World-leading 22.07m for Adam Nelson at Millrose (Kirby Lee) © Copyright
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Benchmark victories for Nelson and Lagat at 101st Millrose Games

New York City, USAAdam Nelson set a Madison Square Garden record in the Shot Put and Bernard Lagat moved closer to another one with a win in the Wanamaker Mile to highlight the 101st Millrose Games on Friday night (1 Feb).

Nelson won the Shot Put with a world-leading toss of 22.07m to eclipse the Madison Square Garden record of 21.88m set by Christian Cantwell in 2007. The effort also moved Nelson into third on the all-time U.S. indoor list on the third stop of the five-event USA Track & Field Visa Championship Series.

Cantwell finished second at 21.33m and reigning World championReese Hoffa was third at 21.13 in a competition in the center of the track amid blaring rock music.

In the Wanamaker Mile in the meet’s finale, Lagat out dueled Australia’s Craig Mottram to win 3:57.51 to 3:57.90 for his sixth Wanamaker title to move closer to Irishman’s Eammon Coghlan’s all-time record of seven.

Nelson sets Madison Square Garden record
In the Shot Put, Nelson became the third different winner on the USA Track & Field Visa Championship Indoor Series.

Nelson did in dominating fashion. Borrowing an implement from training partner Hoffa, Nelson took the lead in the third round after Cantwell, winner of the Reebok Boston Indoor Games a week earlier opened at 21.33m.

Nelson moved into the lead with a 21.49m in the third round and then followed it with his 22.07m throw in the four-throw competition drawing.

Nelson said that Cantwell’s big opener and the crowd of 12,467 helped spur him to the MSG record. Nelson drew the loudest applause each time he stepped into the ring after his customary routine of shouting and throwing his warm-up shirt to the ground.

“Christian had opened with a big throw and I had to respond to that,” Nelson said. “We have proved time and time again that when we have the crowd behind us that we can put on a real good show.”

Hoffa, who won in the season-opening Run for the Dream in Fresno on 21 Jan, secured third with a 21.13m in the fourth round after trailing fourth-place Dan Taylor (20.38m) through two rounds.

Lagat posts sixth Wanamaker Mile win

Lagat moved into a tie for second for most Wanamaker wins with Glenn Cunningham with six.  Lagat, who won his fourth Wanamaker Mile in a row, didn’t hesitate to announce his commitment for the 2009 Millrose Games.

“I am the first one right now to confirm my participation for next year,” Lagat said. “I am confirming it right now. It’s official.”

Lagat is already thinking of his title if the Kenyan-born American can match the feat of “Chairman of the Boards” Coghlan.

“Maybe we can share the chairmanship,” Lagat said. “If I come back after that then I’ll become the `President of the Boards’.”

The race turned into a replay of the 2007 contest with a duel between Lagat and Mottram in the final quarter mile won by Lagat for the second year in a row.

Mottram led with Lagat closely in tow through three quarters of a mile in 3:01 with Lagat taking the lead with two laps to go around the 160-yard banked oval with Mottram in chase.

“It might have looked easy,” Lagat said. “Like always I have to prepare myself coming into the race especially with a strong athlete like Craig…. I have run with (Mottram) several times. I was really, really prepared. I stuck to my strategy coming into the race. Before I came to the stadium, I was playing the race in my head and it happened the way I was visualizing it.”

In the women’s mile, Kara Goucher, who finished third in the Osaka World Championships 10,000m to win the first medal by an American woman at the distance, out dueled Sara Hall in a hard-fought battle, 4:36.03 to 4:36.11, with the runners bumping shoulders down the homestretch. Lilya Shobukhova of Russia was third in 4:37.10.

It was the first race on a banked track since 1999 for Goucher, who was sidelined in the fall by arthroscopic knee surgery to remove torn cartilage.

“I didn’t know if I could win here but I thought that I could be competitive,” Goucher said. “I had to take some time off but I am so much ahead of where I have been in the past.”

Jackson and Demus nab 600 Yard wins

Intermediate hurdlers Bershawn Jackson and Lashinda Demus won the men’s and women’s 600 yards. Jackson, the 2005 World Championships silver medalist in the 400m Hurdles, beat 800m specialist Khadevis Robinson, 1:10.34 to 1:10.52.

Demus, the 2005 World Championships silver medalist in the women’s 400m Hurdles who missed the 2007 season after giving birth to twin sons last June, ran conservatively for the first half of the race before taking the lead with two laps to go over former age-group teammate Angel Perkins, 1:20.79 to 1:21.31.

Jeter, Scott take sprints

Carmelita Jeter came on strong in the final third of the women’s 60m to edge Miki Barber, 7.29 to 7.30, with Angela Daigle-Bowen in third in 7.32. It was the second Visa Championship Series win of the indoor campaign for Jeter, the 2007 World Championships 100m bronze medalist and the IAAF World Athletics Final champion.

Jeter also came on at the end to defeat Daigle-Bowen in the Run for the Dream in the 55m to win by a hundredth of a second.

“In all my races, I am usually a runner that comes at the end so for me to run the 60 meters is really short,” Jeter said. “If you notice that about the 40, I start opening up. We’re trying to work on the start in the indoor but it doesn’t seem to be working.”

Reigning World Indoor champion Leonard Scott dominated from the start to win the men’s 60m in 6.59. Dabryan Blanton was second in 6.64 and Leroy Dixon was third in 6.67.

Scott had arthroscopic surgery on both knees in September to remove loose cartilage that were remnants from a college football career at Tennessee that ended in 2003.

Scott didn’t resume training until mid-November. Last week, he finished third behind Blanton in 6.69 in Boston but had more confidence going into Millrose.

“I wanted to get back into it because I hadn’t raced in so long,” Scott said. “Last week, I wanted to feel it out and see exactly how far and how fast that I could take these knees. This week, I came out ready to rock ‘n roll.”

Priscilla Lopes of Canada was a decisive winner in the women’s 60m Hurdles in 7.95 over compatriot and 2003 World Champion Perdita Felicien (8.05) and American Damu Cherry (8.07). Joanna Hayes, the 2004 Olympic champion in the 100m Hurdles, placed fourth in 8.08.

Antwon Hicks followed his win in the 60m Hurdles in the Reebok Boston Indoor Games with a Millrose triumph in 7.53 over David Oliver (7.59) and Joel Brown (7.66).

Upset Pole Vault wins by Schwartz and Skipper

Tommy Skipper and Jillian Schwartz were upset winners in the men’s and women’s Pole Vault.

Skipper won the men’s competition at 5.70m with Derek Miles, Russ Buller and Giovanni Lanaro in second, third and fourth, all at 5.60m. Brad Walker, the defending World Indoor and Outdoor champion, was fifth with a second-attempt vault at 5.50m as his only clearance of the evening.

In the women’s Pole Vault, Schwartz won with a personal-best clearance of 4.63m to win on fewer misses over American outdoor record holder Jenn Stuczynski. Schwartz cleared 4.63m on her second attempt and Stuczynski on her third. Both Schwartz and Stuczynski missed three attempts at 4.73m.

Stacy Dragila, the 2000 Olympic champion, failed to clear the opening height of 4.23m.

In the women’s High Jump Amy Acuff won at 1.92m with Sharon Day and Gwen Wentland in second and third at 1.89m.

Other Winners

Teresa Vaill won the women's One Mile national championship Race Walk in 7:01.17 and Ricardo Vergara and twin brother Roberto finished 1-2 in the men’s race in 6:29.92 and 6:37.17. Paul Peulich of Australia won the men’s Weight Throw at 18.34m and Bethany Hart was the women’s winner in 19.41m.

Kirby Lee for the IAAF

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