Annecy, FranceTeam USA won the 6th edition of the Decanation in Annecy on Saturday (11), thanks to major wins by hurdler David Oliver (13.11) and sprinter Mike Rodgers (10.13) defeating the local hero Christophe Lemaitre (10.16).
Oliver won his 15th race in a row in the 110m Hurdles and remained unbeaten outdoors in 2010. He took the best start and increased his lead hurdle after hurdle, so much that all eyes were on the scoreboard. A World Record is indeed expected whenever Oliver competes as he ran within a tenth off Dayron Robles' 12.87 on four occasions this season. In Annecy the clock stopped at 13.11, giving a 0.54 victory to the American over French Garfield Darien (wind was 0.5).
"I'm very happy to compete at Decanation, it's a very interesting competition", said the winner, who came to this event for the third time. "The time is good but could have been better if I didn't lean on my right side during the race. I was very happy to win in front of a very nice crowd today."
Big crowd gathers for Lemaitre
A crowd of 10,800 came to the 'Parc des Sports' to see the main attraction of the day, Christophe Lemaitre who lives and trains about 30km from Annecy. The triple European Champion in Barcelona (100m, 200m, 4x100m Relay), winner of the Continental Cup in Split (100m) and a sub-10 second three times this season, the 20-year-old Frenchman had announced that this Decanation race would be the season's second most important competition besides Barcelona. He was up against Rodgers (USA) who had beaten him in Lille a few weeks ago.
Rodgers had a better start than Lemaitre on his left side, who drove into the American's lane. As he realised his mistake, the Frenchman slowed down and accelerated anew. Visibly disturbed, he had another change of rhythm after the midway point before injecting a desperate surge of acceleration into the finish line. Rodgers won in 10.13 from Lemaitre's 10.16, an impressive time considering his erratic race into a -0.8 wind.
"I'm very disappointed, that's the first time this has happened to me," Lemaitre said. Actually, a tricky track design (the lanes symbolising the end of the curve being more visible than the dotted lines at the beginning of the straightaway) might be the culprit as three runners switched lanes in the same way during the European Cup in 2008, the last major event held in Annecy. "Honestly, I guess this cost me a least one tenth. I don't care about the time, I wanted to win at home today and collect the maximum of points for the French team. Anyway I start to get tired after Barcelona, I need a break soon." He will end his long but successful season in Kawasaki, Japan, on 19 September.
Racing against Lemaitre on French soil surely is something special considering the media and public's attention, and beating him twice on these conditions showed that Michael Rodgers displayed great composure.
"I prepared the same as I always do, the race wan't anything special," said the winner, you hadn't been disturbed by his rival's mistake. "I felt good in the race, I focused on my lane and didn't worry about the other runners. But if I didn't shut down today with 20 metros to go, I would have run faster, but my achilles was bothering me and I just did enough to win!."
Before going home for a break, Rodgers looks back to his season and offered a reflection on his goals for 2011. "I had a great season, I got my first international medal indoors as the focus wasn't really outdoors. Next year I plan to run 9.8 and hopefully 9.7 and make it to the podium or the final in the Daegu World Championships and be on a World Record 4x100m!"
Another victory for Lavillenie
France had three winners in Annecy thanks to pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie and distance runners Mahiedine Mekhissi and Hind Dehiba.
Lavillenie cleared 5.80m at his first attempt before missing three times at 5.96m. "My pelvis was over the bar at this height but I wasn't jumping with the proper tempo, and at this stage of the year, I can't physically master the same heavy poles I was able to earlier in the season."
The European champion stayed focused on the competition until the end as German Fabian Schulze cleared 5.65m and passed 5.70m and 5.75 before failing at 5.80m. "The conditions were good and the crowd was supportive, and it feels good to end the season with a victory. This was my tenth competition over 5.80 this year, this shows my consistency, but I still have to work on my competition management. I attempted 6 metros many times this season, and started to do it very early. Maybe I would have done it with a more progressive approach. I will now take three weeks off and resume training on 4 October, in order to prepare for a meeting in the mythical town of Donestk (where Ukrainian Sergey Bubka set the World Record with 6.15), and of course the European Indoor Championships to be held in Paris in March."
Mekhissi easily won the 3000m Steeplechase in 8:27.27 from Dan Huling's (USA) 8:33.23, increasing the gap over the last lap. "I had my first important victory here in Annecy in 2008 before I got my Olympic silver medal, so it was important to do well today," said the European Champion. "That was the first time I had such a long season. I'm not sure I will ever do it again."
Dehiba also took the best from her American rival Erin Donohue in a tactical 1500m. The winner of the Continental Cup used her finish speed to win in 4:10.26. "The American attacked too early and I did my best in the last 200m as I was pushed by the French public," said the delighted winner.
Friedrich over two metres
Ariane Friedrich set the best female performance of the day with a 2.00m clearance in the High Jump. Fearing the fatigue that forced her to cancel some meetings since her European bronze medal, she used a minimal approached during this competition. She started her competition at 1.91m which she cleared at her first attempt, where her Russian rival Irina Gordeyeva ended hers. Then the 26-year-old German was successful at 2.00m but failed three times at 2.03m.
In the 100m, Friedrich's teammate Verena Sailer was beaten by American Tianna Madison, both having run 11.42 into a -1.3 wind.
Pierre Jean Vazel for the IAAF
1. USA 133 points
2. Russia 94
3. Germany 91
4. France 88
5. Italy 70
6. Finland 51
7. China 46
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