Barbora Spotakova (CZE) kneels after throwing in the final which she won (Getty Images) © Copyright
General News Zaragoza, Spain

Spotakova’s 69.15m steals the show in Zaragoza

A phenomenal 69.15m release by Barbora Spotakova of the Czech Republic in the women’s Javelin Throw was the key highlight of the 5th “Gran Premio Gobierno de Aragón” – EAA permit – held here on Saturday 31 May. 

The Gran Premio Gobierno de Aragón is one of a select group of Area meetings at which points can be acquired by athletes to qualify for the IAAF / VTB Bank World Athletics Final, to be held on 13-14 September in Stuttgart, Germany.

In doing so, the reigning World champion from Osaka raised herself to fourth place on the all-time list for the discipline, thanks to her massive first-round effort of 69.15m which was then followed by a foul and two fine efforts of 62.88 and 62.40 before passing her last two tries.

Spotakova’s previous PB remained at 67.07m from the Osaka final and so tonight’s outstanding performance represents a huge improvement of over two metres.

Bad weather was no barrier

Due to the rain, the start of the contest was delayed by 30 minutes which proved to be no obstacle for the 1.82m tall blonde Czech. A delighted Spotakova, who will turn 27 on 30 June, was quoted as saying: “despite the annoying rain during the warm-up I had great expectations for today’s meet as my training sessions are going extremely well.”

After breaking her Czech record again, the former heptathlete added: “During my career I have competed in so many European countries, but this is the first time I was performing in Spain and I really liked everything. My next outing will be the Golden Spike permit to be held in Ostrava on 12 June.”

Benhassi celebrates birthday in advance

On the eve of turning 30 years of age, World and Olympic 800m silver medallist Hasna Benhassi of Morocco decided to celebrate her birthday with a solid win in her specialist event. Fresh from a 2:01.90 success at the European Cup by Clubs  last Sunday on Portuguese soil, Benhassi found no real challenge from her rivals and cruised to a 1:59.40 victory after going through the opening 400m in 59s flat.

Britain’s Amanda Pritchard came a distant runner-up with a 2:00.86 clocking, some three tenths ahead of France’s Elodie Guegan (2:01.16).

Benhassi, who is arguably the most consistent 800m specialist having taken the silver medal at the last three major championships – Athens Olympics (2004) and Helsinki (2005) and Osaka Worlds (2007) looks forward to competing in Beijing to finally fulfill her dream of capturing gold.

The Moroccan’s next appearances will take place in Rabat (14 June), Jerez (24 June) and Madrid (IAAF permit) on July 5.

Tadese beaten by two Spaniards!

The 3000m featured a star-studded line-up comprising the reigning Olympic 10,000m bronze medallist Zersenay Tadese, World 3000m Steeplechase fourth placed Mustafa Mohamed of Sweden plus a vast array of Spanish talent in the guise of European 5000m champion Jesús España and World Indoor 1500m bronze medallist Juan Carlos Higuero among others.

Paced through the first kilos in 2:35.61 and 5:12.35, Tadese and España followed closely the pacemakers. It was at the bell that Spain’s Juan Carlos de la Ossa – European 10,000m bronze medallist – moved to the front to keep the lead until the final 150m when Higuero launched a devastating kick to romp home unopposed in a PB of 7:43.97.

España, who had been boxed over the last bend and was running in fourth by then, pipped Tadese in the closing stages to clinch second exactly one second adrift Higuero but three tenths ahead of Tadese (7:45.25).

Another major success by home athletes went to Discus thrower Mario Pestano, whose 66.72m in round 3 was rewarded with the best male performance of the meeting, while Spotakova’s 69.15 unsurprisingly took the prize on the women’s side.

Hungary’s Gabor Mate came second behind Pestano with 64.14m.

Elsewhere…

Though not fast, there were still quite interesting men’s middle distance events. Poland’s reigning U-23 800m champion Marcin Lewandowski snatched a more than convincing win after leading throughout the second lap. The 21-year-old Pole kept at bay Morocco’s Mousshin Chehibi, who is Hasna Benhassi’s husband. The winning time was 1:46.85 with the Moroccan finishing in 1:47.18, while the current Spanish champion Manuel Olmedo grabbed third in 1:47.80.

The 1500m became a neck-to neck battle between Kenya’s Nicholas Kemboi and South Africa’s Juan Van Deventer with the former prevailing thanks to a 3:37.45 run for 3:37.79 of his rival, who was fresh from an Olympic qualifier time of 3:34.46 in Rehlingen last Saturday.

The shortest events of the programme  – the men’s 100m and 110m Hurdles events – witnessed tight results: Portugal’s Olympic silver medallist Francis Obikwelu managed 10.15 secs in a tailwind of 0.5m/s to dominate Trinidad & Tobago’s Marc Burns by two hundredths of a second.

America’s Eric Mitchum chased Jackson Quiñónez from the first hurdle to catch him over the last barrier and clinch a 13.48 win (no wind) to the Spaniard’s 13.49 in the men’s sprint hurdles.

The outcome of the women’s 200m was thrilling with barely nine hundredths of a second covering the first three; Russia’s reigning World 4x400m European medallist Olga Zaytseva took top spot in 23.33 hampered by a head-wind of 1.7m/s to build a 0.02s advantage over Cydonie Mothersill of the Cayman Islands, while Britain’s World 400m champion Christine Ohuruogu had to settle for third on this occasion timed at 23.42. Ivet Lalova of Bulgaria could not even dip under the 24s territory in fifth.

Three career 15.00m+ performing women were not enough to provide a huge leap into the Triple Jump pit. Russia’s Anna Pyatykh’s second effort was measured at 14.34m to beat Cameroon’s reigning Olympic champion Francoise Mbango by two centimetres (14.32 in her second attempt). Fellow Russian Tatyana Polnova won the Pole Vault over Poland’s Anna Rogowska on countback both having cleared the bar at 4.50.

The men’s High Jump was badly hampered by the rain to such an extent that only three men were able to clear 2.20m; the win went for the 20-year-old Russian Evgeny Shishakov, who had a first time clearance at the height while 2005 World champion Yuriy Krimarenko of Ukraine and Cuba’s Lysvanis Perez needed further attempts.

Britain’s Greg Rutherford was the only long jumper exceeding the 8.00m barrier. He leapt 8.04m twice, ahead of World Triple Jump champion Nelson Evora of Portugal, 7.83m. America’s Garrett Johnson turned in a 20.42m win in the Shot Put ahead of Russia’s Yuri Belov’s 20.26.

Nyangau Ruth Bisibori of Kenya was fastest in the women’s 3000m with 8:56.29 ahead of Morocco’s Bouchra Chaabi’s 8:57.12.

Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF

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