Three world season bests by Maryam Jamal Yussuf in the women’s 1500 metres (3:56.79), Bernard Lagat in the men’s 1500 metres (3:29.30) and the first time under 1:44 of 2005 in the men’s 800 metres by Kenya’s Wilfried Bungei (1:43.70) plus a 5.96m clearance (meeting record) by US pole vaulter Brad Walker highligted a fantastic 35th edition of the Rieti IAAF Grand Prix.
Maryam Jamal Yussuf of Bahrain ran the fastest time in the world this year in the 1500 metres with an impressive 3:56.79. The former Ethiopian, who finished fifth at the World Championships in Helsinki, launched her attack at the bell and ran an impressive last lap.
The race produced an excellent depth of times with six women under the 4 minutes barrier. Natalya Yevdokimova finished second with 3:57.73 beating 2003 and 2005 World champion Tatyana Tomashova of Russia (3:59.05), Ethiopian Gelete Bati Burika (3:59.51), Spaniard Natalya Rodriguez (3:59.60 national record) and Yulyia Chizhenko of Russia (3:59.66).
“Rieti was my re-match; I wanted to show that I am the best in the world after the disappointment in Helsinki. I have still to decide whether to compete in the 1500 metres or in the 3000 metres at the World Athletics Final in Monaco,” said Jamal.
Bungei runs fastest 800m of the season
Rieti fulfilled its reputation as the Italian temple of middle distance running once again in the 800 metres where Wilfried Bungei has become the first man to dip under the 1:44 barrier this summer with an outstanding 1:43.70 which comes nine days after his Golden League win in the A race in Zürich.
Bungei ran on the heels of Brazilian pacemaker Osmar Dos Santos who closed the first lap in 50.78. After Dos Santos finished his task at 600 metres, Bungei took a solid lead over his opponents for a convincing win over Spaniard Antonio Manuel Reina, second with 1:44.18 (the Spaniard recently won the Zürich B race with 1:44.32). Briton James McIlroy also dipped under the 1:45 barrier with an impressive 1:44.65.
“Rieti represents a kind of revenge for me although it is a bit frustrating to run 1:43 only at the end of the season. This year I knew I was behind schedule, so I could not expect fast times. Monaco will be a kind of re-match race of the world championships but I know it will be a tough and tactical race without pacemakers,” said Bungei who finished fourth in the World Championships in Helsinki.
Lagat sets World best and US record
America’s Bernard Lagat won the 1500 metres in 3:29.30 climbing to the top of the world season list. For Lagat, who overhauls world champion Rachid Ramzi (3:30.00 in the Rome Golden League meeting) at the top of the 2005 world list it marks a new US record which improves Sydney Maree’s time of 3:29.77 set in Köln in 1985.
Antar Zerguelaine of Algeria produced the major surprise of a fabulous middle distance afternoon with an impressive second spot with 3:32.00 holding off US middle distance star Allan Webb, third with 3:32.52.
“It was the last chance to run 3:29 this year. Of course I am disappointed for missing the World Championships in Helsinki. Every athlete wants to compete in the Worlds but I have no regrets. I was focussed on training to run fast times in Zürich and Rieti. I have one more race at the World Athletics Final in Monaco. Everyone wants to beat me but I will try to win,” said Lagat.
US pole vaulter Brad Walker, World silver in Helsinki, cleared 5.96 with his third attempt. Walker rose to second spot in the world list in 2005 behind Paul Burgess’s 6.00 set on 25 February. Walker’s compatriot Derek Miles was second with a clearance of 5.81 in his third attempt before failing his three tries at 5.91.
Former world champion Giuseppe Gibilisco continued his seasonal progress after his 5.70 in rainy Zürich with a good third place with 5.76 before taking three unsuccessful attempts at 5.86.
Inzikuru wins again
Dorcus Inzikuru, the first world champion in the women’s 3000 metres steeplechase, continued her winning streak with an impressive victory and a meeting record of 9:16.46. In a re-match of the world championships final of Helsinki Russia’s Yekaterina Volkova finished second with 9:29.94 over Jamaica’s Korene Hinds (9:30.12).
“It was a very good race. This win was important for my country. I am the first athlete from Uganda to become a world champion. This makes me proud. People from my country celebrated my win in Helsinki with a great party on the streets of the Ugandan capital,” said Inzikuru.
Ethiopia’s Sileshi Sihine was an outstanding winner in the men 3000 metres with 7:29.92 which climbs him to fourth position in the world season list.
Zakari takes the 100; Pognon the 200
Ghana’s Abdul Aziz Zakari tied Jon Drummond’s meeting record of 9.99. For the world and Olympic finalist from Ghana it was the second under 10-second time of the season after he clocked the same time to finish second behind Asafa Powell’s World record in the Athens Super Grand Prix on 14 June.
Runner-up was 200 metres world fourth placer Tyson Gay with 10.08 who edged Great Britain’s Jason Gardener, third in 10.09 and Jamaica’s Dwight Thomas’s 10.10.
“Today it was my race. I competed here in 2000 and I have always had a good memory of the Rieti track which is very fast. It was a good race. I am pleased with the time but I think the most important thing was to win today. I will compete in Berlin and Monaco to end a great season for me,” said Zakari, who is coached by former US sprint star Steve Riddick.
Ronald Pognon, second in the 100 metres Golden League in Brussels, took the win in the 200 metres in 20.27 beating Jamaicans Christopher Williams (20.32) and Ainsley Waugh (20.36).
Sandra Glover confirmed her recent good form with a convincing 53.92 in the women 400 metres hurdles which followed her second place in Brussels in 53.73 on Friday.
Italian record for Ceccarelli
On Glover’s wake an inspired Benedetta Ceccarelli produced the best race of her life smashing the Italian record with 54.79 which earned her the third place behind the US Olympic finalist Sheena Johnson, second with 54.73.
Ceccarelli, a former European junior silver medallist in Riga 1999, became the first Italian to dip under the 55 seconds barrier. The previous record was held by Monika Niederstätter with 55.10 set in the 1999 World Championships in Seville.
“I felt the pressure as everyone expected the Italian record during in the last few weeks. This year I have made a huge step forward. I feel that this record is the turning point in my career. I will run again on Wednesday in Rovereto. I still hope to qualify for the Monaco World Athletics Final. I am currently ninth in the 400 metres Hurdles ranking,” said a delighted Ceccarelli, who reached the semi-final at the World Championships in Helsinki and took silver at the World Students Games.
And the rest…
On the men side it was Jamaica’s Kemel Thompson who clinched the win in the 400 metres Hurdles with 48.16 beating world championships finalist Bayano Kamani, second with 48.57.
Victory in the women’s triple jump went to Helsinki world championships bronze medallist Anna Pyatyhk with 14.72 which was backed up by four solid jumps (14.67, 14.62, 14.55). Italy’s Magdelin Martinez, 2003 world bronze medallist and 2005 European indoor silver, took second with 14.21.
Kenya’s Janet Jepkosgei, who won the Zürich under 23 race on 19 August, took the honours in the women’s 800 metres with 1:59.15 leading three more women to sub-2 minutes times: Olga Kotlyarova (1:59.49), Jamaica’s Kenia Sinclair (1:59.69) and Morocco’s Amina Ait Hammou (1:59.91).
Javelin legend Jan Zelezny produced a winning release of 81.96 defeating Alexandr Ivanov (80.99).
Reigning European indoor champion Anna Chicherova clinched the honours in the women’s high jump with a first time clearance at 1.96. Oana Pantelimon of Romania and Viktoryia Palamar of Ukraine tied in second with 1.93.
Other wins went to Kenya’s Linus Chumba in the men’s 3000 steeplechase with 8:18.68, former world champion Amy Mbacke Thiam of Senegal in the women’s 400 metres with 51.07 and world finalist Yuliya Gushchina of Russia in the 200 metres with 23.18.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF
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