Meseret Defar's warm up didn’t go as planned for the women’s two miles after vomiting two minutes before the start at the adidas Track Classic but it didn’t prevent the 23-year-old Ethiopian from setting a world best of 9:10.47 in the Los Angeles suburb on Sunday (20 May).
The adidas Track Classic 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.
The Olympic 5000m champion sped through the final lap in 62.3 to eclipse the previous world best of 9:11.97 set by Regina Jacobs of the US in 1999. The event is not officially recognised by the IAAF for world record purposes.
Defar, 23, was all smiles as she took a victory lap, carrying a green, gold and red Ethiopian flag and posed for photos in front of the finish line clock.
Before the race, Defar’s record prospects didn’t look promising after she vomited several times after a breakfast of orange juice, hash browns, bread and cheese.
“I knew I was in good condition,” Defar said about her fitness through an interpreter. “I was scared that maybe I couldn’t do it. When I got to the track, I felt good. The last lap was good. I knew that I could (get the record).”
Defar’s effort in the women’s two miles provided the loudest ovation from a large enthusiastic flag-waving Ethiopian following in the crowd of 6,208. The performance added to her resume that includes world records in the 5000m and indoor 3000m and a world best on the roads at 5km.
Defar passed through 440-yards splits of 67.1, 2:16.2, 3:25.0, 4:35.4, 5:47.6, 6:58.5 and 8:08.2 in the solo effort and raised her arms in celebration as she broke the finish tape.
“I knew I was on a good pace when I heard the 3000m time,” Defar said.
US records for Greer and Stuczynski
Defar’s world best highlighted a calm afternoon in which Breaux Greer threw 90.72m in the javelin and Jenn Stuczynski cleared 4.84m in the women’s pole vault for US records.
World yearly bests were posted by Torri Edwards in the womens’ 100m (10.90), Michelle Perry in the women’s 100m hurdles (12.58), Allyson Felix in the women’s 200m (22.18), Wallace Spearmon in the men’s 200m (19.91), Kenneth Ferguson in the men’s 400 hurdles (48.15) and Christian Cantwell in the shot put (21.96m).
And Tyson Gay just missed tying the US record in the 100m at 9.79, aided by a tailwind that was 2.5m/s, slightly above the allowable 2.0m/s.
Greer posts top two marks on US javelin list
Sunday’s effort was a long time coming for Greer, 30, a seven-time US champion, who said he is injury free for the first time since 2001.
The spiky-haired thrower's injury list over his career has included a dislocated shoulder, a torn ACL and ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow. He moved from Athens, Georgia to Scottsdale, Arizona in January to be closer to his sister and break up the monotony of training full-time.
“I feel like I get mended up again but whenever I go out and throw the first meet, you find out that you still hurt,” Greer said. “It generally takes a toll on you. It’s the most ridiculous event out there. If you are not hurt, you are not throwing out there. It’s essentially how it is. It is so hard to stay healthy.’’
Greer held together long enough on Sunday to put in the finest series in US history. He opened with a first-round throw of 90.71m to add more than three metres to his US record of 87.68m set in 2004.
Greer followed it with an 89.55m throw in the third round for the No.2 mark in US history. Four of his five legal throws were beyond the 87-metre mark.
“When you are as old as me, I don’t know if I was lucky or not,” Greer said. “We have to keep waiting if the season keeps going. I have been waiting for years to do that so I can say I am surprised to do that.’’
Stuczynski takes down Dragila’s record in women’s pole vault
In the women’s pole vault, Stuczynski ended Stacy Dragila’s reign as US record-holder that began in 1996. Her 4.84m clearance eclipsed the 1999 and 2001 world champion and 2000 Olympic gold medallist’s US standard of 4.83m set in 2004.
Stuczynski, 25, a former basketball player who emerged on the scene in 2005 to win the US indoor title, has been chasing Dragila’s mark since moving into No.2 on the US all-time list last year. Dragila, 36, who is making a comeback from an achilles tendon injury that has bothered her for the past two seasons, was sixth with 4.29m on Sunday.
“I’ve been mentioning (the US record) for a while so each time that I come and do an interview people keep asking me so I didn’t want to go out of here again being like `Oh, next time’,” Stuczynski said. “It’s a relief and I am very honoured to have that.”
Stuczynski wasn’t anticipating a US record in the challenging crosswinds in Carson in her first time competing against Dragila.
“I didn’t feel at my best,” Stuczynski said. “So I am happy because it happened when it didn’t feel like it was going to.”
Dragila sensed a big effort coming from Stuczynski watching her during the competition. Dragila complimented Stuczynski on the record but said that losing the record will provide motivation for her to regain her form.
“I didn’t jump high but from where I have been, it was huge breakthrough,” Dragila said. “It’s baby steps for me and we still have time before nationals to get things right and I’d love to go head to head with Jenn when I am healthy and at my best.”
World list revisions in women’s sprints and hurdles
The women’s 100m produced the top five times in the world in 2007 and the 100m hurdles produced the top four.
In the women’s 100m, Edwards edged Veronica Campbell, 10.90 to 10.91, followed by Me’Lisa Barber (10.95), Carmelita Jeter (11.05) and Marshevet Hooker (11.06). It was a career-best for the 30-year-old Edwards since her 10.93 win at the 2003 World Championships.
“This is definitely a great way to come back and start the season,” Edwards said. “I knew last year was going to be just getting back into it and running fast here and there but this year I want to be more consistent. It was challenging because I hadn’t been on the track and getting into the race rhythm and competing.”
In the women’s 100m hurdles, Perry won in 12.58 to edge training partner Virginia Powell and Lolo Jones, who were second and third in 12.61. Canada’s Angela Whyte was fourth in 12.63.
Powell got off to a quick start in lane five but Perry in the adjacent sixth lane closed strongly over the last two hurdles to nip the 2005 and 2006 NCAA champion and Jones at the tape.
It was Perry’s first hurdles race since running 12.82 in Melbourne in February. Perry missed almost a month of training in March after straining her hamstring in her right lead leg in a workout.
“My heart just dropped,” Perry said. “My body felt good and I was ready to run fast. I am back on track but still have a long way to go to prepare for races like this.”
Allyson Felix was in control in her 200m season debut to win in 22.18 over LaShaunte’a Moore (22.46) and Cydonie Mothersill (22.52).
Gay runs wind-aided 9.79
With Maurice Greene watching as a spectator in the 100m final, Gay narrowly missed tying the former three-time world champion’s US record of 9.79 in the 100m with a breeze that was slightly too strong.
Greene was sixth in his heat in 10.84 to finish last out of 19 runners in his first race since finishing third in the 100m final in 10.35 in Baie Manhault, on the Caribbean island of Guadaloupe in his only 100m of the season.
“My goal is to get stronger each week because my legs are still weak,” Greene said.
Wallace Spearmon won the 200m in 19.91 in a showdown over LaShawn Merritt (19.98), Shawn Crawford (20.21) and Xavier Carter (20.26). Jeremy Wainer was the winner in the 400m at 44.60.
Kenneth Ferguson held off Kerron Clement in the 400m hurdles, 48.15 to 48.46, to lower his career best of 48.51 set in 2005 and lead five runners under 49.00. Terrence Trammell won the 110m hurdles in 13.19 with David Payne (13.28) and David Oliver (13.29) in second and third.
Christian Cantwell won the shot put with 21.96m with Adam Nelson in second (21.47m) and Reese Hoffa in third (21.36m). Nick Willis of New Zealand won the men's 1500m in 3:35.85.
Anthony Famiglietti held off Juan Luis Barrios to win the 3000m, 7:41.27 to 7:42.86, to avenge a narrow defeat to the Mexican in the 5000m at the Mt SAC Relays in April.
Jamaica’s Novlene Williams and Kenia Sinclair were winners in the women’s 400m and 1500m. Williams timed 50.66 to defeat DeeDee Trotter (51.13). Sinclair overtook Shayne Culpepper in the final 25 metres to win, 4:05.56 to 4:05.98.
Kirby Lee for the IAAF