Sprinter Isaac Makwala of Botwana (Getty Images) © Copyright
Report Madrid, Spain

Makwala achieves historic 200m-400m double in Madrid

At the Meeting Madrid 2017, Isaac Makwala became the first man in history to run a 200m within 20 seconds and a 400m within 44 seconds on the same day, winning both events at the IAAF World Challenge meeting in the Spanish capital on Friday (14).

On an evening when temperatures were close to 40C, the Motswana sprinter first contested the 400m. Having already posted times of 31.44 for 300m and 44.08 for one lap of the track this season, it was clear Makwala was in top form.

Drawn in lane six, the 30-year-old led throughout and was already head and shoulders ahead of the rest by halfway. He crossed the line in 43.92, his second career sub-44-second clocking, to narrowly miss Michael Johnson’s meeting record of 43.90 set in 1994. USA’s Vernon Norwood was a distant second in 44.75.

“I’m satisfied, but I know I can run faster,” Makwala said in the 75-minute gap between events. “My goal in London is the gold medal; I can do it.”

Taking into account that world record-holder Wayde van Niekerk will also be in contention there, Makwala’s quotes might be regarded as quite optimistic, but shortly afterwards he replaced the South African as the quickest man so far this season over 200m.

In still conditions, he won the 200m in a PB of 19.77, taking 0.19 off his previous best and breaking the meeting record of 19.92 set by Carl Lewis in 1987. USA’s Brandon Carnes finished well behind Makwala in 20.42.

Makwala’s next race will be at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Monaco on 21 July.

In the ‘B’ race, Belgium’s Kevin Borlee dominated his twin brother Jonathan to lower his season’s best to 44.79 for his brother’s 45.09 while Spain’s Oscar Husillos managed a huge PB of 45.33 to secure his qualifying standard for the IAAF World Championships London 2017.

Masso leads Cuban long jump party

Cuba’s Maykel Masso was an outstanding victor in the men’s long jump. The world U20 champion opened with an 8.19m leap before improving to continental U20 record of 8.33m on his second attempt, taking advantage of an ideal 2.0m/s tailwind.

In doing so, the 18-year-old – who will be eligible to defend his world U20 title next year – bettered his career best of 8.28m set last year and moved to third on the world U20 all-time list, just two centimetres shy of the world U20 record. Masso had only one more valid attempt, a 7.99m leap in round three.

“I hadn’t reached the 8.00m barrier so far this season but the work has finally paid off and this PB is an enormous boost thinking of London,” said Masso. “Once there, I don’t rule out anything, everything can happen.”

Coached by Juan Napoles, Massó will remain in his Spanish base of Guadalajara before travelling to London and has no planned any events prior to the World Championships.

Juan Miguel Echevarría, also 18 and set to compete in London, set a couple of PBs: 8.24m in round four and 8.28m on his fifth try, moving him to sixth on the world U20 all-time list. The pre-contest favourites in the guise of South Africa’s Zarck Visser and Spain’s Eusebio Cáceres had to settle for third (8.23m, wind assisted) and sixth (8.04m) respectively.

Poland’s Pawel Fajdek had an another day in the office, getting his 10th consecutive victory this year. After a poor beginning (foul and 70.90m) the world and European champion stamped his authority in round three thanks to an 80.62m release to add some centimetres (80.82m) in his closing effort and keep Belarus’  Pavel Beraisha at bay (77.52m).

Australia’s Damien Birkinhead also showed stellar form in the shot put. The 24-year-old Olympic finalist had a hesitant early heave but bounced back strongly in the closing two efforts to release 21.09m and 21.20m, the latter just one centimetre off the PB he set last year.

“I felt strong today,” said Birkinhead, who’ll next compete in Cardiff. “I’m really confident ahead of the World Championships where I’d like to fight for the medals.”

Spain’s Carlos Tobalina was the only other putter surpassing the 20-metre barrier, throwing 20.31m.

Gakeme and Almanza take fine two-lap wins

Paced perfectly by the pacemaker in the 800m, Burundi’s Antoine Gakeme went through the opening lap in 50.45 on his way to a season’s best of 1:44.44, his second ever fastest time behind his 1:44.09 PB, set in Madrid two years ago. Based in Alicante, the world indoor silver medallist was a convincing victor ahead of Egypt’s Hamada Mohamed, who trimmed 0.06 from his own national record with 1:44.92, with USA’s Erik Sowinski in third timed at 1:45.01.

The Spanish pair of Álvaro de Arriba and Daniel Andújar set respective PBs of 1:45.06 and 1:45.17.

Cuba’s Rosmary Almanza was fastest in the women’s section in a season’s best of 1:59.11, getting the better of Sanne Verstegen, runner-up in a PB of 1:59.55.

USA’s Inika McPherson had the honour of beating Spain’s Olympic high jump champion Ruth Beitia on home soil. The local star improved her season’s best to 1.94m but it wasn’t enough to win as McPherson equalled her career best of 1.96m at the third time of asking to win.

In-form Cuban Yunier Perez took the win in the 100m in 10.09 from China’s Xie Zhenye’s 10.11. Perez had earlier set a lifetime best of 10.00 with a following wind of 2.0m/s in the semifinals, while Xie had clocked a wind-assisted 9.93 (4.4m/s).

USA’s 2005 world champion Bershawn Jackson took the men’s 400m hurdles in 48.82, clearly ahead of South Africa’s Cornel Fredericks, runner-up in 49.32. Canadas’ Sage Watson was victorious in the women’s event in a close battle with USA’s Cassandra Tate, 54.59 and 54.80 their respective events.

Colombia’s world and Olympic triple jump champion Caterine Ibarguen would have preferred jumping non-stop tonight as she improved her performance on each round, although her weak kick-off only could lead her to a relatively modest 14.49m. It was still enough to succeed ahead of Jamaica’s Shanieka Ricketts (14.38m) and Portugal’s Patricia Mamona (14.13m).

The Ethiopian duo of Azmera Gebru and Gelete Burka offered a thrilling closing sprint in the 3000m; both athletes were given 8:43.68 but the win went to Gebru by thousandths of a second.

Emeterio Valiente for the IAAF

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