There were world leading performances for Lashinda Demus and Tirunesh Dibaba on the second day of the Aviva London Grand Prix at Crystal Palace today but it was sprinters Usain Bolt and Tyson Gay who again captured the headlines.
The Aviva London Grand Prix is a Super Grand Prix status meeting as part of the IAAF World Athletics Tour 2009.
I knew we ran fast - Bolt
Bolt led a quartet of Jamaicans representing the Racers Track Club to a blistering time in the men’s 4x100m relay, a race missing Gay, the American having injured his groin winning the 200m earlier in the afternoon.
The triple Olympic champion anchored his team of Daniel Bailey, Yohan Blake and Mario Forsythe to 37.46sec, the fourth fastest in history. Only Jamaica’s Olympic gold winning run of 37.10 in Beijing and two USA performances of 37.40 at the Barcelona Olympic Games and the 1993 World Championships in Stuttgart have ever been quicker.
But the result wasn’t without controversy for initial amazement soon turned to disappointment when the Racers TC team was disqualified for a changeover violation between Bailey and Blake. The athletes insisted they had been well within the allowable area and relief came when the track referee upheld an appeal and reinstated the original result.
“Obviously I was very disappointed when I first heard (we were disqualified) but I’m happier now,” said Bolt who was soon mobbed by fans wearing Jamaican green and yellow. “I knew we ran fast,” he added.
Indeed they did. Bolt already had a handsome lead as he was handed the baton from Forsythe but the World record holder stretched away from the field in majestic style to bring the two-day meeting to a rapturous conclusion.
Gay’s absence left the USA team of Terrence Trammell, Wallace Spearmon, Shawn Crawford and Rae Edwards some distance adrift in second, clocking 38.05, with Great Britain third in 38.44.
Gay toughs it out
Gay’s troubles began about 30m from the line in the 200m, a race he made light work of winning in 20.00, three clear metres ahead of Spearmon (+0.4). But the triple World champion eased off as the groin began to tighten in the home straight and claimed later he could have run 19.80 “at least” on full blast.
“I’m just trying to run through the pain and be tough about it,” he said, clearly in some discomfort after the race when he was taken straight to the physio.
His chances of defending both titles in Berlin must now be in jeopardy. “I’m just taking it one day at a time,” he said. “Any time there is any sort of pain you get frustrated. I haven’t trained for a couple of weeks and I’ve had a bit of bad luck. We’ll see.”
Gay added that he thought he would be “OK” with a bit of massage but it will be greeted as good news in the Bolt camp, not that Gay is happy to hand the Jamaican the advantage. “He knows that I am close to being the only one who can beat him,” said Gay.
Spearmon clocked 20.35 for second and Ireland’s Paul Hession was third in 20.40 his best of 2009.
Dibaba back from injury – stadium record
Dibaba marked her returned to the track for the first time since May by running the fastest time in the world this year. The Ethiopian took control half way through in what was her second 5000m of the season and came home to equal the Crystal Palace stadium record in 14:33.65.
Her compatriot Sentayehu Ejigu was second and New Zealand’s Kim Smith third as both produced their quickest runs of the season.
Paced early on by her sister Ejegayehu and Treniere Clement of USA, Dibaba took on the pacemaking duties herself from 3000m and looked to be returning to something like her best form after defeat in New York tow months ago.
Demus also arena mark and Berlin favourite
Like Dibaba, Demus will now go to Berlin as a clear favourite for the 400m hurdler beat her own world leading time with 53.66sec, a performance that erased Sandra Farmer Patrick’s 16-year-old stadium and set a new UK all-comers’ record into the bargain.
Demus won by 0.9s from the Olympic champion Melaine Walker as the Jamaican struggled to stay on terms with the fast starting American.
“It was all part of the plot to go fast from the start,” said the US champion. “I knew this was a fast track.” She will now travel to Monaco (Tuesday 28) for one last outing before she returns to the States to prepare for Berlin.
PB for Jeter
Carmelita Jeter also put herself in the frame for a World Championships medal by winning the 100m in a personal best of 10.92sec, the third fastest time in the world this year behind the Jamaicans Kerron Stewart and Shelly Ann Fraser.
The American dominated the race here despite an indifferent start leaving Chandra Sturrup and Laverne Jones in her wake. Sturrup was second in 11.09 and Jones third in 11.21.
“I’m really excited about Berlin,” said Jeter. “I can’t wait.”
McLellan “really pleased”
Sally McLellan will also be in confident mood as she heads to Germany. The Beijing silver medallist beat the in-form Lolo Jones and Canada’s Perdita Felicien in 12.65sec (-0.7).
“It was good to beat Lolo as she has been running so well,” said the Australian. “I’m really pleased with the time because I could feel the wind in my face in the blocks.”
Felicien was just a fraction behind in 12.66 with Jones third in 12.77.
Gomes – 6.99m – but Achilles scare
The women’s Long Jump was the pick of the of the day’s field events as Portugal’s Naide Gomes found her best form of the year to win with the second furthest leap in the world this year.
The World Indoor champion produced an impressive series – she won with a fourth round leap of 6.99m and had another four attempts all at 6.70 or further. Tatyana Lebedeva was second with 6.90m and Ksenija Balta of Estonia third with 6.85w.
“Today was very good for me,” said Gomes. “I felt I could have jumped 7.0m but I have an Achilles problem and didn’t want to risk anything with the World Championships coming up.”
Phillips 8.33m; Baba 2.33m
Dwight Phillips continued his superb season by winning the men’s Long Jump with a windy 8.33m. The former Olympic champion defeated a pair of Britons in front of their home crowd – the improving Chris Tomlinson, who was second with 8.21w, and Greg Rutherford, who finished third with 8.06, although Rutherford retired after two rounds suffering with a migraine.
Czech Jaroslav Baba was also in good form. The 2004 Olympic bronze medallist beat the 2008 Olympic silver medallist Germaine Mason to win the men’s High Jump with 2.33. The Briton was second with 3.31, his best of the year by 6cm.
Bingham over Taylor on 400m flat; Clement over Jackson over Hurdles
There was more cheer for the home nation when Britain’s Michael Bingham defeated the Olympic 400m hurdles champion Angelo Taylor in the flat one-lap race. Bingham, a US collegiate champion indoors, sliced a fraction from his lifetime best to win in 45.03 with Taylor just a blink behind in 45.15.
The reigning World champion beat 2005 World champion in the 400m hurdles as Kerron Clement held off his compatriot Bershawn Jackson to win in 48.85sec. Jackson was second in 48.99 while Michael Tynsley made it a clean sweep for USA.
Olympic champion Steve Hooker won a low-key Pole Vault with a best of 5.70m beating USA’s Derek Miles on count-back, while European champion Steffi Nerius emerged from a Berlin preparation camp to win the women’s Javelin Throw with a best of 64.64m. The German produced a series of 60m-plus throws while Goldie Sayers was second with 59.82.
The British record holder, who suffered a fractured spine earlier this year, fell just short of UKA’s Berlin qualifying mark of 61m and must now hope the selectors look favourably on her.
“To be honest I had almost written off this season,” she said. “But that was the first time I’ve felt good on a javelin run-up this year. I hope the selectors will look at my record and be kind to me.”
Poland’s Katarzyna Kowalska improved her PB by more than five seconds to win the women’s 3000m Steeplechase in 9:34.07 while Anna Willard led home an American one-two in the women’s 1500m. Willard took advantage as Steph Twell faded in the home straight and clocked 4:07.95. Shannon Rowbury was second in 4:08.21, with Britain’s Lisa Dobriskey – fourth in Beijing – showing signs of emerging form in third.
Lagat puts his name into history
Double World champion Bernard Lagat was a delighted winner of the historic Emsley Carr Mile title in 3:52.71. The American showed he still has a decisive finishing kick when he needs one, as he pulled away from his compatriot Leonel Manzano in the last 30m.
“That meant so much to me, I have always wanted to win this race,” said Lagat. “It is a real honour and I will always look back in this with pride because I have seen so many great athletes winning this race.”
Matthew Brown for the IAAF