Leipzig, GermanyWith five competitors at 5.70 or higher, Germany currently boasts the deepest pole vaulting squad in the world, so it was really no surprise that they should make some of the big headlines at the Sparkassen Athletics meeting on Friday night (09 February) in Leipzig. And just as he did last Saturday in Stuttgart, Björn Otto controlled the show.
Already having won at 5.80 on a countback when Danny Ecker retired after clearing the same height, Otto instructed the bar to be placed at a would-be German record 6.01. Although unsuccessful, the 29-year-old Dormagen jumper had two creditable attempts at the height, a goal which will undoubtedly remain on his to-do list during the remaining weeks of the indoor season.
Behind Otto and Ecker was Lars Börgeling in a season-best 5.75, as Poland’s Adam Kolasa equaled his PB with 5.70 for fourth.
Another sub-2:00 for Ceplak
But there were also eye-opening performances on the track.
Not unexpectedly, Jolanda Ceplak had the lead in the women’s 800 metres as the first 400 concluded in 57.69. What was perhaps more unusual was the sight of Sasha Spencer running close behind at this point. The American remained tenacious for another lap, but at the bell it was apparent she was outmatched by the Slovenian, who chalked up her third sub-2:00 of the season with 1:59.65.
Spencer held on for second with 2:03.63, but giving up considerable ground to Alexia Oberstolz of Italy, who was third in 2:04.50.
Double dash win for Nagel
After a false start, Morne Nagel came off the first curve of the men’s 200 metres strongly and quickly neutralized the stagger against Germany’s Sebastian Ernst running on his outside. The final straight was one of power, as the South African zoomed to the world lead in the one-lap race with 20.63 while Ernst, having just recovered from a cold, came home a distant second with 21.03.
The other section of the 200 was won by Poland’s Marcin Jedrusinski with 20.86 over Germany’s Alexander Kosenkow at 21.21.
Earlier in the evening, Nagel was one of the first away in the men’s 60 metres, as he clocked 6.64 for a double win, holding off a final surge by Nigeria’s Chinedu Oriala at 6.67.
The next three places were tightly packed, with Germany’s Ronny Ostwald besting Vyacheslav Muravyev of Kazakhstan, both at 6.69, and Jedrusinski, who also doubled, just behind in 6.70.
The men’s Shot Put came late in the program, with Germany’s Peter Sack throwing 20.22 for the victory. Miroslav Vodovnik of Slovenia saw his 19.85 hold up for second ahead of former European leader Robert Häggblom of Finland with 19.46.
The Women’s 60 metres was one of the most anticipated events of the evening with the participation of the Queen of Sprint, Merlene Ottey, who is competing indoors this season for the first time since 2004. The nearly 47-year-old Jamaica-born Slovenian narrowly won her heat with 7.30 against the 7.32 of Poland’s Dydo Dorota.
In the final, another Polish sprinter, Daria Onysko pulled away at the end for the victory in 7.29, as Dorota (7.35) and Ottey (7.36) took the next two places.
Narrow win for Jones over Bolm
Lolo Jones took a big lead off the gun in the women’s 60 metres Hurdles, but Germany’s Kirsten Bolm was closing on the American as the race drew to a close. Jones held on for a 7.95 victory, ahead of Bolm’s 7.98, as no other competitors were within 0.30 seconds of the leading pair.
The men’s 60 metres Hurdles was staged as two separate races, one hour apart, with the same competitors. Germany’s Thomas Blaschek, the European silver medallist from last summer, won both races, clocking 7.70 in the first race and coming back with 7.66.
The first race was a tight one for the Leipziger, as compatriot Willie Mathiszik ran a PB 7.71 to come within a breath of upsetting Blaschek. The second race saw the German being pushed all the way to the end by Gregory Sedoc of the Netherlands, who ended second in 7.70.
Former South American long jump and triple jump champion Keila Costa had only two legal attempts in the women’s Long Jump, but the Brazilian’s early-round PB 6.60 held on for a win over the 6.56 of Denisa Scerbova of the Czech Republic. European indoor bronze medallist Bianca Kappler of Germany barely survived early elimination when her first two jumps were fouls, but she did manage a 6.24 to stay alive and eventually finish fourth with that mark. This season marks Kappler’s return to competition after a pregnancy leave.
The field in the men’s 800 metres was brought through the 400 by pacemaker Sascha Stephan in a brisk 51.40, and Florent Lacasse, a finalist in last summer’s European championships, dutifully followed about five metres back. The French runner had no real challenger, and he raced against the clock over the final two laps, finishing with an indoor season best of 1:47.47, with Slovakia’s Jozef Repcik coming up at the end to pip Steffen Co of Germany, 1:49.90 to 1:50.19.
Jan Fitschen, the European 10,000 metres champion from last summer, dropped all the way down to the 1500 metres for a win. The German started out running in the last position, but slowly moved forward through the pack and was in the frontrunning group of three which separated itself at the 600 mark.
Then, with 150 to go, Fitschen put on a kick, passing Italy’s Christian Neunhäuserer and coasting to a 3:43.67 win, with Neunhäuserer easily holding second in 3:44.91 ahead of Wolfram Müller’s 3:46.55.
The women’s 2000 metres went to Natalia Tobias of Ukraine in 5:48.87. The diminutive runner, along with Germany’s Sabrina Mockenhaupt, had moved away from the remaining competitors when two pacemakers’ jobs were finished at 1200 metres.
Mockenhaupt, held a consistent pace, about seven metres behind the lead of Tobias, but off the final 600, Tobias pulled strongly ahead for an uncontested win as the German finished second in 5:53.00.
The top section of the Women’s 400 metres saw Claudia Hoffmann grab a sizeable lead off the first lap (24.66), but she tired coming off the last curve, allowing Christy Ekpukhon of Nigeria to slip in with a 52.59 victory.
The other section was won by Germany’s Jonna Tilgner in 53.26.
The top time of the two sections of the men’s 400 metres came from Daniel Dabrowski. The Polish runner took a narrow lead into the second half of the race and held off a strong close by Germany’s Florian Seitz at the finish, 47.19 to 47.26.
The other section saw California Molefe, the silver medallist at last year’s World Indooor Championships in Moscow, clip another former world indoor runner-up, Davian Clarke of Jamaica, in the final 20 metres, 47.39 to 47.75.
Ed Gordon for the IAAF