Ivan Ukhov jumping at the 2008 Russian Winter meeting in Moscow (Jiro Mochizuki (Agence Shot)) © Copyright
General News Moscow, Russia

Ukhov increases world lead to 2.35m – Russian Winter

Ivan Ukhov continues to fly high. At the 18th edition of the annual ‘Russian Winter’ meeting in the Russian capital on Sunday (1), the 22-year-old Russian added one centimetre to his world indoor season lead for the High Jump of 2.34 which he set in Hustopece in Czech Republic on 24 January.

The Russian Winter is an IAAF Indoor Permit meeting.

Though it’s very cold in Moscow – minus 20 degrees! – the old Vladamir Kutz Arena was crammed with an enthusiastic audience. The opening of the tournament was gorgeous. The unexpected show by drummers and dancers made the audience feel like they were at a concert. The presence of guest stars such as two long retired athletes who are still World record holders in their respective events also helped to keep the atmosphere more than upbeat. Ukraine’s Sergey Bubka, the Pole Vault record holder (indoors and out) who is now IAAF Senior Vice-President, and Mike Powell, the Long Jump record holder, who is now an IAAF Ambassador, were VIP guests of the meeting.

Consistent jumping

After clearing five heights on each of his first time attempts and with all his high jumping opponents competitively killed off by 2.28m, Ivan Ukhov progressed from the last of those first time clearances (2.31m) to take-on 2.35 and successfully made that height at his third approach to the bar.

The only significant challenge came from compatriot Aleksandr Shustov who after clearing 2.28 on his second effort was the only other person to attempt 2.31m though he failed all those chances, while the winner sailed over on his first as he had also done at 2.15, 2.20, 2.24 and 2.28m.

It was at this same Moscow meeting in 2007 that Ukhov set his indoor and overall career best of 2.39m, which still stands as the national indoor record.

Ukhov's new coach, 2000 Olympic champion Sergey Klyugin is sure that his pupil is capable of much more in the season of the World Championships in Berlin. The best proof was that Ukhov was very close to success at 2.41m today.

Keitany sees off customary late attack from local hero

On the track the best time of the day came from Kenyan Haron Keitany who set a meeting record of 2:16.76 for the 1000m. The World Athletics Final victor last summer at 1500m, who has a PB for the metric mile of 3:32.06 when winning last year’s Zürich meeting, today saw off Russia’s 2004 Olympic 800m champion Yuriy Borzakovskiy who clocked 2:17.10, a national record, with Belal Mansoor Ali of Bahrain, third in 2:17.82.

But the race was a lot closer in the end than it originally seemed it was going to be. After the first 600m Borzakovskiy was so far behind Keitany and Mansoor  that it was next to impossible to imagine that he’d seriously challenge them for the win, but the local hero did, and supported by the crowd his customary late kick nearly enabled him to catch and pass the Kenyan on the last lap.

Kucherenko world season lead; Howe over 8m

Russia’s Olga Kucherenko took the women’s Long Jump with 6.81m, the current world indoor season lead. Olympic Heptathlon winner Nataliya Dobrynska from Ukraine was fifth with 6.30m. European champion Lyudmila Kolchanova was pnly seventh with 6.19m.

Italy’s European champion Andrew Howe opened his year with an 8.02m first round leap which won the men’s competition. His second round 7.87m was his only other valid effort with three passes and a foul making up the rest of his series. His compatriot Fabio Cerutti took the men’s 60m in 6.64 sec.

A more impressive dash came in the women’s 60m which was taken by Russia’s Anna Geflikh in 7.18 sec.

There was a useful scalp for Russia’s Yevgeniy Borisov whose 7.59sec run in the men’s 60m Hurdles saw off France’s 2005 World 110m Hurdles champion Ladji Doucouré who finished third in 7.77 sec.

There was better luck for France in the men’s Pole Vault, as their major international breakthrough talent of the year Renaud Lavillenie who vaulted a PB of 5.81m in late December scaled the same height here in Moscow to beat a starry field of major championship medallists. These names included Russia’s 2005 World Championship bronze medallist Pavel Gerasimov in second (5.76) and 2008 Olympic silver medallist Yevgeniy Lukyanenko (5.66) in third, and in fourth place French compatriot and 2007 World Championships silver medallist Romain Mesnil (5.66).

22-year-old Lavillenie who had an indoor PB before this season of 5.70 (his outdoor best is 5.65) took the winning 5.81m height on his first attempt and then had three failures at 5.86m.

"But I'm not disappointed," commented Yevgeniy the pre-event favourite. "My aim is to be ready for the Worlds (Berlin). This winter season is of minor importance for me."

Records set at rarely run 300m

Men’s 300m distance was dominated by Maxim Dyldin. He set the national Russian record at this distance rather rarely included into the programme of the international meetings. Dyldin improved the old record that had been set by Dmitriy Forshev in 2004. Now the record is 32.93 sec. He overpowered the strong runner from the USA Greg Nixon -33.05 and his Russian teammate Denis Alekseev – 33.29.

Dyldin looked very much satisfied after the meet. “Now I'm the holder of two national records at 300 m and at 500m as well. May be this year I'll have a chance to improve the record of Russia at the classical 400m distance.”

In the women’s 300m many top runners including Anastasiya Kapachinskaya, Tatyana Firova, Yuliya Guzhchina, Yuliya Chermoshanskaya, Olesya Zykina lined-up to improve the national record set by Irina Privalova – 35.45 sec – in 1993. But in the end it was the 21-year-old runner Antonina Krivishapka who was the best with the surprisingly good time – 36.38. It’s the new Russian and European best for an under 23 year-old, and the best time ever seen at the Russian Winter meet . Guzhchina was the runner-up in 37.15 and Chermoshanskaya was third – 37.61.

“It was the first time in my life I run this distance in the official competition,” said the modest winner Krivoshapka. “I didn’t expect to win. My major aim is 400m and there were so many excellent runners who competed with all their might. I hope that may be this victory will open for me the way to the national team. Please, send my gratitude to my city of Volgograd where I’m training.”

Below-par Gulnara Galkina-Samitova

The Beijing Olympic Games 3000m Steeplechase winner Gulnara Galkina-Samitova tried the women’s flat 1000m but was found wanting. She finished 8th in her ‘A’ race and 12th overall in a time of 2:47.24.

“I am a bit out of form because of the old injuries that took some time to heal,” said the Olympic champion. “This year I'm most likely to concentrate on 1500m.”

Winning the race and the fastest overall was Anna Alminova who clocked 2:34.30 – that is the world season best at 1000m. Marya Savinova was the runner-up in 2:34.56 and Oksana Zbrozhek was third, 2:35.50.

Nickolai Dolgopolov and Rostislav Orlov for the IAAF

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