Irish WI leading 400m

World Indoor best and National record for Gillick in Düsseldorf
Wednesday 7 February 2007
6 February 2007 - Düsseldorf, Germany - The winter German athletics caravan moved north from Stuttgart to Düsseldorf for the PSD Bank Meeting on Tuesday night. Only in its second year, the competition produced four world-leading marks in a compact two-hour programme that had high entertainment value for the 1500 spectators packed into the temporary seats in the training hall.

From a quality standpoint - and certainly from a European vantage point - one of the best marks of the evening came in the men’s 400m, as reigning European Champion David Gillick circled the hall twice in a PB 45.91, the season’s fastest. It was also an Irish national record, bettering Paul McKee’s 45.99 which earned a bronze medal at the 2003 World Indoor Championships.

The muscular Gillick, assigned to the outside lane, ran hard on the initial lap and easily was first to the curb with a 21.36 opening 200m. Germany’s Bastian Swillims, a former European junior medallist, was just a step behind.

“I just wanted to get out fast”

As the pair went into the back straight, Swillims gained marginally on Gillick, but even as the Irishman moved to the outside on the final straight, Swillims was not able to make up the difference. The blond German’s second-place time was still a superb 46.07, a PB by 0.15 seconds. Only four German runners have ever clocked a faster indoor time, and none for the past sixteen years.

“I just wanted to get out fast,” said Gillick of his surprising performance. “I really didn’t know what to expect. It was my first serious indoor race since I won the Euros in Madrid two years ago.” But he admits that tonight’s effort casts a new light on this indoor season.

“I wasn’t looking at indoors that hard this year. With the Olympics just around the corner, I wanted to focus on the outdoor season,” he continued, noting that he is still in heavy training with no hint of a taper.

“The big difference this winter has been my move from Dublin to Loughborough (England), where I’m training with Nick Dakin. Having a group of good training mates has made a world of difference.”

Although he has not confirmed his intentions of defending his European title, Gillick realizes that the Birmingham competition will be held virtually in his own back yard. “There will be lots of Irish supporters coming across the water for that weekend. I’ve got to give it some serious thought.”

Swillims was just as astounded by his performance. “I really wanted to run the first 200m a little slower than we did, so I would have something left for the finish. But the Irish guy really took off, and I had to follow him.”

The earlier heat of the men’s 400m was won by former European champion Ingo Schultz of Germany in 46.84, far ahead of the 47.77 clocked by Moscow indoor silver medallist California Molefe of Botswana who is still looking for his indoor form of last season.

Another season’s best for Clitheroe

The women’s 1500m was also the fastest of the year as Helen Clitheroe of Great Britain won a strangely constructed race in 4:08.58. The fourth placer at the last European indoor championships had the lead with three laps remaining, at which point Slovenia’s Sonja Roman bolted strongly to the front. The problem came from the fact the lap counter indicated that there was only two rounds remaining, confusing Roman but obviously not Clitheroe.

Roman realized this too late, and her energy was at low ebb when the bell lap truly came. It was an elementary matter for Clitheroe to sail past Roman and capture an easy win, although Roman was able to salvage a close second with 4:11.26 ahead of Ukraine’s Nataliya Tobias (4:11.46).

“I really felt sorry for her,” said a sympathetic Clitheroe afterwards. “I kept asking myself, ‘am I right or am I wrong’ when I saw her sprint ahead. I knew that the clock time was right, so I used that to determine where we were in the race.”

“Still, I’m very pleased with tonight,” she continued. “I don’t get to win too many races, so two in a row [she also won in Gent on Sunday] is good for me.”

Easy wins for Choge and Xiang

The men’s 1500m, which also resulted in a world-leading performance, had no obvious farcical attributes as Augustine Choge of Kenya held on to a substantial lead he had built through 1200 metres and coasted to a 3:36.73 win, with compatriot Gilbert Kipchoge more than four seconds back at 3:40.80.

Hurdle star Liu Xiang of China continued his indoor campaign with a workaday 7.53 win in the men’s 60m Hurdles. After two false starts had claimed Athens fourth placer Maurice Wignall, the rest of the field had to be more conservative. That in itself didn’t make Liu’s win any easier, but it kept the times down.

Ron Bramlett was second in 7.61 with Robert Kronberg of Sweden a distant third at 7.69.

Sergey Demidiuk of Ukraine was the winner of the other section in 7.69.

The men’s 800m gave an 18-year-old German runner the opportunity to upstage much more seasoned competitors. Robin Schembera found himself tucked just behind Ismael Kombich of Kenya as John Litei had brought the field through the 600m in 1:19.18. Kombich sailed away in the final 150 metres for a 1:46.76 victory, but Schembera also put on a gritty finish for a 1:47.56 PB, lowering the German junior record of 1:48.28 which had been set only 80 minutes earlier by Sebastian Keiner.

Continuing the youthful theme, 20-year-old Dávid Takács of Hungary just missed a PB with his third-place finish in 1:48.18, ahead of the 1:48.68 of Latvian Dmitrijs Milkevics.

The other section was easily won by Dutch runner Arnoud Okken in a season-best 1:47.20.

Kenyans took the top four places in the men’s 3000m, led by Isaac Songok’s 7:47.42. After Songok passed the 2km mark in 5:16.20, the top four runner did not change, with Yusuf Biwott (7:48.54), Isaac Sang (7:49.10) and Jonas Cheruiyot (7:49.96) all dipping under 7:50.

Just after the 2400m, the tempo started to increase, but a mild collision behind the leading quartet sent Austrian Günther Weidlinger to one of the outside lanes. European 10km champion Jan Fitschen of Germany had just enough time to react and not become similarly involved in the upheaval but it caused enough gear-changing to remove any chance he had of piercing into the top four places, as his 7:50.56 ended in fifth. Weidlinger staged a good comeback for sixth in 7:51.47.

Laverne and Lolo Jones top sprint races

The Jones girls won their two sprint races. Laverne, of the US Virgin Islands, raced to her second straight victory in the women’s 60m, clocking 7.22 ahead of Jeanette Kwakye of Great Britain (7:30) and Germany’s Verena Sailer (7.33). The hurdles title went to American Lolo with 7.97 in a narrow win over Danielle Carruthers (7.99).

The men’s 60m appeared to be plagued with a false start, but in the final analysis, Morne Nagel’s reaction time of 0.109, a perfectly legal one, was so much better than the 0.153 of Nigeria’s Olusoji Fasuba that it appeared those two sprinters were reacting to different guns. Despite handing more than 0.04 seconds to his South African rival right at the gun, Fasuba was able to accelerate hard at the end for a 6.58 win to Nagel’s 6.61.

The women’s Triple Jump proved to be the best of the trio of field events on the programme. Cuba’s Yargelis Savigne, after her Stuttgart Long Jump win with a PB leap, put her name atop the year’s Triple Jump list with a 14.80m victory, also a career best. And second-place Marija Sestak of Slovenia moved to the top of the European chart with her PB 14.48m jump.

Björn Otto, who had sailed to the year’s best mark in the men’s Pole Vault last Sunday, made a try for a second straight win. And although no one jumped higher than the German’s 5.70m, Jeff Hartwig of the US also cleared that mark for the win on the basis of fewer misses. Third place went to Tim Lobinger with 5.65m.

American Dan Taylor led off the men’s Shot Put with 20.28m and that was enough to win, although he improved to 20.61m in the fourth round for his best of the evening.

Slipping into the European season lead by a centimetre in second place was Robert Häggblom of Finland with 20.18m, as the European champion from last year, Germany’s Ralf Bartels, could only manage 19.30m and held third only by virtue of a countback with Tomasz Majewski of Poland with the same mark.

Ed Gordon for the IAAF

David Gillick is obviously reaping the rewards of training under a full time coach and having regular medical backup. Lets see what he does outdoors.

That’s Loughborough for you!

Nick “Snakin” Dakin