Shanghai wrap 28-9-07


Robles rolls on, Spearmon shocks Gay – Shanghai report

Friday 28 September 2007

Shanghai, China - Two men’s World champions were upset in their marquee events at Friday’s (28) Shanghai Super Grand Prix, held at the Shanghai University Town Stadium. In the meantime, the six defending World champions entered on the women’s side all won their events convincingly.

Liu Xiang, the newly-crowned world champion in the 10m Hurdles, couldn’t make up ground after a weak start and finished third behind wunderkind Dayron Robles of Cuba. Triple World champion Tyson Gay credited teammate Wallace Spearmon with an excellent race after falling to him in the 100-meter race.

Near season’s best victory for Veronica Campbell in Shanghai
(Getty Images)

Top women’s performances included a solid 10.90 clocking by Jamaican Veronica Campbell in the 100m, an impressive run by World champion Jana Rawlinson in the 400m Hurdles, and a win by 400m World champion Christine Ohuruogu. Sanya Richards, number one in the world this year at 400ms but unable to compete in that event at the World championships after not qualifying at U.S. Nationals, ran the 100m race here, coming in an impressive second behind Campbell.

Robles’ momentum continues

Robles, who stunned everyone with a 12.92 clocking last week in Stuttgart en route to the World Athletics Final title, ran 13.01 tonight to best Liu Xiang and the rest of the field. Second place went to Anwar Moore of the United States in 13.20. Liu was a step behind in third place (13.21) and Allen Johnson, the four-time World champion who said this week in Shanghai that he will likely retire after the 2008 Olympics, was fourth in 13.23. Johnson, a household name in China, was cheered warmly by the crowd during his introduction before the race.

Wallace Spearmon wins the men’s 200m in Berlin’s Golden League
(Getty Images)

After the race, Liu was philosophical in defeat.

“I feel I’m still in a good situation,” Liu said. “I haven’t had regular training for some time now, so to achieve this result is not bad for me. Losing sometimes is not a bad thing. More and more international friends are coming to our meets. Robles is in peak form [right now].” [THAT SHOULD HELP REDUCE A LITTLE OF THE IMMENSE PRESSURE ON HIM FOR THE OLYMPICS.kk]

Spearmon, clad in yellow (considered a lucky color in China), whose previous best time in the 100 meters was the 10.11 he set last year at this meet, was understandably pleased with his performance. “I’m a little bit surprised,” said the World championships 200m bronze medalist. “[Shanghai] was my best performance this year, and last year too.” For his part, Gay was gracious in defeat. “Spearmon ran a great race,” he said afterwards.

Convincing victory for Michelle Perry in Shanghai
(Getty Images)

Other highlights included a blowout win by World champion Jeremy Wariner of the United States in the 400m, who looked relaxed every step of the way in slashing more than a second off the meet record and leaving his closest competitor more than a second behind him as well.

Distance ace Kenenisa Bekele had to settle for second place behind Daniel Komen in the 1500m, but took home a consolation prize: a personal best at a distance he rarely contests.

Hot and sunny skies turned to rain earlier in the day before the evening settled into warm and humid conditions. The humidity hovered around 80% and the temperature was around 25 degrees Centigrade (77 degrees Fahrenheit) by the time the elite athletes began their competition. This is the largest, most elite track and field meet to be held before next year’s Summer Olympics in Beijing, and the collection of world-class talent that made the trip to Shanghai had a chance to experience a taste of what next year is likely to bring , both in terms of weather and crowd support for China’s athletes. Thundersticks were everywhere when Liu Xiang made his appearance and he was quick to congratulate Robles on his win and to acknowledge the support of the audience, many of whom were Liu’s contemporaries.

Jeremy Wariner in Shanghai
(Getty Images)

This was the third annual meeting of the Shanghai Golden Grand Prix, now designated as a qualifying event for the 2008 IAAF/VTB Bank World Athletics Final. The meet was held in a week of celebrations for China: the Mid-Autumn Festival was earlier this week, and this weekend marks the beginning of one of China’s two one-week vacation periods for most Chinese, the October 1 holiday week.

The meet featured eight events (four each for men and women) showcasing some of China’s up-and-coming track and field talent before the fifteen elite events began at 7:40 p.m. with the women’s Pole Vault.

Event-by-event Highlights:

Yelena Isinbayeva in Shanghai
(Getty Images)


100m: The American Spearmon – whose excellent 2007 outdoor season (gold in 4x100m and bronze in 200m in Osaka) was somewhat overshadowed by the emergence of countryman Tyson Gay, the triple World champion – set a meet record and a personal-best 9.96 en route to handing Gay a surprise defeat. Gay was second in 10.02 seconds, with Jamaica’s Michael Frater third in 10.07. Great Britain’s Rikki Fifton set a personal best en route to a fourth-place showing in 10.16 seconds.

200m: 100m World record holder Asafa Powell said his manager was behind the decision to enter him in the 200 instead of against world champ Tyson Gay in the 100, then went out and blitzed the field, winning in 20.00 seconds. American Rodney Martin was second in 20.29, and Christopher Williams of Jamaica took third place in 20.39 seconds.

400m: Wariner smashed the meet record with a 44.02 clocking, breaking LaShawn Merritt’s 2006 meet record ( 45.10) by over a second. Second place went to Angelo Taylor in 45.03 and third to Canada’s Tyler Christopher (45.20).

1500m: Daniel Kipchirchir Komen took the title in 3:31.75, followed by Bekele (3:32.35) and former Kenyan Yusuf Saad Kamel, now running for Bahrain, in 3:34.59.

110m Hurdles: Robles took the upset win over home favorite Liu Xiang. Robles clocked 13.01, Anwar Moore slipped into second place at 13.20, and Liu had to settle for third in 13.21.

Long Jump: American Brian Johnson took the gold medal with an 8.15m leap. Aarik Wilson of the United States was second with a mark of 8.03m, and after fouling his first two jumps, Miguel Pate posted an 8.02m mark in the third round, which held up for the bronze medal.

High Jump: The win went to Swede Linus Thornblad with a jump of 2.31m. Second place went to Russian Andrey Silnov (2.29m) and Jamie Nieto was third with a 2.23m jump. Four of the eleven competitors no-heighted, including 2005 World champion Yuriy Krimarenko of Ukraine.

Triple Jump: In an all-Chinese competition, the gold went to national Grand Prix champion Gu Junjie (16.67m), who narrowly missed qualifying for the Osaka final in this event. Silver went to Wu Bo (16.12m) and bronze to Xie Zunpeng (16.10m).


100m: World champion Campbell took the win in 10.90 seconds, just 0.01 off her season best 10.89 set in Kingston in June. She was followed by 400m specialist Sanya Richards (10.97) and Carmelita Jeter, the Osaka bronze medallist in 11.09 seconds. 2005 world champion Lauryn Williams was fourth in 11.21 seconds. It was the first foray into sub-11 territory for Richards, who began with the season with an 11.28 career best.

400m: World champion Ohuruogu of Great Britain took the title in 50.57, followed by Shericka Williams of Jamaica (50.98) and Ilona Usovich of Belarus (51.35).

100m Hurdles: Two-time World champion Michelle Perry of the United States took the title in 12.65 seconds, followed by Jamaica’s Vonette Dixon in 12.88. Perry’s countrywoman Dawn Harper was third in 13.03 seconds. China’s Liu Jing set a season-best mark of 13.28 in placing fourth.

400m Hurdles: Rawlinson continued her winning ways with a 54.42 clocking for first place. Second and third went to Natasha Danvers-Smith (54.85) and Tiffany Ross-Williams (55.01). China’s Huang Xiaoxiao clocked 55.62 for fifth place, the same placement she notched in the world championships final in Osaka.

High Jump: World champion Blanka Vlasic took the title with a 2.02m jump. Vita Palamar was second (2.00m) and Anna Chicherova took third with a mark of 1.97m.

Long Jump: Chinese women came in first and second, with Chen Yaling taking the title with a leap of 6.29m on her final attempt. Zhang Lan was second (6.24m).

Pole Vault: The competition didn’t get rolling until Svetlana Feofanova cleared her first height at 4.45m, having passed several heights en route to that clearance. By the next height of 4.55m, the medalists were all but decided, with Feofanova clearing the height on her first attempt and World champion Yelena Isinbayeva waiting until the bar was at 4.65m before beginning her night. Asian record holder Gao Shuying of China and Russian Yulia Golubchikova both cleared 4.45m before missing all three attempts at 4.55m, tying them for fourth place. The gold went to Isinbayeva ( 4.83m), with Feofanova following with a 4.75m clearance. Germany’s Carolin Hingst came within a centimeter of her three-year-old personal best in taking third place (4.65m). With the rain starting again, Isinbayeva took two tries at a 5.02 World record mark before quitting because of the slickness of the track.

Mary Nicole Nazzaro with Tracy Tao Yungang in Shanghai for the IAAF