Malmö, SwedenNo, the wish for some nice summer weather for the third meet of the Swedish "Folksam Grand Prix" series was not listened to by the weather gods. Just like in Sollentuna last week it was a rainy and damp evening when the MAI-galan was held at Malmö Stadion. Add to that a fairly strong headwind in the finishing straight.
45.12 national record for Wissman
But still it was a sprinter that produced the real highlight of the evening for the spectators. European silver medallist at 200m last summer Johan Wissman continued his successful transformation into a 400m specialist:
Just over a week ago he upset Ireland's David Gillick in the European Cup First League winning by half a second in 45.77 and now – seemingly unbothered by the weather – Wissman ran 45.12 to displace Gillick also as the fastest European of the year. The time constituted a lowering of the six years old Swedish NR by over four tenths too.
Wissman used his 200m speed to go out fairly fast (21.5 at 200m) and when it at the end of the last bend seemed that established specialists Lewis Banda of Zimbabwe (44.58 PB) and USA’s Jamaal Torrance (6th in the recent US Championships) were beginning to reel him Wissman – from nearby Helsingborg – just hit another gear and powered down the homestraight to win by three quarters of a second going away.
That the weather conditions were far from optimal for 400m running is illustrated by Russia's Tatyana Veshkurova (49.99 PB from last year when she also got the silver medal at the European Championships) winning the women's event with a hard fought 52.42. But it didn't seem to stop Wissman and the logical conclusion is that the 45.12 today has a considerably higher intrinsic value than what the plain numbers indicate.
The same statement should definitely also be made for the 200m winning time of 20.45 recorded by Jaysuma Saidy Ndure. The Norwegian (just recently acquired the Norwegian citizenship) ran an impressively smooth race facing a considerable headwind in the finishing straight.
Holm makes 107th comp at 2.30 or above
For obvious reasons the jumping events are traditionally main attractions at every major meet in Sweden and this edition of MAI-galan was no exception. The men's High Jump featured a new match-up between local hero Linus Thörnblad and Stefan Holm with Briton Martyn Bernard – who finished third behind the two Swedish jumpers at the European Indoors this winter – and Olympic fourth placer Jamie Nieto added to the mix.
Despite the conditions (rain on-and-off, gusting head-wind during runup) all these four jumpers approached 2.26 with clean sheets but there Bernard somewhat surprisingly was the only one to make that height on first attempt. Holm and Thörnblad followed suite in the second round while Nieto was eliminated. So with the bar raised to 2.30 it was the Briton in the lead and he stayed there until the ninth and last jump at the height.
That jump belonged to Stefan Holm and after a long concentration he produced what was probably his best jump this summer: There was daylight between him and the bar to such an extent that he probably could have cleared the 2.33 he then tried without success. But still the 107th meet at 2.30 or better could be catalogued by the statistically minded winner.
The Pole Vaulters also had to battle rain and wind (for them cross-wind) with Adam Kolasa of Poland coming out the winner thanks to his second attempt clearance of 5.60 followed by the 5.50's registered by Alhaji Jeng and Jesper Fritz.
World Junior champ beats Webb and Heshko to set 1:45:10 PB
In the middle and long distance events the men's 1500m was the most competitive with seven runners at 3:38-3:39 headed by Moroccan Bader Rassioui who won a tough sprint encounter with Italian Christian Obrist: 3:38.05 vs 3:38.11.
However, the top times quality wise were provided by the men's 800m with tall Kenyan youngster David Rudisha, winning in 1:45.10 (PB) after an impressive last 250 metres in "Billy Konchellah"-style. i.e. he came from the middle of the pack and just majestically strode past everyone. This World Junior champion of last year certainly looks set for future greatness!
American 1500m specialist Alan Webb put up an impressive finishing straight to grab a clear 2nd place in 1:45.80, which constituted an improvement of 0.29 upon the three years old PB which he actually also set at this Malmö meet. Rather disappointing on the other hand Webb's 1500m colleague Ivan Heshko of Ukraine who ended up 6th over three seconds behind the winner Rudisha.
Other notable winners included Kenya's Mark Bett in the 5000m (13:17.45), Denmark's Morten Jensen in the Long Jump (7.96w/7.87ok), Morocco's Sultana Ait Hammou in the 800m (won by 2½ seconds in 2:02.65) and Bahama's Chandra Sturrup in the 100m (11.54 into a strong headwind – won by over three metre's from Britain's Emma Ania).
Lennart Julin for the IAAF
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Note: Results have mixed-up Kenyan's Rudisha and Litei in the 800m. As noted in the report above Rudisha won while Litei finished 4th!