Lahti, FinlandDwight Phillips of the USA and Russian Tatyana Polnova were the main stars at the fourth meeting of 2007 in the annual Finnish Elite Games series which took place last night in Lahti (25).
Phillips, the reigning World and Olympic Champion in the men’s Long Jump was not as his best but won his main event quite easily at the Central Stadium which stands next to the legendary ski-jumping hills of Salpausselkä.
The American produced three jumps over 8m into a slight headwind and the opening round gave him 8.17m as his winning result. Ahmad Faiz Bin Marzoug of Saudi Arabia took second place with an 8.01 leap in the second round.
Phillips also tested his speed in the 100 metres. He clocked 10.34 and finished third behind Jamaica’s Steve Mulllings (10.28) and American Dabryan Blaton (10.32).
"I’m not at peak form yet,” confirmed Phillips. “I always perform my best at the big championships and I feel that I’m getting there this year, too. I am looking forward to having a great competition in Osaka.”
Weather conditions in Lahti were not ideal for sprinting and jumping: a cloudy sky and a head wind, but fortunately there was no rain and the temperature was 18 - 19 Celsius.
Pars’ 80.28m beats Karjalainen
In the Hammer Throw, Finland’s European silver medallist Olli-Pekka Karjalainen recovering from a back injury but having put in some good training recently edged closer to the 80m line with a season’s best of 77.38m. Yet that was by no means good enough for the victory as Hungary´s Krisztian Pars threw 80.28 in the third and 79.34 in the fourth round.
"I have been training very hard, so I am happy to throw over 80m today. This gives me lot of self confidence towards Osaka," smiled Pars.
Karjalainen commented - "due to back problems I had to take a half-year-break from normal training last winter, and of course you can notice that in my performance. Anyway, today my throws were OK and I feel my form is getting better all the time.”
Ruuskanen´s final throw gets the "A" standard
Australia’s Jarrod Bannister opened the Javelin Throw competition with a solid 81.19m mark and lead until the last round.
Finland’s Antti Ruuskanen, the European U23 silver medallist in 2005 and U20 bronze medallist in 2003, produced 80.72m in the fourth round and finally 81.74m with his last attempt. It was a very promising performance, because this was only Ruuskanen’s fourth competition after a knee operation as late as in May.
His performance means that Ruuskanen has cleared the "A" Entry Standard of 81m for the World Championships in Osaka and is one of the main candidates vying for Finland’s third and last ticket there. Tero Pitkämäki and Teemu Wirkkala, who did not participate in Lahti, have already been selected to the Finnish Javelin squad for Osaka, and the third place goes to the one who is best at the Finnish Championships in Lappeenranta (3 – 5 Aug).
"It feels better and better all the time for me,” said Ruuskanen. “I still need more tough competitions and full power training throws, but I think I can reach 83 - 84m in Lappeenranta, and that will probably be enough.”
Polnova vaults 4.60m
The best women’s event result was set by Russia’s Tatyana Polnova, who cleared 4.60m in the Pole Vault. Polnova, the European bronze medallist last year, cleared 4.50m on her first attempt and made the winning result after dropping that bar twice.
Alexandra Kiryashova of Russia placed second with 4.40 and after there was an unusual order between the young Finns. Vanessa Vandy, 7th at the European Junior Championships last week in Hengelo, set her personal best of 4.15 for third place ahead of the European Junior gold medallist in Hengelo, Minna Nikkanen, who flew over 4.05.
Johanna Manninen showed again her good sprinting shape. Manninen won the women’s 100m in 11.47 seconds and didn’t get any help from the wind, which blew -1.0 m/s.
12.89 second run for Harper
There was even more (1.6 m/s) head wind in the 100m Hurdles, but Dawn Harper of the USA ran 12.89 - only 0.16 from her PB set a on 15 July in Chambery. Harper found no challengers as Ireland´s Derval O´Rourke, the World Indoor 60m Hurdles champion in 2006, clocked only 13.32.
In the Men’s 400m Hurdles there were two runners under 50 secs: South Africa´s Ockert Cilliers 49.71 and Jamaica´s Markino Buckley 49.88.
Antti-Pekka Sonninen for the IAAF
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