David Oliver powers to a big win in Daegu (Tsutomu Kishimoto) © Copyright
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Oliver, Jeter and Felix dominate in Daegu - IAAF World Challenge

The Colorful Daegu Pre Championships meeting today (12) showed that athletes are ready to perform at the Daegu Stadium which in just three-and-a-half months time will host the IAAF World Championships (27 August – 4 September 2011).

This IAAF World Challenge meeting provided a good check on conditions at the stadium and it appeared that things are in order. Wind on the front straight stayed quite calm and should make fast times possible at the World Championships. The weather was sunny with temperature at around 20 degrees Celsius, but that seemed to suit most events today. In all four world leads were produced.

Oliver in a class of his own

Three American favourites took the spotlight, really excelling and winning comfortably in their respective events. In the men's 110m Hurdles David Oliver was as expected in a class of his own. The 29-year-old was in the lead from the start, finishing with a 13.13 world leader in windless conditions. This was already the third win in as many competitions this season for the Beijing Olympics bronze medallist who extended his win streak to 18 finals. Oliver's last loss came in his last competition of the 2009 campaign in Zagreb where Ryan Brathwaite of Barbados won in 13.35 against Oliver's 13.41. Second in Daegu today was fellow American Aries Merritt in a 13.30 season's best followed by Jamaican Dwight Thomas in 13.40. Oliver seemed to have a very clean race not hitting the hurdles as he has done before.

Jeter and Felix dominate

The second of the commanding Americans was Carmelita Jeter in the women's 100m. Jeter, who has been the fastest runner in the world since September 2009, was already the world leader with a 10.86 dash in Kingston last Saturday. In Daegu the bronze medallist from two previous World Championships was fastest out of the blocks and showed no problems whatsoever en route to her 11.09 inw. Another American, Doha 200m winner LaShauntea Moore, was a distant second clocking 11.27 with Gabon record holder Ruddy Zang Milama in third with 11.35.

In the 200m Allyson Felix took the win in a very similar style leading the race clearly already after the curve. Felix was expected to run a world leader in this race and she did crush the previous 22.65 mark clocking a 22.38 win today. She was absolutely dominant with countrywoman Connie Moore in second place far far away in 23.16 and Russian Barcelona European Champs bronze medallist Aleksandra Fedoriva a close third in 23.17.

In the women's 100m Hurdles, winner of the last two World Indoor Championships (60m hurdles), 28-year-old Lolo Jones, started brightly and lead for most of the race. But while fellow Americans Kellie Wells and Dawn Harper seemed to be catching her coming to the last hurdle, Jones stumbled and finished third well behind the top two clocking a disappointing 12.95 result. Reigning Olympic champion Harper went on to win in a season's best 12.73 with world leading athlete (12.58) Wells finishing second in 12.81.

Another event with fine results was the men's 100m race where American Walter Dix showed that he is ready to look for more major medals in addition to the two he won in Beijing Olympics. Dix clocked a fast 10.00 in his first 100m start of the season just edging 60m specialist Mike Rodgers, also from USA, who clocked 10.03 for second. Jayduma Saidy Ndure of Norway was third in 10.09, a season's best. There was a rare moment at the start of the race with two athletes disqualified for a false start in the same start. Rae Edwards of USA and Churandy Martina of the Netherlands were both lead off the track.

Yego closes fast in Steeplechase thriller

In the men's 3000m Steeplechase there was an expected world leading time. At the start Kenyan favourite Richard Matelong was the only runner keeping up with the pacemaker and had a clear lead before the 2000-metre mark. The 29-year-old Berlin World Championships bronze medallist reached two kilometres in 5:29.03 with the other runners closing the gap fast. With the last lap starting Matelong was still leading by a few metres, but now Silas Kitum and Hillary Yego, both from Kenya, began to threaten. The duo finally caught Matelong at the last barrier and Yego, just 19, came to win from the outside clocking 8:12.08, slicing more than seven seconds off of his previous best. This mark also wiped South African Ruben Ramolefi's 8:14.06 world leading mark off the lists and moves Yego to seventh place on the world junior all-time list. Matelong held on for second finishing in 8:12.15 with Kitum close behind in 8:12.17, also a personal best. Former world leader Ramolefi finished back in sixth place in 8:33.41.

In the men's 400m Hurdles former World champion Bershawn Jackson of USA seemed to be striding to an easy win, but another US athlete, Johnny Dutch, had other ideas. Dutch was still trailing at the last hurdle, but finished fast winning clearly in a 49.03 season's best, his first race under 50 seconds this season. Jackson was second in 49.14 with reigning Olympic champion Angelo Taylor, also from USA, third in 49.67.

In the other men's events Japanese Yuzo Kanemaru finished fast in the men's flat 400m race to dip to the finish line just before 2008 Olympic bronze medallist David Neville (USA) to win 45.23 to 45.24. Boaz Lalang of Kenya won the 800m in 1:45.90 and in the Javelin Throw Igor Janik of Poland started his season with a fine 82.18m win.

Zhang takes first women's Hammer Throw Challenge victory

Chinese Zhang Wenxiu hit a 73.49m winning mark in the first round of the women's Hammer Throw, the opening competition of the women's portion of the Hammer Throw Challenge. Zalina Marghieva of Moldova was second with 71.14m and Russian Tatyana Lysenko finished third with a disappointing 70.40m result.

Anna Mishchenko of Ukraine won a close women's 1500m in 4:03.52 coming quite close to her 4:03.00 world leading mark from Doha. Ethiopian Meskerem Assefa finished second in 4:03.63 personal best and Irene Jelagat of Kenya was third in a 4:04.32 season's best.

Silke Spiegelburg of Germany topped the women's Pole Vault with a 4.50m clearance missing three attempts at world leading 4.65m. American Mary Saxer was second, Jillian Schwartz of Israel third and Carolin Hingst of Germany fourth all three clearing 4.40m. World leader (6.88m) Funmi Jimoh of USA won the Long Jump with a 6.52m jump, exactly the same result as Russian Anna Nazarova who finished second. Jimoh took the win because she had a second legal jump while the Russian did not.

Kim takes home victory in the Triple Jump

In the men's triple jump Kim Deok-Hyeong became the only home winner in the meeting. The 25-year-old national record holder (17.10m) won his first competition of the season with a 16.99m effort. Two favourites finished second and third as Bahamian 2008 Olympic bronze medallist was second just 2cm behind with 16.97m. In third place Cuban Alexis Copello, a 17.27m jumper this season, also jumped 16.97m.

There was a world leader in a women's jumping event as well with the first two high jumpers clearing 1.94m today adding 4cm to the previous 1.90m mark. Both Zheng Xingjuan of China and Marina Aitova of Kazakstan cleared the height with their second attempts, but Zheng had only one failure prior against Aitova's two, so the Chinese emerged as a surprise winner. Only 22, Zheng has been jumping similar heights for a long time, but the final breakthrough is yet to come. She competed in major championships for the first time in Helsinki 2005 as a 16-year-old and was in equal fifth place at the World Indoors in 2010 in Doha clearing a 1.94m national indoor record. 1.94m is Zheng's best result since October 2009 when she won the National Games with a 1.95m personal best. Aitova didn't compete outdoors in 2010 following a 1.99m Asian record in July 2009, but looks to be back to her previous form this season.

Mirko Jalava for the IAAF

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