Gay 9.76w and Xiang 12.92 - five world season leads - in New York – IAAF World Athletics Tour
Sunday 3 June 2007
New York, USA - A warm Saturday evening in New York City suffered only for some fickle breezes at Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island. The Reebok Grand Prix, in its first year as a Grand Prix status event on the IAAF World Athletics Tour, saw world leading times in five events, one Area Record, and one blazing-fast, but slightly windy, 100m.
>>Editor’s note – Photos to follow shortly<<
Gay – “Victory first, times will come”
Tyson Gay has been in a few windy races by now, and says he’s almost his own wind gauge. “I could feel it picking up when I was in the blocks,” he reported after tonight’s race, “and I thought, calm down, calm down.” It did, but not enough.
Gay took almost 70 metres to get clear of Bahamian Derrick Atkins, then stopped the clock at an eye-popping 9.76. The stadium held its breath waiting for the wind reading, having an eye on the flags already, and exhaled when it was announced as 2.2, faster than allowable for a World record. Still, Gay ran 9.79 two weeks ago with a 2.5 tailwind, and now 9.76 with 2.2.
“I don’t think about how fast I might run unless someone tells me what they think I can run,” said Gay. "Ato Boldon told me yesterday he thought I could run 9.74. I don’t believe in chasing after a world record; I’d rather run for the victory and let the times come.”
“I may have the fastest time with a tailwind, and Asafa (Powell) has the fastest legal time,” Gay went on, “but I don’t think you can call this a rivalry until I run a World record, or I win a race against him. Until then, he’s the World record holder, and he deserves that respect.”
Jet-lagged Xiang plays catch-up
Liu Xiang and Terrence Trammell put up the two fastest times of 2007 in the 110m Hurdles, with World record holder Xiang overtaking Trammell halfway through the race to prevail, 12.92 to 12.95.
“I was thinking, I have to catch up, I have to catch up,” said Xiang. “By the last hurdle, I knew I’d beaten him. I can run this fast in training, but to run it in competition, I need someone else. Trammell helped me run fast today.”
Xiang admitted that he was still suffering from jet lag, having only arrived in New York on Thursday. “I wake up in the middle of the night a lot,” he said. “When I entered the stadium and saw the crowd, I knew I would be able to focus on the race. But I slept all afternoon.”
Trammell, for his part, was wide awake and trying to keep his mind off his left adductor muscle. “My doctors told me I wouldn’t hurt it by racing,” he said, “But I felt it tighten up a bit at halfway. I had a moment where I was afraid I’d pull it, then I kept running. But that was when he moved on me.” Trammell, for his part, still ran his fastest-ever time.
Bekele 13:04.05 - The intention was to go under 13 minutes
Tariku Bekele simply ran the legs off the men’s 5000m field on an evening not well-suited for distance running. Shadowed at first by Kenyans Mikah Kogo and Edwin Soi, once the pacemakers left the track, Bekele pulled away from first Kogo and then Soi to run the last kilometer essentially by himself.
Though the early pace had Bekele on track to run the first-ever sub-13:00 5,000m in North America, he was unable to hold on by himself, and had to settle for a 13:04.05, still the American all-comers record. The previous record of 13:04.56 was set here last year by Abraham Chebii.
“I could’ve done better,” said Bekele, “but the pacemakers were not exactly what I wanted. The intention was to go under 13 minutes. I hope to run much better.”
Dibaba 14:35.67 – wind not heat the problem
Tirunesh Dibaba was less fortunate in her own record pursuit. Though the diminutive Ethiopian set off in pursuit of Meseret Defar’s world mark of 14:24.53, set here last year and commemorated by a banner in the grandstand rafters, the same wind which sabotaged Gay’s 100m hampered Dibaba’s attempts to run fast.
“The wind was more of a problem than the heat,” Dibaba explained. When asked about her designs on Defar’s record, Dibaba only acknowledged, “I wanted to run a very fast race.” That she did, finishing in 14:35.67 and knocking the year’s best down nearly three seconds. Clearly Dibaba will be back to challenge Defar’s mark again.
Ginny Powell won the women’s 100m Hurdles in a personal best 12.45. “I set a personal goal for each race that’s a bit of a reach for me,” Powell said, “For this race, it was 12.48. I ran well but I didn’t start well; there’s a feeling you get when you get out well, and I didn’t get that. I’ve been working on the later stages, because usually my last three hurdles are slow, but they weren’t slow today.”
Stuczynski vaults to world lead – 4.88m
The world leading marks didn’t only happen on the track. Jenn Stuczynski, whose 4.84 two weeks ago in Carson, California set an American Record, added four centimetres to that mark with a 4.88 clearance on her third attempt here. Stuczynski passed until 4.54m, then cleared that and 4.64 on her first attempts.
With only China’s Shuying Gao still jumping at 4.74, Stuczynski passed again. Gao, who had already set a Chinese and Asian record at 4.64, missed at 4.74. After only two jumps, Stuczynski then took on and cleared 4.88 in the swirling winds, then had the bar set to 5.03, a world record height, where she ended. At 4.88, Stuczynski is now tied with Russia’s former World record holder Svetlana Feofanova as the second-highest vaulter of all time.
Webb over Lagat, Mottram in Mile
The last time Alan Webb lined up for a mile race against Bernard Lagat and Craig “Buster” Mottram, it was on the boards of Madison Square Garden, just across the East River, at the Millrose Games. Webb was well beaten there, but today he was still in the race as the final moves played out. After shadowing Lagat for three and a half laps, Webb fended off a move from Mottram with 200m remaining, and used the momentum to carry himself onto Lagat’s shoulder. From there, it was a clear sprint to the finish, which Webb crossed in 3:52.94 to Lagat’s 3:53.88 and Mottram’s 3:54.54.
“I wanted to go with 150m remaining, but Webb was already there,” said Lagat. “I have the stamina, now I need to work on my speed. Alan has done this before; in Ostrava I was just looking at his back number the whole way.” Webb and Lagat will race again next week at the Prefontaine Classic, at the USATF Championships later this month in Indianapolis, and again in Paris. “I like to win,” said Lagat, “so every time I lose I beat myself up a bit.”
“I was in the right place at the right time,” said Webb. “I felt great and I finished well. I was hurting a bit in that last lap, but I was still confident that I could be competitive. When Bernard picked it up, I went with him.”
Spearmon wins 200m duel with Bolt – 19.82 to 19.89
Wallace Spearmon Jr. was the victor in a duel with Jamaican Usain Bolt, 19.82 to 19.89.
Spearmon, a training partner of both Gay and Campbell, said, “When (Gay) steps up, we need to too.” Spearmon refused to even take for granted that he would make the U.S. team for Osaka in the 200m. “Tyson’s running well, Xavier Carter is running well, and there’s (world leader) Walter Dix now. I’m not surprised by anything in this event anymore. And it’s Xavier Carter’s fault; he started all this.”
Allyson Felix ran a 100m/400m double, finishing third in the 100m (11.01) and winning the 400m in 50.53. The 100m victory went to Veronica Campbell, who scored a victory over world leader Torri Edwards, 10.93 to 10.95. Rachelle Smith won the women’s 200m in 22.31.
Hazel Clark won the women’s 800m in 1:59.07, and Malindi Elmore of Canada was the victor in the women’s 1500m, with a 4:07.01.
Tyler Christopher of Canada won the men’s 400m in 44.93, and James Carter won the 400m hurdles in 48.37. Khadevis Robinson won the 800m in 1:46.38.
Parker Morse for the IAAF