Natalya Antyukh anchors Russia's 4x400m team to victory in Florence (Getty Images) © Copyright
General News Athens, Greece

Antyukh takes close win - “Athina 2006”

Exciting, close competitions in the men’s 800m and women’s 400m, and the good marks set by Olga Komyagina in the women’s 1500m and Zhana Block in the women’s 60m, were the main highlights of the IAAF indoor permit meeting “Athina 2006” which took place in Piraeus this evening.

Bungei defeats Hesko

A close competition at 800m between Kenyan Wilfred Bungei and Ivan Hesko of Ukraine led to a confident win for the Kenyan champion. Bungei took the lead after the first two laps and didn’t lose it, despite a strong challenge from the Ukrainian in the last metres. Bungei clocked a moderate time of 1:48.12 for the win, while Heshko placed second in 1:48.32.

In the women’s 1500m, Russia’s 32-year-old Olga Komyagina set her season’s best of 4:04.33, the fifth best performance in the world in 2006, which dominated the race. The European Cup winner from way back in 1998 was followed by two compatriots, Anna Alminova 4:05.75 and Natalya Gorelova 4:06.36 but she was never troubled.

Antyukh 50.54

The women’s 400m saw a close fought battle between Russia’s Natalya Antyukh, who was third last weekend at the national championships in a PB of 50.37, and the Bulgarian winner of Wednesday’s Balkan Indoor Championships Vania Staboleva.

Both runners quickly broke away from their opponents who included Romania’s Ionela Manolache, and the race turned into a desperate two way struggle for victory which went down to the line. Finally, Antyukh was the winner in 50.54 but Staboleva improved her personal best to 50.56, to become the 5th fastest athlete in the world this year behind the Russian. Russia’s Tatyana Firova placed third tonight with 51.41.

The reigning World Indoor champion, Grenada’s Alleyne Francique had easy work in the men’s 400m. He won with 46.10, far in front of Botswana’s Molefe California (46.52) and Jamaica’s Davis Lancford (47.12).

Block and Yepishin won dash races

Former World 100m and 60m champion Zhana Block of Ukraine, dominated the women’s 60m dash with her season’s best of 7.20, and was followed home by Lavern Jones who clocked 7.27. Another Ukrainian Anzhela Kravchenko, who tried to follow Block’s burst from the blocks, was unable to complete the race due to injury.

In the men’s dash, the world’s fastest of 2006, Cuba’s Freddy Mayola, and South African Morne Nagel were beaten by Russian champion Andrey Yepishin in 6.61. Mayola clocked 6.64 and Nagel 6.69. Greek Georgios Theodoridis withdrew from the competition.

Trywianska and Wignall win 60m Hurdles

Both the favourites respectively for the women's and men's 60m Hurdles races, Poland’s Aurelia Triwianska and Maurice Wignall of Jamaica, win their events with good times.

Trywianska came across strong and rather unexpected opposition from Nigeria’s Joshefine Onyia. The Polish champion clocked 7.93, just two hundredths faster than the Nigerian hurdler. Greece’s Alexandra Komnou improved her personal best to 8.05 to take the fourth place, in front of Haiti’s Nadine Faustin (8.03).

Wignall was on the top of the opposition from the first hurdle of the men’s 60m, crossing the finishing line in 7.58, followed by Ukraine’s Sergey Demidyuk who clocked 7.74.

Marinova wins with 14.46m

Bulgaria’s 2000 Olympic champion Tereza Marinova easily won the women’s Triple Jump with 14.46m approaching the mark she set in the Balkan Indoor Championships on Wednesday (22), emphasising that she is in good condition ahead of next month’s World Indoor Championships in Moscow. There was a good performance by Uzbekistan’s Anastasiya Zhuravlyeva who improved the national record from 14.07 (10 Feb 2006) to 14.24m to take second place.

Russia’s Dmitry Kuptsov won the Pole Vault with a clearance at 5.65m, while his compatriot, the World and European Indoor champion, Igor Pavlov, was obliged to abandon the competition at 5.35m because of an injury.

Another Russian, Yekaterina Alexandrova cleared 1.94m to win the women’s High Jump, and second was Ukraine’s Irina Mikhalchenko who jumped 1.92m.

Finally, in the men’s Long Jump there weren’t any jumps over 8.00m. Britain’s Nathan Morgan won with 7.93m, followed by European outdoor champion Aleksey Lukashevich of Ukraine who jumped 7.89m, one centimetre more than Jamaica’s James Beckford in third.

Michalis Nikitaridis for the IAAF

Click here for FULL RESULTS