Yekaterina Kupina and Yekaterina Koneva posted world-leading marks at the Russian Team Championships in Sochi on Saturday and Sunday (25-26), with the former running the first sub-2:00 800m time of the summer with 1:59.72 and the later improving her Triple Jump best to 14.80m.
Kupina, who last season was a pacemaker at several top meetings, took 0.13 off her outdoor best on Sunday, although she has run slightly faster indoors, but significantly left behind the experienced Svetlana Cherkasova and Yelena Soboleva, who ran 2:00.32 and 2:00.62 respectively.
Koneva, the 2011 World University Games champion, produced an impressive series: 14.62m in the second round, 14.76m in the fourth round and then 14.80m with her last jump to three times improve her best, which previously stood at 14.60m, a distance she achieved indoors last year.
There was a quality mark in second place with 2007 European Athletics U23 Championships silver medallist Yekaterina Chernenko (nee Kayukova) leaping out to 14.40m.
In fifth place, the two-time IAAF World Championships medallist Anna Pyatykh, now 32, had her best competition since giving birth to the twins last year when she leapt 14.16m.
In the absence of any real rivals, long jumper Darya Klishina shined in sunny Sochi in her first summer outing with jumps of 6.70m, 6.75m and 6.74m in rounds two to four. She finished off the competition with two fouls. Veronika Mosina, better known as a triple jumper, posted an outdoor best of 6.64m to finish second.
“I realised that last summer my mistake was that I did not compete before the national trials; that’s why I did not manage to qualify for London. Now, I want to jump in competition as much as I can. This gives me confidence,” admitted Klishina.
This season, the 2011 and 2013 European Athletics Indoor Championships gold medallist will have lots of opportunities to boost her morale. At 22, Klishina is still is eligible to compete at the European Athletics U23 Championships in Tampere, Finland, as well as the World University Games and World Championships.
The 2010 European Athletics Championships 400m Kseniya Ustalova secured easy win over one lap of the track in 50.84. This is the second best run by a European so far this summer. After falling in the semis of the European Athletics Indoors Championships, Ustalova is now back in top shape.
“I try not to think about what happened in Gothenburg,” commented Ustalova. “I had my back and leg scratched, and for some time after I felt pain even when putting on my trousers. But now I am all right, and focused on the main goal for the season, and that’s to qualify for the World Championships.”
There was a good Pole Vault victory for 21-year-old Anzhelika Sidorova, a bronze medallist in Gothenburg, who cleared 4.50m and beat more Alexandra Kiryashova, who was second with 4.40m.
The jumps provided some of the best performances in the men's events, the 2010 European champion Alexander Shustov, coming back from Beijing where he jumped 2.31m, was suffering slightly from jet lag and had to settle for going over 2.27m and winning in the absence his main domestic rivals.
World junior record holder Sergey Morgunov confirmed his good shape with 8.02m in the Long Jump and Aleksandr Gripich went over 5.60m in the Pole Vault.
Viktor Butenko, fourth at the 2012 IAAF World Junior Championships and still just 20, made a huge improvement of almost four metres with the 2kg Discus to win his event by over three metres with 65.97m.
Also in the men’s field events, there was a 16.82m Triple Jump from the 2012 World Indoor Championships bronze medallist Lyukman Adams, and good quality Shot Put competition with the winner, Anton Lyuboslavskiy, achieving 20.61m on his only valid attempt to win by one centimetre from Aleksandr Lesnoy, who got a personal best with 20.60m.
Yuriy Borzakovskiy, the 2004 Olympic Games 800m winner, had his first competitive outing over 1500m for four years on Saturday and finished second in 3:42.27. Coming home in front of him was the 23-year-old Ivan Tukhtachev, who notched up a middle distance double of 3:41.77 and then 1:48.21.
Borzakovskiy will now switch to his signature distance and will have his first 800m race on 4 June in Zagreb, and then on 11 June at the Moscow Challenge meeting in the Luzhniki Stadium, which will stage the 2013 IAAF World Championships later this summer.
The best result in the women's distance events came in the 3000m Steeplechase when Natalia Aristarkova ran 9:32.13, the fastest time by a European runner at this early stage in the season.
Natalia Maryanchik for IAAF