Not even cold weather could dampen the mood at the Paavo Nurmi Stadium during the first IAAF World Challenge meeting held at the stadium on Tuesday (13).
The 55th Paavo Nurmi Games, held on the 120th birthday of the nine-time Olympic gold medallist, was a success with a world-leading mark in one event and a horde of world-class results, personal bests and national records in others.
The meeting also formed part of the IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge and, competing in front of nearly 12,000 people, two-time world champion Pawel Fajdek returned to the stadium where he had won for the past two years.
The 28-year-old opened with a strong 81.85m to break his own stadium record, which seemed to destroy the hopes of the other throwers. There was no question about the winner, but the Pole still came up with a world-leading 82.40m with his last throw, his sixth best competition during career and 17th straight final beyond 80 metres.
Compatriot Wojciech Nowicki was second with 76.71m and Pavel Bareisha of Belarus was a close third with 76.56m. Surprisingly, Olympic champion Dilshod Nazarov could only manage 75.69m for fifth place.
As always in Turku, the men’s javelin was a main event and it didn’t disappoint.
It couldn’t quite match the lofty heights of the 90-metre throws from last year, but a great duel between Germans Thomas Röhler and Johannes Vetter resulted in both men throwing beyond 87 metres. In the best depth competition ever witnessed in Turku, seven men in total threw beyond 82 metres.
Olympic champion and world leader Röhler grabbed another win here with an 88.26m second-round effort. It was a tight competition against compatriot Vetter, who also hit his best throw in round two with 87.88m for second place.
In a high standard competition, 2012 Olympic champion Keshorn Walcott was third with 86.48m. Ahmed Bader Magour warmed up nicely during the evening, throwing a season’s best of 84.55m in round five before unleashing his first ever 85-metre throw to set a Qatari record of 85.23m in fourth place.
Home favourite Tero Pitkämäki was consistent with four throws beyond 83 metres and a best of 83.95m for fifth place. Germany’s Andreas Hofmann was sixth with 83.53m and world champion Julius Yego placed seventh with a season’s best of 82.60m.
Stadium records for Khaladovich, Guliyev and Darien
European champion Tatsiana Khaladovich won the women’s javelin with a stadium record of 65.03m. Australia’s Kelsey-Lee Roberts threw a personal best of 64.06m to finish second in a quality field that also included Olympic silver medallist Sunette Viljoen, third with 61.54m, and world champion Katharina Molitor, sixth with 59.19m.
Despite the cool weather, good tailwinds helped the sprinters on the home straight. Turkey’s Ramil Guliyev won the men’s 100m in a PB of 10.02 (1.5m/s) to break the stadium record. South Africa’s Henricho Bruintjies was second in 10.06.
After setting a Finnish U20 and U18 record of 10.35 in the heats, 17-year-old Samuel Purola went even quicker in the final, placing seventh in 10.33, the fastest time by a European U18 athlete this year.
Garfield Darien of France won a tight 110m hurdles final in a stadium record of 13.22. Hungary’s Balázs Baji and South Africa’s Antonio Alkana finished second and third respectively, both timed at 13.35.
Lavillenie and Lasitskene fly high
In the pole vault, Renaud Lavillenie trailed his younger brother Valentin, who held the lead following first-time clearances at 5.46m and 5.61m. But while Valentin went no higher, the world record-holder went on to clear 5.70m and 5.81m before taking three attempts at 5.91m.
Maria Lasitskene, competing as a neutral athlete, was an expected winner of the high jump. The world champion won with 1.95m and ended with three unsuccessful attempts at 2.00m.
World 1500m leader Sadik Mikhou moved up in distance to the 3000m and won in a sprint finish, clocking 7:44.36 in what was just his second race over the distance.
British athletes came out on top in the one-lap events. Rabah Yousif won the 400m flat in 45.81, while Jack Green took the 400m hurdles in 49.78. The same time was given to Poland’s European under-23 champion Patryk Dobek in second place.
Olympic champion and two-time world champion Caterine Ibarguen was in trouble during the early stages of the women’s triple jump, but the Colombian finally took the lead in round five before improving to 13.97m with her final jump. It brought an end to her streak of 77 competitions in which she has jumped beyond 14 metres, a tally that began in April 2010.
In a competition which seemed to be affected by the cold weather, Ukraine’s 2011 world champion Olga Saladukha jumped 13.88m for second place while Lithuania’s Dovilé Dzindzaletaité was third with 13.84m.
Elsewhere, Kenya’s Daisy Jepkemei was the fastest in the women’s 3000m steeplechase in 9:31.98. Ukraine’s Olga Lyakhova clocked a 2:01.50 stadium record to win the 800m and Rebekka Haase of Germany grabbed the 100m win in 11.21.
Mirko Jalava for the IAAF