LILLE: Great throws, good sprints


Heidler’s 75.38 in the Hammer Throw the Highlight in Lille
Saturday 10 June 2006

Lille, France – The 12th edition of the Meeting Lille Metropole in Villeneuve d’Ascq witnessed a display of notable performances in exceptionally warm weather and still winds. Throwers achieved the best performances led by Betty Heidler in the Hammer Throw (75.38) and Reese Hoffa in Shot Put (21.70m).

Third straight national record for Heidler

Reese Hoffa of USA on his way to gold in the men’s Shot Put final in Moscow
(Getty Images)

Breaking her third national record in three consecutive competitions, German Betty Heidler seems unstoppable. At 22 years of age, she started her successful streak on May 26th with a 72.91m effort. Nine days later, she threw 75.16m, a distance she bettered twice in Lille during an impressive series: 75.38, 72.50, 75.20, 70.65, 72.32, and 73.64, to move up to No. 5 among performers all-time. She is now focusing on the European Cup and European Championships where she will meet the mighty Russians. Second place went to Frenchwoman Manuèla Montebrun with 72.04m as no less than five women threw over 70m.

World Indoor Champion Reese Hoffa (USA) confirmed he is the best shot putter of the young season, as he outclassed his rival Adam Nelson, with a strong series of his own: 21.49, foul, 21.70, foul, foul, 21.04. Nelson’s best mark was 21.19.

Kikaya the class of the full lap

Ezekiel Kemboi - Steeplechase gold - Melbourne 2006
(Getty images)

Gary Kikaya (Democratic Republic of Congo), Lille winner of the 300m last year and 2006 season’s fastest of the field, was one the favourites of the race. He followed his oponents’ pace for the first half of the race and produced a very fast last 150m to win in 44.83 from World Indoor champion Alleyne Francique’s 45.16 and Ato Modibo’s 45.51. Both coming back from injuries, Frenchmen Leslie Djhone (45.78) and Marc Raquil (46.70) were fourth and seventh places respectively.

Baala wins debut, World leader for Kemboi in Steeplechase

Mehdi Baala had no rival in the 1000m after the withdrawal of Mohamed Mutlak Al-Azimi of Kuwait, the early-season world leader in the 800. For his opening race, the Frenchman usually chose the 800m in Lille, but a hamstring injury this winter prevented him from running at such a fast pace this season. As he didn’t want to contest a 1500m for his debut, the 1000m distance was the perfect compromise. He followed the rabbit (53.56 at 400m) and took the lead at 800 (1:48:39) which he maintained throughout the race to reach the line in 2:14.99, resisting Kenyan Elkana Angwenyi’s closing surge (2:15.09).

Brigitte Foster-Hylton of Jamaica wins her 100m Hurdles semi-finals at the 2005 World Championships
(Getty Images)

Kenyans dominated the 3000m Steeplechase as Olympic Champion Ezekiel Kemboi won with a World-leading 8:14.70 from Richard Matelong (8:15.05) and 17-year-old Tareg Taher of Bahrain, who clocked 8:15.29. The women’s 1500m was won by Frenchwoman Latifa Essaroth in 4:07.37. Favourite Lidia Chojeka of Poland led until 200m to go, but couldn’t change her rhythm and faded to fourth in 4:08.22.

Another win for Foster-Hylton

Brigitte Foster-Hylton took the 100m Hurdles in 12.70, duplicating her performance that brought her victory in Oslo’s Golden League opener seven days ago. She led the race from the start in spite of Jamaican teammate Delloreen Ennis-London’s tough opposition (12.81).

Ronald Pognon speeds to a 9.99 French record in the 100m - Lausanne 2005
(Hasse Sjögren)

American Lolo Jones left the hurdles this time in favour of the 100m dash, which she won in 11.36 in a photo finish decision over Commonwealth champion Sheri-Ann Brooks (11.37), and Laverne Jones (ISV) and Zhanna Block (UKR), who both clocked 11.39. Kim Gevaert easily won the 200m in 22.84.

Pognon, Martin take the men’s dashes

The men’s sprints didn’t provide fast clockings, but did produce close races. The 100m favourite was :slight_smile: Olusoji Fasuba, the 21-year-old who recently lowered the African record to 9.85. Usually a fast starter, the Nigerian said he didn’t hear the gun (reaction time 0.186) but was still leading at the half way point. Frenchman :slight_smile: Ronald Pognon (reaction time 0.131) caught him with 30m to go, with both crossing the finish line shoulder-to-shoulder. Pognon won in 10.22, a scant 1/100 of a second ahead of Fasuba.

In the 200m, it was Pognon’s turn to miss the start, as he almost fell down in the second step :eek: . His very strong finish was enough to narrow the margin somewhat, but not enough to catch an impressive Rodney Martin (USA) who won in 20.38. Pognon placed second with 20.56 with Nigeria’s Uchenna Emedolu third with 20.66.

Frenchman Salim Sdiri, who had to miss World Indoor Championships in March through injury, confirmed that he has fully recovered after winning the Long Jump with an 8.15m leap from American Brian Johnson’s 8.12 and Algerian Issam Nima’s 8.03.

Yaroslav Rybakov (RUS) and Giulio Ciotti (ITA) each cleared 2.30 in the High Jump, with the Russian getting the nod after his fist attempt clearance. The same scenario occurred in the women’s Pole Vault. Vanessa Boslak of France won from Germany’s Nastja Ryshich, as both jumped 4.50m. Boslak tried to improve her national record to 4.66m and had three impressive but unsuccessful attempts.

Jamaicans Dean Griffiths and Kemel Thompson offered to the public a very close 400m hurdles race, with Griffiths (48.81) just beating the favourite Thompson (48.86) to the tape. In Tatyana Lebedeva’s absence, the women’s Triple Jump was won by Marija Martinovic-Sestak from Serbia & Montenegro with a 14.33 leap.

:cool: Pierre Jean Vazel for the IAAF