On a cool, extremely damp night in the Stade de France Usain Bolt defied the rain again to win the 100m in a meeting record of 9.79 sec this evening (17) at the Meeting Areva, the fourth of sixth meetings of the ÅF Golden League 2009.
Bolt braved heavy rain similar to the conditions he faced over 200m in Lausanne on 7 July, to secure a 9.79 win (-0.2m/s) which obliterated Asafa Powell’s meet mark of 9.85sec set here in 2006. Once again this season we found the start of the triple Olympic champion wanting, he was the second slowest away of the nine man field, and while it's only relative to his unapproachable standards Bolt when he did get into the lead didn’t seem to power away in the same effortless manner we have come to expect.
That impression was partly created by the impressive race put up by Antigua’s Daniel Bailey whose 9.91 in runner’s-up spot was a national record and Yohan Blake, who only 19 years and 203 days, crossed in third in a personal best of 9.93. Only last week in Rome in much more conducive weather conditions for sprinting, the Jamaican teenager had gone under 10sec for the first time (9.96). Impressive!
Back to the pinnacle of the results sheet and, whatever the slight reservations, we had certainly witnessed another piece of Bolt brilliance. In tonight’s conditions (18c and driving rain at the time of the 100m) Bolt had every right to "be happy" and to say "it was a good race…."
"In these conditions the time is great but it was hard to put everything in place from start to finish."
"My reaction time is poor and this is something I have to work on in the next weeks before Berlin."
Four continue confidently towards $1 Million
All four of the athletes in the hunt for the ÅF Golden League Jackpot - Bekele, Stewart, Richards and Isinbayeva - continued their campaigns untroubled this evening, and after next month’s 12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics, Berlin, Germany (15 – 23 Aug) will fight for their fifth win when the ÅF Golden League restarts in Zürich on Friday 28 August.
Click here for Jackpot Contenders
Here’s how the four got on this evening…
Bekele dispatches Lagat
Kenenisa Bekele judged his head to head confrontation over 3000m with Bernard Lagat to perfection. The fourth lap of 59.7sec did the damage and destroyed the hopes of his American rival, allowing the Ethiopian to then gradually widen his advantage on the notoriously quick-finishing World 1500m and 5000m champion. With these tactics the Ethiopian, who holds the 5000m and 10,000m Olympic crowns and possesses a mean sprint of his own, never allowed Lagat to position himself for any attack.
With a mist of rain already in the stadium air Bekele hit the bell (6:29) with holding a good 20 metres or more advantage on his principal opponent and brought the race home in 7:28.64. Lagat had given the challenge everything he had, finishing in a personal best of 7:33.15. France’s Mourad Amdouni was third in a European season’s lead of 7:37.50.
Isinbayeva calls it a day at 4.65
The rain that had greeted Bekele’s rebuttal of Lagat produced extremely tricky conditions to curtail the women’s Pole Vault with Yelena Isinbayeva ending her day after just one vault, a clearance at 4.65m which was enough to keep her in the Jackpot hunt. Former World record holder Svetlana Feofanova, who was Isinbayeva’s only surviving opponent at that point with a first time success at the previous height (4.55) abandoned her competition in second place after one failure at 4.65 after she sprained her heel and wrist in an awkward fall. Anna Rogowska the only other athlete to try 4.65, failing three times, ended third on 4.55.
Sanya Richards running a conservative first 200m powered away from the 400m field on the crown of the final bend to take a solid 49.34sec victory. This was a command performance by the Olympic bronze medallist who was running solo for the final straight. It was the 24-year-old’s second fastest outing of the summer behind her 49.23 world lead in Oslo (3 July), who now holds the top five times of this season.
Jamaican Novlene Williams was second (50.39) and Botswana’s African champion Amantle Montsho ran 50.61, her season’s best for third.
Kerron Stewart looked majestic in the women’s dash, every inch the double Olympic medallist, and was never really challenged winning in 10.99sec. In current form the Jamaican looks just as likely a gamble for the jackpot as any of the other three challengers for the $1 Million purse.
46,500 fans get what they came for
Aside the presence of Usain Bolt, the crowd of 46,500 had come to the Stade this evening to see home wins for two of France’s World Championship medal hopefuls, Renaud Lavillenie and Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad, and they did not go away disappointed.
New French record holder (6.01m) Lavillenie coped with the rain the best of the male pole vaulters winning with a third time clearance at 5.70m. Only one other of the ten man field, compatriot Damiel Dossevi, managed to even make it over 5.60, such were the increasingly wet, and on the back straight - next to which the pole vault runways ran parallel - windy conditions that prevailed for this and the women’s competition.
Thanks to the same conditions all hope of a European record attempt were put aside in the men’s 3000m Steeplechase, and the intended pursuer of that target France’s Olympic silver medallist Mekhissi-Benabbad was content to bring home the win in 8:13.23, though he was strongly challenged by Kenya’s 2004 Olympic champion Ezekiel Kemboi (8:15.27), and Finland’s European champion Jukka Keskisalo whose 8:15.59 was a PB.
Harper comes from behind; Faulk puts on a show
In the women’s 100m Hurdles, two time World champion Michelle Perry and Olympic champion Dawn Harper, running in lanes 5 and 6 respectively, pulled each other back into contention with early leader Virginia Powell, lane two, who held the edge until around the fourth hurdle. Harper was the strongest of Powell’s pursuers who having sped past, raised her right arm aloft to indicate the win over Perry as they crossed 12.68sec to 12.75, with Powell third, 12.81.
Dexter Faulk might not have made the USA team for the World Championships but he’s still flying on the one-day circuit. The winner in Berlin (14 June) came near his season’s best (13.13, Ostrava 17 June), with a show piece of a hurdles race in which he finished well clear in 13.14 (-0.2m/s).
There were distant PBs from Jamaican Dwight Thomas in second (13.20), who is better known as a flat sprinter, and France’s Garfield Darien (13.39). If his compatriot, the 2005 World champion Ladji Doucouré wants to feature in next month’s World champs in Berlin he’s got to do a lot of work; 13.68 for 8th here.
Vlasic and Thorkildsen surpreme
Croatia’s World champion Blanka Vlasic defeated her fellow reigning global medallists with a 1.99m second time clearance in the women’s High Jump. The joint silver medallists from Osaka, Anna Chicherova of Russia and Italy’s Antonietta Di Martino, were on this occasion separable on count back having cleared 1.97, ending respectively second and third.
In the Javelin Throw, Norway’s Andreas Thorkildsen took his second win in a row over Finland’s Tero Pitkämäki with an 88.03m release that topped two 86m plus efforts from the Finn, the best of which was his opening 86.68m. Well adrift of these two was Latvia’s world season leader Vadims Vasilevskis (82.82m).
Wariner has more to do before Berlin
Jeremy Wariner headed the 400m field but it was hardly the emphatic victory that one would have expected from the reigning World champion who won in 45.28 beating not the strongest of global opposition. Wariner talked yesterday about hitting a little bump in the road in terms of his career last year but the Olympic silver medallist has a lot more road resurfacing to accomplish before he can confidently take on his 2008 nemesis Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt when they meet in Berlin next month.
Wariner’s own words summed it up, “I’m not ready….”
Olympic champion Melaine Walker was always playing catch-up tonight but coming off the final bend of the 400m Hurdles in fourth it looked as if she would power through for the win but Poland’s Anna Jesien running in lane 5, one inside the Jamaican, had her measure and held on to the tape in 54.37 to Walker’s 54.47. It was a season’s best for Walker, as was the 54.72 which took USA’s Tiffany Williams to third.
Olympic silver medallist Ahmed Ismail of the Sudan was the easy winner of the men’s 800m in 1:45.85, while in the women’s event charging down the outside in lane 2 came USA’s Anna Willard whose 1:58.80 PB allowed her to pass Italy’s Elisa Cusma (second in season’s best 1:58.99). The Italian had only moments before got her head in front of Russia’s Oksana Zbrozhek (1:59.13, 3rd) who had led for most of the home straight.
Briton Phillips Idowu wiuth 17.17m (+0.9m/s) won what by comparison to the stature of the start list ended up being an extremely low key men's Triple Jump.
Chris Turner for the IAAF