Dominating 21.88 dash for Allyson Felix in Stockholm (Hasse Sjögren) © Copyright
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Felix dashes to 21.88 World lead, Gay dominates with 9.79w in Stockholm – IAAF World Athletics Tour

Stockholm, SwedenDespite cool condition, World champions Allyson Felix and Tyson Gay impressed at the DN Galan in the Swedish capital on Friday (31) night.

The DN Galan is a Super Grand Prix status meeting as part of the IAAF World Athletics Tour 2009, and the final tour stop prior to the 12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics in Berlin.

Felix and Gay dominate the dashes

Spectators and athletes enjoyed marvellous conditions at the opening of the meet, but the temperature fell to an unfriendly 16-18 degrees over the final two hours.

But that did not bother two reigning World champions. First, Felix sprinted to a world leading 21.88 half lap, 0.35 seconds ahead of Bahamian Debbie Ferguson (22.23), a performance just 0.07 seconds shy of Felix’s career best from her victory race in Osaka. Jamaican Kerron Stewart (22.72), the Olympic bronze medallist and world leader in the 100m this season, was never a threat to the American, and finished nearly a second behind Felix who grabbed the only diamond of the harsh Stockholm evening for setting a news stadium record.

“It felt really good,” Felix said. “I was worried about the conditions. I wanted to work the curve and I did. It really worked.”

The second gem of the meet was metaphorical as a gust of 2.6 meters per second assisted Tyson Gay when he sped to a stunning 9.79 triumph, denying him the Stadium record that still belongs to Asafa Powell from last year’s winning duel with Usain Bolt. Powell and Darvis Patton (9.95) had both a better start than Tyson, but the World Champion’s final stretch was invincible. Patton (9.95) and Powell (9.98) went sub10, but the victory margin grew to almost two tenths of a second.

“We knew that the wind was strong,” Gay admitted, but added, “This is an evidence of how hot I am and it’s important for Berlin.”

Lopes-Schliep improves to 12.51

Black clouds swept over the Swedish capital during the afternoon and showered the 97 year old Olympic Arena. A glorious sun conquered the sky and welcomed the hurdlers who were not late to exploit the circumstances in their heats. Former World champion Perdita Felicien of Canada continues to improve. She passed Sally McLellan, the quickest starter as usual, and ended the race in 12.54, her best result of the five past years. The Canadian’s feat was fullfilled by Priscilla Lopes-Schliep who missed her PB by only 0.01 of a second while winning the second heat in an even faster 12.53. With Brigitte Foster-Hylton in 12.59 and Ginnie Powell in 12.64 there were three new marks on this year’s World Top 10 already after the heats.

Last year Lopes-Schliep won the B-final in a faster time (12.61) than Lolo Jones had as the winner of the A-final. Now she had the direct oppurtunity to beat her and Lopes-Schliep was even quicker in the final that was decided without the help of a significant tailwind. Once again McLellan exploded out of her blocks while Lopes-Schliep needed 0.2 seconds to react. But she was soon challenged by Lopes-Schliep and Jones made her presence clear over the last hurdle. The Canadian managed to hold back Jones and win with the smallest of margins, 12.51 to12.52 with Foster-Hylton 0.06 and McLellan 0.13 behind.

“I had a decent start, but a strong finish. Hopefully I can do it again at the World championships,” said Lopes-Schliep, the Olympic bronze medallist last year. It is really hard to predict who will be victorious hurdler in Berlin!

Ali upsets Kaki in the 1000m

Hockey player Peter Forsberg, a Three-time NHL All-Star Team member, inaugurated the meet by throwing a hockey stick (!) 30 metres. He had hardly left the ground before the first world leading result was achieved by Bahrain’s Bilal Mansour Ali (2:16.55). He battled with Abubaker Kaki (2:16.82) on the home stretch of the 1000m and for once Kaki lost a sprint. The Junior World Record holder almost fell over the finish line and was also passed by Geoffrey Rono (2:16.98). All three of them bettered Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad’s world leading 2:17.14 with 2:16-times after passages of 53.3 (400m) and 1:49.9 (800m). Reigning World 1500m and 5000m champion was nearly a second back, finishing fifth in 2:17.52.

No opposition for Thorkildsen and Robles

Andreas Thorkildsen and Dayron Robles proved firmly to be the favourites for Berlin as they had no opposition at all in Stockholm. All of the Norvegian’s throws were at least a couple of metres longer than the other javelin competitors, measuring 85.43m-84.47m-81.99m-84.54m-86.85m-85.65m. It probably didn’t matter to him too much that he was last in the following precision competition, a gimmick act won by Jan Zelezny’s pupil Petr Friedrich.

The black clouds returned and a light rain fell over the male hurdlers with Dayron Robles securing a clean victory. He coped with the chilly conditions in 13.11, leaving all the other hurdlers more than a quarter of a second behind.

Jeremy Wariner is back to sub-45 for the first time since mid-May. The double World Champion took his fifth consecutive win in Stockholm and exposed his trademark finish, crossing the line in 44.83, almost three quarters of a second ahead of  Briton Michael Bingham (45.49) securing the 1-2 for Michael Johnson’s agency that Wariner had forecasted.

“It felt great and it just gets better,” Wariner said. “Stockholm is by far one of my favourite meets.”

A final lap of 63 seconds secured Jenny Barringer’s win in the competitve 5000m where six women fought for victory as the bell sounded. The American Steeplechase champion and national record holder led for most of the race and came back 300 metres from home. She held off Russia’s Natalya Popkova to a victory in 15:05.25.

“I wish I could have run faster today, but the victory is important with some of the best 5k women in the world,” Barringer said. “I had a good kick at the end.”

The 800 meter runners did never have any intentions to follow the pacemaker Vincent Kiilu. Boaz Lalang’s winning time ended to be an unexceptional 1:47.11. Surprisingly Yuriy Borzakovskiy (1:47.34) could not manage to catch Lalang. That was the Kenyan’s second prestigious win over the former Olympic champion.

“I have struggled a while, but now it is starting to work for me,” Lalang said.

Wurth-Thomas continues solid campaign

An ideal pacemaking by Yevgeniya Zinurova (64.6/64.7) brought Shannon Rowbury to 2:59 at the beginning of the final lap of the women’s 1500m. But Christin Wurth-Thomas caught the American champion and went off to win in 4:03.01, two and a half seconds before Rowbury, all of it gained in less than 200 meters.

“The rabbit did a great job with a perfect pace,” said Wurth-Thomas, who was second to Rowbury at the US championships last month. “I only had to relax, follow her and work hard to the finish.”

It was a nice end to Wurth-Thomas’ successful European campaign that brought her first races below 4:00 in the 1500m and 2:00 in the 800m as well as podium finishes in Lausanne and Rome.

Tricky winds disturbed all the jumpers. The breeze was actually enjoyed in the Long Jump pit as it blew in the right direction and helped Russian Champion Yelena Sokolova to a windy 6.84m, two centimetres ahead of European Indoor Champion Ksenjia Balta of Estonia. World leader Brittney Reese couldn’t find her rhytm until a conclusive 6.81m jump, the longest non windy leap of the competition, but not enough to end better than third.

The results were severely hampered by the wind in the men’s Pole Vault where the only home victory of the night sensationally went to Jesper Fritz in a tie with Ukraine’s Maksym Mazuryk at 5.61m. Jesse Williams’ first clearance of 2.27m was decisive in the High Jump where Russian Yaroslav Rybakov needed two attempts. Then they both cleared 2.30m with their second jumps, but the difference was made at the lower height.

Lorenzo Nesi for the IAAF

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