Namibian sprint legend Frankie Fredericks last night completed the greatest sprinting double ever seen on Australian soil when he clocked 19.92 seconds (+1.6) in the 200m at the Melbourne Track Classic (IAAF Grand Prix II) at Olympic Park.
Fredericks, who last Saturday ran a 100m all-comers record of 9.94 seconds in Sydney, blasted off the bend last night in a devastating sprinting display to stop the clock well under the previous all-comers mark of 20.19 seconds set in 1986.
He defeated Belgium’s Olympic 200m finalist Patrick Stevens (20.42) and Australian Commonwealth Games finalist Darryl Wohlsen (20.60) in front of 9,000 people.
Fredericks, who won the 200m at the same meet last year, has made it quite clear since being in Australia that he is working harder than ever in his quest for his second world title later this year in Seville.
Last night’s performance is sure to make the rest of the world’s leading sprinters sit up and take notice.
The other record breaking performance was saved for the last event of the night in the men's 5000m. Kenyan superstar Luke Kipkosgei and Australia’s Lee Troop enjoyed an enthralling battle for every inch of the twelve and a half laps. Kipkosgei, who out-kicked Troop over 3000m last weekend, again re-wrote theAustralian all-comers record books winning in 13:11.11.
However, the biggest breakthrough was left for Troop who took two seconds off the 33 year old Australian record held by the legendary Ron Clarke.
Troop, who is coached by 1997 World Championships marathon bronze medallist Steve Moneghetti, finished second clocking 13:14.82 and in the process firmly established himself as Australia’s best distance runner. This performance followed his near miss of the national 3000m record in Sydney.
Troop is now setting his sights on his marathon debut in London in April.
The third Australian all-comers record of the night was produced by Russian javelin exponent Sergey Makarov. In a competition which included German stars Raymond Hecht and Peter Blank and Australian record holder Andrew Currey, Makarov bettered the old record with an 87.13m effort.
Blank was second with 85.89m, a throw which up until Makarov’s effort had also bettered the old record of 85.75m held by Currey. Hecht was third with 83.55m.
The other big attraction last night was the men's high hurdles and the appearance of world record holder Colin Jackson. Jackson went within .02 of his Australian all-comers record in running 13.24 seconds and rounding off his preparations for the World Indoor Championships in Maebashi.
Jackson defeated Belgium’s World University Games champion Jonathan N’Senga (13.64) and Australian record holder Kyle Vander Kuyp (13.70).
Australia’s favourite athlete Cathy Freeman also continued her return to form defeating Commonwealth silver medallist Alison Curbishley over 400m.
Freeman ran 51.49 seconds in the blustery conditions after taking most of the home straight to shake off the determined Scot.
The disappointment of the night was the withdrawal of world record holder Emma George from the pole vault competition. George, who set her most recent world mark of 4.60m in Sydney last weekend, was suffering from an inflamed shoulder joint.
George’s withdrawal left the way open for Australia’s latest pole vault sensation Tatiana Grigorieva to take her fourth major victory of the season with a 4.40m clearance.
Whilst the result of the women?s 5000m was lost in the excitement of the men’s race it did see the first three across the line run personal bests and in turn qualify for the World Championships in Seville.
Local runner Natalie Harvey outsprinted former world junior 3000m silver medallist Susie Power over the final lap to clock 15:22.59, less than a second ahead of Power who is on the way back after two years in the wilderness with injury.
In other results, Russian Natalya Sadova won the women’s discus with a best of 64.44m, Aussie sprint sensation Matt Shirvington won the 100m in 10.36 seconds, Brad Jamieson ran his third successive personal best in the 400m with 45.50 seconds, Commonwealth champion Berger Lambrechts won the shot put with 19.67m and Kenya's Noah Ngeny kept his unbeaten record in Australia intact in the 1500m running 3:39.01.
Full results can be found in the Results section of the IAAF web
Damian Booth of Athletics Australia for IAAF