VIENNA INDOOR Report -1Feb06

Lobinger nudges season Pole Vault lead up to 5.81m in Vienna
Wednesday 1 February 2006
Vienna, Austria - Considering the frequency with which Tim Lobinger unpacks his poles each season, it’s surprising that Vienna hasn’t been on his schedule more often than it has. Not since capturing the 2002 European Indoor Championships has the German pole vaulter competed in the Imperial City.

But last night (31 Jan), he made up for any unintentional slighting of the Viennese with a splendid 5.81m performance, moving his own world leading mark one centimetre higher.

Already the winner as the lone competitor surviving 5.65m, Lobinger slipped over the bar on his third attempt at 5.81m before departing the competition at 5.91m.

“I’m having my best-ever indoor season,” he exclaimed at the end. “I’m in the best technical shape of any winter of my career,” he added, explaining that the summer European Championships in Gothenburg is the event around which all his plans have been made. Clearly, he wants something more than the bronze he collected in Munich four years ago.

The native of the Rhineland area spoke enthusiastically of the changes he has made going into the 2006 season. “I changed coaches this year, and now I have both Jörn Elberding and Chauncey Johnson advising me.” Johnson is a South African coach long known to Lobinger. It was Johnson who was instrumental in much of Okkert Brits’ vaulting success.

“I went back to South Africa to train this winter for the first time in a number of years. It was just like the ‘old days’”, he added wistfully, thinking of his many past-year training camps there, far from Germany’s winter cold. “Somehow, my return to this old regimen has injected me with some of the enthusiasm and energy of my younger days.”

Lobinger’s only real rival tonight was Czech vaulter Stepan Janacek, whose best of 5.45 preceded a pass at 5.55 before several good, but unsuccessful, attempts at 5.65. It would appear that his long recovery from multiple injuries of the past several years is finally complete.

Although Lobinger’s sights were on summer goals, one could almost hear many of the other athletes singing “Moscow on my mind,” as they were intently chasing qualification marks for the upcoming World Indoor Championships (10 – 12 March).

Eraud is Moscow bound

That was certainly the case in the men’s 1500m, won by Guillaume Eraud in 3:41.70 off a hard kick with 250 remaining. With a Moscow ticket requiring 3:43.00, the 24-year-old Frenchman was pleased with just about everything.

“The track (with its wide curves) was exceptionally comfortable,” he commented. “I almost didn’t feel the curve at all. And the cool temperature of the hall (a result of the regrettably small crowd) made for perfect running conditions.”

Following Eraud closely into the finish was Italy’s Christian Neunhäuserer with 3:42.08. He, too, threw his hands into the air in a celebratory manner, but for an additional reason: It signalled a successful transition from the 800 to the 1500 for the 27-year-old from the German-speaking Südtirol region.

“This was really my first-ever indoor 1500,” the geology student revealed. “And I qualified for the World Indoor Championships in my first attempt!”

Falling back slightly in the final scramble at the tape were British runners Steve Davis (3:42.35) and Ed Jackson (3:42.71), though both bettered the Moscow standard.

O’Rourke tops American duo

The women’s 60m Hurdles had one of the deepest fields of international calibre on the evening programme. Although Lolo Jones of the US appeared to have an early lead at the midway point, Ireland’s Derval O’Rourke accelerated strongly over the remaining two hurdles and the run-in to score an 8.03 win, just 0.01 off her PB. Jones held on for second in 8.09, as former World outdoor and indoor Hurdles champion Anjanette Kirkland was a close third in 8.11, ahead of Britain’s Sarah Claxton (8.13).

“I’m really encouraged by everything today,” O’Rourke said, including an afternoon 8.06 heat performance in her assessment. “Tonight, I was just ‘floating’ on hurdles two and three before I really got running.”

The 24-year-old admitted that her season training thus far had been mostly technical and involved little speed work. “This makes me even happier with the result. Last year, I ran an 8.02 at the European Indoor with very few mistakes, so I’m quite encouraged by getting these times so early.”

Lichtenegger returns to silver medal stage

The men’s hurdle race saw Elmar Lichtenegger returning to the scene of his silver medal performance at the 2002 European Indoor Championships. Tonight, the member of the Austrian parliament gave his fans what they came to see with a gun-to-tape 7.66 win after a 7.72 qualifying race during the heats.

“I’ve had four races in the past three days (including two last Sunday in Karlsruhe), and all have been under the Moscow limit,” Lichtenegger noted. “I think that in the six weeks remaining before the world championships, I can improve to the point that I would not be satisfied unless I reached the finals in Moscow.”

“Tonight I found myself on a very fast track,” he continued, “but it was too fast for my present level of training.”

Finishing second behind Lichtenegger was Czech hurdler Stanislav Sajdok, who equaled his PB with 7.75.

Csillag tumbles to victory

The men’s 3000 metres was never going to be exceptionally fast, given the complete absence of African runners in the race. But the way Balazs Csillag designed his 8:08.47 victory was a bit out of the ordinary.

The wine marketer from southern Hungary found himself flat on the track after falling immediately after the start. But he bounced up quickly and had moved to the middle of the pack before two more laps had concluded.

After the pacemaker had departed, fellow Hungarian Albert Minczer held the lead until Csillag went into a final sprint as the bell sounded. Slavko Petrovic of Croatia and Britain’s Tom Carter also responded to Csillag’s move, but the former European under-23 medallist in the 5000 was not about to yield as he comfortably held on to win.

Carter (8:09.32) raced past the fading Petrovic (8:11.29) over the final straight for second.

Of his early tumble, Csillag said, “I just wanted to stay calm and get back with the group. I hadn’t lost that much time, and after all, it was going to be a 15-lap race. I was pleased with everything, considering I haven’t worn spikes since last summer.”

The 26-year-old is emerging from a transitional autumn in which he shifted his goal from the 5000 to the 10,000m. “There were some changes in my federation’s qualification time for the 5K which suggested that the 10K would be a more prudent event for me,” he explained. But he also indicated his indoor appearances would be few this year, as his short-term goal is the European Cup 10,000m Challenge race in April.

It was perhaps not surprising that the women’s 800 metres would set new standards for those in the race, considering that the current World record in this event was established on the Ferry-Dusika-Halle track. And indeed, the top four finishers ran personal bests.

The competition was won by Elisa Cusma of Italy with 2:01.87 in what would appear to be her first-ever international indoor 800-metre race. The Mediterranean Games finalist passed clubmate Alexia Oberstolz with 150 remaining to seal the win, with Olberstolz taking second in 2:03.10 ahead of the near-even finish of Marilyn Okoro of Great Britain (2:03.44) and Petra Lochmanová of the Czech Republic (2:03.45).

Stephanie Durst of the US won the women’s 60 metres in a PB 7.25, ahead of the 7.32 of Anyika Onuora of Great Britain. The men’s sprint winner was Britain’s Mark Findlay in 6.69.

Cedric Van Branteghem of Belgium had to work hard to preserve his 47.11 victory in the men’s 400 metres as Zeljko Vincek of Croatia, the European Junior champion last year, closed strongly with 47.13. The earlier section was taken in a gritty fashion by Britain’s Richard Buck in 47.16, as he painfully preserved his win despite pulling a hamstring in the final twenty metres with Ireland’s David McCarthy bearing down (47.28).

The top section of the men’s 800 metres saw a win by David Takacs of Hungary in 1:48.12, as he successfully held off the final finish of James Nasrat of Great Britain (1:48.67).

Ed Gordon for the IAAF

Just for the records: Full results - it was more a little local meet with a handful of big names in the evening:

And they even put all the sprint vids online - the results on the displays sometimes not match the races!: