m in the women’s High Jump, both personal bests. Brigitta Barrett (USA) passed this height in her first attempt taking with this the gold medal. Junior Airine Palsyte (LTU) equalled the national record and was awarded with the silver medal. Bronze was for Anna Iljustsenko (EST) with 1.94m.
Alexandra Kiryashova (RUS) took the women’s Pole Vault gold medal after an absorbing contest. Five vaulters remained in contention as the bar moved to 4.45m. After clearing 4.45m to equal her personal best, Aikaterini Stefanidi (GRE) failed at 4.55m, leaving her with bronze. Favourite Tina Sutej (SLO) cleared 4.55m and was leading on the count back at that height, but 4.65m was too much for her.
The heptathlon was dominated by Olga Kurban (RUS) who tallied 6151 points. Second position was for Viktorija Zemaityte. It was for her the first Heptathlon since she took the gold at the Universiade in 2007. Katarina Cachova (CZE) could pass Blandine Maisonnier (FRA) in the ultimate event, the 800m. for the bronze medal.
The women’s discus final developed into a good battle between Zaneta Glanc (POL) and Zinaida Sendruite (LTU). Glanc hit the lead in round two and was then passed by Sendruite in round three, who throw a personal best of 62.49m. This set up a great final round where GLANC had to throw a personal best to take the gold with 63.99m. Svetlana Saykina (RUS) claimed the bonze with 60.81m.
Competing in her fourth Universiade, South Africa’s Sunette Stella Viljoen easily won the women’s javelin, producing the meet’s best performance to date with a throw of 66.47m, which also improved her own African record. in the second round and moving her to number four of the world this year. With this throw the defending champion effectively extinguished any battle for gold.
After three rounds Marina Maximova (RUS) seemed assured of silver after nailing a 59.29m throw on her third attempt. In the fifth round, however, Justine Robbeson (RSA), a former World junior Heptathlon champion, grabbed second with 59.78m.
A quality field battled for the medals in the women’s Hammer Throw final. Favourite Eva Orban (HUN) opened with a 71.33m Hungarian record to take a brief lead, because in round two Zalina Marghieva (MDA) threw 72.93m for a Moldova record. These were to remain their best throws for the competition. Bianca Perie (ROU) improved to 71.18m for bronze. Gold medallist Margihieva had support from her older sister Marina who finished eight with 65.83m.
A surprising winner in the 4x100m was Ukraine in 43.33 edging out USA in 43.48 and Jamaica in 43.57. The 4x400m went to favourite Russia in 3:27.16.
Spain’s Julia Takacs Nyerges edged out two Russians to take gold in the women’s 20Km Race Walk, clocking 1:33:51. Tatiana Shemyakina was 32 second behind to take silver and Nina Okhotnikova was third in 1:35:10.
Hans van Kuijen for the IAAF