The last big athletics day of the track and field season in Europe, produced a great showdown with some thrilling events and a number of unexpected results.
On day two of the IAAF / VTB Bank World Athletics Final in Stuttgart’s Gottlieb Daimler Stadium close to 30,000 spectators came to see the competition following on from the 23,000 who had been present the day before. And they were not disappointed. It was the final event which became the highlight of the weekend: Dayron Robles stormed to a 12.92 seconds win in the 110m Hurdles, which is a Central American and Carribean record.
Robles, a 20-year-old Cuban, clocked his first sub 13 seconds time and tied for the fifth fastest performance ever run in the event. Less than a year before the Olympic final in Beijing, he matched Liu Xiang’s world lead and improved the World Athletics Final record which had been held by the Chinese by one hundredth of a second. Robles is really closing in on Xiang now after a disappointing World Championships’ final in Osaka, where he had placed only fourth.
“I had been very well prepared for Osaka and it was then very disappointing not to win a medal. But I have proved something today. I knew that there would be a great field here in Stuttgart and hoped that it would be a fast race,” Robles said. He had not the best start but then quickly overtook Terrence Trammell (13.08) and David Payne (13.15), who took places two and three.
Behind Xiang (12.88), Dominique Arnold (USA/12.90) and Colin Jackson (Great Britain), the latter who had clocked 12.91 here in Stuttgart in 1993, Robles is now the fourth fastest athlete of all-time list, tied together with Americans Roger Kingdom and Allen Johnson.
There had been a surprise in the 200 metres as well. Former Gambian Jaysuma Saidy Ndure, who now competes for Norway, took the event clocking 19.89 seconds, which makes him the fourth fastest European ever at the distance. Leading when entering the home straight the 23-year-old, who had not been eligible to compete for Norway in Osaka, held on to defeat Wallace Spearmon (USA/20.18). “I believed that I would be able to run that fast – and today I finally showed it,” said Jaysuma Saidy Ndure, who had come to Norway five years ago.
Edwin Cheruiyot Soi was another one who performed extraordinary. A year ago the 21-year-old Kenyan had placed second in the 3000 and 5000m in Stuttgart. Now he won both events. It was the first time in the men’s events that a runner took these two distances at the World Athletics Final. On day one he had already proved that his final sprint was really strong. He clocked 7:48.81 minutes for the 3000m. In Sunday’s 5000m again a slow race developed in warm weather conditions.
In the end neither Sileshi Sihine, Ethiopia’s silver medal winner from the 10,000m final in Osaka, nor Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya), who was second in the 5000 at the World Championships, could cope with the Kenyans who were not in Japan: Soi came through on the home straight with 13:38.16 to beat Micah Kogo (13:39.91) and Moses Masai (13:39.96). “The slow race was my advantage. It was easy to win”, said Soi, who had been fourth in the 5000m at the Kenyan World Championships’ trials.
The 3000m Steeplechase lived up to the expectations. And Paul Koech, who had not been selected for the Kenyan World Championship’s team, confirmed that at least at this stage of the season he is number one. The 25-year-old had clocked the world lead of 7:58.80 minutes nine days ago in Brussels. But probably today’s performance was an even better one. In warm weather conditions he forced the pace.
Leading the field through 1000m in 2:42.30 minutes he then slightly increased the pace. Only World champion Brimin Kipruto and another Kenyan, Richard Mateelong, third in Osaka, were able to go with him – but not for long. Passing 2000m in 5:22.54 Koech had an advantage of a couple of metres already. And he did not slow, just missing another sub eight minutes time in the end with 8:00.67. Mateelong (8:07.66) and Kipruto (8:11.05) were well beaten in an event in which the Kenyans took the first five out of six places. “My plan was to win. So I decided to run fast to let the others have no chance in the race for victory. I am in good shape and wanted to run sub eight minutes”, said Paul Koech.
As in the women’s event a day earlier the men’s Pole Vault was high-class as well. One would have thought that Isinbayeva could give it another try at the World record after she had done so in Berlin and Brussels recently. But who would have thought about the bar being lifted to 6.16m in the men’s event?
After having cleared 5.76 at his third attempt World champion Brad Walker (USA) passed the next height and then missed 5.86m at his first jump. Again he passed the next two jumps after Björn Otto (Germany) had cleared this height at his first jump. Walker then took the competition with his second and last attempt at 5.91m. That was enough to take the win from Otto (5.86) and Steve Hooker (Australia/5.81), while Danny Ecker (Germany) was fourth with 5.81. Brad Walker then tried to improve Sergey Bubka’s World record and his first jump did not look too bad, though he brought down the bar when rising up with his feet.
“It was an amazing competition and the Germans did jump really well – but I knew that I would win this. I will now take one month off and then start preparing for the Olympics,” said Walker.
In a series of great men’s events on day two of the World Athletics Final, the Javelin Throw produced excellent results as well: Tero Pitkämäki (Finland) beat Andreas Thorkildsen (Norway / 85.06m) with a spectacular opening throw of 88.19m.
“The secret of running so fast late in the season is to stay focussed. I just concentrated on myself, not getting nervous about the big names in the race”, said Carmelita Jeter, who won the 100m in 11.10 from Allyson Felix (both USA/11.15). The triple World champion from Osaka came forward strongly in the last 20 metres but could not get passed Jeter.
It was another US sprinter, Sanya Richards, who produced an even better race in the 400m. Tying her world lead of 49.27 she was almost one second ahead of Novlene Williams (Jamaica/50.12) and World champion Christine Ohuruogu (Great Britain / 50.20). “It was my aim to break 49 seconds so I went out really hard. But in the end I am satisfied with 49.27”, said Richards, who will now head for one more meeting in Shanghai before ending her season.
Janeth Jepkosgei is still going strong as well in the 800 metres. As in her previous races the Kenyan World champion took the lead early in the race, kept the speed high and ran to a World Athletics Final record of 1:57.87 minutes. In contrast to Jepkosgei, Australia’s Jana Rawlinson could not quite hold her lead in the 400m Hurdles to the finish line. Entering the home straight with a big advantage she struggled on the home straight and was edged out by the world’s bronze medallist Anna Jesien (Poland/54.17) by two hundredth of a second.
Right from the start of the 3000m, Meseret Defar seemed intent on impressing her rivals. The Ethiopian, who had clocked the first sub-nine minutes time for Two Miles nine days earlier in Brussels, sprinted away in the first 200m and then passed 400m in little over 65 seconds. This was almost World record pace, but Defar had already dropped the pace significantly. Kenyans Vivian Cheruiyot, who had won the 5000m the day before, and Priscah Cherono (Kenya) came closer again but Defar kept full control.
In the last lap she stormed away again to win in 8:27.24, which was still a WAF record. Cheruiyot took second (8:28.66) and Cherono third (8:29.06). “It was a nice race today but without a pacemaker it is difficult to run fast. I expect to run 8:20 for this distance next year”, said Defar.
In the Triple Jump Tatyana Lebedeva missed out on a double. After she had won the Long Jump the day before she had to be content with a third place in the triple with 14.72m behind World Champion Yargelis Savigne (Cuba/14.78) and Hrysopiyi Devetzi (Greece/14.75).
Jörg Wenig for the IAAF
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