A 1500/5000m double by Adel Mechaal highlighted the Spanish Championships in Barcelona on 22-23 July.
Aiming to duplicate his 2015 effort in Castellón, the European indoor 3000m champion Mechaal set himself the target of taking the double over the two longest flat events scheduled over the weekend. Mechaal’s busy agenda began on Saturday’s afternoon when he took a comfortable 3:46.66 1500m semifinal victory just one hour prior to the 5000m final where he faced strong rival Ilias Fifa, the reigning European champion.
The race was a tactical affair ran at a pedestrian pace (3000m in 8:44.52) and Mechaal only made his move at the bell when he unleashed a devastating kick to cover a 200m section in a frantic 26 seconds to open a huge margin on Fifa. Having already secured the gold medal, Mechaal slowed in closing 200m to cross the line in 14:07.93 to Fifa’s 14:11.03.
On Sunday afternoon the 27-year-old, who arrived as the field’s fastest with a 3:34.70 season’s best, stamped his authority thanks to another powerful change of gear on the final lap to finish in 3:47.17 to Marc Alcalá’s 3:47.43, the latter still fresh from a huge PB of 3:35.85 - inside the qualifying standard for London - in Monaco last Friday.
Martín beats world champion López in 10,000 walk race
Held under very humid conditions, the men’s 10,000m race walk was dominated by the 2015 European U-23 silver medallist Álvaro Martín, who set a 3:58/4:00 per kilometre pace which could only be followed by Luis Alberto Amezcua and Miguel Ángel López. For the surprise of the crowd gathered at the ‘Joan Serrahima’ stadium, the 29-year-old López was unable to maintain contact and dropped from the leading pack before the halfway point was reached in 19:52.00. Amezcua began to lose ground in the seventh kilometre although he still seemed to be a threat throughout. At the tape, the 23-year-old Martín was victorious in 39:47.17 ahead of Amezcua’s 39:50.88 while López had to settle for third in 40:15.07.
“I’m very proud of this victory as I join an illustrious list of past winners,” said López of his first national title over the distance. “My plan was to set a pace under 4:00 per kilometre and I managed to run away from the rest of the field without increasing that rhythm. This event was intended to be a test for the London worlds. I’m fully aware the level there will be of the highest calibre but I feel very strong both physically and mentally and I’m ready to fight for a top place. I’ll spend the next two and a half weeks in León – where I’ve already been training for the last three weeks trying to get accustomed to the humidity I’ll face in London.”
López, meanwhile, said he suffered from a bad day. “During the warm-up I didn’t feel fine and that was unfortunately confirmed throughout the event, he sai. “Obviously, I would have liked to perform better here but the real test will be in London in three weeks’ time. According to my trainings, my current form is not far from the shape which led me to the gold medal in 2015 but it’s true I have not excelled so far this year. I still remain optimistic on my chances in London, I think the event is wide open. Should the Chinese duo of Wang Zhen and Cai Zelin compete there, they will be the men to beat but there are no less than eight or ten athletes with podium chances.”
Reigning Olympic 110m hurdles silver medallist Orlando Ortega was an overwhelming victor in his event but he could not run faster than 13.52 after a heavy rain forced an hour-long delay in the competition. On a statistical note, Ortega produced his fastest clocking of the weekend in the first of his three races when he was timed at 13.39, still far from his season’s best of 13.15.
Olympic high jump champion Ruth Beitia has had a below par outdoor season but entered the championships boosted by a recent season’s best of 1.94m from Madrid last week. However, the 38-year-old could not go higher than 1.86m, yet still enough to secure her 13th national title.
In the absence of Bruno Hortelano, who has missed the entire season after suffering serious damage to his right hand in a car accident last September, the men’s sprint events were taken by the evergreen Ángel Rodríguez, who clocked 10.24 to win his 10th 100m title, and Samuel García, a 45.00 400m specialist who won the 200m with a 20.59 PB. Óscar Husillos won the 400m over Lucas Bua 45.42 to 45.90.
The big surprise of the championships came in the men’s 800m where Kevin López (SB of 1:45.02), Álvaro de Arriba (1:45.06) and Daniel Andújar (1:45.17) promised to fight fiercely for the title but it was Saúl Ordóñez who outsprinted all of them on the closing 50 metres to grab a 1:47.03 win ahead of European indoor bronze medallist De Arriba (1:47.25), and national record holder López (1:47.35). Andújar finished fourth.
One of the strongest Spanish hopes for next months’ IAAF World Championships London 2017 is long jumer Eusebio Cáceres who holds an 8.31m season’s best. But the 2013 World Championships fourth place finisher decided to skip his specialty as a precaution after reporting some discomfort after finishing second in the 100m in 10.60.
Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF