AND AT LAST THE IAAF’S VERSION OF PROCEEDINGS IN SHEFFIELD. MOTTRAM WAS CLEARLY “SNAPPED” BY BEKELE. FYI, SOME SAVAGE OPINIONS ON MOTTRAM BEING EXPRESSED ON THE BOARD OVER AT LETS RUN.COM …
Bekele pounces in Sheffield - IAAF World Athletics Tour
Sunday 15 July 2007
Sheffield, UK - So much for sunshine. So much for records. After all the pre-meeting hype, the sodden British summer put paid to any hopes of world 100m records or intriguing duels over 400m at the Norwich Union British Grand Prix this evening (15), an IAAF Grand Prix status meeting as part of the IAAF World Athletics Tour 2007.
Bekele dominant as ever
Tyson Gay in Sheffield
The day-long rain that pelted the Don Valley stadium in Sheffield made conditions miserable for athletes and spectators alike. Indeed, it was more like cross country weather than a summer track meeting, which probably explains why the performance of the night belonged to Ethiopia’s king of the country, Kenenisa Bekele.
The five-times double world cross country champion was back to his peerless best in the men’s 3000m, a race billed as a re-match with Australia’s Craig Mottram, the man who beat him in a sprint finish at last year’s IAAF World Cup. Bekele gave Mottram little chance to repeat that triumph here as he simply destroyed the Australian over the last kilometre to win by a huge margin.
After a quick first kilomere, paced by Kenya’s Charles Bett in 2:29.57, and second 1000m of 2:33.15, Bekele moved to the front and kicked away from his Australian shadow, speeding through a 58-second lap that turned a three-metre advantage into an unassailable 30m lead.
Another narrow win for Liu Xiang in Sheffield
He stopped the clock at 7:26.69, a stadium record by almost 13 seconds. More significantly it erased yet another of Haile Gebrselassie’s marks from the record books, the UK all-comers’ record of 7:29.69, it is the fastest time in the world this year by nearly six and a half seconds, and it makes Bekele the seventh quickest 3000m runner of all-time. Not bad considering the curtain of chilling water he had to plough through.
Not surprisingly, Bekele was the happiest man in the stadium. “That was a fantastic race,” he said. “The weather makes it very difficult to run well, but today is very special. I have been training very hard and it now shows that I am at my best.”
A bedraggled Mottram held on to finish second in 7:35.00, but afterwards the Australian’s mood was as grey as the heavy South Yorkshire skies. “That was not the Craig Mottram you usually see,” he said. “I am clearly better than that.”
Another victory for Michelle Perry in Sheffield
No doubt he is, although his time was still the fifth best in the world this year, while Americans Chris Solinsky and Dathan Ritzenhein, in third and fourth, both set PBs – 7:36.90 and 7:39.03 respectively. Not that either were within spitting distance of Bekele.
Indeed, the Ethiopian was one of the few athletes with reason to feel genuinely pleased with his performance on a night when many of the most-publicised clashes turned into damp squibs.
Gay beats the rain
Andrew Baddeley beats the rain and a strong field in Sheffield
US sprint champion Tyson Gay came here hinting at world record attempts but any chance of that vanished early in the morning when the US champion looked out of his hotel window and saw the streets of Sheffield streaming with rain.
There is little doubt the conditions affected his performance and although Gay claimed the victory, beating Britain’s Marlon Devonish and European champion Francis Obikwelu, his time will hardly be sending shivers down the spine of Jamaica’s Asafa Powell.
“I came to the track yesterday and the sun was out and it was warm, so I was expecting the same thing, but the weather turned around,” said a somewhat cheerless Gay after his 10.13 victory. “I’m a little rusty right now. I haven’t done any speed work and it wasn’t the best time. I really expected to run better but my body wasn’t ready.”
Home win for Nicola Sanders in Sheffield
For his part Devonish was happy to “mix it” with the big boys as he took some significant scalps in beating Obikwelu and Shawn Crawford. “I showed today that I can mix it with the likes of Tyson Gay when they are running so well,” said Devonish who clocked 10.23. “I’m a little disappointed with the time but the aim is to double up at the world championships so today was a good work-out. Doing the 200m earlier probably took the last 20m out of me.”
Taylor takes 400 as Wariner barely starts
The men’s 400m, the other big billboard event of the night, and the meeting’s final race, was even more of an anti-climax. After the runners had been held waiting for more than 10 minutes in teeming rain, world and Olympic champion Jeremy Wariner stopped running only metres into the race, saying later that he slipped coming out of his blocks. Then, Oscar Pistorius, the so-called “blade runner” was disqualified for running out of his lane after he had finished seventh.
With the two headline figures out of the running, the race was won by USA’s Angelo Taylor in 45.25 with Australia’s Commonwealth champion John Steffensen second in 45.64, 0.1 sesconds ahead of Darold Williamson.
Spearmon, Felix take combative 200s
The two closes races of the night came in the 200m, as USA’s Wallace Spearmon chased down Usain Bolt to claim a narrow victory in the men’s race, while World champion Allyson Felix triumphed in three-way battle against Sandra Richards and Olympic champion Veronica Campbell in the women’s.
Spearmon caught the tall Jamaican on the line despite giving him a five metre headstart as they entered the straight. Although the two were given the same time, 20.08 – great running in the conditions, even if aided by a +1.2 wind – Spearmon got the verdict. Back in fourth, Paul Hession broke the Irish record with 20.44, a hundredth ahead of the busy Devonish.
In the women’s version, the three main protagonists entered the straight together and strove for the line stride-for-stride before Felix edged ahead in the final five metres to take victory in 22.35. Richards crept ahead of Campbell for second in 22.44.
The meeting got off to a heart-warming start for the damp British fans when Hattie Dean smashed her British record in the women’s 3000m steeplechase, won by Jamaica’s Korine Hinds in 9:34.83 ahead of her compatriot Mardea Hyman. Dean finished third in 9:38.56 which brought the unexpected prize of $2,500 from the organisers as it was some four seconds inside her previous record.
“I am over the moon with breaking the British record again and receiving this fantastic cheque,” said Dean. “Making the final of the world championships was always the goal but now it is reality.”
She might be joined there by Helen Clitheroe as the former 1500m runner also brought the home crowd some cheer when she qualified for Osaka by finishing in 9:45.22, good enough for fourth.
Baddeley upsets Silva and Lagat in 1500m
The good night for Britons continued in the men’s 1500m as Andrew Baddeley beat Bernard Lagat and smashed his personal best by nearly two seconds with 3:34.74. Lagat, leading at the bell, faded to third as Portugal’s Rui Silva nipped into second for his best time of the year, 3:35.92.
Nicola Sanders provided Britain with another victory as she returned from injury to claim the 400m in 51.01 ahead of USA’s Monique Hennagan.
One athlete who seemed little troubled by the conditions – perhaps because her race started during a brief lull in the downpour – was Australia’s Jana Rawlinson. The 2003 world champion declared herself delighted to be “back home” at the track where she made her first ever appearance in Europe after she won the 400m hurdles easily in 54.59, despite suffering a bad stutter at the final hurdle.
“It’s actually quite nice conditions,” said the British-based Australian. “It’s a bit windy but it’s so nice to be here, I feel like I’m at home. It’s a track close to my heart. When you live and train in England you get used to these conditions.”
The California-based Briton, Tasha Danvers-Smith, overhauled Sandra Glover to take second in 55.31.
Xiang and Perry take the sprint hurdles
The world’s best male and female sprint hurdlers also made light work of the conditions to beat high quality fields. USA’s Michelle Perry came through over the final two barriers to beat Lolo Jones, clocking 12.78 into a slight wind (-0.2), while Liu Xiang delighted the large contingent of fans from Sheffield’s Chinese community who turned out to see him beat USA’s Ryan Wilson in the 110m event.
Xiang clocked a modest 13.23 into a slight headwind (-0.5), but he fared far better than Cuba’s Dayron Robles and USA’s Anwar Moore – thought to be his closest challengers – as they finished fourth and third respectively in 13.37 and 13.35.
World and Olympic heptathlon champion Carolina Kluft was satisfied with her night’s work after finishing fifth in the women’s hurdles in 13.31. “With the weather and everything I thought I did a good race,” said the Swede.
Rain impacts infield action
Performances in the field events were all affected by the weather. USA’s Brian Johnson beat home favourite Chris Tomlinson in the Long Jump by 7.99m to 7.90m; USA’s Aarik Wilson won the Triple Jump with 17.19m; and Australia’s Steve Hooker coped best with the wet to win the men’s pole vault with 5.65m.
Kajsa Bergqvist was well down on the 2.03m all-comers record she leapt at this meeting two years ago but the World champion still won the women’s High Jump with a clearance of 1.95m. There was a second Swedish victory in the men’s Javelin Throw as Magnus Arvidsson beat Norway’s Olympic champion Andreas Thorkildsen with a best of 84.74m.
The women’s 800m went to USA’s Alice Schmidt in 1:59.99, and Kenya’s Vivian Cheruiyot took the women’s 3000m in 8:43.85 ahead of Britain’s Jo Pavey, a race in which every athlete ran either a season’s or a personal best. It was indeed a night when only distance running made sense.
Matthew Brown for the IAAF