Isinbayeva and Songok’s records give added sparkle to DN Galan

Isinbayeva and Songok’s records give added sparkle to DN Galan

Tuesday 26 July 2005

Stockholm, Sweden – Two one-carat diamonds were awarded tonight, the special DN Galan bonus for a stadium record, as Yelena Isinbayeva and Isaac Songok produced two special moments on a damp and cold night in the 1912 Olympic stadium, which was filled as always with a capacity crowd of spectators.

Qualification hopes dashed

During the opening ceremony a checkered-coloured helicopter flew into the centre of the stadium’s infield to deliver in dramatic style a total of $80,000 worth of diamonds. It was a class touch to the opening of this IAAF Super Grand Prix meeting but as its rotator blades whirled, all who were sat seated in the stadium would have been forgiven if they had prayed for it to change into a fan heater. While performances at the meeting were undeniably hot, the weather conditions were undeniably cold, and failed to do justice to an exceptionally world class start list.

For the athletes who were looking for this meeting to provide them with national team tickets to Helsinki – the DN Galan was the final qualification opportunity ahead of the 10th IAAF World Championships in Athletics, Helsinki, Finland (6 - 14 August) - the weather dashed most hopes.

A brave attempt at 5.01m

After surpassing 5m only last Friday, one would have forgiven Yelena Isinbayeva, the Overall number one IAAF World Ranked female athlete, if feeling the cold weather, that after taking the Pole Vault win (4.72m) and the stadium record (4.79m), she had retired for the night.

However, that just isn’t the Olympic champion, as she always wants to make history, and so she gamely raised the bar to the would be World record height of 5.01m. Her first attempt was quite close, she then ran through the second approach, while her third attempt set the bar bouncing into the air, as she clipped it on the way down.

Still a diamond bonus was hers, as she had surpassed World champion Svetlana Feofanova’s 4.78m Stadium record (2002), something to warm the heart and the pocket of even the coldest of athletes.

The Poles Anna Rogowska and Monika Pyrek, were respectively second and third, with the same height of 4.65m, split on count back.

Songok looks every step a World champion

Isaac Songok, 21, has already beaten World champion Eliud Kipchoge twice this year at 5000m to prove that this former 1500m specialist has all the talent for longer distances. His Kenyan compatriot was not racing this evening but Songok’s sustained sprint in the 3000m which beat Benjamin Limo (7:36.79, 2nd) and World Junior 5000m champion Augustine Choge (7:37.79, 3rd) in a time of 7:35.84, was all the evidence required to show he is in superb shape, especially given the cold conditions.

Songok, a former World Youth champion at 1500m, went home with a 10,000USD bonus – the diamond’s value – thanks to demolishing the previous stadium record of 7:42.35 (Charles Cheruiyot) which had stood since 1989.

Home wins keep the crowd warm

There was of course a very well received Swedish High Jump double on the fan at the top end (100m start) of the stadium. If the conditions were cool, Kajsa Bergqvist and Stefan Holm were jumping hot, respectively taking the women’s and men’s competitions with 1.95m and 2.33. With similar jumping records both were well clear first time at their three opening heights, then took second time clearances at their fourth bar (1.95 / 2.30). Holm went on to a fifth successful height – 2.33m.

Jesse Williams (USA) was Holm’s closest challenger (2.30), with Olympic silver (James Nieto – 2.27, 4th) and bronze medallists (Jaroslav Baba – 2.24, 5th) well beaten. Vyascheslav Voronin was in fourth (2.27m). Bergqvist on the other hand was doggedly followed by Ukraine’s Viktoria Styopina and Vita Palmar, and Sweden’s Emma Green up until 1.92, but her challengers failed to go any higher.

Gatlin and Sturrup are looking good

In the cold and the damp, Justin Gatlin was the overall fastest sprinter when the two 100m heats were combined, his 10.15 dash in the second race being better than Jamaican Christopher Williams’ 10.17 in the first 100m line-up. Gatlin was chased home in his outing by Jamaican Dwight Thomas, who can be very pleased with his 10.19, which kept the pressure all the way on the Olympic champion.

There was just one women’s 100m, and after many delays, unsettled rather than false starts, and a pause for a prize ceremony, the women finally got away and it was the Bahamas’ Chandra Sturrup’s race. Her winning time was 11.18, with 2005 USA champion Me’Lisa Barber second (11.24), and Allyson Felix, the Olympic 200m silver medallist coming very late, after an appallingly bad start, to take third in 11.29. Frankly, this race was just about Sturrup, who looks in great shape just prior to the World Championships.

Andrianova looks like a good bet for Helsinki gold

Tatyana Andrianova, IAAF World Ranked sixth best, emphasised that she is currently not only the fastest woman over two laps this summer (1:56.07) but also the best racer, and must now be considered the favourite for the World 800m title after tonight’s 1:57.80 display.

Coming off the final bend in a race which had passed 400m in 57.03, the 25-year-old Russian champion produced a dominant drive to the line which left a late finishing Hazel Clark (USA – 1:58.59, 2nd), and Maria Mutola (MOZ – 1:59.08, 3rd) struggling for pace. In all six women went under 2 minutes. Most disappointing was Cuban two-time Olympic finalist Zulia Calatayud, who until now had had a very promising summer. She finished in 5th (1:59.89).

Jackson also looking promising

With continued injury sidelining Olympic and double World champion Felix Sanchez, tonight’s winner of the men’s 400m Hurdles Bershawn Jackson is another athlete who it is increasingly safe to label a potential World champion. IAAF World Ranked number two, the 22 year-old, who was second in the USA Champs and has won in Eugene and London, looks every inch a champion in the making. Today he ran 48.07, finishing strongly with Rome TDK Golden League winner James Carter, ost for pace in the last 40 metres.

About Helsinki, “This was my preparation for the World Championships…Now I am ready and I am confident,” confirmed Jackson.

Lagat is swallowed up by Hesko

In a race set up to showcase the well known talents of double Olympic medallist Bernard Lagat (now of USA, formerly Kenya), all went wrong in the end. After following the two pace makers, Lagat took the lead with 450m to go, passing the bell a few seconds later in 2:49. However, the parade turned into defeat, as a pack of four runners closed him down in the last 100m, and of these European Indoor champion Ivan Hesko (UKR) was strong enough to head Lagat with about 10 metres to go to the finish. The Ukrainian crossed in 3:33.18, with Lagat just holding on to second (3:33.55) ahead of Kenya’s Suleiman Simotwo (3:33.71). “I was a little surprised how Lagat came back to us,” confirmed the winner.

Contrasting fortunes for Koech and Kemboi

In the men’s 3000m Steeplechase, we saw wildly contrasting races for two of the Olympic medallists from Athens. Gold medallist Ezekiel Kemboi was totally out of sorts, and looked a shadow of his former self in a race which, while classy was not fast, fast. He finished 15th (8:37.56). This is currently a very unfit Olympic champion.

Kemboi was dropped very early on by the relentless pressure of bronze medallist Paul Kipsiele Koech, who dominated the race in a style we have come to expect from his Kenyan compatriot. Koech finished strongly in 8:08.56, with European joint-record holder, Bob Tahri (FRA), having an excellent race in second (8:09.71). The podium was filled out by a distant finishing Kipkurui Misoi (8:15.85).

Felicien back in the groove

One of the most satisfying wins seen tonight was the return of a positive looking World champion Perdita Felicien, who has been tumbling down all over the circuit this summer and last. The Canadian was the second heat and overall winner of the women’s 100m Hurdles with 12.77. In the process she defeated most of the world’s current elite who she will face in Helsinki when she attempts to defend her title.

In second came Brigitte Foster-Hylton, and in third Linda Khodadin, with the same time 12.78. Olympic champion Joanna Hayes was well defeated back in seventh (12.92).

The time was pretty good considering the chilly weather and the wet track,” confirmed Felicien. “My season has been full of ups and downs, so this is very important to me, in gaining confidence for Helsinki.”

A winner again but cold slows Wariner

Cold certainly played its part in the men’s 400m, with Olympic champion Jeremy Wariner getting back to winning ways after last Friday’s surprise defeat in London, but he was slowed by the conditions to a 44.90 clocking. Second was Jamaican Brandon Simpson (45.18) and Kerron Clement was third (45.31).

In the men’s Triple Jump, Brazilian Jadel Gregorio took a morale boosting win over Olympic silver medallist and 2005 world leader Marian Oprea of Romania – 17.48 to 17.44m.


Sweden’s Alhaji Jeng won the Pole Vault (5.65m) and the men’s 110m Hurdles was taken by USA’s Anwar Moore in 13.20.

Grace Upshaw of USA won the women’s Long Jump (6.60m), and Irene Kwambai (Ken) took the 5000m (15:00.34).

Stephen Buckland (MRI) was the 200m winner (20.67).

USA won the women’s 4x100m (43.23) and the men’s sprint relay was taken by an agency team anchored home by Churandy Martina (39.23).

Torrential rain at the very start of the night basically destroyed any realistic quality in the women’s javelin, with the win going to Czech Barbora Spotakova (58.57m).

Chris Turner for the IAAF