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General News Manchester, England

Edwards and Radcliffe, supremacy to savour - Commonwealth Games Day 3

Edwards and Radcliffe, supremacy to savour - Commonwealth Games Day 3
Matthew Brown for the IAAF
28 July 2002 - Manchester, England - Jonathan Edwards leapt to a brilliant 17.86m world season's lead in the triple jump and Paula Radcliffe produced a typically gutsy win over 5000m in 14:31.42, the seventh fastest performance of all-time, on the third day of competition at the 17th Commonwealth Games.

Two world leading performances from England’s finest capped a spectacular day of action in Manchester tonight.

As expected, Jonathan Edwards completed his set of championships gold medals in the men’s triple jump, but he had to produce his very best to be sure of the title. The world record holder and Olympic, world and European champion added the Commonwealth crown to his collection with the longest leap of the year, 17.86m, after he had been put under intense pressure by his team-mate Phillips Idowu.

Idowu set the competition on fire in the second round with a leap of 17.68m, the second furthest in the world this year, and a personal best by some 40cm. The world champion was in trouble. He’d managed only 16.26m in the first round and a no jump in the second.

Idowu beat Edwards at the IAAF Grand Prix II meeting in Sheffield at the end of June, and it looked like another defeat was on the cards. But he isn’t the world record holder for nothing.

Edwards set off down the runway on his third attempt accompanied by a huge roar from the capacity 38,000 crowd. His hop, step and jump into the warm Manchester evening landed at 17.86m. The stadium erupted and the 36 year-old sprang from the pit and leapt across the adjacent track, punching the air. It was a magnificent response.

“When Phillips jumped 17.68 I thought, ‘Oh no, here we go’,“ said Edwards, who complained of feeling drained and flat two days ago. “I wasn’t worried by losing to him in Sheffield, to be honest, but I would have been worried about losing to him here.”

“Now I’ve got to jump against another one of these youngsters in the Europeans,” he said, referring to Sweden’s Christian Olsson.

Idowu, wearing coloured hearts in his hair, finished second, and Leevan Sands of Bahamas third with 17.26m. “I knew Jonathan really wanted it,” said Idowu. “Jonathan has been a big motivation to all jumpers in the UK. He has set the standard.”

As he has done for the rest of the world.

Paula Radcliffe produced the second world leading mark of the evening with an awesome display of front running in the women’s 5000m final. Applauded by Edwards, she broke the line at 14:31.43, a new British and Commonwealth record and the quickest in the world this year by more than 15 seconds. What’s more it was the seventh fastest time ever, and barely three seconds outside the world record. She smashed the old Commonwealth Games record by a minute and 20 seconds.

For Radcliffe, the fact that it was her first major track title, adding to her two world cross country championships, and the world half marathon titles she won in 2000, 2001 and 2002, was clearly significant. “It’s been hanging around my neck a bit, and it’s nice to get it out of the way before going to the European championships,” she said. “I knew I had to be at my best and had to choose the right tactics. Maybe if I had run a more even pace I might have got closer to the world record. But the time is irrelevant.”

Not to the record books it won’t be. But they won’t record that Radcliffe was under challenge for much of the race from Kenya’s Edith Masai, the 35 year-old who has come to prominence in the last two seasons.

Radcliffe hit the front after the first lap, and by 1km she’d pulled three others – Masai, Iness Chenonges of Kenya, and Jo Pavey of England – clear of the rest. She gradually turned the screw, hurting all but Masai, who at this point looked eerily comfortable in Radcliffe’s shadow. The English woman hit 3k in 8:48.04 and immediately increased the pace opening a five, then a ten metres gap within a lap. Masai was finished.

Radcliffe passed 4k in 11:40.34, and by the time she took the bell had a lead of some 80 metres. Masai finished in 14:53.76 and her team-mate Chenonges overhauled Pavey on the penultimate lap to take the bronze in personal best of 15:06.06. Almost the entire crowd stayed late into the night for the medal ceremony.

Another commanding performance came from the 19 year-old Australian Jana Pittman who took the women’s 400m hurdles gold in 54.40, slightly slower than her 54.14 semi-final run the day before, but still hugely impressive.

Running in wrap-around shades, the Australian was drawn a lane inside Jamaica’s world and Olympic finallist Debbie Ann-Parris, and she chased her hard from the gun. She’d made up the stagger by the top bend and, though faltering over the final hurdle had the strength to stride home some 20 metres ahead of the rest.

“The time might not have been everything I was expecting, I would like to have broken 54,” she said afterwards. “But this unbelievable, it’s a dream come true. This is just the beginning of something. My goal is to be the best I can be and, for me, that is to be world champion.”

Pittman’s cause was aided by the non-appearance of Jamaica’s former Olympic champion Deon Hemmings only minutes before the start. It was revealed later that Hemmings had fallen while warming up and cut her foot.

Parris was second in 55.24, while the challenge of England’s Natasha Danvers evaporated when she clipped the final hurdle with her leading toe and crashed to the track. Karlene Haughton of Canada took what would surely have been Danvers’ medal, finishing third in 56.13.

Aliann Pompey gave Guyana its first ever gold medal when she won the women’s 400m in 51.63, marginally ahead of Scotland’s Lee McConnell, who took silver in 51.68. Jamaica’s Michael Blackwood won the men’s final in 45.07 after a blanket finish between four men. Canada’s Shane Niemi was only two hundredths behind for the silver, and world champion Avard Moncur got the judges’ verdict for bronze after a photo-finish was needed to separate him from England’s Daniel Caines.

England’s Mick Jones had the crowd roaring again at the end of the night in the men’s hammer, and he gave the host country it’s third gold of the evening with a last round effort of 72.55m. He was the only thrower to exceed 70 metres.

Tanzania’s Francis Naali not only won the men’s marathon, in 2:11:58, but then completed the quickest lap of honour in history. Naali crossed the line after the official half lap around the outside of the track to the finish but, not realising he had crossed the line, then carried on at full pace for another full circuit, weaving between hurdles and dodging officials and photographers.

Naali, one of a family of four world class road runners, made his move after 35km, breaking out of a group of four men who had been clear for much of the second half of the race. The Kenyans Joshua Chelanga and Eric Wainana tried to chase the Tanzanian but he had opened up a significant gap. Naali’s older brother, Simon, was third in the Commonwealth Games marathon in Auckland in 1990, but died after he was hit by a car while out training in 1994.

Chelanga took the silver in 2:12:44 and a late surge from Australia’s Andrew Letherby brought him the bronze in a personal best 2:13:23. He overhauled Wainana 10 metres from the line to snatch a medal by just four seconds.

The women’s marathon was dominated by Australia, who took all three medals for the first time, led by 35 year-old Kerryn McCann in 2:30:05. She was followed by Krishna Stanton in 2:34:52, and Jackie Gallagher in 2:36:37. McCann controlled the race from the start, and broke clear of her rivals after 25 kilometres to record her first ever marathon victory. Australia had taken first and second in 1998 and 1990, and improved on their strong Commonwealth marathon tradition here.

The men’s decathlon was dominated by Jamaica’s Claston Bernard. He opened up a huge lead on the rest of the field in the high jump, when he leapt 2.15m, some 15cm higher than anyone else managed. He won the competition overall by 145 points, with a total of 7830.

Nigeria’s Vivian Chukwuemeka was a delighted winner of the women’s shot put. Her best of 17.53m came in the second round. World junior champion Valerie Adams of New Zealand took the silver medal with 17.45m.

Australia dominated the 20km walks, winning both the men’s and women’s events. Jane Saville led virtually from start to finish to win the women’s in 1:36:34, while Nathan Deakes took the men’s in 1:25:35. Saville won the 10km event four years ago, while Deeakes improved on his 1998 bronze.

England’s Jade Johnson was the only woman in the long jump to exceed the automatic qualifying mark of 6.55m. The European under-23 champion took only one attempt of 6.65m.

Matt Elias set a Welsh record of 49.11 in the first of the men’s 400m hurdles semis. The favourite Chris Rawlinson also qualified comfortably but South Africa’s Llewellyn Herbert was a non-starter.

Maria Mutola cruised through the 800m semi-finals with ease, winning her race in 2:01.59 but the surprise of the round was England’s Charlotte Moore. The 17 year-old, who passed up a chance to run in the world junior championships earlier this month, produced a British junior record of 2:00.95 to qualify for the final, a time that would have been good enough for the silver medal in Kingston.

The men’s 100m champion Kim Collins decided not to go for the double after yesterday’s dramatic win, and pulled out of the 200m. The 100m silver medallist Uchenna Emedolu of Nigeria was then disqualified from the second round. Olympic bronze medallist Susanthike Jayasinghe of Sri Lanka was also disqualified in the first round of the women’s 200m for running out of her lane.