© Copyright
General News Manchester, England

Injury drama amid sub-10 100 final – Commonwealth Games Day 2

Injury drama amid sub10 100 final – Commonwealth Games Day 2
Matthew Brown for the IAAF
27 July 2002 - Manchester, England - Kim Collins of St. Kitts & Nevis in 9.98 won a dramatic men's 100m final in which the two English pre-race favourites Dwain Chambers and Mark Lewis Francis pulled up injured.

Elsewhere, on the second day of athletics competition at the 17th Commonwealth Games, the women's dash was won by Debbie Ferguson of the Bahamas in 10.91 the world's third fastest time of the year, while in the men's discus there was a championship record of 66.39m for South Africa's Frantz Kruger.

As many had hoped and predicted, the Commonwealth Games men’s 100m final produced a sub-10 race that will live long in the memory, but no-one could have foreseen the dramatic circumstances in which it would happen.

All the pre-race hype was about the two Englishmen who have been sparring on and off the track all season. Indeed, both Dwain Chambers and Mark Lewis-Francis had broken 10 seconds in a windy race in Sheffield at the end of June, beating USA's world record holder Maurice Greene in the process, and the only question in most people’s minds tonight was which of the Englishmen would hold their nerve when it mattered most.

But tonight neither won the gold, nor did either claim a medal of any colour. Indeed, they barely finished the race, as Kim Collins claimed the title with a new record for St Kitts and Nevis of 9.98 (+0.2 wind), the first time he had breached the 10 second barrier. Nigeria’s Uchenna Emedolu was second in 10.11, while Canada’s Pierre Browne set a personal best 10.12 for bronze.

While they were the first three across the line, all the drama was happening behind them. Collins and Lewis-Francis got out of the blocks well, while Chambers was sluggish, as he has been in all rounds at these Games. Collins was edging ahead at 60 metres when Lewis-Francis pulled up sharply, reaching for his right leg. Almost immediately, Chambers did the same. Both struggled to keep going but Collins and the rest were away.

Lewis-Francis fell across the line and lay prostrate on the track while Chambers hobbled home grimacing, before limping straight down the tunnel. Lewis-Francis had to be carried from the track on a stretcher. Collins, the 2001 world 200m bronze medallist, had won the race by a clear two metres, looking relaxed and easy.

“I think Kim used the fact that he was the third man to his advantage,” said Canada’s former world record holder Donovan Bailey afterwards. Before the race Bailey had predicted that Chambers would take the title. “I’m really sad for both Dwain and Mark,” he said. “I think Dwain was over-compensating for the fact that he got such a bad start. But with athletics it’s a lot talent, a lot of training, and a lot of luck.”

Of the winner he said: “Kim needs to get stronger, but he’s smooth, he’s as smooth as silk. Technically he runs like Frankie [Fredericks].”

Collins, who only decided to run the 100m here on the morning of the heats, had signalled his potential to upset the predictions in the semi-finals when he got the better of Lewis-Francis, 10.08 to 10.15, and the 19 year-old Englishman had to stretch for his second place at the end of a below par run.

Chambers, in contrast, won his semi, but for the third time at the Games had to make up ground after a poor start. His finish was impressive and he clocked 10.06, but the start needed putting right if he was going to take the treasured gold later in the evening. He didn’t, and by the end the treasure was a long way from his grasp.

World and Olympic finallist Debbie Ferguson of the Bahamas had showed what could be done on this track in the women’s final just ten minutes earlier when she smashed the old Games record of 11.00, which had stood since 1982, clocking a personal best 10.91 (+1.5 wind), the third best time in the world this year.

The 2000 world junior champion Veronica Campbell of Jamaica took the silver with 11.00, shaving a hundredth from her personal best, while Ferguson’s Bahamian teammate, Sevatheda Fynes took the bronze in a season’s best 11.07. Ferguson had equalled her season’s best in the semi-final, with 11.08, while Fynes had improved hers to 11.13, indicating that a sub-eleven final might be on the cards on this fast track.

It was no surprise when Kenya took all three medals in the steeplechase, as they had in 1998 and 1978. They also finished first and second in 1994 and 1990. The gold this time went to 19 year-old Stephen Cherono, the world junior record holder, in 8:19.41, followed by Ezekiel Kemboi in 8:19.78 and Stephen’s older brother Abraham, in 8:19.85.

There were effectively two races as the three Kenyans shot to the front from the gun and within a lap had left the other six finallists 20 metres behind. Kemboi initially set a rapid pace and, once their dominance was established, it was simply a matter of who would win the final sprint. Stephen Cherono took the lead at the bell and had the strength to hold off his teammates in the home straight, while England’s Stuart Stokes got the crowd excited with a bold but forlorn last lap effort to close the gap. It helped him reduce his pb by seven seconds to 8:26.45 for fourth.

South Africa’s Frantz Kruger dominated the men’s discus final, setting his second Games record in two days, 66.39m, in the second round. Canada’s Jason Tunks took the silver (62.61m) with 1998 champion Bob Weir in third (59.24m). These three had also shared the medals four years ago.

Australia’s Jane Jamieson took the heptathlon gold with 6059 points from Kylie Wheeler who set a personal best of 5962 for silver. Ghana’s Margaret Simpson, a resident at the IAAF’s centre in Mauritius, was third in 5906.

In the women’s 400m hurdles semi-finals Australia’s Jana Pittman showed again what an emerging talent she is. The former world junior 400m and 400m hurdles champion blitzed through her semi in a personal best 54.14, knocking 0.44 from her previous mark to win by more than 20 metres.

“I think that’s the best race I’ve ever run,” said the 19 year-old. It was also the fastest ever by a teenager and means Pittman has now taken over a second from her pre-season best this year. The final promises to be an intriguing duel between Pittman and 1996 Olympic champion Deon Hemmings of Jamaica.

World indoor champion Daniel Caines of England was the only man to run under 45 seconds in the men’s 400m semi-finals, notably taking the scalp of world champion Avard Moncur in the process. Caines set a new personal best of 44.98 to lead the list of qualifiers, followed by Eric Milazar of Mauritius, who ran a season’s best of 45.04.

Jamaica’s Sandie Richards surprisingly struggled to qualify from the women’s 400m semi-finals. The 1997 world championships silver medallist could only finish fourth in 51.45, tying up in the home straight as three women ran personal bests ahead of her. Scotland’s Lee McConnell was the fastest qualifier for the final, in 51.29, with Guyana’s Alliann Pompey breaking her national record in 51.34. The Bahamas' Christine Amertil also looked strong in 51.38.

World and Olympic 800m champion Maria Mutola, who made her first appearance of the Games with an imperious 2:01.87 run in the heats, is an even more overwhelming favourite to defend her title now that England’s Kelly Holmes has opted to run only the 1500m. Kenya’s Japhet Kimutai, was a comfortable qualifier from the men’s 800m heats, along with fellow Kenyan Joseph Mutua, but 1998 silver medallist Hezekiel Sepeng of South Africa did not appear.

Claston Bernard of Jamaica leads the men’s decathlon with 4285 points, 270 ahead of Scotland’s Jamie Quarry, a nephew of the 1976 Olympic 100m champion, Don Quarrie of Jamaica.