Yahya Berrabah of Morocco long jumping in the final in Berlin (Getty Images) © Copyright
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Berrabah’s 8.40m Moroccan Long Jump record highlights - Francophone Games, Day 2

Beirut, LebanonYahya Berrabah establiahed the major performance of the 2nd day of the athletics at the Francophone Games (2) by winning the Long Jump with 8.40m (wind +1.0), a new Games and Moroccan Record.

Yet, the competition didn’t start in the best way for the 27-year-old. After two fouls, he registered his first mark in the third round, 7.71 (wind +0.8), but his main opponent, the tall (1.92) Senegalese Ndiss Kaba Badji, had opened with 8.28 (+0.8), followed by a foul and had then increased his leading mark to 8.32m (+1.9), which improved his personal best set in 2005(8.30m altitude).

Then in the fourth round Berrabah launched himself to 8.40m, his best of the day since his last two tries were fouls, to increase his national record set in Rabat on 23 May by 2 centimetres, and take the lead. 

Badji, 26, responded well with three impressive jumps of his own, 8.12, 8.21 and 8.26 but had to be content with silver.

As well as his 8.38m in Rabat, Berrabah of note this year had produced a 8.20m performance in Hengelo (1 June) placing fourth behind some of the best specialists in the world (Irving Saladino 8.56, Dwight Phillips 8.54 and Salim Sdiri 8.23). In July, he won the Mediterranean Games with 8.23 against Sdiri (8.20). Unfortunately, Berrabah’s shape went down at the worst moment, and he only placed 10th with 7.83m at the World championships in Berlin the following month. The winner in Zagreb (8.15m) on 31 August he was the favourite in Beirut in the absence of Sdiri who chose to not defend his Francophone Games title. Berrabah had been second at the Triple Jump at the last edition of the Games.

Morocco also made the show during the 1500m final with Amine Laalou’s tactical win. His teammate Fouad Elkaan took the lead after a first kilometre which had been led by French Abdelsam Kenouche at a very slow pace (1:07.72 at 400m, 2:15.26 at 800m). But it was Laalou who produced the fastest finish of all with a last 300m covered in 39.0sec, winning in 3:51.59 just in front of Elkaan (3:51.85).

The joy was not complete for Morocco though, as 100m favourite Aziz Ouhadi, the fastest in semi final the day before with 10.23 sec, was beaten by Ben Youssef Meite from Ivory Coast in the yesterday’s sprint final.

The climatic conditions (temperature 27°, wind +4.2m/s) proved to be perfect for explosive events, as the men’s 100m final was won in 10.15. Meite’s win was not an enormous surprise as the Francophone 200m defending champion ran 10.30 in heats and semis, the 2nd fastest time of the competitors.

The 22-year-old Montreal-based athlete set his personal bests in July at 100m in 10.21 and at 200m in 20.72. In Beirut, he was well ahead of his challengers, four of whom crossed the line in a blanket finish. Ouhadi placed second in 10.31, just in front of Mouhamadou Lamine Diang, Idrissa Adam and Nicolas Macrozonaris, all timed in 10.32. Meite’s family has found in Ben Youssef a good successor to his father Amadou (10.32 in 1980) and 10-year-older brother Ibrahim, a (10.24 in 2000). He now turns his attention to the 200m where he is the favourite to defend his Francophone Games title in Monday’s final.

The women’s 100m was won by Canadian Genevieve Thibault in 11.55 sec (wind +2.2). Canada collected another gold thanks to Massimo Bertocchi, scoring 8053 points in the Decathlon, breaking his personal best (8014) in the process.

However, France was the most successful country of the day. Telie Mathiot took the women’s Pole Vault (4.25m), Sandrine Champion the women’s High Jump (1.85m) and Fadel Bellaabouss the men’s 400m hurdles (50.23sec) ahead of his team-mate Sebastien Maillard (50.35).

However, their was controversy regarding the hurdles event since Bellaabouss came out of the blocks before the gun, but the starter couldn’t recall the race as the gun broke and the second starter admitted he didn’t see the runner who was in lane 7. Advised about the situation, the arbitral judge considered to re-run the race on Sunday, a decision contested by French Federation. The jury of appeal then decided to maintain the result of the race in the absence of a protest by any other country.

Claudette Mukasakindi gave Rwanda a second gold at 10,000m (35:32.60) a day after her fellow countryman Dieudonné Disi had taken the men’s title.

Other results of note included Mohsen El Anang (EGY) in the Hammer Throw (71.30) and Elisabeth Davin (CFB) at 100m Hurdles (13.32).

P-J Vazel for the IAAF

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