MADRID SGP - 19Jul03- MUTOLA 1:55.55, AVERBUKH 5.93M

MADRID, July 19 (AFP) - Mozambique’s Maria Mutola andIsrael’s Alex Averbukh produced the best performances ofthe year, in the women’s 800 metres and men’s polevault, at the Super Grand Prix here on Saturday.
Mutola said before the meeting that she didn’t thinkshe would have a problem running well despite theSpanish capital being located at a lung-busting 700metres altitude.
So it proved, as the reigning Olympic and worldchampion clocked 1min 55.55sec, over four seconds ahead of Faith Macharia ofKenya.
Mutola covered the first lap in 55.97sec, and justextended her lead in a phenomenal second lap.
I have been training at higher altitude than this inSouth Africa so I have come here fresh. I just thoughtto myself, 'let's see what you can produce,'' Mutolasaid. It was the 30-year-old's fastest time for six yearsand reignited ideas that she might break thelongstanding world record of the Czech great JarmilaKratochvilova, which stands at 1:53.28 and celebratesits 20th birthday next Saturday. It’s a tough record. Over the last few years, when Ihave been running 1:56sec, it slipped out of my mind because perhaps itwas too far away. But it is a little nearer now,’’ addedMutola.
Russian-born Averbukh, who became an Israeli citizenin 1999, kept several thousand spectators in their seatslong after all the track events had finished.
The reigning European champion slipped over 5.93metres at his third attempt.
American hurdler Bershawn Jackson showed he will be amedal threat at next month’s World Championships inParis by winning the 400 metres hurdles in 48.23sec and becoming the second fastest man of theyear.
Jackson, who has just turned 20 and was the bronzemedallist at last year’s World Junior Championships,finished second at last month’s sudden-death Americanworld championship trials to ensure himself a place inParis but he has moved onto another plain in recentweeks.
I wanted to go out and show everyone what I coulddo, and I did it,'' he said. The biggest athletics event ever staged in Spain,outside of a major championship, finally produced alocal victory right at the end of the meeting. World indoor shot put champion Manuel Martinez won hisspecialist event with 20.96 metres just a few minutesafter Juan Carlos Higuero had triumphed in a closelycontested men's 1,500 metres, winning the sprint for theline in 3min 34.54sec. Earlier, Jamaica's Brigitte Foster, the fastest womanin the world this year at the 100 metres hurdles, spedto victory in 12.62sec, a time only herself and twoother women have beaten in 2003. The evergreen Namibian sprinter Frankie Fredericksshowed at 35 years of age that he has lost little of hisspeed as he won the 200 metres in 20.24sec to underlinehe cannot be written off for the world title. I think I can be a medal contender again,’‘Fredericks told AFP, and he confirmed that he will onlyrun the longer sprint in Paris.
``I’m just too slow for the 100 metres now,’’ hejoked.
South Africa’s Commonwealth Games men’s 800 metresgold medallist Mbulaeni Mulaudzi won over two laps ofthe track in 1min 44.42sec, with his compatriot HezekielSepeng close behind in second with 1:44.53.
Ukraine’s Inessa Kravets, the women’s triple jumpworld record holder, proved that she is a more thanproficient long jumper and won in 6.76 metres.
In the 3,000 metres, Kenya’s Like Kipkosgei foundanother gear 40 metres from the line to rocket fromfifth to first and stop the clock in 7:49.39.
Australia’s Benita Johnson was an equally impressivewinner of the women’s 3,000 metres in 8:38.45.
High jumper Matt Hemingway - a distant relative of thewriter Ernest Hemingway - was one of three men to clear2.30 metres but the gangling American won due to havingfewer failures than his rivals.