Rudisha with his World record clock in Rieti (Victah Sailer) © Copyright
General News

2010 IAAF World Challenge REVIEW

The 2010 IAAF World Challenge produced a series of outstanding athletics performances, with Kenya’s David Rudisha making the biggest impact. Having started in Melbourne on March 4, where he produced an 800m victory of high promise, he ended the season with successive World records at the Challenge meetings in Berlin and Rieti, lowering Wilson Kipketer’s 13-year-old mark of 1:41.11sec to 1:41.09, and then 1:41.01.

The series also saw two flourishes from Usain Bolt, who produced what was then the fastest 100m of the year, 9.86, at the Daegu meeting, and then ran the second fastest ever 300m in Ostrava.

4 March 2010
Melbourne, Australia

Having finished the 2009 season by running the 800 metres in 1:42.01, which put him behind only World record holder Wilson Kipketer, Seb Coe and Joaquim Cruz on the all-time performers’ list, David Rudisha gave notice of his intent to improve yet further at the opening World Challenge meeting.

The leggy 21-year-old Kenyan talked the talk before the Melbourne Track Classic, predicting he would run 1.43. He then walked the walk by winning in 1:43.15. Ryan Gregson took almost a full second off his previous best in second place, but his 1:46.04 saw him almost a full three seconds adrift.

There was more talking of the talk afterwards, as Rudisha promised “more to come.” The ease with which Rudisha tracked fellow-Kenyan Sammy Tangui through a first lap of precisely 50.00 suggested that a 1:41 was somewhere in the near future.

Rudisha picked up the Australian all-comers’ record, his time taking 0.82 from the mark set at this meeting in 2000 by David Lelei, who was tragically killed in February 2010 in a head-on car accident in Kenya.

Valerie Vili warmed up for the defence of her World Indoor Shot Put title in Doha with two throws over 20 metres.

24 April
Dakar, Senegal

A competition badly affected by the volcanic ash which prevented many potential performers travelling saw World Hammer Throw champion Anita Wlodarczyk overcome the challenge of Moldova’s 23-year-old Marina Marghieva, who came close to her national record with a second round effort of 71.14m.

In what was her first competition since the previous summer’s World Championships, where she had injured her ankle celebrating her World record 0f 77.96m, the Pole led with her opening effort of 73.29m, and finished with 75.13m.

The other Berlin World champion on show in Dakar was Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, who won the 800m in 1:46.15 from Britain’s Michael Rimmer (1:46.29) and Kenyan Richard Kiplagat (1:46.36).

In the men's Long Jump, Senegal got their expected victory from Ndiss Kaba Badji, sixth in the 2008 Olympics, with a fine 8.27m (+0.7) leap.

The men’s 3000m brought the best track result in depth with five men going sub-7:50. Ethiopia’s Tariku Bekele (7:45.81) was beaten by Kenya’s Suleiman Simotwo in 7:45.15.

8 May
Osaka, Japan

There were expected victories for Jamaica’s double Olympic 200m champion Veronica Campbell-Brown, World Shot Put champion Christian Cantwell of the United States and World Discus Throw gold medallist Dani Samuels of Australia.

On the track where she won her 100m World title in 2007, Campbell-Brown won her opening 100m of the season in 11.02, with Japan’s Chisato Fukushima taking second place in 11.27, 0.06 second short of her national record.

Cantwell was not happy with his performance despite finishing more than 1.5m clear with an effort of 21.34m. Samuels came from behind in the sixth round to win 63.75m.

19 May
Daegu, South Korea

The crowd at the Colorful Daegu Pre-Championships Meeting - held a year before the hosting of the IAAF World Championships - witnessed a startling early-season performance from Usain Bolt, who won his first 100m of the year in a world-leading 9.86 seconds.

Bolt’s time beat Tyson Gay’s 9.89 intermediate clocking during his straight 200m in Manchester the previous Sunday. Asafa Powell remained the fastest in the 2010 list thanks to his 9.75 effort in the Doha Diamond League meet, although that time was wind-assisted.

Bolt, running with a minimal following wind of +0.1 mps, caught the rest of the field after 20 metres before running away with the race to finish 0.29 ahead of fellow Jamaican Michael Frater.

Cuba’s Olympic champion and World record holder in the 110m Hurdles, Dayron Robles, was beaten in his first outdoor race of the season by David Oliver of the United States. The Olympic bronze medallist registered his fourth straight win in a world-leading time of 13.11, with Robles clocking 13.26.

In the women’s 100m, Carmelita Jeter of the United States clocked 11.00 to beat Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown.

23 May
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Fabiana Murer, the 2010 World Indoor Pole Vault champion, produced the best performance of the meeting in front of her home supporters as she won her first outdoor competition of the year with a world-leading 4.75m. It was a vindication of her decision to change the length of her run-up approach from 16 to 18 steps.

Britain’s World Triple Jump champion Phillips Idowu produced a world-leading performance of 17.48m to beat Alexis Copello and better the Cuban’s 2010 best by one centimetre.

Michael Rodgers, beaten by Britain’s Dwain Chambers in the World Indoor 60m final, earned some revenge with a 100m victory in 10.06, with Chambers clocking 10.11.

27 May
Ostrava, Czech Republic

Usain Bolt produced the second-fastest performance ever in the 300m while his Jamaican compatriot Asafa Powell clocked a world-leading 9.83 in the 100m to highlight the 49th Golden Spike meeting held on a rainy night in this eastern Czech city.

Bolt had targeted the world best of 30.85 set by Michael Johnson at altitude in Pretoria a decade earlier. Running on a soggy track, the triple Olympic champion came up just shy in his first attempt over the rarely run distance, clocking 30.97, only the second performance under the 31-second mark and the fastest at sea level.

"I probably went too hard in the first 200 metres," Bolt said, before conceding that he wasn't in the best physical condition for this longer distance.

The strong rain which postponed the track events for some 20 minutes didn't hinder Powell in the 100m, where his track record of 9.85 was set in cold and wet conditions in 2005. Powell powered home in 9.83 to take the World lead from Bolt.

“The weather conditions did not mean a lot,” said Powell, who also clocked 9.09 – in his heat - and 9.07 for 100 yards, both world bests, well inside the 9.21 set by American Charles Greene in 1967.

Powell's was one of four world-leading performances. The others came in the women's 10,000m, where Meselech Melkamu ran 31:04.52, the men's 3000m where Kenya’s Yusuf Biwott ran 7:31.68, and the men's javelin where the Czech Republic’s Petr Frydrych achieved 88.23m.

30 May
Hengelo, Netherlands

Driving wind and rain affected the 28th edition of the Fanny Blankers-Koen Games, but despite the conditions, two events did stand out: the women's 1500m and 5000m. In the 1500m, Olympic champion Nancy Lagat, the winner in the Shanghai Diamond League meeting, continued her strong early season with a convincing victory in 4:02:09, beating American Christine Wurth-Thomas.

Ethiopia’s Meseret Defar failed to better her own World record in the 5000m, but she won by almost 20 seconds in 14:38.87.

Olympic 110m Hurdles champion and World record holder Dayron Robles hit several hurdles after a poor start and fell over the final one, eventually crossing the line in just over 35. Britain’s Andy Turner won in 13.34.

6 June
Rabat, Morocco

World and Olympic 100m champion Shelly-Ann Fraser was the undisputed attraction of the third meeting International Mohammed VI of Rabat, as she crossed the line in 11.13, a hundredth of a second ahead of Bahamas’ Chandra Sturrup.

Among other notable performances of a meeting which was attended by His Royal Highness Prince Moulay Rachid of Morocco and IAAF President Lamine Diack, the 3000m Steeplechase victory in 8:08.82 by France’s Mahiedine Mekhissi  was the most impressive, as the Olympic silver medallist held off  World champion Ezekiel Kemboi and World silver medallist Richard Mateelong, both of Kenya.

26 June
Zhukovsky, Russia

The first record of the 52nd Brothers Znamensky Memorial was set before the start of competition as the temperature rose to a peak that have never before been registered – 35 degrees above zero in the shade.

Olympic champions Svetlana Krivelyova (1992, Shot Put) and Olga Kuzenkova (2004, Hammer Throw) earned warm applause as they announced their retirement.

In her first outdoor appearance of the season, Russia’s world and European indoor 800m champion Mariya Savinova at 800m ran faultlessly to win in 1:58.11, the best time of the season.

Russia’s former Olympic champion Yuriy Borzakovskiy was defeated by Morocco’s Amin Laalou, who clocked 1:43.76 to Borzakovskiy’s 1:44.65.

2 July
Madrid, Spain

Chaunte Lowe spoiled the comeback of Belgium’s reigning Olympic High Jump champion Tia Hellebaut with a 2.00m clearance on a night when storms caused delays of more than 90 minutes and the breakdown of the timing equipment.

Lowe, the world leader at 2.05m, had an early scare as she needed a second go at her opening height of 1.83 on the wet surface.

Hellebaut, making her first official jumps in nearly 22 months, matched the American at 1.95 but could go no further.

The men’s 800m was held at the unusual time of 22:45, some 100 minutes behind schedule. Conscious of the fact that the electronic timing wasn’t working, the athletes offered a magnificent spectacle over the two laps.

South Africa’s World champion Mbulaeni Mulaudzi won in a hand-timed 1:45.1, 0.3 ahead of Kenya’s Jackson Kivuna.

22 August
Berlin, Germany

David Rudisha made good on his early season promise as he set a World 800m record of 1:41.09 at the ISTAF meeting, bettering the 13-year-old mark of 1.41.11 set in Cologne by Kenyan-born Wilson Kipketer, then running for Denmark.

The 21-year-old Kenyan had made no secret of the fact that he planned to attack the meeting’s best performance of 1:42.98, set by Brazil's 1984 Olympic champion Joaquim Cruz on 23 August 1985.

After putting together a perfect first lap where he sat slightly behind fellow Kenyan pacemaker Sammy Tangui, who passed the bell in 48.68, the former World Junior champion went to the front and powered down the back straight, 25m clear of the field with 200m remaining, before finishing strongly.

Rudisha who suffered a shock elimination on the same track at the previous summer’s IAAF World Championships, said: "Last year I had a bad time in Berlin. The weather was not very good and I did not make the final. So I did not want to talk too much about the World record before today's race.”

"But I knew it is my day,” he continued. “I trained very hard, the weather was good. I told the pacemaker to run the first lap under 49 seconds - he did a great job.”

"The last 200m I had to push very hard - but I saw the clock 1:41.09 at the end. "Fantastic, I am very happy to be the fastest 800 metres runner in the world."

Kipketer, in Singapore for the Youth Olympic Games, commented that he “wasn’t a bit surprised to hear the news”, adding: "David has been running well all this year, and even last year, and I thought he could do it one day. In a way it was good to see it broken after so many years."

Meanwhile World 800m champion Caster Semenya, in her first major outing since returning to athletics at the beginning of July, earned victory in 1:59.90 on the track where she had gained her gold a year earlier.

Tariku Bekele showed no signs of fatigue after his Zurich 5000 victory as he ran a 7:28.99 personal best and world-leading time for the 3000m, erasing the meet record of 7:30.76 set by Ali Saidi-Sief a decade earlier.

Christina Obergfoll gave the 47,000 plus very noisy fans just the start they needed when producing a home win to take the javelin with a season's best throw of 67.57m.

29 August
Rieti, Italy

David Rudisha marked the 40th anniversary of this meeting by lowering his own World 800m record from 1:41.09 to 1:41.01.

Rudisha’s time was exactly a second faster than his winning time on the same track a year earlier.

His training partner Sammy Tangui paced him through 400m at 48.20, and Rudisha took the lead with 300 metres to go and passed 600m in 1:14.56.

“I just knew I was in good shape,” Rudisha said. “The conditions were perfect. I expected to break two records in seven days,” said Rudisha. “I want to return to training for next year because 2011 will be a World Championships record.”

It was the eighth World record broken at Rieti - the previous one was the 9.74 Asafa Powell clocked for the 100m in 2007.

Asked on which part of the race he needs to improve to further lower his World record in the future, Rudisha said: “I cannot say now what I need to improve. I will see in training with my coach what I can improve but I think I need to change only small details.” 

Nesta Carter ran a personal best of 9.78 in the 100m, with a +0.9m/s wind, to equal Tyson Gay’s World season best from the London Samsung League meeting, and making the Jamaican the fourth fastest man of all-time.

Five men ran under 10 seconds, with sixth and seventh clocking 10.00. Ryan Bailey smashed his PB with 9.88, beating Jamaican Mario Forsythe, third in 9.95, European champion Christophe Lemaitre, fourth in a new French record of 9.97, and Michael Frater from Jamaica, fifth in 9.98.

Wallace Spearmon, 200 metres Samsung Diamond League winner, won in 19.85, and David Oliver broke the meeting’s 110m Hurdles record of 13.07 set by Colin Jackson in 1994 as he clocked 13.01.

Tariku Bekele improved his own World season best for 3000m from 7:28.99 set in Berlin last week to 7:28.70 holding off USA's Bernard Lagat who smashed the Area record as he ran 7:29.00.

Olympic champion Asbel Kiprop beat fellow Kenyan Silas Kiplagat, 2010 World leader with 3:29.27, as he clocked a season’s best of 3.31.78.

Poland’s World champion Anita Wlodarczyk needed a throw of 75.02 to overhaul Betty Heidler in the overall final ranking of the IAAF Hammer Challenge, but had to be content with 73.57m. 

1 September
Zagreb, Croatia

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

In chilly conditions, Gay won his fifth out of five 100m races in 9.92, finishing clear of joint world-leader Nesta Carter - who ran 10.07 - despite suffering a poor start when his blocks slipped.

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 won with 2.02m to set herself up for the following week’s Continental Cup in her home town of Split.

Christian Cantwell won the Shot Put with 22.22m and 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 with an effort of 79.71m.

Mike Rowbottom for the IAAF