Running in cold and wet conditions, Usain Bolt ran a sensational 19.59 in the 200m to highlight the Athletissima in Lausanne.
Athletissima 2009 is a Super Grand Prix status event as part of the IAAF World Athletics Tour.
In difficult conditions and running into a headwind (-0.9 m/s), the Jamaican “Thunder” Bolt, the triple Olympic champion and World record holder, broke the Athletissima meeting record he shared with Xavier Carter at 19.63 but in totally different conditions.
Last year Bolt eased up in the final metres in his first post-Olympic race. This year the Jamaican tested his form running strongly through the finish in his first and only European 200m race before next month’s World Championships in Berlin. Bolt left his rivals well behind showing that in better conditions he is able to threaten his own world record of 19.30 set in Beijing. The young Jamaican sprint legend missed the 19.58 world season’s best set by American Tyson Gay in New York by just 0.01 seconds. It was the second best performance by Bolt only behind his sensational World record.
“I was not expecting such a good time with these conditions,” Bolt said. “But for me it was ok, as it was not too cold. I was not here to send a message to my opponents but to see at what level I was. I wasn’t nervous, even with this weather. I am always having fun when I run and people love to see me, so it was really great.”
Olympic 400m champion Lashawn Merritt of the USA took the runner-up spot in 20.41 ahead of Churandy Martina from the Dutch Antilles who clocked 20.76. Paul Hession from Ireland, an Olympic semi finalist last year, won the B-race in 20.50 (a new seasonal best) beating American Kellie Willie (20.53) and Japanese Shinji Takahira (20.59).
Jamaicans sweep the sprints
It was a great night for Jamaican athletics, as Asafa Powell and Shelly Ann Fraser won their respective 100m races, and Golden League Jackpot contender Kerron Stewart impressed in the 200m, all against strong headwinds.
Powell took his second consecutive win at the Stade Olympice de la Pontaise, repeating the same time as in Oslo last Friday with another 10.07 into a strong headwind (-1.8 m/s) with a solid margin over compatriot Steve Mullings (10.28), showing that his form is improving compared to race in Oslo where it took a photo finish to separate him from Daniel Bailey. Powell is returning to his best after his spring ankle injury and will be ready to clash against Tyson Gay in Rome on Friday. Third place went to this year’s US champion Michael Rodgers (10.30).
“I hate running in the rain but I am very happy with my performance,” Powell said. “These were the worst weather conditions in my whole life but I ran my best race this year, technically speaking. I am definitely going for the World record.”
Churandy Martina, fourth at the Olympic 100m and a 9.97 performer this year, warmed up for the 200m by taking the 100m B race in 10.16.
Fraser takes down Jeter
Fraser, the Olympic 100m champion, ran her first European race of the summer after winning at the Jamaican Championships in 10.88. Here she inflicted the first defeat of the year to American champion and World bronze medallist Carmelita Jeter, winning 11.03 to 11.06. Bahamian Debbie Ferguson McKenzie finished a solid third in 11.12 ahead of her compatriot Chandra Sturrup (11.25).
“It was important to win here,” Fraser said. “It was a bit cold but I wasn’t thinking about it. I was thinking about my arms, my technique, my start.”
Stewart, a double Olympic sprint medallist in Beijing, completed a great Jamaican sprint festival by winning the 200m in 22.73 into a strong headwind (-3.7 m/s) beating compatriot Shericka Williams (22.99).
Robles notches first Lausanne triumph
As the rain intensified, Cuban 110m Hurdles Olympic champion and World record holder Dayron Robles won for the first time in his career in Lausanne in 13.18 (headwind -1.3 m/s). Robles, who ran his fourth race of the year in Lausanne just a few days after winning the CAC title in Havana, made up for last year’s defeat by edging Dexter Faulk (13.21). World championships qualifier Aries Merritt of the USA was a distant third in 13.52.
“It was a very difficult race because of the rain,” Robles said. “But the time is okay. It was good training for Berlin.”
In difficult conditions for hurdling Australia’s Olympic silver medallist Sally McLellan ran an impressive 12.59 in her second European race of the year, which is not far from her 12.53 national record set in Monaco in 2008. McLellan’s was the third fastest time in the world this year. Jamaican Brigitte Foster Hylton also lowered her seasonal best to 12.64 for second place in a photo finish with Olympic bronze medallist Priscilla Lopes Schliep of Canada. Delloreen Ennis London from Jamaica and former World champion Perdita Felicien also set their seasonal bests in fourth and fifth place respectively in 12.68 and 12.71.
Reigning 100m World champion Michelle Perry won the B race in 12.75 beating Jamaican Vonette Dixon (12.93).
Isa Phillips, the Jamaican champion and second in the World seasonal list in the 400m Hurdles with 48.05, crossed the finish line in a solid 48.18, beating reigning wWorld champion Kerron Clement, who produced a season’s best of 48.51.
Burka edges Jamal in 1500m
The much- awaited race for the local crowd was the women’s 1500m which featured Lausanne heroine Maryam Yussuf Jamal from Bahrain and 2009 world leader Gelete Burka, who holds the two best performances of the year with sub-four minute times. Burka and Jamal engaged in a neck-and-neck battle in the final lap. Burka prevailed thanks to a stronger kick through the final bend taking the win in 4:00.67 to Jamal’s 4:01.99 (seasonal best). American Christy Wurth-Thomas finished third in 4:05:09.
Mekonnen showing impressive range
Ethiopian Deresse Mekonnen continues his impressive season. After a 13:07.75 in his 5000m debut in Milan and his Dream Mile victory in Oslo with a PB of 3:48.95, the 1500metres World indoor champion clocked a PB 7:37.62 to win the 3000m beating 5000m world leader Eliud Kipchoge (7:37.95) thanks to a devastating kick down the final straight. Thomas Longosiwa finished third in 7:39.81.
“I could have run quicker in other conditions but I am very happy,” Mekonnen said. “I am really looking forward to taking up the challenge in Berlin.”
Olympic silver medallist Ahmed Ismail Ahmed from Sudan launched his strong final 200 metres to win the men’s 800m in 1:44.80, holding off South African Mbulaeni Mulaudzi who finished runner-up with 1:44.97. Marcin Lewandowski from Poland ran a solid race finishing as first European in third place in 1:45.27.
Rain dampens action on the infield
Reigning world champion Yargelis Savigne took the win in the women’s Triple Jump with 14.91m, the second best performance of the year, just six centimetres shy of her own world season’s best set last weekend at the CAC Champs in Havana. The Cuban now holds the six best performances in the world this year with performances ranging between 14.63m and 14.97m and seems to be the clear favourite to regain the World title in one month’s time. Russian Anna Pyatykh took second with a season’s best 14.43m overtaking her compatriot Tatyana Lebedeva by three centimetres in the sixth round.
The men’s Long Jump did not live to the pre-meeting expectations because of the miserable conditions. Nevertheless recently minted African record holder Godfrey Mokoena jumped 8.05m into a headwind (-2.0 m/s). Dwight Phillips took second 8.03m, three centimetres further than Australia’s Fabrice Lapierre.
Olympic champion Steve Hooker from Australia won the men’s Pole Vault clash with 5.75m on his first attempt, beating his young French opponent Renaud Lavillenie (5.70m).
The men’s High Jump faced very difficult conditions and this explains the low key results. Czech Jaroslav Baba had a clean sheet up to 2.26m winning the competition over Italian Alessandro Talotti and European Indoor champion Ivan Ukhov from Russia who shared second place with 2.23m.
German Steffi Nerius, reigning European champion and fresh national champion last weekend in Ulm in her last season before retiring at the end of the year, won the javelin with 65.37m setting a new seasonal best despite the wet conditions. Nerius beat World record holder Barbora Spotakova from Czech Republic who speared to 64.38m. Olympic bronze medallist and world seasonal leader Christina Obergföll was beaten for the second time in one week by Nerius after last weekend’s German Championships and finished third with 62.31m.
American Tiffany Ross Williams won the women’s 400m Hurdles improving her seasonal best to 54.73, defeating Czech Zuzana Heinova, second in 54.94. Jamaican Olympic champion Melaine Walker finished a distant fourth in 55.24, far from last year’s form.
Russian Oksana Zbrozhek, The 2007 European indoor champion, won the women’s 800m in 2:01.24. American Hazel Clark finished second place in 2:02.31. On the mend from injury, reigning World champion Janeth Jepkosgei was fifth in 2:03.63.
Anter Zerguelaine from Algeria, the gold medallist last week at the Mediterranean Games in Pescara, prevailed in the 1500m in 3:37.15 holding off Johan Cronje from South Africa (3:37.50) and Ali Bilal Mansoor from Bahrain (3:37.75).
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF
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NB: Story will be updated with photos from Lausanne on Wednesday morning CET.