Three weeks after suffering a rare defeat at the IAAF World Relays, multiple world and Olympic champion Usain Bolt returned to winning ways at the Golden Spike meeting in Ostrava, recording his seventh victory at the IAAF World Challenge meeting on Tuesday (26).
But on a cold and wet evening in which conditions got progressively worse, it was US sprint hurdler Sharika Nelvis who produced the performance of the night, breaking one of the oldest meeting records.
The 100m hurdles meeting record of 12.65 was set back in 1980 by Poland’s Grazyna Rabsztyn. It has twice been equalled – by Brigitte Foster-Hylton in 2003 and Tiffany Porter in 2012 – but Nelvis finally took down the mark.
Running into a -1.7m/s headwind, she pulled away from European indoor champion Alina Talay in the second half to cross the line in 12.55, just 0.01 shy of the PB she set at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Doha less than two weeks ago.
“I didn’t know that the record was 12.65 until today,” said the NCAA champion. “I couldn’t have done it without the crowd’s energy. Had the weather been better, I’d have probably run a little faster, but I’m still proud of the time I ran.”
Talay finished second in 12.78, holding off a closing Porter, who clocked 12.90 in third.
Bolt appeared on the track one hour later. Although the wind had turned in favour of the 200m sprinters, the rain was coming down harder and the temperature was cooler.
Nevertheless, the Jamaican had a noticeable lead at half way and continued to edge ahead of Isiah Young down the home stretch, clocking a season’s best of 20.13 to win by more than two metres.
“I wouldn’t say it was a difficult race,” said Bolt. “It’s not the conditions I’d like to run my first international race in, but I’m happy that I came away from the race injury-free. I just need more races; the more I run, the better I’ll get.”
Young had earlier finished second in the 100m in a race won by Asafa Powell in 10.04 (-0.4m/s).
Mixed fortunes for Kenyan stars
Along with Bolt, Olympic 800m champion David Rudisha was the other headliner of the meeting. But the world record-holder made it only around the first bend of the 600m before pulling up injured, clutching at the front of his thigh.
“It’s very unfortunate that I pulled my muscle just after 100m,” Rudisha said afterwards. “But it’s not a very serious injury.”
As he hobbled off the track, Adam Kszczot caught Mark English just before the line to win in 1:16.02, establishing a meeting record by default as it was the first time the event had been contested in Ostrava. In second, English set an Irish record of 1:16.14.
Kszczot’s win was one of three victories for Polish athletes in rarely contested events in which global champions were defeated.
European indoor champion Marcin Lewandowski won the 1000m in 2:17.25, beating world 1500m champion Asbel Kiprop, and Karol Zalewski won the 300m in 32.25, holding off world indoor 400m champion Pavel Maslak.
While Rudisha’s race didn’t quite go to plan, compatriot Julius Yego produced the performance of his life to win the javelin.
The Commonwealth champion was languishing down in ninth place after two rounds and needed a good throw in the third round to stay in the competition. But he did more than merely survive; he thrived off the pressure and set a national record of 86.88m to take the lead.
Diamond Race winner Thomas Rohler put together a consistent series but couldn’t catch the Kenyan, throwing a season’s best of 85.36m.
“The weather wasn’t very good to us, but I’m really happy that I produced such a good result,” said Yego. “It’s an honour to compete in front of the world record-holder, Jan Zelezny. He is my role model.
World leader Tero Pitkamaki was third with 83.96m, while world champion Vitezslav Vesely and Olympic champion Keshorn Walcott finished sixth and seventh respectively.
Once, twice, three times a meeting record for Taylor
Two hours before Nelvis broke the oldest track meeting record, Olympic triple jump champion Christian Taylor broke the oldest of the Golden Spikes’ meeting records. Three times.
His opening leap of 16.84m added two centimetres to the meeting record set by two-time Olympic champion Viktor Saneyev in 1979. But it didn’t last long as Taylor jumped 16.99m and 17.52m in the following two rounds.
And, as was the case at the 2007 World Youth Championships when Taylor last competed in Ostrava, Aleksey Fyodorov finished second. The Russian jumped a season’s best of 17.11m on this occasion.
A meeting record was also established in the women’s 3000m race walk. Held for the first time at the Golden Spike, world junior champion Anezka Drahotova set a Czech record of 11:52.38 to win comfortably. It is the third-fastest time in history and just four seconds shy of the fastest ever performance for the distance, Ileana Salvador’s 11:48.24.
Zuzana Hejnova was the only other Czech winner on the night. The world champion led a Czech 1-2 to win the 400m hurdles from compatriot Denisa Rosolova, 55.13 to 55.45.
Dorozhon and Braz defeat quality fields
Meeting organisers and fans had hoped that Olympic champion Barbora Spotakova would win the women’s javelin in front of her home crowd. But, competing in her first competition of the year, the world record-holder finished fifth with 58.57m.
Instead, victory went to Israel’s Marharyta Dorozhon, who unleashed her winning throw of 63.85m in the second round. It was her second national record of the year so far.
Brazil’s Thiago Braz victory in the pole vault wasn’t so much a surprise, but his winning margin of 20 centimetres was. The 2012 world junior champion had first-time clearances up to and including 5.75m before ending his series with three unsuccessful attempts at 5.85m.
Poland’s Piotr Lisek was the best of the rest, finishing second with 5.55m.
The other vertical jumps event, the high jump, was held two hours later when the conditions had worsened. World champion Bogdan Bondarenko had hoped to better his own meeting record of 2.33m, but the Ukrainian had to make do with a 2.24m win on count-back.
Elsewhere, Olympic silver medallist Dejen Gebremeskel sprinted away from Hayle Ibrahimov on the last lap of the 5000m to win by four seconds in 13:23.72. Former Diamond Race winner ChaRonda Williams won the 200m in 23.11, while Ukraine’s Anna Mishchenko notched up her third win of the year in the 1500m, kicking away from Ethiopian junior Besu Sado to win in 4:07.09.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF