Stuttgart, GermanyThe two publicised World record attacks both fell short, but the Sparkassen Cup meeting in Stuttgart still set the standard for this indoor season with world-leading marks in eight events before a packed house in the Hanns-Martin-Schleyer-Halle.
The Sparkassen Cup is an IAAF Indoor Permit meeting.
Another strong effort from Defar, but Alminova provides company
For the second year in a row, Meseret Defar learned what an excellent World record of 8:23.72 she set in the women’s 3000m on this same track two seasons ago. Last year, her attempt to lower it fell more than four seconds short but it still produced her second-best lifetime performance.
The Ethiopian’s clocking of 8:26.99 tonight, a world-leading time and the third-fastest of all time, similarly missed its goal, but the script was similar to the one two years ago when Defar’s countrywoman, Meselech Melkamu, pushed her all the way to the wire. This time, it was Russia’s Anna Alminova who stayed close to the Defar over the final 1200 metres and made things more tactical than one would normally like in a World record attempt.
With 5:39.36 showing on the arena clock after 2000m, Defar was only 0.41 seconds off her own record pace. A record was still seemingly possible. Glancing frequently over her shoulder, it was clear that Defar did not know how seriously she needed to take the Russian. Lap by lap, the record began to slip away.
In the end, Alminova couldn’t deal with Defar’s kick over the final lap, but the 24-year-old’s 8:28.49 moved her into the fourth place among history’s indoor 3000m runners and missed the Russian record by only 0.63 seconds. Not bad for a runner attempting the indoor distance for the first time in her career. Melkamu’s race two years ago was also an indoor debut.
Solid ’09 debuts for Kaki and Ismail
In the men’s 1000m, Abubaker Kaki’s 2:16.23 was more than a second away from Wilson Kipketer’s world standard, although the talented 19-year-old from Sudan held off the second-place 2:17.29 of France’s Mehdi Baala without a problem after controlling the race from the 700 mark onward.
In the men’s 800m, Kaki’s countryman, Ahmad Ismail, blew away several of that event’s legendary runners over the final metres as the Beijing silver medallist scored a convincing world-leading 1:45.73 win over Yuriy Borzakovskiy (1:45.96) and Olympic champion Wilfred Bungei (1:46.66).
At the 600 mark, Bungei and Borzakovskiy hit the bell dead even with Ismail right behind, but off the last curve, the Sudanese’s kick brought him to the finish first in a PB improvement of almost three seconds.
Vlasic ups world lead to 2.04
Though not publicised as a World record attempt today, the women’s High Jump should never be overlooked when Blanca Vlasic is in the field. Although the Olympic silver medallist needed a third attempt at 1.98 to stay alive, and a second jump at 2.00, the Croatian cleared a world-leading 2.04 on her first try before taking one creditable attempt at a would-be 2.09 World record at the end of the meeting.
“The surface here was too hard for my state of training at the moment,” remarked Vlasic. “But under the circumstances, I’m quite happy to leave with a 2.04.”
Russia’s Irina Gordeyeva finished second at 1.98. Those top two placers will next meet at a High Jump competition on Wednesday in Banská Bystrica, Slovakia.
Lagat cruises over 3000m
Bernard Lagat of the US and Ethiopian Abreham Cherkos got involved in a cat-and-mouse game during the final 250 metres of the Men’s 3000m, which Lagat eventually dominated in a world-leading 7:35.41. Coming off an impressive mile win in New York last weekend, Lagat was unquestionably in good condition, and there was speculation that he might attack his own American record of 7:32.43. But the pacing was a bit slow for this kind of time, and perhaps more importantly, the contest proved to be a bit more tactical than he had anticipated. Winning, after all, is still an important part of the game.
After the final tempo-setter departed at the 2000-metre mark, Shadrack Korir held the lead in a tight group with Lagat and Cherkos. After another lap, at 2200, Lagat took over the lead and Cherkos followed, with Korir seemingly content to watch from a close distance.
That’s the way things stayed until the trio approached the bell. Suddenly, the Ethiopian bolted forward to the lead as Lagat followed suit. On the final back stretch, the American played his trump card, showing the final gear needed to pull out the win. Cherkos held second at 7:36.36 ahead of the 7:37.09 third-place clocking of Korir.
As the competition unfolded in the late afternoon, it didn’t take long for world-leading marks to start making their way onto the result pages.
World leads for Jones and Oliver in the sprint Hurdles
Early in the programme, in the heats of the women’s 60m Hurdles, World indoor champion Lolo Jones took sole possession of the year’s best time with a 7.93 clocking, before hammering it down even further to 7.85 in a brilliant final race. Cuba’s Anay Tejeda, running on Jones’ immediate right, finished second with 7.96 in her season debut.
Not to be outdone, the men’s 60m Hurdles found two competitors equaling the year’s top time. Beijing bronze medallist David Oliver and Valencia indoor bronze medallist Yevgeniy Borisov, running in adjacent lanes, both stopped the clock at 7.45 - a PB for Oliver - with the American getting the nod as the winner. Joel Brown of the US lowered his PB by 0.06 seconds with 7.48 in third, as Gregory Sedoc’s fourth-place 7.52 was his second Dutch national record of the day (after a 7.54 in the heats).
Home 60m victory for Blum
The Men’s 60m saw young German sprinter Christian Blum losing his balance as he leaned at the finish, but still winning in a PB 6.56, as American Kendall Stevens was close behind in 6.57, also a career best.
Placed in an inside lane, Russia’s Maksim Dyldin used his compact frame to advantage in winning the Men’s 400m in 46.46 over Claudio Licciardello of Italy (46.59). The earlier section was won by Richard Buck of Britain, who employed a strong finish over the final 20 metres to overtake American Jamaal Torrance, 46.61 to 46.73.
World indoor champion Deresse Mekonnen left no doubt about his superiority in the men’s 1500m. The 21-year-old Ethiopian left all of the others in his wake with 500 metres remaining, and he coasted to a 3:36.41 world-leading win. Kenyans Augustine Choge and Gideon Gathimba took the next two spots with 3:38.62 and 3:39.21, respectively.
The Women’s 1500m saw Britain’s Susan Scott expand her big lead even more at the bell en route to a 4:13.37 win over Natalya Panteleyeva of Russia (4:17.36).
Unheralded Tobias Scherbarth of Germany fought past eight more highly decorated rivals in the men’s Pole Vault to win that event in a PB 5.76, as Romain Mesnil, Alexander Straub and Danny Ecker took the next three places, all at 5.70 but separated by a countback. Beijing silver medallist Yevgeniy Lukyanenko managed only 5.50 for seventh.
The women’s vault event found four competitors jumping 4.60, as Brazil’s Fabiana Murer took the win on misses ahead of second-place Caroline Hingst, and equal third-place Anna Battke and Monika Pyrek.
The Women’s 200m was the property of Nina Gilbert of the US, whose 23.81 barely held off Anja Wackershauser’s 23.83.
Ed Gordon for the IAAF