Helsinki, FinlandYelena Isinbayeva made the women’s Pole Vault look like a demonstration event on the first pleasant evening of weather for a week.
The Russian World record holder cleared her attempts at 4.50, 4.60 and 4.70 metres by so much that she could have done a couple of back flips and scored points for style in landing. Even when she missed her first attempt at another World record of 5.01 metres, she bounced up smiling from the landing mattress. It could have been embarrassment, but you rather felt it was the conviction that she could do it and, in passing, win $100,000, to add to the pot of close to a million bucks that she has built up over the last two seasons, during which she also won the Olympic title. And so it proved, over she went at the second attempt, and a World gold was added to the collection.
For the record, Monika Pyrek of Poland and Pavla Hamackova of the Czech Republic won silver and bronze with 5.60 and 5.50 metres.
Johnson beaten by youthful Doucouré
It is one of the statistic curiosities of these championships, which began here 22 years ago, that there had only been three winners of the men’s High Hurdles title, Greg Foster and Allen Johnson of the USA, and Colin Jackson of the UK, the co-World record holder. Johnson failed in his attempt to win a fifth title, because youth prevailed in the shape of Ladji Doucouré of France, who had looked a potential winner of the Olympic title, until he fell in the final last year. Athens champion and co-world record holder, Liu Xiang had not looked that great all season, and had even been written off by the Chinese media. But he closed so fast that he finished just a hundredth behind Doucouré, who won in 13.07, with Johnson third in 13.10.
Felix, one year later, one year stronger
Allyson Felix said after the semi-finals of the women’s 200 metres that she was stronger than last year, and felt capable of doing better in the World champs final than she had in the Olympic Games. Since the American won silver in Athens behind Veronica Campbell of Jamaica, the implication was clear. And so it proved. Campbell shot away to a good lead, and Christine Arron of France got the start that she should have got in the 100 metres. But Felix clawed back the deficit on both of them, and forged ahead with 30 metres to run. Campbell folded and, ultimately so did Arron, losing second place on the line to Rachel Boone-Smith of the USA. Felix won in 22.16, with Boone-Smith edging Arron, both in 22.31, and Campbell fourth in 22.38.
Wariner finally convinces
Jeremy Wariner was fooling us all. The Olympic 400 metres champion from the USA lost a couple of races this season, and like Justin Gatlin didn’t look too convincing in his early rounds. But again, like Gatlin, her turned it on when it counted. Wariner used the impressive newcomer, Tyler Christopher of Canada as pacemaker, and hit the straight well clear. He won easily in a new personal best of 43.93, with colleague, Andrew Rock coming through for silver in 44.35, also a personal best. Christopher was rewarded with bronze in 44.44, a national record.
At the most basic of levels it is all passing the baton successfully!
So, US sprinters annexed all four individual sprint titles, with the 200 metres men taking an unprecedented first four places on Thursday night. A recipe, one might have thought for utter dominance in the relays. But history teaches us otherwise. It seems there is still life for the television makeover programme, on the evidence of the heats of the men’s 4x100 metres relay; one that would be guaranteed endless re-runs on worldwide sports cable channels. It could be called ‘Changing Batons’. It is the traditional tale of four of the fastest men in the world, decked out in the Stars & Stripes, who failed ‘hand to hand’ to run the baton round a 400 metres track. As for the theme tune, that’s easy – ‘Passing Strangers’.
The US squad didn’t even manage the first changeover last night, reserve led-off man Mardy Scales and 100 metres finalist, Leonard Scott combining to give the show the comedy edge that we have long come to expect from US television series. Although the Russians are nowhere near challenging the USA in the medals table, the former ‘Superpower’ made sure their old adversaries didn’t make fools of themselves alone. At least the Russian women got to the final changeover before they called it a night.
Russian gets gold and bronze
The Russians at least had another gold medallist, when Olga Kuzenkova won the women’s Hammer Throw. The Olympic champion only took the lead from Yipsi Moreno of Cuba in the fifth round, with 74.03 metres. Moreno responded with 73.08 metres on her fifth throw, but Kuzenkova rubbed it in with 75.10 metres on her final attempt. Moreno duly won silver, and World record holder Tatyana Lysenko made it two medals out of three for the Russians.
Audience figures - we are still awaiting exact figures from the organising committee but approximately 15,000 spectators attended the morning session and well over 23,000 the evening.
Pat Butcher for the IAAF
Written coverage of the
10th IAAF World Championships in Athletics,
Helsinki, Finland (6 – 14 August)
on the IAAF Website:
‘Event by Event’ PREVIEWS and REPORTS
provided by the
Helsinki 2005 local organizing committee media team
FEATURES - Gold medal winners
As in Paris 2003, the IAAF's own team of writers will be producing a feature story/interview with every individual gold medallist crowned in Helsinki 2005. These stories will be published as soon as possible after each final in the main NEWS section
Daily Highlights - Preview and Wrap
A concise preview at the start and a wrap of the main highlights of the competition will also be a daily aspect of the IAAF website's coverage of the World Championships.
Dunaway's 'Helsinki Herald'
And our regular major championship columnist Jim Dunaway will again give his own unique view of some of the more bizarre or quirky aspects surrounding events at Helsinki 2005.
We hope you will enjoy our coverage.
IAAF Editorial Manager