BRUSSELS:Gay 19.79; crowd 47,000

Gay skims 200m in 19.79; 4x800m World record in Brussels – IAAF Golden League
Friday 25 August 2006
Brussels, Belgium - A meeting record, and the third fastest 200m time in the world this year of 19.79 brought home a storming 200m victory for Tyson Gay in front of a 47,000 capacity crowd at the 30th anniversary Memorial Van Damme, the penultimate leg of the 2006 of the IAAF Golden League.

In the Jackpot stakes by the end of the evening, four athletes had secured a fifth Golden League victory - Asafa Powell (100m), Jeremy Wariner (400m), Sanya Richards (women’s 400m), and Tirunesh Dibaba (women’s 5000m) - and so have secured a definite slice of a $500,000 purse, and will now go to Berlin next week to try and snatch something from a second pot of $500,000 which is on offer for those achieving a perfect series of sixth wins.

Tyson Gay with winner’s flowers after his 19.79 victory in Brussels
(AFP / Getty Images)

Two other athletes, Kenenisa Bekele (5000m) and Irving Saladino (LJ), completed their fourth wins of this Golden League summer, and should they also win in Berlin will take a share of the first $500,000 which is already split fourways.

Kenyan squad makes history

There was a World record* for the stadium to rise to this evening. A Kenyan 4 x 800m quartet anchored home by World Indoor champion Wilfred Bungei in 7:02.43, surpassed the 1982 mark of 7:03.89 set by a British team consisting of Peter Elliott, Gary Cook and the legendary duo Steve Cram and Sebastian Coe. The latter now an IAAF Council member, a VIP guest tonight – he had set the first World record in this meeting’s history back in 1981 (Mile; 3:47.33) – was there on the track to congratulate the winners (Mutua 1:46.3; Yiampoy 1:44.6; Kombich 1:46.1; Bungei 1:45.5).

Tia Hellebaut of Belgium wins the High Jump
(Getty Images)

Home heroines highlight

But World records or no World records it was clear who the largely Belgian audience had primarily come here to see. And their expectations weren’t let down. Belgium’s newly minted European champions Tia Hellebaut (High Jump) and Kim Gevaert (100m and 200m) duly served up victories. Hellebaut took the High Jump on a 1.98m countback win from Bulgaria’s Venelina Veneva and Sweden’s Kajsa Bergqvist. That had been the order behind her European triumph in Gothenburg a fortnight ago too. Gevaert for her part was a decisive winner of the women’s 200m in 22.68, with only second placed Debbie Ferguson (22.93) also under 23 seconds.

Glorious run from Gay

12:48.09 World lead for Bekele in Brussels
(Getty Images)

Gay’s 19.79 run was the more spectacular of the half lap successes. Flying second quickest out of the blocks the American seemed to have surprised compatriots Xavier Carter and Wallace Speamon who were never able to challenge his lead. Carter was also able to nip into the 19s with a 19.97 finish, with Spearmon, third (20.02). Coached by Lance Brauman, who took the presently injured Veronica Campbell to the 2004 Olympic women’s 200m gold, Gay who has a best of 19.70 from earlier this season - fourth on the all-time list - looks every inch a World or Olympic champion in waiting. He was fourth in the Worlds last summer.

Bekele blows them away

Last night Kenenisa Bekele was spied by myself and colleague lining-up to buy a burger from a famous fast food franchise which given his spectacular run some 24 hours later in the men’s 5000m, probably puts pay to any suggestion that in moderation a little bit of saturated fat can do you any harm – well this writer for one was happy to note the fact anyway!

Tirunesh Dibaba - 5 for 5 after Brussels
(Getty Images)

At least for the World 5000m record holder fast food gave him every bit of energy required to break the hopes and energy of his opponents. Bekele, who was led through 3000m by his brother Tariku (7:34.12) came home impressively in 12:48.09, his third fastest time ever, and the 2006 season’s world lead. Considering that 2003 World champion Eliud Kipchoge came second (13:01.88) and he didn’t break 13 minutes, Bekele blew the field away by any stretch of the athletic imagination.

Tenth quickest ever women’s 5000m with the brakes on!

A women’s 5000m which passed through 3km some seven seconds inside World record pace thanks to the frantic energy of Olympic champion Meseret Defar - who holds that mark (14:23.53), and was trying to break double World gold medallist Tirunesh Dibaba - slowed dramatically - as every race has done this season between these two Ethiopians - in the final 2km.

Micah Kogo of Kenya wins the Brussels 10,000m
(AFP / Getty Images)

But these two women stepped on the brakes so hard, you could almost hear the squeal of shoes grinding against track. The result was that Britain’s Jo Pavey, some 60 or more metres behind the leading two caught them with 900m still to run.

It was a momentary European challenge and in the last lap dust up Dibaba sprinted away from Defar and Pavey for an easy victory. 14:30.63 was the result, the tenth quickest run of all-time. Defar crossed second (14:33.78) with Pavey setting a PB and a European season’s best (14:39.96) in third.

In 10th there was a New Zealand record for Kim Smith (14:56.58), and in 14th a Greek all-time best for Maria Protopappa (15:04.03).

Asafa Powell playes catch-up in Brussels
(Getty Images)

Another 10th best all-time; Kogo runs 26:35.63

Long before tonight’s opening ceremony, which witnessed a parade of some 500 Belgian Olympians and an address by IOC President Jacques Rogge, the men’s 10,000m had been worked out, with 20-year-old Kenyan Micah Kogo sprinting away to a fine 26:35.63 win, the fastest time of the year and tenth best clocking of all-time.

Zersenay Tadesse, was second in an Eritrean record of 26:37.25. Last autumn he had run the fastest ever half marathon in history (59:05) on a downhill course at the Great North Run in the north east of England, and today hinted that he will be going for the World Half Marathon record on a record legal course later this autumn – where or when he has yet to tell. He will then contest the IAAF World Road Running Championships (20km) in Debrecen, Hungary at the beginning of October. By his form tonight we have perhaps witnessed both the next World record holder and the next World champion for these distances.

Sherone Simpson dominates in Brussels
(Getty Images)

Tadesse, who was up against World and Olympic 10,000m fourth placer Boniface Kiprop of Uganda, as well as Kogo, inflicted a 62.56 lap on his opponents when five laps away from home. It stirred things up and for a while it suggested that Kiprop and Kogo would soon be spent forces. It was not to be, and when Kogo burst away on the sound of the bell, producing a 58.2 sprint to the line, the Eritrean’s hopes were dashed. The race produced a negative split, 13:19 for the first 5k and 13:15 for the second.

Frustrated Powell

Asafa Powell’s frustration in the men’s 100m boiled over when the flower girl tried to hand him his winner’s bouquet moments after his 9.99 second win. The usually mild mannered World record holder flicked the bunch out of her hand in disgust having been left sitting in the blocks as the gun went, a disastrous start which required a major game of catch-up to secure his fifth Golden League win of the season.

Yelena Isinbayeva wins again in Brussels
(Getty Images)

Richards and Wariner comfortable

Looking very tired the eight women contesting the 400m dragged themselves around the lap but even in the relative slow motion in which this race was played out compared to earlier fixtures this summer, Sanya Richards (USA) remained emphatically the best – 50.02 her winning time – a clear second ahead of second place.

Jeremy Wariner of the USA also secured a comfortably accomplished win in the men’s 400m. Congolese Gary Kikaya was best away of the field, in a race whose delayed start had led to a frustrating and no doubt cold 15 minutes wait for the competitors on the track. On the back straight the World and Olympic champion made up any advantage that Kikaya had established, and with 250 to run was in the lead and ‘jogged’ the last 20 metres before the finish to win in 44.29 seconds. Kikaya was second (44.62), pressed hard by USA’s LaShawn Merritt (44.74). So another of the Jackpot pretenders had secured a fifth win.

Simpson cannons home

If Powell’s start in the men’s dash had been sluggish, then his training partner Sherone Simpson, the quickest women of the year at both 100m and 200m, cannoned out of the blocks in the women’s 100m, the second fastest away from the gun. Her execution of the rest of the race was sprinting poetry, closing out in 10.95 seconds. The runners-up were exactly that, ‘also-rans’, the best being the 11.10 finish of USA’s Me’Lisa Barber.

Shaheen superb but short of inspiration

It is no criticism of Saif Saaeed Shaheen’s 8:04.32 winning effort tonight in the men’s 3000m Steeplechase to say that we were looking at a bored athlete. The Qatari, the double World champion and the holder of the World record, said so himself yesterday. At 23 years of age he is so supreme at his event that he has lost the necessary motivation and enthusiasm to carry off a solo record bid of the sort he was presented with this evening, after pace maker Cesar Perez dropped out shortly after 1000m (2:34.59).

It was only when Shaheen’s concentration lapsed so much that he was nearly caught by Kenyan Richard Matelong with 800 metres to go, that the peerless Shaheen woke up and kicked for home. The Kenyan came in runner-up over 4 seconds back (8:08.98), and there was a European season best from France’s Bob Tahri in third (8:09.53).

Thorkildsen, Saladino, Isinbayeva – straightforward wins

Back to winning ways in an uneventful men’s Javelin Throw was Norway’s Olympic and World champion Andreas Thorkildsen, who with his third effort passed the first round 85.91m lead of Finland’s Tero Pitkämäki. Thorkildsen backed his win up with 86.41 (5th) and 85.49 (6th) efforts.

It was even more straightforward for Jackpot aspirant Irving Saladino in the men’s Long Jump. The Panamanian’s second effort of 8.31m, 16cm better than anyone else on the night, gave the World indoor silver medallist his fourth Golden League series victory of the summer.

Closing out the night was a World record attempt by World and Olympic champion Yelena Isinbayeva in the women’s Pole Vault. Her 4.81m vault for the competition victory had been easily secured on her second attempt but as yet her new technique isn’t giving her the height to challenge her 5.01m best from last year. None of her three attempts at 5.03m were close. In second place there was an Area Record equalling (her own) 4.66m leap for Fabiana Murer of Brazil. Monika Pyrek of Poland was third on count back at the same height.

Elsewhere on a packed programme…

USA’s World champion Michelle Perry took a close women’s 100m Hurdles in 12.55 seconds, with Jamaican Brigitte Foster-Hylton getting the verdict in a 12.71 tie with Lolo Jones for second, while Moroccan Olympic and World silver medallist Hasna Benhassi closed out a women’s 800m victory in 1:59.06 over world season’s fastest Janeth Kepkosgei (1:59.65) of Kenya.

A fiercely fought men’s 1500m made up of 22 runners was secured by France’s European champion Mehdi Baala in 3:32.01 from African Championship winner Alex Kipchirchir (3:32.13) of Kenya, with Morocco’s Mohamed Moustaoui, third (3:32.41, a PB).

Chris Turner for the IAAF

Click here for RESULTS