Natalya Nazarova and the world’s top Heptathletes were the star players on the second morning session in Budapest.
Throughout the three days of the 10th IAAF World Indoor Championships in Athletics (5 – 7 March) “LIVE” event by event reports are as usual available - click here - as the action happens in the Hungarian capital but here we also give a snap-shot of what’s been happening ‘Around the Arena’ this morning -
Sub-50...or faster still?
Natalya Nazarova the defending women’s 400m champion continued her progress towards the second sub-50 second clocking of her indoor career with a 50.91 win in the second semi-final heat. The Russian who is the second fastest indoor athlete of all-time (49.68) continued her relentless assault on the two lap indoor sprint and drew an inspired 51.68 national record out of Greece’s Fani Halkia, who placed second.
In the second heat the minor places also brought 51 second performances from Bahamas’ Tonique Williams (51.85) and Romania’s Ionela Tirlea (51.95). Yet Nazarova’s closest challenger remains her compatriot Olesya Krasnomovets, who topped that second draft (51.53).
With the addition of the previously mentioned foreign spice, if the two Russian 24 year-olds can also build the same momentum as they did at their nationals, then not just the rarity of a 49 seconds clocking will be achieved in tonight’s final, but Czech Jarmila Kratochvilova’s 1982 World record of 49.59 might even be threatened.
Sebrle takes a firm grip
The Heptathlon got under way at the highest level which one of course should expect from a competition which included Decathlon World record holder Roman Sebrle (CZE), Olympic champion Erki Nool (EST), and Dmitriy Karpov (KAZ) the World bronze medallist to name but a few of the distinguished eight man line-up.
It was USA’s Bryan Clay (season’s best and PB – 6014) who hit the event at full pace with a 6.65 second PB in the opening 60m. Also dashing to good times were Russia’s Lev Lobodin (6.90), Nool (6.96), Sebrle (6.97) and Karpov (7.04).
If we had been impressed by the sprint then the Long Jump was no disappointment either with Sebrle reaching out to 7.96, just one centimetre down on his indoor PB. Karpov was slightly better (7.97) with Clay throwing in his own 7.78 to keep very much in the hunt.
However, in the Shot, the final event of the morning, Sebrle, who won this title in 2001 really took command with a personal best of 16.28, a performance which put a lot of points between him and his nearest challengers, as Clay (14.84) and Karpov (14.95) were far adrift of the Czech’s mark.
As the morning session ended the standings were Sebrle 2812 points, ahead of Clay (2795) and Karpov (2708).
Double for Lebedeva?
Elsewhere this morning, Tatyana Lebedeva qualified with ease for tomorrow's final in the women’s Long Jump. The Russian champion in what is her second string event, leapt to 6.78 on her first attempt, and showed no signs of her recent injury niggles.
The double World Triple Jump champion now has the possibility of stringing together an unprecedented golden double at these championships, linking this event with her specialist discipline whose final tonight she qualified for with a 14.71 triple, yesterday.
China’s Yingnan Guan was the furthest long jump qualifier today with 6.80m.
The men’s 60m Hurdles heats brought a smooth progression to the semi-final for reigning champion Allen Johnson (USA) in 7.67. Cuba’s Yuniel Hernandez flew to the fastest qualification with 7.59 to win Heat Two. Not so fortunate in that heat was Johnson’s compatriot Duane Ross who fell very heavily, fracturing his right wrist, and cutting and bruising his body in the tumble.
We are promised a wonderful women's High Jump final tomorrow, as in today's preliminary round, eight women automatically qualified with 1.96m clearances led by the two Ukrainians Vita Palamar and Viktoriya Styopina, and Russia's pair of Anna Chicherova and Yelena Slesarenko.