As expected, the Women’s 1500m provided one of the highlights of Saturday evening’s (11 February) ‘Reunión Internacional Ciudad de Valencia.’ Running on the track that will host the 2008 World Indoor Championships, Bahrain’s Maryam Yusuf Jamal produced the fastest 1500m performance of the year with her 4:01.82 victory to become the sixth fastest ever indoors.
Jamal was paced by Poland’s Anna Jakuzback through 860m, instead of the 1100m as planned. Despite that, she ran inside world record pace through 1000m but faltered slightly over the following lap. Her early splits were 1:03.20 (400m), 2:07.50 (800) and 3:13.61 (1200) en route to a new Asian indoor record.
The fierce battle for the runner-up position provided no less than three more clockings better than Alesya Turova’s previous world leading performance. Romania’s Corina Dumbravean took second in 4:04.69 while Turova herself lowered her 2006 best to 4:06.46, half a second clear of Poland’s reigning 3000m indoor champion Lidia Chojecka, who was timed 4:06.90. Britain’s Hayley Tullet (4:08.55) and Russia’s Natalia Gorelova (4:08.60) completed a quality top five.
Olsen debuts with a 21.10 heave
With exactly one month to go before the World Indoor Championships in Moscow, Dane Joachim Olsen provided ample evidence that he will play a key role in the medal chase by unleashing a victorious 21.10 final heave in the men’s Shot Put. His consistent series was: 20.32, 20.52, 20.32, 20.87, 20.75 and 21.10.
Olsen, the reigning Olympic and World indoor bronze medallist debuted at No. 2 on this year’s World indoor list, trailing only American Reese Hoffa (21.65). Spain’s Manuel Martínez and Poland’s Tomasz Majewski were the only other putters exceeding the 20m barrier, reaching 20.30 and 20.22 respectively, while Netherlands’ World silver medallist Rutger Smith finished fifth (19.57).
Quiñonez reaches the hurdling elite
The men’s 60m Hurdles produced an exciting come-from-behind win by Spain’s Jackson Quiñonez, whose 7.58 performance broke the 22-year-old national record set by Javier Moracho (7.60) which Felipe Vivancos equalled last year. Quiñonez’s winning time sliced a full tenth from his previous PB. Robby Hughes of the US appeared to have an early lead, but the Spaniard began to accelerate halfway through the race and overhauled the American (7.67) to grab an impressive win.
A former high jumper (2.15 back in 1999) the Ecuadorian-born Quiñonez, 25, has been living in Spain for many years and received Spanish nationality last 31 December, but he will not be able to compete at the Worlds in Moscow under the new IAAF regulations.
Onyia surprises in 60m Hurdles
Nigeria’s 19-year-old Josephine Onyia produced a major upset in the women’s 60m Hurdles by clinching a creditable 7.91 win over some renowned specialists such as Danielle Carruthers of the US, runner-up in 7.93 and Spain’s Glory Alozie, third in 7.98. Sweden’s Jenny Kallur, the fastest among the competitors this year had to settle for seventh in 8.14. Onyia is a Valencia-based hurdler where she trains under the guidance of Rafael Blanquer, who also coaches Alozie. A massive improvement, Onyia’s best clocking prior to yesterday’s competition was 8.22!
Spain’s Arturo Casado gave the home crowd something to cheer about with a close victory in the men’s 1500m. The rising middle-distance star held off Kenya’s Laban Rotich late burst of speed to claim top spot in a slower than expected 3:41.49 to the 3:41.71 for Rotich. His countryman and reigning World indoor champion Paul Korir was closest to the pacemakers for most of the race but faded in the last lap to finish a distant ninth in 3:44.09. It should be mentioned that the winner in the ‘B’ race, Morocco’s Ali Mataoui, was fastest overall with his 3:41.11 performance.
Russia’s Pole Vault star Svetlana Feofanova began her competition with first try clearances at 4.30 and 4.40 before going over 4.52 at her second try. The 25-year-old former world record holder did not manage to clear the bar at a would-be season’s best of 4.65, but did garner the win after reportedly using borrowed poles. Spain’s Naroa Agirre, who was ninth at the Helsinki Worlds last summer, set a new national record thanks to a second-attempt clearance of 4.47m.
After the unexpected withdrawal of the pre-event favourite Blanka Vlasic of Croatia, the women’s High Jump was won by Spain’s Ruth Beitia, who topped Ukraine’s Olympic bronze medallist Vita Styopina. Each negotiated 1.95, with Beitia getting the win after a tie-breaker. Hungary’s Dóra Gyorffy went over 1.92 for third. Grace Upshaw of the US took the victory in the women’s Long Jump with a 6.48 leap and a five-centimetre advantage over Spain’s Concha Montaner, a 2005 outdoor 6.92 jumper.
In the men’s 800m Bahrain’s Ali Bilal Mansour slipped past Kenya’s Helsinki bronze medallist William Yiampoy 20m from the finish to avenge his loss to Yiampoy of a week ago in Stuttgart over 1000m. Mansour was timed 1:48.06 to Yiampoy’s 1:48.23. In the women’s race, Morocco’s Olympic and World silver medallist Hasna Benhassi snatched a commanding win in 2:01.68 and a handsome margin of one and a half seconds over France’s Elizabeth Grousselle, who tightly beat Morocco’s Mina Ait Hammou, 2:03.18 versus 2:03.27. Benhassi now plans an altitude training-camp in Ifrane before contesting her specialist event in Moscow.
Winner Shadrack Korir and runner-up Paul Bitok led a 1-2 for Kenya in the men’s 3000m. At the bell it was Saudi Arabia’s Moukhled Al-Outaibi who was in command but the Kenyan pair easily overtook him in the last 50m with Korir collecting the win in 7:44.01. Al-Outaibi clocked 7:44.64 - which would have been a new Asian record had Shaheen not run quicker earlier that monring in Thailand - while Austria’s Günther Weidlinger was the first European home in 7:45.10 ahead of Spain’s Javier Alves, timed 7:46.59.
The men’s sprints went to South African Morne Nagel (60m) and Eric Milazar (400) of Mauritius. In the former, Nagel timed 6.65 to win by one one-hundredth over Cuba’s Freddy Mayola and the young Pole Dariusz Kuc, each credited with a 6.66. Portugal’s Olympic 100m silver medallist Francis Obikwelu finished fourth (6.69) while European record holder Ronald Pognon of France confirmed he is not in the kind of form he displayed last season (6.73 for seventh). Kael Becerra twice lowered the Chilean national record, first to 6.73 heats and again to 6.70 in the final.
Milazar blasted past Dominican Carlos Santa in the homestraight en route to a 46.91 win, ahead of Spaniard David Canal (47.22), while Santa faded to third (47.24).
Notable results from the ‘B’ races included Belgian Cedric Van Branteghem’s comfortable 400m win in an SB 46.94 ahead of France’s former world bronze medallist Marc Raquil (47.58), and Russian Yuriy Koldin’s narrow 800m victory over Poland’s former (2001) world bronze medallist Pawel Czapiewski, 1:48.40 to 1:48.55.
Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF