Rieti, ItalyWith less than one week before the inaugural IAAF World Athletics Final in Monaco (13-14 September), Alex Kipchirchir’s World junior record in the Mile (3:50.25) behind Hicham El Guerrouj’s winning 3:50.20, Venelina Veneva’s 2.01 in the women's High Jump, and Sandra Glover’s meeting record with 53.34 in the women’s 400 Hurdles, were the best results of today’s Rieti IAAF Grand Prix meeting.
Quadruple World 1500m champion El Guerrouj produced the second best time in the world this season over the Mile with 3:50.20 (world lead 3:48.17 Paul Korir in London). However, it was only just good enough to beat the reigning World Junior 800m champion Alex Kipchirchir in a very close finish. In the process the young Kenyan set a new World junior record of 3:50.25, which improved the previous James Kwalia’s limit (3:50.39 run in Hengelo) in a breathtaking finish.
The Moroccan star changed his plans the day before the meeting again and opted for the mile and not the 1500 as previously announced shortly before Brussels. El Guerrouj was probably tired after his 1500 metres season's best of 3:28.40 on Friday, and after clocking 2:53.22 for 1200m he pursued the win rather than a fast time after he realised that the 19-year-old Kipchirchir who was following in his heels and represented a serious theat.
After clocking 3:36.22 in the 1500 metres El Guerrouj managed to resist Kipchirchir’s assault and won by a close margin of five hundredths of a second. Third finished the Kenyan Robert Rono with 3:50.98.
Both 400 metres Hurdles races - men and women - were the other highlights of an entertaining athletics afternoon in Rieti.
Sandra Cummings Glover set the meeting record with a fabulous 53.34, a great time considering the long and tiring season. The World record holder Yuliya Pechonkina of Russia started very fast from the blocks but Glover caught up her in the final bend. The two great interpreters of women hurdling battled neck and neck in the final 60 metres, with Glover overhauling Pechonkina in the photo-finish with 53.34. Pechonkina was runner-up with 53.43.
Felix Sanchez won the men’s 400 Hurdles with 48.63.
“I am a bit disappointed with the time but after this long but exciting season, so I could not ask more from myself today. Moreover I wanted to try something new for next season. I want to thank Rieti for the support it gave me in these days. I came here on Thursday to train and prepare for the final part of the season. I spent some days in Padua, Rome and Rieti in the past, so I feel at home in Italy”, said Sanchez.
The surprise Pole Vault World champion Giuseppe Gibilisco returned to victory nine days after his gold medal in Paris. The Italian record holder cleared 5.60 in his second attempt before skipping 5.70 and 5.76. The Vitaliy Petrov coached athlete clinched the victory in his third and final attempt at 5.81 by beating Brussels’ winner Denis Yurchenko on countback.
“I desperately wanted this victory. I could not disappoint my fans today. Iam happy to have returned to victory after the seventh place with 5.60 in Brussels where I had some technical problems”, said Gibilisco.
Bulgaria’s Venelina Veneva produced one of the best technical results of the whole Rieti meeting by clearing 2.01 in her first attempt. Second was the Ukranian Viktorya Styopina with 1.98.
In the men’s 800 metres, South Africa’s Hezekiel Sepeng took on Italy’s Andrea Longo. The pacemaker David Kiptoo, who set a fast pace at the bell, finished his task at the 600 metres point when Longo tried to close the gap to Sepeng on the bend, and from then on the two were engaged in a close battle battle. Sepeng managed to resist Longo’s last attack and crossed the finishing line in 1:44.85. The Italian was second with 1:44.96, his seasonal best.
Algerian Saidi Sief, after returning to victory over the 3000 metres in Brussels on Friday night finished second behind the Kenyan Paul Koech today. The pacemaker Martin Keino led at the first km in 2:33.48, and in 5:06.71 at 2000 metres before leaving the field. Shadrack Korir, Saidi Sief and John Kibowen formed a three-men leading group. Paul Koech pulled away at the bell and this proved to be decisive. The Kenyan crossed the line in 7:38.48 ahed of Saidi Sief’s 7:39.30.
The World indoor 800m record holder Jolanda Ceplak made up for her Paris’s disappointment with a convincing victory in the 800 metres. After a 58.35 400m set by Tina Paulino from the Mozambique, Ceplak took the initiative at 600 metres and went to win in 1:58.26.
“I suffered an Achilles tendon injury in the mid of the season which prevented from doing my best in Paris, so I am happy with the time today. I wanted a confidence booster before my final two races of the season in Rovereto and at the World Athletics Final in Monaco.
The 1500 metres women saw an inspired Joanne Pavey from Great Britain winning with 4:04.46.
The 100 metres dash brought Jamaica’s Asafa Powell his second consecutive race in 10.12 only two days after his sensational Brussels Golden League first place in 10.02, ahead of the best US sprinters. Coby Miller finished second in 10.25.
Crawford took the 200 metres victory in 20.24 over Jamaica’s Ricardo Williams (20.42).
The women sprints were won by the Russian Marina Kislova with 11.22 in the 100 and by Belarussian Natalya Safronikova in the 200 metres with 22.84.
Italy’s Magdelin Martinez won the Triple Jump with 14.88, only two cm off her italian record set during the World Championships in Paris where she won the bronze medal.
“I am disappointed for my foul in the third attempt which was near to the 15 metres barrier. I felt better today than in Brussels where I made some mistakes despite my third place with 14.70. I am always inspired by this runway where I set my first italian record with 14.73 last year and I want to return here next year after the Athens Olympics”, said Martinez.
The European champion Robert Fazekas produced a fourth round winning release of 67.16 to win the Discus throw.
The USA 110 metres Hurdler Chris Philips, fifth at the Paris World Championships, won the opening race of the meeting in 13.35 ahead of the former NCAA champion Ron Bramlett (13.45) and the Paris finalist Marcio Simao De Souza third in 13.67.