Tyson Gay en route to his 9.92 Zagreb meeting record (Zagreb meeting organisers) © Copyright
General News Zagreb, Croatia

Gay beats Carter in 9.92, Vlasic scales 2.02m in Zagreb - IAAF World Challenge

Tyson Gay won the battle of 100m world leaders and Blanka Vlasic cleared 2.02m to highlight the 60th Anniversary edition of the Hanzekovic Memorial in Zagreb, the final IAAF World Challenge meeting of 2010.

It was hardly the smoothest race in Gay’s already storied career, but history’s second fastest man was nonetheless content with his 9.92 victory and meeting record in unseasonably chilly conditions before a capacity crowd at the Sportpark Mladost.

“It wasn’t as fast as I wanted to run, but I’m happy with the victory,” said Gay, who remained unbeaten in five 100m outings this season. At the start, however, that perfect record seemed to be in serious jeopardy.

Lined up in lane five with co-world leader Nesta Carter just to his inside, Gay played catch up from the gun when his starting blocks slipped, forcing him to slip while simultaneously trying to avoid what he described as a “slight panic mode”.

“You can recover, you just can’t panic, and you have to pump your arms harder,” Gay explained, providing a primer on slipped block recovery.

He did just that and drew even with Carter at about 70 metres. A stride later the two bumped hands – Gay immediately apologized to his Jamaican rival at a post-race press conference – before Gay powered away over the final 20 metres. Gay estimated that he would have run in the mid-9.8 range had the contact not occurred.

With the race out of reach, Carter shut it down in the waning stages to finish second in 10.07, with American Michael Rodgers (10.14) finishing third. Gay heads to the warmer climes of Split on Wednesday morning to prepare for the 4x100m Relay at this weekend’s IAAF / VTB Bank Continental Cup.

Vlasic sails over 2.02m

As the sprinters were setting their blocks at the north end of the track, Croatian heroine Blanka Vlasic was busy at the south end, trying to tie Chaunte Howard’s 2.05m world lead in the High Jump. 

The two-time World champion missed her three attempts, but perfect through 2.02m and with one very good try at 2.05m, her performance, given the chilly evening conditions, bodes well for her weekend appearance in her hometown of Split on Sunday.

“It was cold but I’m satisfied with how I felt,” said Vlasic, who collected her sixth win a row.

Cantwell again over 22 metres

The evening chill didn’t seem to affect shot putter Christian Cantwell who appears to be growing very fond of Zagreb. A year ago, the World champion unleashed a 22.16m world leader here, and one-upped himself this year with a 22.22m heave in the second round to seal the victory, his 15th in 17 starts.

Reese Hoffa, who has defeated Cantwell twice this season, was second with 21.48m.

Indeed, the throwers seemed to thrive throughout the late afternoon and evening programme.

Local girl Sandra Perkovic, the European champion in the Discus Throw, got things rolling for the capacity crowd, leaving her mark on the meeting from her very first throw.  The Zagreb native opened with a 65.56m throw, eclipsing the two-year-old meeting record. In a solid series, the 20-year-old twice more threw beyond 64 metres to easily beat back China’s Li Yangeng, who threw 63.35m for second.

In the mens’ competition, Ehsan Hadadi took the victory with 66.56m throw in the final round to steal the win from Croatia’s Roland Vargas, who reached 66.14m in round two. Spain’s Frank Casanas was third wth a 65.27m best.

Hammer Throw Challenge winner Murofushi’s season - short and sweet

Capping an impressive 72 hours, 2004 Olympic champion Koji Murofushi won the men’s Hammer Throw competition and with it the inaugural IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge.

After a three month break from competition, the 35-year-old Murofushi returned to action in Rieti last weekend where he threw 80.99m and 80.96m, the season’s two farthest throws. Here, the Japanese star set the tone with an opening round 77.91m, improved to 78.67m in the second, and again to 79.71m in the fourth to win by more than two-and-a-half metres.

Factoring in his 77.86m throw from the Osaka Grand Prix in May, Murofushi lifted the challenge title with 238.52 points, comfortably ahead of Dilshod Nazarov (236.02) of Tajikistan and Slovakia's European champion Libor Charfreitag (235.26) who finished a distance second here with a 77.24m best.

“I am just so happy that I was able to win the Challenge,” said Murofushi, pleased that his quality over quantity approach to the season paid off. “I still can’t believe it. But I just needed more time to prepare properly for the season.” Murofushi said he’s planning the same approach in his build up to next year’s World Championships.

Sinclair and Symmonds take slick 800m wins

Kenia Sinclair looked strong in her final Continental Cup 800m warm up, running from the front to take a solid victory in 1:58.59. Behind pacesetter Monica Hargrove from the break, the Jamaican forged on and proved too strong for American Morgan Uceny, who finished runner-up in 1:59.49. Norway’s Ingvill Makestad Bovim broke two minutes for the first time, clocking 1:59.82 for third. It was the second career best for the 29-year-old Norwegian who clocked 4:02.20 in the Rieti 1500m.

Three days after his 1:43.76 career best in Rieti where he finished third behind David Rudisha’s 1:41.01 World record, American Nick Symmonds collected his first international victory of the season in the men's 800m. Bahraini Belal Mansoor Ali tried to create a gap on the chase pack with just over 200 metres to go, but the US champion matched it. Running confidently down the final straight, Symmonds took the lead with about 30 metres to go en route to a 1:45.37 meet record. Ali held on for second in 1:45.65 with Kenyan Job Kinyor (1:45.86) third.

Jones and Thomas take sprint hurdles victories

After five successive losses, Lolo Jones’ narrow victory in the 100m Hurdles will certainly be a confidence booster for the American champion ahead of this weekend’s Continental Cup.

Ireland’s Derval O’Rourke was out fastest but Jones picked up steam between hurdles two and three to take command by the midway point. But she had Canada’s Perdita Felicien, the 2003 World champion, for company late in the race. Rapidly making up the deficit, Felicien closed fast but fell just a bit shy, finishing a scant 0.01 behind Jones’ 12.87.

The men’s race was nearly as close with Jamaican Dwight Thomas prevailing in a blanket finish. The Jamaican record holder clocked 13.40 to take the meeting’s signature memorial race, just ahead of American Joel Brown (13.43) and Czech petr Svoboda (13.45).

Kaliese Spencer, this year’s Diamond Race winner in the 400m Hurdles, bounced back from her tumble in Rieti last Sunday with a dominating victory here. Well ahead after the first five hurdles, the Jamaican cruised over the next five en route to a 54.23 win, nearly a full second ahead of runner up Zuzana Hejnova (55.14).

American Justin Gaymon was nearly as dominant in the men’s race, winning handily in 49.19 over Belgian Michael Bultheel who stopped the clock in 49.77.

Elsewhere...


In the women’s 400m, Natasha Hastings beat world leader Debbie Dunn, 51.35 to 51.75. In the men’s race, Costa Rica’s Nery Brenes held off Jonathan Borlee for the second time in as many races, 45.42 to 45.69.

American Marshavet Myers held off Bahamian Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie in the 200m, 22.94 to 23.08.

World champion Dwight Phillips, who only produced two measured jumps, took a narrow victory in the Long Jump with a 7.85m best, just one centimetre ahead of Spain’s Luis Felipe Meliz. Capping the evening, Slovak Dana Veldakova won the women’s Triple Jump with a 14.24m leap.

Bob Ramsak for the IAAF

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