Betty Heidler of Germany going for second place in the women's hammer throw final (Getty Images) © Copyright

Heidler, Gatlin and Aman impress in Daegu – IAAF World Challenge

The Colorful Daegu Meeting on Wednesday (16) didn’t disappoint in 2012 as many of the world’s top athletes opened their season successfully in the same very stadium where the World Championships were held last year.

The highlights of this IAAF World Challenge meeting were Justin Gatlin’s 100m win and an impressive start to Betty Heidler’s season in the women’s Hammer Throw, which was also the first leg of the 2012 IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge.

Heidler opens at 77 metres-plus

The women’s Hammer Throw Challenge started with impressive results by the top three. German Betty Heidler, the World record holder at 79.42m from last year, immediately unleashed a 75.18m throw in round one and then found her best toss 77.24m season’s best in round two in a competition which only featured four rounds. 2011 World Champion Tatyana Lysenko of Russia reached 76.14m also in the second round for second place in the competition and Daegu bronze medallist from China, Zhang Wenxiu, was third with a 75.68m from round one, the second best result of her career and only a mere four centimetres off her Asian record set in March this season. Zalina Marghieva of Moldova was fourth with 72.69m while Kang Na-Ru set a Korean national record 63.80m in eighth place.

30-year-old Gatlin, the 2004 Olympic champion, had opened his season with a win in Doha at the Samsung Diamond League opener and the American continued here what he had started in Qatar. The 2012 60m World Indoor champion had a great start and was in the lead from the first moments of the race. Fellow American Mike Rodgers seemed to challenge Gatlin for a while, but the double World champion (100/200m) from Helsinki 2005 pulled away in style for another good win in 9.93 in almost windless conditions. Rodgers was second in 10.06 and Jamaican Jacques Harvey third clocking 10.16.

Aman blazes 1:43.51 in fast 800m, James dominated 400m

In a fast 800m race pacemaker Matt Scherer went through 400m just under 51 seconds and when he stepped off the lead, it was the World Youth top duo from last year side by side in the lead. 18-year-old Ethiopian Mohamed Aman, who won the World Indoor title in Istanbul in March, easily took the win with Kenyan Leonard Kosencha, 17, fading a bit, but still able to finish in second place. Aman came very close to his Ethiopian record clocking a season’s best 1:43.51 for the win with Kosencha timed 1:44.74. New name from Denmark, Andreas Bube finished fast to overtaker Cuban Yeimer López in the final straight to finish third in 1:45.27 with López fourth in 1:45.89.

Kirani James commanded the 400m race from the start. In the same stadium he was crowned World champion last year, the Grenadian was in a clear lead after 300 metres, but also finished strong leaving the others far behind with a season’s best 44.72. Rennie Quow (TRI) was a distant second in 45.65 and Calvin Smith (USA) third in 45.70.

In the 110m Hurdles world leading (13.03) Aries Merritt had the best start of the field and never surrendered his lead winning in 13.21 into a slight headwind. Compatriot David Oliver seemed to be catching him at the finish line, but might have timed his final strike a bit early and finished in second place in 13.22. Reigning World champion Jason Richardson (USA) was not yet in his best form, finished third in 13.34. Trevor Barry from the Bahamas topped 2.25m to win the High Jump and Ignisious Gaisah of Ghana won the Long Jump with a 7.99m leap.

In the Shot Put 2012 World Indoor champion Ryan Whiting showed that he will be a player outdoors too after a 21.14m win against Canadian Dylan Armstrong (20.72m) with Adam Nelson (USA) third (20.34m). In the javelin competition there was a real upset with 2011 World Champion Matthias de Zordo of Germany unable to find his normal level. The big German finished a well-beaten fourth with a 79.39m result in his season’s début. Young Russian Dmitriy Tarabin, born in Moldova, won with an 82.75m season’s best. Tarabin was 10th in the Daegu World Championships last season. Ari Mannio of Finland also competed for the first time in 2012 and threw 81.06m for second while Poland’s Igor Janik was third at 80.23m, a season opener as well.

Japan topped a fast men’s 4x400m relay clocking 3:01.04 against Australia’s 3:01.58 for the second place.

Jeter a commanding winner

On the women’s side 2011 100m World champion Carmelita Jeter had to battle a strong headwind on the Daegu front straight again, and it was another victory in the same stadium for the 32-year-old American in 11.11. Nigerian Blessing Okagbare finished well back in second place clocking 11.21.

In the 200m the first upset came with a false start to Jamaican Sherone Simpson, who was disqualified. In the race itself American Charonda Williams lead through the curve, but Lashauntea Moore was stronger in the second half of the race capturing a 22.71 season’s best win with Williams in second place clocking 22.82.

In the 1500m Kenyan Eunice Sum won in a 4:05.99 world leader and a personal best. Sum battled with Ethiopian Meskerem Assefa for the last 200 metres, but the Ethiopian faded quite badly in the final 30 metres and was almost overtaken by Australian Kaila McKnight with times being 4:06.52 and 4:06.54 respectively, both season’s bests.

In the 100m Hurdles Kellie Wells lead from the start and celebrated the win after the race, but did not notice reigning Olympic Champion Dawn Harper, who stole the win with a strong finish in a 12.65 season’s best against Wells’ 12.66 result. Brigitte Foster-Hylton was a distant third in 13.00 in a race which was run into a headwind.

Elsewhere, Russian Anastasiya Savchenko won the Pole Vault with a 4.60m personal best and Janay DeLoach (USA) won the Long Jump with a 6.79m season’s best.

Mirko Jalava for the IAAF

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