Cuban David Giralt triple jumping in Rio (Ismar Ingber/CBAt) © Copyright
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Giralt triples 17.57m, Tahri clocks European best in the 2000m Steeplechase in Nancy

Nancy, FranceArnie David Giralt of Cuba triple jumped 17.57m and Bouabdellah Tahri broke his own European Best at the rarely run 2000m Steeplechase to highlight the “Meeting Stanislas de Nancy” in Tomblaine’s track, the second leg of the Alma Athlé Tour, the French professional circuit.

Indeed, the Cuban only needed one jump to win the competition over Frenchman Karl Taillepierre (16.76m). Giralt approached his personal best of 17.62m set two months ago and confirmed his fine consistency in Nancy as it was his eighth meeting over 17m this season. Having secured the victory with 17.57m (wind +1.0), he didn’t try his five remaining attempts in order to preserve himself a day before taking a flight for the upcoming CAC Senior Championships to be held from 3 to 5 July in his home country.

With 5:15.36 Tahri threatens World best in 2000m Steeplechase

The 2000m Steeplechase is a rarely contested event, and Tomblaine has hosted it several times, by the request of Frenchman Tahri. In 2002, he set the European all-time best at the distance (5:15.96). Seven years later, Tahri took another chance to break the World best (5:14.43) set by Kenyan Julius Kariuki in 1990. Pacemaker Vincent Zouaoui-Dandrieux led the field adequately over the first kilometre (2:38.2), but injured himself a few seconds later. This left Tahri alone against the clock during the last half of the race. He managed to improve his European Best, but his 5:15.36 was less than one second shy of the World best. This was the first real competition for the 1.91m tall runner, who was fifth in 3000m Steeplechase at the Beijing Olympics, whose solid 2009 competitions have ranged from his silver medal showing at European indoor championships at 3000m and a third place finish in the national Cross Country championships to a 29:29 10km road race and and a 3:43.32 tactical outing inthe 1500m.

Tahri showed that at 31, he might be at the top of his game over the official 3000m Steeplechase distance. However, his national leadership is challenged by Olympic Silver medallist Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad, who missed Tahri’s French record (8:06.91) by just 0.07 seconds in Hengelo earlier this month.

Mekhissi-Benabbad certainly was an attentive observer during the race as he was present in Nancy, registered for the 1000m, an unusual distance for him. “I had no reference for this race, so I just decided to follow the pacemaker and give it all in the last lap,” he explained. The race went precisely according to plan. Mekhissi-Benabbad stayed behind Abdelmajed Touil until 600 metres before he sailed to victory in 2:17.14, an interesting performance for a steeplechase specialist.

“I wish I was pushed at the end, but I’m satisfied with my time. I’m equally happy for Tahri’s performance; it’s good to have two French to disturb the Kenyans this summer.”

Doucouré satisfied with season's best 13.44

Ladji Doucouré and Martial Mbandjock finally delivered satisfying performance, after a modest season debuts. Doucouré, the 2005 double World champion (110m Hurdles and 4x100m relay) won the hurdles in 13.44, under the standard required by the French Federation for qualification to the World championships. Far from his national record (12.97), this performance still represents a considerable improvement over his results so far: 13.56 in New York, 13.73 in Berlin, and 13.65 in Leiria. In the absence of World record holder Dayron Robles, another Dayron was Ladji's chief opposition in Tomblaine. The race remained very close until the finish, where Doucouré's lean was better than Dayron Capetillo's where just 0.02 separated the pair.

“There were good things during the race," Doucouré said, "even if I’m struggling to maintain a proper pelvis position at the end of the race. The time is getting down, that’s a good thing.”

With a 10.11 run, Mbandjock qualified for Berlin as well. Having run six times between 10.22 and 10.33 so far, the Olympic semi-finalist has showed consistency, but not at the level he was aiming for. 2003 World Champion Kim Collins (SKN) was the quickest away as usual, but couldn’t resist Mbandjock's late surge. Collins eventually placed third in 10.26 behind Stephane Buckland (MRI), 10.21.

“I’m starting to put everything together, I didn’t run so well so far,” explained the French who moved to California in the fall to train with John Smith’s group. “I have to apply the new things I’ve learned. This is my second best time of my career (behind 10.06 set last year), and I’m still into training load period. This give me confidence to run faster.”

Leslie Djhone’s opener, delayed by a quad injury, was one of the main attractions in Nancy. The double 400m Olympic finallist (2004 and 2008) found in Gary Kikaya (African Record Holder with 44.10) a tough opponent. The Congolese only managed to leave the French in the latest stage of the race, winning in 45.72 versus 45.80.

Coming back from a shoulder surgery, French record holder (74.66m) Manuela Montebrun threw the Hammer 64.83m, placing third behind Stephanie Falzon (70.05m). Pole Vaulter Damien Dossevi had a perfect competition as he jumped all the heights at his first attempt (5.45m, 5.55m, 5.70m) but missed 5.82m three times. Nigerian Toyin Augustus back up her 12.85 in the 100m hurdles a few days ago in Nantes with another win in 13.00.

Pierre-Jean Vazel for the IAAF

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