Teddy Tamgho extends his world lead to 17.64m in Lievin (Thierry Plouy) © Copyright
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World leads by Tamgho, Wells and Chepseba the highlights in Lievin

Liévin, FranceTriple Jump World indoor record holder Teddy Tamgho, hurdler Kellie Wells and rising middle distance star Nixon Chepseba produced world season leading performances to highlight the Meeting Pas de Calais on Tuesday (8) night, the fourth meeting of the 2011 IAAF Indoor Permit Meeting series.

No World record, but Tamgho improves season lead to 17.64m
Tamgho couldn’t have asked for more attention after he publicly announced that he’d be chasing his own 17.90m World record, a rather rare statement for any athlete. The Frenchman produced an easy-looking and relaxed first attempt, measured at 17.64m.

But Tamgho couldn’t translate more physical energy and mental aggressiveness into a longer jump in his five other jumps. He reached 17.22m with his second leap - landing still on the sand - but followed that with a foul in the third round. He reached 17.47m in round four, before another narrow foul on a leap which appeared to be around 17.80m. He ended the night with lacklustre 16.53m leap.

Although he won by half a metre over Cuban Alexis Copello, Tamgho wasn’t pleased with his result.

“17.64 is a minimum for me and it’s not satisfying, even if it’s still a very good performance,” the 20-year-old World indoor champion said. “I took the lead from the beginning but nobody responded. It’s tough to fight alone.”

Big breakthrough for Wells?
Kellie Wells of the USA improved the 60m Hurdles season’s leading mark twice. She won her heats with 7.87 and went a few ticks faster in the final, clocking 7.85 with an impressive margin over Jamaican Vonette Dixon (8.03), while Canadian Perdita Felicien was disqualified for false-start.

This was a significant improvement for Wells, whose previous best was 7.98 set at altitude last year. However, Wells (1.64m, 54kg) showed her potential last week when equalling the old World Best (7.37) in the 55m Hurdles, a mark set by Jackie Joyner-Kersee in 1989.

“I wanted to run 7.8 this winter!” said Wells, 28. “I’m so happy and delighted after having been training so hard. I’ve always been close to be on the U.S. team for many years, and it took me two years to recover from the hamstring injury I had during 2008 U.S. Trials while decelerating in the 100m hurdles semi-final in the race where I broke my personal best in 12.58”.

Coached by former sprinter Dennis Mitchell since the Fall of 2007, in a group which includes Damu Cherry (a 7.85 and 12.44 performer), Wells seems to be back at a even higher level now.

“This is my first 60m Hurdles this season, but even if I do everything at race pace at training with Damu, I still need to get comfortable in competition. But indoor is just fun, I will now run in Dusseldorf and Karlsruhe, before preparing for outdoors.”

Dayron Robles won the men’s race in 7.57 from Jeff Porter (same time) and Dimitri Bascou 7.60 (7.58 in heats), but the Cuban winner immediately left the track with a slight thigh pain.

Chepseba surprises with 3:34.98 world lead in the 1500m
At 1500m, Kenyan Nixon Chepseba upset the two favourites, Ethiopian Deresse Mekonnen, who defeated Bernard Lagat in New York’s Mile late last month, and another Kenyan, Silas Kiplagat, the 2010 revelation with 2:29.27 who had come to Liévin with strong chronometric ambitions.

Along with the crowd’s favourite Mehdi Baala, Kiplagat stayed behind in the pack while pacemaker Cheboi reached the 400m in 53.85 and the 800m in 1:52.10. Mekonnen took the lead and by 1200m (2:51.66) he was in position to win. But Chepseba eventually emerged as a winner in 3:34.98, improving the world leading mark and personal best (3:35.78) he set in Chemnitz.

Sudan’s two-time World indoor 800m champion Abubaker Kaki, scratched from the race after 100 metres after being spiked. Kenyan Richard Kiplagat won the race in 1:46.99.

Lavillenie prevails in duel with Mohr
Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie had revenge on his mind after his third place finish in Stuttgart last weekend, where he finished behind German Malte Mohr (5.84m).

In Lievin, the World Leader (5.92m) needed a second attempt to clear 5.50m, while Mohr opened at 5.60m. Lavillenie had no problem with 5.70m, just as Romain Mesnil (FRA), but Mohr skipped the height and took the lead at 5.75m, leaving the French pair facing 5.80m. Lavillenie cleared on his second try while Mesnil missed twice and saved one more jump for 5.85m, which he also missed.

Mohr missed his three attempts at 5.85m, a would-be personal best by one centimetre, securing the victory for Lavillenie. The bar was raised to 5.90m, which Lavillenie cleared on his third attempt.

“I chose to jump every 10 centimetres to find consistency and renew my confidence,” the winner, who bowed out at 6.01m, explained. “I lacked the physical freshness to clear 6.01m today, but I’m looking forward to my next meeting in Donetsk where I have big hopes in the hometown of World Record holder (6.15m) Sergei Bubka.”

“In my last competitions, I used to try 6.02m and failed each time, so today, for a change, I tried 6.01m in order to have to say that 6.02m is my fatal bar!”
Povh’s short dash consistency continues

The women’s 60m featured the revelation of 2011, 23-year-old Ukrainian Olesya Povh. A 7.23 and 11.29 performer coming into the season, she’s reached a new level, undefeated in seven races (including heats) thus far in 2011, and currently sitting in the No. 2 spot on the world lists with 7.14.

In the final, the compact (1.69m, 62kg) sprinter had to deal with Ruddy Zang Milama’s blistering start but caught the World indoor bronze medallist at the finish line, with both timed in 7.17.

“I’m satisfied about the race, especially about my finish,” said the winner, who apparently has speed in her genes. Her father had a 6.8 best over the distance, while her mother clocked 7.2.

Povh has worked a lot on the last part of the race with Konstantin Rurak, who began coaching seven years ago after his retirement from sprinting (PBs of 6.54 at 60m, 10.17 at 100m, 20.75 at 200m). He now has a large group in Zaporojie, which includes Povh for the past three years and also Mariya Ryemen, two members of the European 4x100m Relay champions from last summer. Povh’s busy schedule will continue in Dusseldorf (11 February), Karlsruhe (13), the national championships in Sumy (19-20) and finally the European Indoor Championships in Paris-Bercy (4-6 March).

Clarke prevails in 60m blanket finish
Jamaican Lerone Clarke won a close 60m race in 6.59 from American Mike Rodgers (6.60), Kim Collins (6.61) and Josh Norman (6.62). Norman was the fastest in the heats with 6.59, while Rodgers tore a back muscle during the drive phase. He still lined-up in the final but had the slowest reaction time (given as 0.14) and, according to his words, jogged through the line, while Norman (0.11) took an early lead. Collins (0.13) was for an instant in position to win but Clarke, with his bony gloves as a trademark eventually emerged as a winner in 6.59.

“My hometown in Missouri is very cold and I get used to wearing gloves!” Clarke said. “This is the personal me since 2009 and I can see people love that. I was expecting a tough competition with all the big names including Christophe Lemaitre, and I’m using these competition to improve my start, as the goal remains the outdoor season.”

The Commonwealth Games 100m winner in October had no difficulty to continue with preparation for the 2011 indoor season. “I was still fit when I started competing again. It’s better than the long breaks which can make the sprinters lazy!”

Lemaitre was a distant sixth clocking 6.69.

Pierre-Jean Vazel for the IAAF

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