While a strong rain that began a few minutes after the opening of the IAAF Grand Prix II Meeting in Thessaloniki hindered the performances in many events, Jan Zelezny’s first appearance after the 2004 Olympic Games and a quick men’s 100m dash nonetheless provided some notable highlights at the event.
Meeting record for Darrel Brown in the 100m
Trinidad’s Darrel Brown, the recently-minted Central American champion, set a meeting record of 10.14 en route to his win in the 100m, despite coasting the final metres. Brown, along with compatriot Marc Burns - runner-up at the CAC - had a quick start, with Nigeria’s Uchenna Emedolu exerting pressure on both before finishing second with a 10.19 clocking, leaving Burns third in 10.25.
Zelezny’s first meeting in 2005
Triple Olympic Javelin champion Jan Zelezny returned to competition here after recovering from an Achilles injury, and made his 2005 debut a notable one with his first win since last September. The 39-year-old Czech won with an 83.43 effort, easily reaching the qualifying standard for next month’s World Championships. Only one of his throws - his first - was less than 80 metres. Latvia’s Ainars Kovars was second with an 80.68 best.
Jamaican sweep in the 400
The women’s 400m was a two-sided affair, at least for the first half. Poland’s Monika Bejnar led through the first 200 ahead of Novlene Williams until the Jamaican accelerated off the turn to win by a wide margin, 51.33 to the Pole’s 52.71. Sanjay Ayre, another Jamaican, was the winner in the men’s race, taking a narrow win from Zimbabwean Talkmore Young, 45.30 to 45.33. American Jamal Ashley, who entered the final straight with the lead, faded to third (45.50).
Joel Brown wins the 110m Hurdles in 13.31
As it was foreseen, the American hurdlers present gave up no ground to others to put their dominance in doubt. Joel Brown clocked 13.31, just shy of his 13.27 personal and season’s beat. Aries Merritt, an NCAA and national championships finalist and still just 19-years-old, was second with 13.40, just shy of 13.38 career best. Brazil’s Marcio De Souza was a distant third, clocking 13.58.
Neascu – Stanescu, Kiptanui cruise to middle distance wins
Mihaela Neacsu - Stanescu won the 800 with a personal best 1.59.78, the first sub-two-minute performance for the 26-year-old Romanian. Ewelina Setowska of Poland was nearly a full second back in 2:00.71 to finish runner-up. The men’s 1500m, the only middle distance event on the program, was once more a Kenyan affair. Four runners rotated the lead from the outset before Timothy Kiptanui forged ahead to reach the line with a hand-timed 3.38.7, a few ticks ahead of Robert Rono (3.39.0).
Grasu dominates Discus with 62.54 victory
From the beginning of the Discus Throw competition it was clear that Romania’s Nicoleta Grasu was in better form than reigning world champion Irina Yatchenko of Belorus as well as the previous world champion, New Zealander Beatrice Faumuina. Producing a series of throws over 60 metres, the Romanian took the lead in the second round with a 62.10 toss and finally sealed the win with a 62.54 effort, ahead of Faumuina (61.81) and Russia’s Olga Chernyavskaya, the third woman to reach 60 metres (60.87). Yatchenko was well back in sixth, with a 58.92 throw.
Without Tridinadian and Jamaican sprinters missing from the women’s short dash, Nigeria’s Endurance Ojokolo had no difficulty with her 11.62 win, leaving behind Senegalese Aida Diop (11.68) and the Greek heptathlete Panayota Alexandrou (11.75). In the 200, the main foe for Cydonie Mothersill was a strong head wind (-1.5). The Cayman Islander won handily in 22.87, well in front of Diop (23.39) and Netherland’s Jacqueline Poelman (23.54) of The Netherlands. In the men’s 200, Jamaicans Christopher Williams and Omar Brown ran to a photo finish in the 200, with each clocking 20.51, with Williams getting the edge. Emedolu doubled back from the short dash to finish third in 20.58.
The strong rains delayed the men’s High Jump competition, won eventually by Czech Jan Janku, one of seven jumpers to clear 2.20. The women in the pole vault tried to continue in the rain, but the conditions made it difficult for them to produce performances better than 4.40. American American Mary Sauer took to top honors, with compatriot Kellie Suttle second.
Russia’s Nadezhda Bazhenova won the Triple Jump with a 14.31 leap, while Yelena Sidorchenkova ran a season’s best 9:42.70 to win the 3000m steeplechase to defeat American championships runner-up Lisa Galaviz, who clocked 9.47.82.
Finally, Ukraine’s Volodymyr Zyuskov jumped 7.90 to win the Long Jump ahead of Greek Dimitrios Filindras who achieved the same mark, while Romania’s Bogdan Tarus placed third with a 7.81 leap. Ioanna Kafetzi won the women’s long jump with 6.53 best.
Michalis Nikitaridis for the IAAF