Ayhan and Cloete delight Berlin with marvellous wins - Mutola is sole surviving Jackpot challenger
Sunday 10 August 2003
Berlin Germany – A characteristic front run win for Süreyya Ayhan (3:59.58 – world lead), a 2.05m clearance for Hestrie Cloete in the High Jump, and the continuing Golden League Jackpot campaign of Maria Mutola are the headlines from the 62nd ISTAF meeting in Berlin’s Friedrich-Ludwig-Jahn-Sportpark – IAAF Golden League.
As soon as the gun went for the start of the women’s 1500m the race for first place was over. European champion and World Cup winner Süreyya Ayhan of Turkey - and the designated pace maker Youlia Gurtovenka of Ukraine – blasted off and had taken the best part of 50 metres out of the rest of the 13 woman field by the end of the first lap. Hitting the bell at 2:58, the 24 year-old Turk continued to pile on the pressure and as she crossed the finish the pursuing pack had barely began their final sprint.
The result of her gutsy running was a world season’s lead of 3:59.58 for Ayhan, the first sub-4 clocking in the world this summer. Iryna Lishinskaya (4:08.01) of Ukraine and Alesya Turova of Belarus (4:08.20), both fine athletes, finished a distant second and third.
South Africa’s World champion Hestrie Cloete is in brilliant form in the women’s High Jump, coming straight from 2.01m and 2.02m victories in Stockholm and London respectively. Today she took a beautifully crisp and clear first attempt at 2.05m, which improved her own African and Commonwealth record of 2.04m which she had set in 1999 in Monaco.
Technically the South African is perfection at the moment, with consistent clearances at five heights from an opening 1.85m, with only a slight blemish by her own immaculate standards with one failure at 2.01m before she produced her fluid piece of 2.05m magic. Despite wearing the ‘210’ bib number, three ‘heavy’ attempts at a 2.10m world record ended her progress but there was everything to celebrate for Cloete after a marvellous afternoon of jumping in sizzling temperatures of around 35c.
Maria Mutola leads the women’s 800m in ISTAF Berlin
A heavy assisting wind (+2.8m/s) and a superb last 60 metres by American champion Kelli White brought some very fast times in the women’s 100m and also ended the US$ 1 million Golden League Jackpot hopes of Bahamian Chandra Sturrup.
Sturrup who had won her previous three Golden League meetings in Oslo, Paris and Rome, was away well from the gun and by 40 metres had a slight lead over the two American’s who sandwiched her into lane four - White outside her in lane five, and Chryste Gaines in 3.
Despite keeping her form well throughout, Sturrup’s lead could not be sustained, as with a powerful drive to the line White, who also won in London on Friday, pulled past and drew Gaines with her. White finished in 10.84, with Gaines 10.86 and Sturrup in third (10.88).
White, whose partner is German Javelin thrower Boris Henry, commented after her win that it was nice to compete at the same meeting with him but that “I wouldn’t say that we bring each other luck.” No truer words could have been spoken, as coming off the back of an impressive win in London in which he beat four-time European champion Steve Backley, Henry today could not master German team mate Raymond Hecht (84.32m – retired injured after second throw), and finished second with 83.64.
So Chandra Sturrup’s campaign for at least a share of the Golden League Jackpot was at an end but what of the other gold prospector?
Maria Mutola was never in trouble in the women’s 800m despite being positioned in third place at the bell some way off the pace set by the official ‘rabbit’. The World and Olympic champion who finished in 1:59.01 was simply playing with the field which included World silver medallist and arch rival Stephanie Graf of Austria (1:59.32, 2nd). Morocco’s Mina Ait Hammou was third (1:59.37).
Nothing was going to block Mutola’s path to the Golden League Jackpot today, and with just two races left in Zurich and Brussels, a total of just 1600 metres separates her from a cool one million.
Lorraine Fenton of Jamaica produced a clear statement that Friday’s Pan Am winner, Ana Guevara of Mexico, the 2002 World Cup winner - and fastest woman in the world for the last two seasons and unbeaten for 22 consecutive races - will not have it all her own way over 400m at the World Championships in Paris.
Fenton, who is the Olympic and World silver medallist - she won the latter medal in 2001 ahead of Guevara - still stands second on the 2003 world list behind Guevara’s 49.34 but her win in 49.98, her third mark under 50 seconds this summer and her seventh consecutive 400m victory, marks her out as a potent threat to the Mexican’s championships ambitions. Unlike the Pan Ams in Santo Domingo, Paris will not be a parade event for Guevara.
In second place behind Fenton today, finishing in a season’s best of 50.67 was reigning World champion Ami Mbacke Thiam of Senegal, who cannot be discounted in the Paris stakes either, having improved on her previous season’s best of 51.14.
The men’s 110m Hurdles had the ‘benefit’ of a slightly positive wind (2.1m/s), but it was the sheer weight of the competition which must take the greatest credit for the solidly good times. World Champion Allen Johnson was the outstanding favourite for the race but it was fellow American Duane Ross who got the better start and took an early lead. Johnson began his final charge some 50 metres out from the line but just as he gained ascendancy, Latvia’s European silver medallist and former World Junior champion Stanislavs Olijars also reached Johnson’s shoulder. Perhaps surprised at the challenge in the run off the last hurdle into the finish, Johnson (13.21, 3rd) was decisively passed by the Latvian for the win (13.15) but more surprisingly also by a revitalized Ross (13.19, 2nd).
By comparison there was little to write home about in the three men’s 100m dashes. The “C” race brought a 10.45 win for Roger Moke of the Congo, the “B” a 10.17 season’s best for American Darvis Patton, and the “A” race a joint win for John Capel (USA) and Frank Fredericks (NAM) in a 10.23 three way blanket finish with Jon Drummond.
Australia’s Commonwealth champion Jana Pittman was pursued all the way to the line by a determined Sandra Glover (USA) but managed to hang on to take the women’s 400m Hurdles in 53.94. The American was second in 54.20, with Romania’s double European champion Ionela Tirlea (54.84, 4th) tying up in the last 60 metres to be passed for third by USA’s Raasin Mcintosh (54.82).
The men’s 800m was taken by South Africa’s Hezekiel Sepeng was confidence personified today. The 1999 World silver medallist made his move with little more than 50 metres to go to the line and came charging through in 1:44.71 to deny both world leader Wilfred Bungei of Kenya (1:44.73 2nd) but also South African colleague Mbulaeni Mulaudzi (1:45.00, 3rd).
Without the encouragement of her coach Frank Attoh, Yamile Aldama, the world leader in the women’s Triple Jump, slumped to a fourth place finish with 14.52m, in a competition which reigning World champion Tatyana Lebedeva, perhaps expecting more from Aldama, won with ‘just’ 14.89m.
Another reigning World champion field eventer to win was Australia’s Dmitri Markov in the men’s Pole Vault, who vaulted clear at a personal season’s best of 5.86m.
Jamaica’s Elva Goulbourne the 2002 Commonwealth and 2003 CAC champion produced a solid series of six marks in the women’s Long Jump topped by a 6.77m leap (+0.9), which beat Germany’s Bianca Kappler, Hungary’s Tünde Vaszi and USA’s Grace Upshaw who all leapt 6.66m, with second, third and fourth places decided by their second best efforts.
To the disappointment of the local supporters, the men’s 400m was taken by Jerome Young of the USA with 45.11, with local hero Ingo Schultz, the European champion, finishing a very sluggish 5th in 45.61.
The last individual event of the afternoon on the track, the men’s 3000m went to a Kenyan sweep with Leonard Muchero (7:38.36) winning from James Kwalia (7:39.23), and Benjamin in third (7:40.22).
In the men’s 4x100m Relay, the USA ‘A’ team anchored home by Maurice Greene won in 37.77 (world lead), from USA ‘B ‘ (38.15) whose J.J. Johnson was fast catching the Olympic and World sprint champion on the last leg. Poland finished in third (38.89).