Dwight Phillips isn’t ready to retire yet. At the 35th Prefontaine Classic at Hayward Field on Sunday (7 June), the 2003 and 2005 World and 2004 Olympic Long Jump champion sailed to a career best of 8.74m to move into a tie for fifth on the all-time performer list with the world’s longest jump since 1991.
The Prefontaine Classic is a Grand Prix status meeting as part of the 2009 IAAF World Athletics Tour.
The 8.74m effort was a turnaround from 2008 when the 31-year-old Phillips contemplated retirement after being slowed by a malady of injuries that included a torn abdominal muscle, knee problems and Achilles tendonitis. Phillips cut his season short in July after placing fourth in the U.S. Olympic Trials, one place away from a berth on the U.S. team for Beijing.
“I think the blessing was not making the Olympic team because I was able to rest my body,” Phillips said. “I had a lot of rest and didn’t do any competitions. And I had a lot of time to reflect and ask `Do you really want to do this again. I lost my motivation and now it’s fun again. I want to have fun, win lose or draw.”
Sunday’s IAAF World Athletics Tour meeting named in honour of legendary American distance runner Steve Prefontaine threw up a spirited competition between Phillips and reigning World and Olympic champion Irving Saladino (PAN) that produced the top two marks in the world this season.
The opportunity to be competitive with Saladino, who finished second at 8.63m, and redemption for a loss to the Panamanian in Hengelo on 1 June fuelled Philip’s incentive in the Prefontaine Classic.
“When he was beating me, I wasn’t at my best so I said ‘Man, I have to just hit my best and see what happens’,” Phillips said. “Now, I am competing at a high level and he is competing at a high level so I think it’s going to be a great competition between us. It was dull now it’s more energy.”
Phillips, who twice eclipsed his PB of 8.60m set in 2004 on Sunday, said he had confidence after a foul in the 8.80m range in the recent New York meet.
“Sometimes your worst disappointment can make you work harder as an athlete,” said Phillips, who ran a 100m PB of 10.06 in May. “I have been to the top and I’ve been to the bottom so I know what it takes to get there. I think that I am back on my upswing back to the top.”
Amid the rhythmic clapping from the crowd of 12,841, Phillips sensed something was special on his 8.74m jump in the third round into a 1.2 mps headwind on a cool and overcast afternoon. Phillips watched enthusiastically as officials measured the effort.
“I have a tendency of slowing down in my last few strides and I didn’t feel that at all so I knew it was going to be a pretty good jump,” Philips said.
Moving up the all-time list
Philips’ mark was the world’s furthest since Mike Powell’s World record of 8.95m in the 1991 World Championships in Tokyo. It was the ninth best performance of all time and moves him into a tie with Larry Myricks and Erick Walder for fifth on the all-time performer list behind Powell, Bob Beamon, Carl Lewis and Robert Emmiyan.
Phillips has said that all of the four jumpers ahead of him have offered encouragement for his pursuit of Powell’s World record in recent years.
“I am just humbled to be in that same category,” Phillips said. “It would just be a dream come true for me to jump further than them. From those guys, the Gods of the Long Jump, it was really humbling and that what inspires me.’’
Merritt flies over 300m
LaShawn Merritt also etched his name into the all-time lists on Sunday by clocking 31.30 sec in the rarely run 300m to lower his all-time sea level and U.S. soil mark of 31.31 run at Hayward Field in 2006.
The 2008 Olympic 400m gold medallist dominated a field that included Xavier Carter (31.93), Wallace Spearmon (32.14), Shawn Crawford (32.47) and David Neville (32.49). Merritt’s time trails only the mark of 30.85sec set by Michael Johnson in the altitude of Pretoria, South Africa in 2000. Merritt called the seldom run distance a perfect fit to his speed and strength.
“The three is right down my alley,” Merritt said. “You had great 400m runners and 200m specialists. I know I can run with the best in the world in the 200m in that field so I knew I was in the right position. I know that I have the strength of the quartermiler.”
Beaten by Burka but Barringer becomes third U.S. woman under 4:00 in 1500m
University of Colorado senior Jenny Barringer placed second in the women’s 1500m to Gelete Burka (ETH), 3:59.89 to 3:59.90, to join Mary Slaney and Suzy Favor as the only American women to run under four minutes in the metric Mile. Barringer, 22, is the youngest to accomplish the feat.
The mark by Barringer was the fastest by an American since 2002 and her sixth collegiate record of the season along with the Indoor Mile, 3000m, and 5000m and outdoors in the Steeplechase and 5000m.
Barringer made a furious charge down the homestretch moving from fourth place in the final 150m to pull even with the Burka at the line where both runners were cloth-lined by a highly held finish banner.
Barringer, the American record holder in the Steeplechase, will conclude her collegiate career in the NCAA Championships in Fayetteville, Ark. on 11-14 June.
U.S. soil record for Cheruyiot in women’s 2000m
Vivian Cheruyiot (KEN) outduelled World 1500m champion Maryam Jamal (BAH) to win the women’s 2000m, 5:31.52 to 5:31.88, with both runners eclipsing the previous best time of 5:32.7 run in the U.S. set by Mary Decker at Hayward Field in 1984.
Olympic 1500m medallist Asbel Kiprop (KEN) just missed a U.S. soil record in the Bowerman Mile in the meet finale, clocking 3:48.50 to come up short of the record of 3:48.28 run by Daniel K. Komen (KEN) in the 2007 Prefontaine meet. Kiprop overtook compatriot Haron Keitany on the homestretch before slowing at the finish while waving to the crowd. Thirteen runners ran under four minutes to equal the 1995 meet for the highest number in meet history.
World 1500 and 5000m champion Bernard Lagat beat World 3000m Steeplechase recordholder Saif Saaeed Shaheen (QAT) to win the 3000m, 7:35.96 to 7:36.87, while Paul Koech (KEN) won the 3000m Steeplechase in 8:13.44.
Nick Symmonds took a home track victory in the 800m in 1:45.86 with World champion Alfred Yego in second in 1:46.21.
Maggie Vessey was a surprise winner in the women’s 800m in 2:00.18 with reigning Olympic champion Paula Jelimo (KEN) again running well below par, fading to last in the seven-runner field.
Rodgers speeds to 9.94 victory over Powell
Michael Rodgers sped to a decisive victory over former World record holder Asafa Powell (JAM) and Walter Dix in the 100m in a World leading 9.94. Powell and Dix were second and third, both timed in 10.07.
In the women’s 100m, Carmelita Jeter defeated Kerron Stewart (JAM) and Muna Lee to win the women’s 100m in a wind-aided 10.85, while in the women’s 400m, Sanya Richards ran to a dominant victory over Shericka Williams, 49.86 to 50.72 sec.
Perry and Jackson are the hurdle winners
2005 World champion Michelle Perry overtook Damu Cherry over the final two barriers in the women’s 100m Hurdles with both runners timed in 12.74 sec. Priscilla Lopes-Schliep (CAN) was third in 12.75. Olympic champion Dawn Harper failed to finish after falling after hitting the first two hurdles.
Another Helsinki World champion Bershawn Jackson won the 400m Hurdles in 48.38 sec to lead four hurdlers under 49 seconds with Jamaican Isa Phillips (48.55), Kerron Clement (48.73), Angelo Taylor (48.79) and Michael Tinsley (48.80).
Hoffa’s 21.89m secures the Shot Put
Reese Hoffa won the Shot Put with a sixth-round 21.89m to overtake Dan Taylor (21.29m). Reigning Olympic champion Tomasz Majewski (POL) finished third with 21.26m on his only non-fouled throw.
Beijing Olympic champion Stephanie Brown-Trafton won the women’s Discus Throw with 63.98m, and reigning World champion Betty Heidler (GER) was a 72.81m to 72.07m winner over Sultana Frizell (CAN) in the women’s Hammer Throw.
Funmi Jimoh won the women's Long Jump in a wind-aided 6.69m.
Russians Ivan Ukhov and Yaroslav Rybakov took the top two spots in the men’s High Jump at 2.34m and 2.31m, while Alhaji Jeng (SWE) won the Pole Vault at 5.51m in a competition where four of the seven competitors no heighted.
Kirby Lee for the IAAF
Click Here for RESULTS