WIC Day 2: Isinbayeva, Lebedeva, Defar Deliver

Highlights – World Indoor Championships, Second Day
Saturday 11 March 2006

Moscow, Russia - It is often said winning a World title for the second time is harder than the first. There is expectation, there is pressure and sometimes the desire might not be the same. Goodbye to theories then from the 11th IAAF World Indoor Championships in Moscow, Russia, today.

Isinbayeva, Lebedeva and Defar retain titles

Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia celebrates her victory in the Pole Vault final
(Getty Images)

As the crowds grew in size, and the noise level increased, there was glory for past champions. Three retained the gold medal they won in Budapest two years ago while another went back to 2001 to take his place at the top of the podium.

A great day for Russia, not that they did not expect it as Yelena Isinbayeva won the Pole Vault, but did not set a world record, and Tatyana Lebedeva won the Triple Jump. They were champions in 2004, as was Meseret Defar, who looked supreme in the 3000m.

Trammell returns to gold

Tatyana Lebedeva of Russia on her way to winning the gold medal in the women’s Triple Jump final
(Getty Images)

Terrence Trammell showed he had overcome the illness which hit him when he arrived here to win his second medal in 24 hours, taking gold in the 60m Hurdles, as he did in Lisbon in 2001, having won bronze in the 60m yesterday.

Heshko, O’Rourke… thrill

But this superb afternoon of finals was about more, much more. What a performance from Ukrainian Ivan Heshko to win the 1500m, an even more thrilling burst of speed from Ireland’s Derval O’Rourke to triumph in the 60m Hurdles, Russian Yaroslav Rybakov celebrated glory in the High Jump, having won the silver twice before, while Ghana’s Ignisious Gaisah took the Long Jump title.

Derval O’Rourke of Ireland in action on her way to gold in the 60m Hurdles final
(Getty Images)

Stepping back in time

The opening ceremony took us back in time, with a singing quartet whose numbers included the sounds of Glenn Miller. You only had to look down on the track to realise that past champions were in the mood to leave Moscow with gold again.

The first final of the day produced glory for Defar, the defending champion, from Ethiopia, in a race where she had control throughout.

Meseret Defar takes the final bend on the way to defending her World Indoor title
(AFP / Getty Images)

She took the lead with two laps to go and triumphed in a time which could not be compared to that of two years. It was so much quicker, with Defar winning in 8:38.80 having triumphed in Budapest in 2004 in 9:11.22. “My performance is good,” she said. “I trained hard for that. I like running indoors very much.”

While the home fans may have arrived to see the opening ceremony, the afternoon of athletics really brought these Championships to life. No event more than the Triple Jump, where Lebedeva, the Olympic Long Jump champion, won gold again and in style too.

She leapt 14.95m, the furthest distance in the world this year, to beat her fellow Russian Anna Pyatykh, who second with a personal best of 14.93m followed by Sudan’s Yamile Aldama, third with 14.86m.

Ivan Heshko of Ukraine sprints to victory over Daniel Kipchirchir Komen
(AFP / Getty Images)

Such was the high standard that six of the eight finallist either achieved pbs, season’s bests or national records and Ledebeva was delighted with her victory. “I am delighted to win a gold medal here in Moscow.”

Third time lucky for Rybakov

In 2003, in Birmingham, and 2004 in Budapest, Rybakov finished second in the High Jump behind Sweden’s Olympic champion Stefan Holm. It was the same story at last year’s European Indoor Championships in Madrid, but this time the Russian could celebrate.

Yaroslav Rybakov of Russia bites his gold medal after winning the High Jump final
(Getty Images)

But where better to win gold than in his home country and he did so by equalling his world season lead. His jump of 2.37m was enough, beating teammate Andrey Tereshin, whose best was 2.35m. “I had the gold medal at the European Championships (outdoors in 2002) and now finally I have won the World Championships.”

Isinbayeva had a good day. Yet by her standards, the fact she did not break the Pole Vault World Indoor record does not make it an exceptionally special one. It was typically dramatic, with her failing three times at 4.93m, looking to increase her mark of 4.91m, having secured gold with his clearance of 4.80m.

“I am giving this win to my parents who are celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary and also to all the people of Volgograd,” said Isinbayeva.

The race of the Championships so far - it may not even be beaten on the shock level - was the men’s 1500m as Heshko seized on ‘fading’ Kenyan Daniel Kipchirchir Komen to win gold.

He took the lead just before the bell and held on to triumph in 3:42.08 with Komen second in 3:42.55. “I saw my chance and I took it,” said Heshko.

Clay in control of the Heptathlon

As American Bryan Clay, the Decathlon champion from last summer’s 10th IAAF World Championships in Athletics, took control of the first day of the Heptathlon, the afternoon ended with two superb finals in the 60m Hurdles.

Fine hurdling

First, O’Rourke confirmed her fine form this winter to win in a national record of 7.84. “I worked hard for this result,” she said.

Seconds later, in the men’s race, Trammell, of the USA, dug deep to beat Cuba’s Dayron Robles, in 7.43 from 7.46.

“I have a lot of work behind me.” said Trammell. “Now it comes to a lot of celebration.”

Celebrate like he did in 2001 perhaps on a day when he proved that past champions should never be ignored.

Richard Lewis for the IAAF