European 60 metre record holder Ronald Pognon and Kenyan Augustine Choge's impressive win in the 2000 metres were the key highlights at the Meeting Gaz de France Clermont Auvergne, in Aubière, France on Friday (09).
After a shy season debut in Stuttgart last weekend, where he produced 6.66 and 6.68 clockings in the 60 metres, the 24-year-old Frenchman placed himself firmly as one of the main contenders for the continental title in Birmingham next month. In Aubière, he easily won the first heat in 6.62 while training partner and current world Leader (6.49) Olusoji Fasuba of Nigeria won the second in 6.60. In the final, Jarkko Ruostekivi of Finland led out of the blocks but was caught by mid-race by Fasuba, and later by Pognon, whose lean made the difference to claim the victory by just .01 in 6.55. he performance is the third fastest time of the season, and matched the European leading mark by Briton Craig Pickering. Ruostekivi ran a career best of 6.61 for third, well ahead of Cameroon's Ngom Priso (6.69), Cuban Fredy Mayola (6.70) and Nicolas Macrozonaris (6.73) of Canada.
Powerful display by Choge in the 2000m
Kenya's Augustine Choge, a former World youth and World Junior champion, made the second-ever indoor appearance of his career a notable one with his dominating victory in the 2000m, reaching the line in 4:56.30. With his performance he supplanted Noah Ngeny as the sixth fastest ever over the rarely-contested distances. Compatriot Yusuf Biwott, who stayed on the heels of the 20-year-old Choge until the final 400 metres, clocked 4:59.48 to finish second.
Skotnik equals French national record in the High Jump
Mélanie Skotnik matched the 18-year-old French indoor record in the High Jump with her 1.96 winning effort. The performance confirmed her solid shape after recent clearances of 1.95 and 1.93 in her first two competitions this season.
“My winning jump was well above the bar, it was probably worth around 2 metres”, estimated the former German, who switched to her mother’s nationality in 2005. “I usually chose my first bar at 1.80m, then I select the following heights carefully in order to not get tired for the end of the competition."
After matching the national record, she attempted 1.97 twice, but stopped when she felt some minor pains in her ankle. “The track here is so hard that it increases the shocks, but the pain will soon disappear,” Skotnik said. She plans to compete on the same track at next weekend's National Championships and two weeks later at the European Indoor Championships.
Elsewhere, Salim Sdiri’s last attempt gave him the victory in the Long Jump with an 8.09 leap, the second farthest among Europeans this winer, ahead of Cubans Luis Felipe Meliz and Ivan Pedroso (8.07 and 7.91 respectively). Romain Mesnil, in spite on a convincing win at Pole Vault (5.70m), ended his indoor season as he had planed some weeks ago. Reina-Flor Okori’s consistency was shown again in the 60m Hurdles with her 8.10 clocking in heats and 8.06 in final.
Pierre Jean Vazel for the IAAF