A feeling of 'world record' was in the air all week before today’s BW-Bank Meeting IAAF Indoor Permit in Karlsruhe, as Sweden’s Susanna Kallur and Dayron Robles of Cuba both had shown they were in range of historical performances in their respective hurdle events.
It was Kallur who took the spotlight this afternoon, with a 7.68 clocking* which erased the 7.69 world indoor standard set by Ludmila Engquist, then running as Ludmila Narozhilenko of the Soviet Union, in a 1990 competition in Chelyabinsk.
Of the recognised international championship discipline track event records, only the women’s 400m world indoor record of Jarmila Kratochvilova from 1982 is older than the one Kallur eclipsed today.
Behind Kallur was LoLo Jones of the US, who recorded a 7.77 PB to become the second-best indoor hurdler from that country. Only Gail Devers, at 7.74, has run faster.
Damu Cherry of the US finished third in 7.89.
Not the favourite for Beijing
Kallur came out of the blocks well, and she took a perceptible lead right at the first barrier. Her computer-perfect form clipped off the remaining four hurdles faster than anyone has before, and one of the oldest track world records on the books finally tumbled.
“This is absolutely unbelievable,” said an ebullient Kallur. “I can’t put my feelings into words. In comparison with my start last week in Stuttgart, today was much better.”
Ever the modest one, Kallur brushed off any notion that she should be considered the favourite for the upcoming Beijing Olympics. “There are some Americans who have better 100m hurdles times than I do. You certainly must consider them ahead of me.”
Pushed again later on this subject, Kallur added: “I’m really good at the 60-metre distance right now,” but she also reminded the assembled media that the Olympic Games are six months in the future.
Thoughts of a record didn’t occur to Kallur until the past few weeks, at the conclusion of a good winter training period. “I entered the season with a goal of running a PB and winning in Valencia. When things seemed to develop quickly, I still did not want to think of the record, but of course, it was starting to be in the back of my mind.”
Was this her perfect race? “It’s hard to say. I don’t think you ever recognise perfection right away.” It may not have been perfect, perhaps, but no one in history has run faster.
Although never really in range of an upset, Jones still stayed close to the Swede throughout and moved into the number-nine position of all time in the event with her performance.
Robles is “not satisfied”
With much anticipation of a world record also in the men’s event, run earlier in the programme, Dayron Robles of Cuba found that he could not repeat his feats of the past week, although he did easily win the men’s 60m hurdles today in 7.40.
After his 7.33 performance in Dusseldorf two days ago, only 0.03 off Colin Jackson’s world record in the men’s 60m hurdles, Robles may have felt pressure today to remove the 14-year-old standard from the books. Ironically, he made his job more difficult by false-starting the first time the runners were in the blocks.
It was enough to remove the possibility of a truly fast start, as Robles was one of the last to react to the next gun. But the Cuban seemed to be a catalyst for the other seven runners, all of whom equalled or established season's bests behind him.
USA's Allen Johnson edged out Germany’s Thomas Blaschek for second, both in 7.54, and Yoel Hernandez got the nod over European champion Stanislav Olijars for fourth, as both clocked 7.60.
“I was not very satisfied with my race today,” Robles said. “I had expected much more of myself and I’m disappointed. At the moment, I simply feel tired. Fortunately, I’m not injured, and I’m very optimistic about the World Indoor Championships next month.”
Vlasic – 2.02m
Blanka Vlasic kept her season streak of two-metres-or-more competitions alive at four today with a 2.02m leap to win the women’s high jump over the 1.95m best of Kazakhstan’s Marina Aitova. The world champion ended the afternoon with three unsuccessful tries at a would-be world-leading height of 2.05m.
For Vlasic, it represented a visit to the jumping venue that had produced Heike Henkel’s world indoor record 2.07m, a mark which survived for 14 seasons until Kajsa Begqvist’s 2.08m leap in Arnstadt in 2006. “I felt totally good today, but I always had my concentration disturbed because of the sprinting events which cut across my running path. I had to wait too long between jumps.”
A 1:59 farewell from Mutola
Today marked Maria Mutola’s final appearance in Karlsruhe, as the Mozambique runner will finish her career at the end of this year. Still, she showed she is still a formidable force in the women’s 800m. Ukraine's Tatyana Petlyuk had tried and failed to overtake Mutola last Sunday in Stuttgart, and today she tried to stay in an attack position by running almost in lane two much of the way.
Mutola would not yield any ground at all, and the 35-year-old legend took a 1:59.48 victory away in her farewell visit, with Petlyuk right behind in 1:59.76.
“I’m happy to leave here after my fourth win in this hall. It was a wonderful farewell for me,” said Mutola afterwards. “I was watching the video screen the last 80 metres and saw how close the race was and that my victory was in danger.”
Evora improves world lead to 17.33m
The speedy infield surface helped several competitors to career bests in the men’s triple jump. World champion Nelson Evora of Portugal extended his world-leading mark by a centimetre to 17.33m, also a national record, while Grenada’s Randy Lewis twice improved his country’s standard with 17.17m and 17.27m. Following in the next two places with season bests were Cubans Yoandri Betanzos (17.11m) and Osniel Tosca (17.03m).
World indoor champion Tatyana Kotova managed to get her first win of the season in the women’s long jump, but at 6.67m, her winning performance is still far off her usual standard. Eloyse Lesueur, the European junior silver medallist from last year, made her European season debut here after several US meetings. The 19-year-old twice leaped 6.62m to take second ahead of Latvia’s Ineta Radevica with 6.57m.
After the upside-down results Friday night in the men’s pole vault at Düsseldorf, things seemed a bit more normal today as two-time European indoor champion Tim Lobinger won a jump-off at 5.76m against world bronze medallist Danny Ecker, who finished with 5.70m.
Ethiopia and Kenya share 1500m honours
Deresse Mekonnen Tsigu of Ethiopia repeated his Stuttgart win in the men’s 1500m with a PB 3:37.69 performance. Breaking away from Richard Kiplagat’s pace after 1100 metres, the diminutive Tsigu had only Kenyans Shadrack Korir and Isaac Sang within range. Going into the penultimate curve, Tsigu put on a sprint which carried him to an easy win, as Korir (3:38.99) and Sang (3:39.42) held the next two places.
The women’s 1500m saw Silvia Kibet running that distance indoors for the first time in her career, but she handled the challenge like a veteran. Patiently waiting until the final back stretch came into view, the Kenyan sprinted away to a 4:07.46 national record, more than four seconds faster than the 4:11.75 of Irene Jelegat last year.
Slovenia’s Sonja Roman was a victim of Kibet’s final kick, but she held second in a season-best 4:08.16, with Bouchra Ghezielle of France third in 4:08.43.
Dash goes to the wire
The men’s 60m was a close affair, won in a lean at the wire by Mike Rodgers of the US in 6.60, the same time posted by former world 100m champion Kim Collins of St Kitts and Nevis. Americans Greg Bolden (6.63) and Josh Norman (6.65) took the next two places, as 200m specialist Tobias Unger of Germany placed fifth, also in 6.65.
Unger came back in the day’s final event to win the men’s 200m in 20.88.
The first section of the women’s 400m proved to be the faster of the two races. Although starting in lane one, Commonwealth bronze winner Christy Ekpukhon still held the curb spot with 25.19 and held off a last-minute effort by USA's Moushaumi Robinson to win, 53.15 to 53.28.
The second section was won in come-from-behind fashion by crowd favourite Claudia Marx of Germany who nipped LaVerne Jones at the end, 53.61 to 53.77, with Poland’s Grazyna Prokopek a close third at 53.78.
The men’s 800m was added to the programme only a few days ago, and Poland’s Bartosz Nowicki, a former European junior 1500 champion, made the most of this sudden opportunity. In his first-ever indoor 800m, the 23-year-old from Szczecin sped past two frontrunners with 150m left and jetted away to a 1:47.42 win. Michal Sneberger of the Czech Republic (1:49.22) and Germany‘s Andreas Freimann (1:49.46) were far back in second and third.
Ed Gordon for the IAAF
*Subject to the usual ratification procedure