Liu Xiang beats Johnson in front of 40,000 home fans - Shanghai REPORT
Saturday 17 September 2005
Shanghai, China - In the midst of a stunning summer-like weekend in Shanghai, the first annual Shanghai Golden Grand Prix showcased the strongest collection of international athletics stars ever to compete together in the People’s Republic of China, on Saturday evening (17).
Liu Xiang keeps the fans happy
Shanghai Golden Grand Prix logo
This is Mid-Autumn Festival weekend in China, a holiday that falls almost directly halfway through the Chinese lunar year. As the full moon glows, families come together to celebrate and take time away from their daily routines. Kiosks selling “mooncakes,” a sweet Chinese dessert, sprout up on city streets much like Christmas ornament stores sprout up in December in the western world. Tonight, though, the Chinese have even more to celebrate, as Liu Xiang added to his legacy as one of the kings of Chinese sport, defeating Allen Johnson in a hard-fought 110m Hurdles final to roars of approval from the near-capacity crowd - 40,000 - at Shanghai Stadium.
A Shanghai native, Liu Xiang faced the inevitable home-crowd pressure with great poise. The 110m hurdles race brought tension in the stadium to a high as American Dominique Arnold was disqualified for a false start. Running in lane 9, Marcel Van Der Westen of the Netherlands posted a 0.057 reaction time to charge the field with its first false start. When the field lined up for the start a second time, China’s Shi Dongpeng moved slightly while in the blocks, but didn’t cross the start line. Unfortunately for the man to his left, Dominique Arnold, that movement was enough to push him to cross the line ahead of the gun. Informed of his DQ, Arnold pointed at Shi and shouted “He moved!” at the race officials before leaving the track.
With Arnold out of the running, it was a fight between Liu Xiang and Johnson for the title. Uncharacteristically, Liu Xiang hit the third hurdle and from hurdles five through eight, Johnson was clearly the stronger runner. But when Johnson hit hurdles eight, nine and ten, Liu Xiang took the opportunity to power past him to a joyful finish. Johnson placed second in 13.20, and China’s Shi Dongpeng placed third (13.40). Liu’s winning time of 13.05 seconds tied his season-best mark.
Liu Xiang and Allen Johnson in Shanghai
“When I got shoulder to shoulder with Allen Johnson, I felt that I was going to win,” Liu Xiang said. “The crowd was amazing but they did give me pressure, too. From the moment I left the hotel to the moment I entered the stadium, they were shouting out my name and I had to respond. That distracted me a little, but it was okay.”
Allen Johnson, the former four-time World champion whose name and face are well-known to Chinese fans of athletics, was gracious in defeat, taking time to pose for photographs with the winner on the track after the race. “Excellent win for Liu Xiang,” Johnson said later. “I ran good for 70% of the race but twisted my ankle at the last hurdle. I am looking forward to competing with Liu again.”
Bekele brothers dominate
Kenenisa Bekele crosses himself as he wins the 3000m - brother Tariku (2) is to the right - Shanghai
In the men’s 3000 metres, brothers Kenenisa and Tariku Bekele of Ethiopia wore bib numbers 1 and 2 and finished that way as well. Older brother Kenenisa, the World record holder at 5000m and 10,000m, nipped Tariku to take the win, clocking 7:36.36 to his younger brother’s 7:36.63. Kenenisa appeared to be holding himself back slightly in the final laps, the better to accompany the younger Tariku to a new personal best. Kenya’s Boniface Songok ran a season’s best to finish third (7:37.70), one of eight men in the field to set a season or personal best. Kenenisa unleashed a 54.77 last lap on his way to the title.
“The weather is very hot and I felt very tired,” he said afterward. “But the crowd was great. My brother wanted to overtake me but failed because he was inexperienced. But he made his personal best and I am very happy for him. It was not an easy race.”
Other meet highlights included the following:
Allyson Felix acknowledges the crowd in Shanghai after her 200m win
100m:Justin Gatlin fulfilled his promise and shook off a fourth-place showing in last weekend’s World Athletics Final 200m race, placing first in 10.01. Fellow American Leonard Scott was second in 10.09, and Francis Obikwelu rounded out the first three spots with a third-place 10.11. American Maurice Greene, still looking to regain his world championship form of years past, did not finish.
200m: In contrast to the World Championships in Helsinki where Americans swept the first four places, tonight in Shanghai the Americans were shut out. Christopher Williams won the race with 20.24, a stadium record. Second and third places went to the Britons Christian Malcolm (20.42) and Marlon Devonish (20.55). World bronze medallist John Capel (USA) placed fourth (20.59). American Tyson Gay, fourth at worlds but first in Monaco last weekend, was a late scratch.
800m: Kenya’s Wilfred Bungei unleashed a fast kick to set a new stadium record of 1:45.35 on his way to the title, just nipping Mbulaeni Mulaudzi (1:45.37) at the line. Third place went to Bungei’s countryman William Yiampoy (1:45.47). World champion Rashid Ramzi placed sixth in 1:47.81.
High Jump: 1999 World champion Vyacheslav Voronin of Russia took first place with a stadium-record 2.31m. American Tora Harris posted his outdoor season’s best 2.29m, clearing that height on his first attempt to finish second. Recently crowned World champion Yuriy Krymarenko of Ukraine rounded out the top three, placing third after he made his third attempt at 2.29m. Jacques Freitag, the 2003 World gold medallist, was fourth (2.26). Ukraine’s Andriy Sokolovskyy made only one height all evening (2.16), finishing sixth.
Meseret Defar wins the 5000m in Shanghai
Long Jump: For three and a half rounds it was starting to look like the night belonged to Ignisious Gaisah of Ghana. Gaisah led World champion Dwight Phillips after three jumps, 8.16m to 8.11m, before unleashing a big 8.34m national record in the fourth round. But Phillips responded with what would become the meet winner: an 8.39m effort and stadium record. Miguel Pate of the United States placed third (8.05m).
100m: 2005 world season leader Chandra Sturrup scored a moderate upset over World champion Lauryn Williams, clocking 11.02. to Williams’ 11.05. United States national champion Me’Lisa Barber placed third (11.22).
200m: Allyson Felix continued her undefeated outdoor season with a win here (23.09). She was a favourite of the Chinese television commentators who noted that, at age 19, she’s in a perfect position to peak in the next several years, just in time for the 2008 Olympics. Second place went to the Bahamas’ Christine Amertil (23.26) and third place to Donna Fraser of Great Britain (23.31).
400m: Olympic champion Tonique Williams-Darling of the Bahamas got chased by a trio of Americans but held on for the win (50.25). The United States’ Dee Dee Trotter took second place (50.90), followed by Monique Hennagan (50.92) and Moushami Robinson (51.66).
800m: Four Russians toed the line at the start, but by the end, none of them was in the top three. World silver medallist Hasna Benhassi of Morocco took control of the race on the bell lap to win in 1:58.58. Second place went to France’s Hind Dehiba in a personal-best 1:59.75. Kenya’s Janeth Jepkosgei was third in 2:00.20. Russia’s Yuliya Chizhenko was the first Russian across the line in a fourth-place 2:01.08 – a personal best.
5000m: Much was made on Chinese television of the strategy employed by Chinese runners Sun Yingjie and Xing Huina to break the Ethiopian juggernaut in this event, but it was no use.
After leading for much of the race, Sun, whose given name translates as “Courageous and Outstanding,” relied on her endurance to pace the pack through a slow 4000 metres.
Olympic Champion Meseret Defar and teammates Meselech Meklamu and Gelete Burika made short work of that lead on the bell lap, opening up an insurmountable gap. Defar showed why she’s the Olympic champion with her final kick, clocking a 58.78 last lap on her way to the title (14:58.79). Meklamu placed second in 15:01.83, and Burika was third (15:01.84). Olympic 10,000m champion Xing Huina fought to keep contact with the Ethiopians on the bell lap but couldn’t manage to stay with them, finishing fifth (15:04.18). Sun was sixth in 15:06.92.
Pole Vault: As expected, it was the Yelena Isinbayeva show, as the Russian World record holder only had to take one vault attempt to win the title. Her easy 4.65m clearance put her ahead of Poland’s Monika Pyrek, who passed on her attempts at 4.65 to try for a personal best at 4.75. When she missed all three tries, the title belonged to Isinbayeva. Her three world record attempts at 5.02m weren’t even close – she ran into the pit on her second attempt and hit the bar badly on her other two tries – but she’ll surely keep chasing Sergei Bubka’s record of 35 Pole Vault World records for many meets to come. China’s Gao Shuying topped off an excellent 2005 campaign with a third-place finish here (4.45m).
Shot Put: World champion Nadezhda Ostapchuk of Belarus heaved a 19.76m effort on her fourth attempt to clinch the title. New Zealand’s Valerie Vili came second with a 19.47m mark, and China continued its good showing at this event with Li Meiju’s third-place finish (18.77m).
Mary Nicole Nazzaro for the IAAF
Additional reporting provided by John Wu in Shanghai
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Top Three Results per event
GATLIN, Justin – USA – 10.01 – Reaction time 0.137
SCOTT, Leonard – USA – 10.09 – 0.147
OBIKWELU, Francis – POR – 10.11 – 0.174
WILLIAMS, Christopher – JAM – 20.24 – reaction time 0.157
MALCOLM, Christian – GBR – 20.42 – 0.233
DEVONISH, Marlon – GBR – 20.55 – 0.187
BUNGEI, Wilfred – KEN – 1:45.35
MULAUDZI, Mbulaeni – RSA – 1:45.37
YIAMPOY, William – KEN – 1:45.47
BEKELE, Kenenisa – ETH – 7:36.36
BEKELE, Tariku – ETH – 7:36.63 (PB)
SONGOK, Boniface – KEN – 7:37.70 (SB)
Men’s 110m Hurdles:
LIU Xiang – CHN – 13.05 (Stadium Record, tied SB) – reaction time 0.155
JOHNSON, Allen – USA – 13.20 – 0.168
SHI Dongpeng – CHN – 13.40 – 0.158
Men’s High Jump:
VORONIN, Vyacheslav – RUS – 2.31m (Stadium Record)
HARRIS, Tora – USA – 2.29m (SB)
KRIMARENKO, Yuriy – UKR – 2.29m
Men’s Long Jump:
PHILLIPS, Dwight – USA – 8.39m (Stadium Record)
GAISAH, Ignisious – GHA – 8.34m (NR)
PATE, Miguel – USA – 8.05m
STURRUP, Chandra – BAH – 11.02 sec. – Reaction time 0.144
WILLIAMS, Lauryn – USA – 11.05 sec. – 0.155
BARBER, Me’Lisa – USA – 11.22 sec. – 0.189
FELIX, Allyson – USA – 23.09 – reaction time 0.171
AMERTIL, Christine – BAH – 23.26 – 0.200
FRASER, Donna – GBR – 23.31 – 0.173
WILLIAMS-DARLING, Tonique – BAH – 50.25 sec.
TROTTER, Dee Dee – USA – 50.90
HENNAGAN, Monique – USA – 50.92
BENHASSI, Hasna – MAR – 1:58.58
DEHIBA, Hind – FRA – 1:59.75 (PB)
JEPKOSGEI, Janeth – KEN – 2:00.20
DEFAR, Meseret – ETH – 14:58.79
MELKAMU, Meselech – ETH – 15:01.83
BURIKA, Gelete – ETH – 15:01.84
Women’s Pole Vault:
ISINBAYEVA, Yelena – RUS – 4.65m
PYREK, Monika – POL – 4.55m
GAO Shuying – CHN – 4.45m
Women’s Shot Put:
OSTAPCHUK, Nadezhda – BLR – 19.76m
VILI,Valerie – NZL – 19.47m
LI Meiju – CHN – 18.77m