12.97 for Doucouré – French Championships, Day Two
Saturday 16 July 2005
Angers, France – After a first day of mainly qualification rounds, the French Championships really got underway yesterday (Fri 15), with the men’s 110m Hurdles and the women’s Pole Vault highlighting the second day with the assistance of exceptional weather conditions.

Ladji Doucouré set a world season’s best at 110m Hurdles, U23 European and national senior record with 12.97, while his female training partner Linda Khodadin scored an impressive 12.66 win in the women’s 100m Hurdles.

Elsewhere on the second day, Vanessa Boslak set a national women’s Pole Vault record with a great effort at 4.60m

Doucouré’s plans well executed - 12.97 (incidentally, the world record is 12.91sec, :slight_smile: kk)

An ecstatic Renaud Longuèvre, coach to Doucouré, explained their strategy in Angers: “We came into these 3 rounds competition with technical objectives: To run the heats (on Thursday) with a lot of technical points to realise, like forward stride cycle, height of centre of mass between and over hurdles, etc. Ladji did it very well, but his race (13.53) lacked inspiration.”

“In the semis, the goal was to achieve these technical points at nearly full effort. This time the race was faster (13.29), but he completely missed his start”.

Doucouré, the IAAF World Ranked fourth best hurdler, would later explain that he received a sermon from Longuèvre, and went away alone to focus for the Final, promising to himself to show to his coach what he really was able to do. In the Final, on lane 6 and with a +1.0m/s wind, Doucouré realised a clean race, finding the right balance between rage and power, and technical precision. “I didn’t make the mistake I did in Paris (TDK Golden League, 1 July) where I had to slow down a little before the last three hurdles because I was coming too close. Today, I took the risk to go ahead and maintain frequency through the finish”.

“Ladji’s progression is normal”, continued his coach. “In 2004, he didn’t wear spikes (due to various injuries) from 1st May to 15 June, and ran 13.06 in August. In 2005, the season is wonderful so far, we haven’t had to change a single training session, Ladji is in good health, and he takes pleasure everyday in his sport. But we should stay focus, because National Championships are very different from World Championships, where the level will be very high right from the first round.

Salim Sdiri (FRA)
(Getty Images)

Ladji added “Anyway, I won’t have the time to celebrate this record, since I’m going straight away into a training camp.”

With six hurdlers in the World at 13.11 or faster, and two under 13sec, the 2005 level is unparalleled. “We study a lot our opponents, especially Dominique Arnold (13.01) who technically achieves what we are looking for”.

Ferga dominates strong opposition in 12.66

Another athlete coached by Longuèvre set the best female performance of the day. Linda Ferga-Khodadin, 28 years old, set out her ambitions in the first 100m Hurdles semi-final, with a fine 12.87 (wind -0.1). But Reina-Flor Okori, the defending French champion, who has been dealing with health problems all year, peaked when it counted with a 12.78 (+2.1m/s) in the second semi-final.

However, in the Final, though Okori led most of the race, she couldn’t resist Khodadin’s late surge, crossing the lane in 12.66. In her wake, Okori and Adrianna Lamalle scored new personal bests in 12.75 and 12.85 respectively.

Khodadin, the 9th fastest performer in the world this year, said “I knew I was the only one to have achieved the qualifying standards for Helsinki, so the other girls were going to be in their best shape. I’m so happy to set in the same race to win my first national title at 100m Hurdles and a new personal best”.

Longuèvre, the happiest coach of the day, explained: “It’s more difficult to lead Linda to a new personal best than Ladji. I have coached Ladji since he was 15, while Linda came to me after the 2001 season, when she already was an Olympic Finalist. That’s why I’m happy that she finally beats her personal best with me, her former PB was 12.67 in Edmonton. Nevertheless, the performance which provides me the most satisfaction is Patricia Buval, who ran 11.33 in the female 100m Final”.

Eloundou’s big step into World Class

In the women’s dash Patricia Buval, a hurdles specialist, came third finishing behind Sylvie Mballa Eloundou, 11.13 and Sylviane Félix, 11.20. The race was held under perfect conditions, warm weather and good wind assistance (w+1.8m/s).

It was an incredible improvement for Mballa Eloundou, 28 years old, whose prior personal best was set back in 1998 with 11.36.

In 2005, her season was slowed because of a right knee injury and had not run faster than 11.42. Yesterday, she easily ran 11.28 in heats (w+0.5m/s), today, in semis, she reduced her mark to 11.25 (w+1.2m/s). One hour and a half later, she dominated the Final in a surprising 11.13, for 13th place in 2005 World Lists.

“I was a little lazy at the start, but I didn’t leaving anything to the other girls. I explain my improvement by a new training schedule in Paris with my fiancé Atilla Erdinc. In the past, I used to train too much and was always injured. Now I train lighter and smarter, always searching quality, and skipping the 200m this season because of my knee. It will be my first major Championships as an individual, after having run the relay at Gothenburg’95 Worlds and Atlanta’96 Games”.

The national title goes to Mballa Eloundou even if she has chosen to run for her native country, Cameroon.

National record for Boslak

In the women’s Pole Vault, the last event of the day, Vanessa Boslak started her competition at 4.45m. After a first miss, she was easily successful at her second attempt. Her third jump of the day was also a success, this time at 4.60m, 4cm higher than her recent French record and the 4th best performer of the year. She failed her three attempts at 4.70m.

Sdiri - 8.25m PB

Salim Sdiri set a new personal best with 8.25m in the men’s Long Jump. His good series 8.19 (-0.3), 7.79 (+2.7), x, x, 8.05 (+1.5), 8.25 (+1.0), gives him victory ahead Arnaud Casquette (MRI) who also jumped 8.25m. Sdiri’s former best was 8.24, set in the last two nationals championships (indoor and outdoor), and he is now the 9th best long jumper of 2005.

Eunice Barber competed in the Javelin Throw competition. She was pleased with her series: 46.34, 48.47, 41.93, 42.46, x, 53.10 and placed second behind Sarah Walther 55.27. Marc Raquil qualified for tomorrow’s 400m final in 46.13, while Ronald Pognon set an effortless personal best in 200m heats with 20.38 (wind +1.0m/s). The women’s 200m heats were skipped due to lack of competitors, so Arron’s races are delayed until tomorrow.

Pierre-Jean Vazel for the IAAF