Liévin, FranceBernard Lagat, winner of the Mile in 3:51.34 (new Meeting Record), offered a magnificent end of competition at the “Meeting IAAF du Pas-de-Calais” which was celebrating its 20th anniversary on the rebuilt Stade Couvert Régional.
Earlier in the afternoon, Cuban star Dayron Robles felt a sharp pain after the first hurdle and jogged through the finish line of his 60m Hurdle heat.
Left thigh is problem for Robles
Dayron Robles came to Liévin after having cancelled two meetings due to a mild strain on his left hamstring. The day before, the pain was still there as he would hold his left hamstring during the warm-up. On Tuesday night, the 110m Hurdles World Record holder and Olympic champion had apparently no problem during the race build-up, but unfortunately his leg couldn’t sustain the effort anymore.
Bahamian Shamar Sands won the heat in 7.60 from Russian Yevgeniy Borisov 7.64. Robles was eventually timed at 9.94. The second heat saw a rejuvenated Frenchman Ladji Doucouré, 110m Hurdles World Champion in 2005 and 4th in Beijing last year, who short of preparation due to a late post-Olympic training comeback, improved his season best from 7.74 to 7.61.
Sands surprises Doucouré in Hurdles final
The final provided further surprises as Sands, in spite of the slowest reaction time (0.171) of the field smashed his personal best by 0.09 to win in 7.49. Doucouré placed second in 7.52, his fastest time since 2005. The favourite Borisov, World Season Leader with 7.45 took third place in 7.54.
A very pleased Sands, 1.83m and 75kg, described his race: “I was trying to make a statement. I needed to “hurdle clean”; I did an excellent job over the hurdles today. With my coach Henry Rolle in Auburn (Alabama), my training went very well this winter. I got my strength in the gym and I know I’m naturally fast but weaker on technique so I worked a lot of that aspect.”
Manager Tony Campbell indicated later in the night that Dayron Robles, who got first hand treatment in Liévin and was walking without pain, will cancel Dusseldorf meeting but will still travel to the German city to see a doctor get a diagnosis: “I really don’t think it’s serious and Dayron will do his best to be present in Birmingham meeting on 21 February.”
Bernard Lagat has also booked Birmingham in his agenda. Before running the 1500m in the UK on the 21th of February and the following week in Boston for his National Championships, he was supreme during the Mile in Liévin, and the American described his race as perfect.
“I’m really pleased, it was a perfect race today, the pacemakers did an amazing job.”
Escorted through 400m in 55.70, 800m in 1:56.70 and 1000m in 2:24.53, as per request, Lagat maintained his lead through the finish (3:51.34) over Mehdi Baala who broke the French Record (3:54.16) set by Eric Dubus 15 years ago.
“It was great to run against such a quality field,” added Lagat, “I have a lot of respect for Baala who is a great athlete.”
Baala was enthusiastic about the brand new track of Liévin: “I hope more middle-distance races will be organised here because the track is super-fast.”
Nixon adds 300m World lead
Greg Nixon, the fastest man in the World this indoor season at 200m (20.65) and 400m (46.34), added the 300m to his record. His 32.38 was beyond his expectations: “I was definitively looking for a time under 33sec, but maybe not that fast.”
The American shared his tactic to race at this seldom-contested distance: “I tend to run it more like a 200m, but it’s difficult to find the middle line pace between 200m and 400m. My next race in Bercy on Friday will be another 300m, and this time I will try to hold my speed longer, and we’ll see what happens with the time.”
Home favourite Sdiri takes Long Jump
Frenchman Salim Sdiri caught the opposition by surprise in the men’s Long Jump, winning the competition with his first attempt at 8.17, the second farthest jump of the indoor season.
“I was performing at 90 to 95% in this first attempt,” estimated Sdiri, “with the aim to increase the effort progressively. Then I fouled the second attempt, which was actually better. But I felt a strain in my leg so I chose to quit. I have trained well this winter, after having resumed training quite late, on 10 November. I am physically very good at the moment; I have focused on speed and strength, and reduced vertical jumps at training for that was loading my tendons. I remember how I felt two years ago when I jumped 8.27 and I’m capable of jumping about 8.30-8.40. I will now jump at the Nationals in 10 days time, and have great expectations for the European Indoor Championships (6-8 March in Turin).
Also winning at her first attempt (14.56), Yargelis Savigne was however under pressure from Marija Sestak during the Triple Jump competition. The Cuban fouled the second jump, and registered 14.48 and 14.54. The Slovenian opened with 14.24, followed by 14.52 and 14.40, and finally took the risk in the last try but fouled.
Priscilla Lopes-Schliep (CAN) confirmed her status of favourite in setting the only two sub-8 seconds runs of the day with 7.96 in the heats and 7.94 in the final. Danielle Carruthers (USA) was out first but the powerful Canadian surged away, followed by Cuban Anay Tejeda, 8.00.
Aleksandra Kiryashova (RUS) added 5cm to her personal best and took the Pole Vault with 4.55 over Kristina Gadschiew.
Pierre-Jean Vazel for the IAAF