ROME 14July06: Wariner closing on Johnson

Wariner closing in on Johnson – IAAF Golden League, Rome
Friday 14 July 2006
14 July 2006 - Rome, Italy - Jeremy Wariner is now the fourth fastest one-lap sprinter of all-time and was the undisputed king of Rome’s Olympic stadium tonight at the Borotalco Golden Gala - IAAF Golden League - meeting (Friday 14 July).

IAAF Golden League Jackpot

Susanna Kallur of Sweden takes the women’s 100m Hurdles in Rome Golden League
(Getty Images)

Four athletes started out this evening in contention for the $1 Million Golden League Jackpot, a share of which goes to anyone winning at all six meetings this year, and all four completed their third victories:

Men: Asafa (Powell), Jeremy Wariner (400m)
Women: Sanya Richards (women’s 400m) and Tirunesh Dibaba (women’s 5000m)

Those in contention for $500,000, for achieving 5 wins out of six competitions are:

Asafa Powell of Jamaica dominates the men’s 100m in Rome Golden League
(Getty Images)

Men: Kenenisa Bekele (5000m), Irving Saldino (LJ), Andreas Thorkildsen (JT)
Women: Susanna Kallur (100m H), Blanka Vlasic (HJ)

Wariner, simply stunning!

While it was billed as a battle between NCAA star Xavier Carter, who stormed to the second fastest 200m (19.63) of all-time on Tuesday in Lausanne, and World and Olympic 400m champion Jeremy Wariner, the men’s 400m actually turned out to be more of demonstration run by Wariner. The American, who was already the sixth fastest runner of all-time (43.91, last weekend in Paris) is now the fourth quickest ever of all-time, his winning PB of 43.62, the seventh quickest race ever seen. Quite stunning!

Irving Saladino of Panama wins Long Jump in Rome
(Getty Images)

“43.6 came a lot sooner than I expected. I am slowly making my way down (the all-time list),” commented Wariner modestly. Michael Johnson’s World record of 43.18 is still a long way off but Wariner has placed his marker of intent down for all to see.

Carter was fast out of the blocks in lane 4 but Wariner quite literally always had his opponent in his sights running in the lane inside. Any advantage which Carter had gained in the first 150m was quickly recaptured by Wariner and as the race entered the final bend and came out of it, this was clearly a one man show. Carter began to tie up dramatically in the last 30 metres but just hung on for second in 44.76, with LaShawn Merritt just behind in 44.77. World silver medallist Andrew Rock was fourth (44.82) with Jamaica’s Jermaine Gonzales, setting a PB in fifth (44.85).

Powell, a meeting record

Sherone Simpson on her way to defeating Marion Jones in Rome Golden League
(Getty Images)

Such is the expectation built up over the last year regarding the 100m World record, that when a man runs 9.85m (+0.5m/s wind) we feel a tad disappointed. Tonight that was the sensation as Asafa Powell secured his third Golden League win of the season. But that’s no one’s fault but the spectator, a meeting record equalling win, the fifth fastest time in the world this season, should be treated as it actually merits, superb sprinting!

“I feel pretty good. I am happy with the win even without the record. I had a bad start,” confirmed Powell.

Dibaba has the better sprint again

Andreas Thorkildsen of Norway wins Javelin Throw in Rome Golden League
(Getty Images)

In Paris last Saturday (8), Olympic champion Meseret Defar had set the agenda, now tonight it was the World title holder Tirunesh Dibaba who was dictating the tactics, and we were treated to another splendid last lap sprint between the two petite Ethiopians in the women’s 5000m.

Whereas a week ago Defar had set out her stall and let the World champion make a counter attack, tonight Dibaba never let the World record holder get her nose in front. The bell sounded with 13:55 on the clock and soon after Defar’s pursuit of Dibaba began as both women kicked. Defar never came closer than about 5 metres of her compatriot, with Dibaba showing a fleet turn of speed to close on the finish in 14:52.37, with Defar second in 14:53.51. The top-8 broke 15 minutes.

Richards also secure in $1 Million hunt

Paul Burgess of Australia wins the men’s Pole Vault in Rome Golden League
(Getty Images)

Dibaba was the first of tonight’s four $1 Million Golden league Jackpot contenders to be safe, and within minutes, a second athlete also secured her third win of the year. Sanya Richards kept her eyes firmly set on at least a share of the season’s biggest prize with a 49.31 win, ahead of a PB for Jamaica’s Novlene Williams (49.65) and another national record for Vanya Stambolova (49.91) in third. The Bulgarian is one of the season’s finds, her time a European lead her third national record at the distance outdoors this summer. The 22-year-old also set an impressive 54.55 record at the 400m Hurdles on 11 June. Watch out for this fast finishing talent, we will hear more of her.

Ramzi - No record and pipped too!

World champion Rashid Ramzi made a brave attempt this evening to set a new World record on the track which in the last two years has brought him 1500m wins. An overly fast pace which had the pace maker running 1:48 for 800m, eventually took its toll and by 1200m we were back to 2:46, roughly two seconds inside the required record pace. However, then as expected the lactic began to kick into the legs of the field with Ramzi slightly more affected than his late purser and eventual victor, Kenyan Daniel Kipchirchir, who took the win passing the Bahraini just before the line. The winning time was 3:29.02 a World season’s lead, with Ramzi second in 3:29.14, an Asian record beating his own 3:30.30 with which he won her last year. World Silver medallist Adil Kaouch of Morocco was third in 3:31.10 a PB, with the top-10 finishers all home in under 3:33, in what was a race of the highest standing.

Paul Kipsiele Koech wins the men’s 3000m Steeplechase in Rome Golden League
(Getty Images)

If Ramzi had been surprised a little, then Russian Olympic champion Yuriy Borzakovskiy, out of sorts this evening in fifth (1:45.28) and the rest of the men’s 800m field were even more so as they were left adrift by Moroccan Amine Laalou. He held them off in the final straight to establish a Moroccan record of 1:43.25, a World season’s lead. USA’s Khadevis Robinson in second 1:43.86 and a Saudi record for Mohammed Al-Salhi in third (1:43.99) made up the top-3. Laalou’s previous personal best was a 1:43.68 (2004). It was a dramatic improvement for the 24-year-old who has been a World and Olympic semi-finalist but had a best of only 1:45.65 previously this summer.

The women’s 800m, the last track event of the night, was taken by World champion Zuliya Calatayud of Cuba in 1:59.35, followed home by USA’s Hazel Clark (1:59.83), and Kenyan record holder and World season’s leader Janeth Jepkosgei (1:59.86).

90.34m for Thorkildsen

The men’s Javelin Throw is currently very much a two-man battle, and tonight was no exception. Norway’s Olympic champion Andreas Thorkildsen (Oslo) and Finland’s Tero Pitkämäki (Paris) had each taken Golden League wins this season but already in the lead thanks to a fifth round 87.37m, the Norwegian put it beyond doubt with a 90.34m release on his last. This was third time this season and his career that he had shot past 90m, this is the second best ever. The Finn’s reply was good, but not good enough – 88.19m for second.

Bekele comfortably shows heels to Shaheen and Songok

Ten men went under 13 minutes in the 5000m outlining the quality of the race but the real story was not about times it was about a three way battle for middle distance running supremacy. Kenenisa Bekele the World record holder came out on top in 12:51.44, the second fastest time of the summer. He had gone marginally quicker when winning in Paris last week (12:51.32).

The victory was what was important tonight, as the Ethiopian’s finishing burst was able to see off double World Steeplechase champion Saif Saaeed Shaheen of Bahrain, whose 12:51.98 was an Asian record, and his vanquisher in Oslo, Isaac Songok (3rd 12:52.39).

The finishing times of the top-two look close but the reality was that Bekele had this race won with 80 metres to go, and while Shaheen closed quickly down the home straight to go past the Kenyan for second he never had any hope of catching Bekele.

Demus and Jackson remain in a world of their own

USA’s Lashinda Demus was a class apart again in the women’s 400m Hurdles, her 53.51 win so far ahead of the rest they might as well have been in a ‘B’ race. It was the fourth fastest clocking of the summer for the World silver medallist. No surprise that all the better times are on Demus’ CV.

Bershawn Jackson was similarly ahead of the field in the men’s one lap hurdles, his 47.86 far too good for South Africa’s L.J Van Zijl (48.46) and Jamaica’s Kemel Thompson (48.81).

Saladino wins but Howe keeps them happy

Irving Saladino continued a remarkably consistent season by winning the men’s Long Jump but the celebration going on after the last round was for Andrew Howe, who sent the Italian crowd home happy with a world class 8.41m PB. The round before World Indoor champion Ignisious Gaisah of Ghana had leapt to 8.43m, a national record which secured second. World and Olympic champion Dwight Phillips still short of motivation was in fourth, though he might be encouraged slightly by a season’s best of 8.32m.

Vlasic 2.00m win

Blanka Vlasic the winner in Oslo took her second Golden League win tonight in the women’s High Jump. The Croatian saw off many of her main rivals for next month’s European title including Sweden’s Kajsa Bergqvist (1.97m), the World champion, and Russian Olympic champion Yelena Slesarenko (1.91m 7th, nursing a ankle injury by the look of it). Belgium’s Tia Hellebaut equalled her 2.00m national record set last week in Paris but lost on count back to Vlasic. She has good hopes for both the Heptathlon and High Jump in Gothenburg, such is her current form.

Jones fast, Simpson faster

Marion Jones is still getting faster, back to her old self but tonight her season’s best of 10.91 wasn’t enough to dissuade Jamaica’s Sherone Simpson against taking the women’s 100m win. 10.87 was the winner’s time, a mark only second to her own 10.82 (2 June) World season’s lead.

Kallur and Trammell take the sprint hurdles

Well the women’s sprint hurdles weren’t as fast as in Lausanne, but then again that was an exceptional meeting altogether. The victor their Michelle Perry (12.43) was beaten here (2nd 12.58) in extremely convincing style by Sweden’s Susanna Kallur whose 12.52 was a European season’s lead. The Swede was also the victor in Paris last week.

No Liu Xiang, the new outright World record holder* is back in China celebrating but still the men’s 110m Hurdles was swift, taken in 13.15 by Terrence Trammell, comfortably ahead of fellow American Aries Merritt (13.17).

Koech impressive; American record broken after 21 years!

An impressive solo effort following the heels of the designated pacemakers brought Olympic bronze medallist Paul Kipsiele Koech of Kenya a sub-8mins clocking of 7:59.94, second only to World champion Saif Saaeed Shaheen’s 7:56.32 in Athens on 3 July. Koech was followed home by the third fourth and fifth quickest times of the summer from fellow Kenyans Richard Matelong (8:07.50) and Olympic silver medallist Brimin Kipruto (8:08.32), and Morocco’s Abdelkader Hachlaf (8:08.78 PB). In 5th was an American record for USA’s Daniel Lincoln, his time of 8:08.82 improving on Henry Marsh’s ancient mark of 8:09.17 established back on 28 August 1985.

Lebedeva solid as a rock

There were no 15m fireworks for Tatyana Lebedeva tonight but she remained as dominant as ever in the women’s Triple Jump. Her solid series of six efforts all over 14.54m was sign of her quality and form, though Greece’s Olympic silver medallist Hrysopiyi Devetzi’s 14.79m did hold the advantage over the multiple World champion until the fifth round when the Russian pulled out her best of the night, 14.88m to seal the competition.

Australian double

There was an Australian one – two in the men’s Pole Vault. Only attempting three heights this evening Paul ‘Budgie’ Burgess took the victory on his second vault at 5.82m, with Steve Hooker in second (5.77), and USA’s World silver medallist Brad Walker back in third on 5.72m, taking that position on count back from three others who were also on that height.

Swift 400m ‘B’ races

In the ‘B’ races this evening there was a season’s best for Congolese Gary Kikaya of 44.66 (men’s 400m) behind which Jamaica’s Michael Blackwood (44.94) and France’s Marc Raquil also established their best for 2006. In the women’s second string 400m, the Bahamas’ Christine Amertil won in 50.62, with Grenada’s Ann-Hazel Regis (50.77), and USA’s Moushaumi Robinson (50.80) next across the line, again all in season’s bests. There was a national record for Benin’s Fabienne Feraez (51.47). Stephanie Durst (11.20) and Olympic 200m gold medallist Sean Crawford (10.02) were the winners of the women’s and men’s 100m races.

Chris Turner for the IAAF

*pending ratification

Rome - the depth of the men’s distance races is incredible: Augustine Choge (the Com champ) runs 5k in sub-13 and places 10th!

Another Kenyan runs 3:31 for 1500 and finishes 7th!

And X-Man loses to Wariner by more than one second, crushing defeat…may make XMan and his minders appreciate the critical importance of rest and recovery. He may have run much faster with better regeneration after his 19.6 200 earlier in the week.

Marion still improving although beaten by Asafa’s training partner Sherone Simpson in a race which may decide the No.1 world ranking this year (although Zurich and more to come into play yet)

Why did we ever talk about Wariner having a contender. The guy is a class act.

he was so light on his feet yesterday, that makes you think!“hey, I can do that!”

Wariner is the class of the field but Carter may give him some competition later on if he recovers mentally from that beating. With a 19.63 200m, we all know he has the potential for a sub 44 400m. He probably needed the full 10 day rest after his 200m run but with money/committments I guess he had to run in Rome.