World Indoor 2010

Friday, 12 March 2010 Doha 2010 - Day 1 Wrap

Bryan Clay of the United States launches the shot in the heptathlon (Getty Images)

relnews Doha, Qatar - With a schedule mostly full of preliminary rounds, Friday’s action at the Aspire Dome, where a total of 144 nations have turned up to compete, did not lack for drama.

Defending champions and World record holders flirted with elimination–and in some cases were eliminated. Several national records were established, many of them behind the qualifiers, and slightly more than half of a Heptathlon was completed.

The biggest scare of the day came in the women’s Pole Vault qualifying. As is her habit, defending champion and World record holder Yelena Isinbayeva passed all opening heights up to the automatic qualifier which was to be 4.60m. At 4.45m, however, only six women remained in contention, so it fell to Isinbayeva to clear 4.55m and complete the final. A height which should have come easily for the Russian who has dominated this event for years gave her trouble this evening, however, and she opened her competition with two misses. Visions of Berlin 2009, where Isinbayeva failed to clear a height in the World Championships final, must have been passing through her head, particularly as the same event was raised in Thursday’s press conference.

Isinbayeva came through, however, with a third-attempt clearance which was the picture of assurance The Russian has been known for, all the more impressive for the two misses which came before it. Isinbayeva thus set the stage for a dramatic final in which she is both the expected favorite, but not at all guaranteed the title.

Bryan Clay is in a position similar to Isinbayeva, leading the Heptathlon after four events but behind the pace which brought him the title in Valencia. Clay led the opening 60m dash but lost his lead in the Long Jump to Oleksiy Kasyanov; he returned in the Shot Put, but still behind his Valencia marks. After the High Jump, which featured a dramatic series of clearances by event winner Andrei Krauchanka, Clay held the lead with 3549 points, just a single point ahead of Aleksey Drozdov; Kasyanov had slid to third, with 3477.

The men’s and women’s 400m faced a tougher challenge than any other event outside the Heptathlon today, as they ran both of their preliminary rounds, the first round opening the morning session and the semi-finals concluding the evening. The work required for these athletes to advance gave a good show of who was likely to be strongest for Saturday and Sunday’s finals: David Gillick, for example, battled closely with Bershawn Jackson in the first of the two semifinals and with different tactics might have earned the win. The matchup of that pair, plus Chris Brown and Jamaal Torrance from the second heat, will make tomorrow’s men’s final crackle. The women saw two-time former champion Natalya Nazarova fail to advance from her semi-final heat, but teammate Tatyana Firova dominated hers so strongly that there will be a clear Russian flavour to the Saturday’s final regardless.

All three of the expected contenders for the men’s 60m Hurdles title advanced from the heats of that event, with Dayron Robles, Terrence Trammell and Liu Xiang all moving on to the semi-final round and only Ladji Doucoure a casualty. The women’s 60m Hurdles were led by Priscilla Lopes-Schliep, but Lolo Jones won her heat in good form as well.

The 3000m rounds had an Ethiopian bent, buoyed by the enthusiastic chanting of a large bloc of Ethiopian fans in the upper deck of seats. Meseret Defar and Sentayehu Ejigu won the two heats, but the Kenyan team of Vivian Cheruiyot and Silvia Kibet advanced as well and it’s clear that the final will be a battle of team strategies. The men’s races saw an Ethiopian defending champion advance as well, this one Tariku Bekele, but Bekele was behind Bernard Lagat who may wish to challenge for the title, not to mention Augustine Choge who won the other heat in the fastest heat-winning time in Championships history.

800m rounds saw Anna Pierce and Jenny Meadows advancing for the women, two clear favorites for the final; the men advanced several challengers, most notably defending champion Abubaker Kaki. Defending champion Deresse Mekonnen was a leading qualifier in the men’s 1500m, and Gelete Burka in the women, but the dramatic race came in the other heat of women, when Burka’s teammate Kalkidan Gezahegne tangled with Yevgeniya Zolotova and crashed to the track. Gezahegne not only regained contact with the pack, however, she worked through to take the heat win in 4:08.91, the fastest mark of the day.

Other notable qualifications went to Christian Cantwell in the men’s Shot Put with a first-attempt 20.72m toss, and Blanka Vlasic who advanced in the women’s High Jump without a miss. The best men’s high jumpers were the Russian pair of Ukhov and Rybakov, the only jumpers over 2.29m in that event. Steven Hooker advanced in the men’s Pole Vault with just one jump, a clearance at 5.60m.

Parker Morse for the IAAF

Saturday, 13 March 2010 Doha 2010 - Day of the Defenders - Day Two Wrap

Steven Hooker of Australia celebrates his gold medal in the Pole Vault (Getty Images)

relnews Doha, Qatar -The second day of action at the Aspire Dome in Doha featured the Championships’ first medals, two World record attempts (though unsuccessful ones), and enough high drama to keep a triple squad of Ethiopian distance running fans riveted… by the Long Jump.

The day started with the Pentathlon and the medals started with the Heptathlon. Jessica Ennis of Great Britain got a strong start in the 60m Hurdles, scoring 1120 points, and extended her lead through the High Jump until, with the Shot Put over, there was speculation about a World record. Ennis would need a 2:08 800m to pull it off after the Long Jump, and she made a go at it, but in the end could not hold on to that pace. She finished with gold, scoring 4937 points and setting a new championships record to beat Carolina Kluft’s 4933 from 2003. The mark moved Ennis up to fourth all-time.

The day did not start so well for defending Heptathlon champion Bryan Clay, who was leading after the first day but had a rough 60m Hurdles race to start the second. With pursuit close behind, Clay held himself to the fire in the sixth event, the Pole Vault. He matched the heights of his closest pursuers, Trey Hardee and Andrei Krauchanka, and then held on through the 1000m to claim his fourth Heptathlon medal and second gold. Clay, who was second in 2004 and 2006, took the first gold medal of these championship.

Hooker – two vaults to victory

Steve Hooker used only two vaults, clearances at 5.70m and 5.80m, to maneuver Malte Mohr into a corner in the men’s Pole Vault. With the rest of the field disposed of at 5.65m and Hooker now over 5.80m, Mohr took a chance in passing to 5.85m and found he had bitten off more than he could chew. After Mohr finished, Hooker cleared 6.01m to chip a centimetre off Sergey Bubka’s Championships record, then made three attempts at Bubka’s World Record, attempting 6.16m. None of the attempts were particularly close, but after Hooker’s injury-plagued 2009 it was enough to see him attempting the record heights.

Cantwell remains the Big Shot

Speaking of records, a wild men’s shot put final saw national records for Canada and Poland (Dylan Armstrong at 21.39m and Tomasz Majewski at 21.20m, respectively), neither of which were enough for a medal. Christian Cantwell instead put in his reservation for the gold medal with a 21.60m toss in the first round. He held that lead until the 5th round, when Andrei Mikhnevich tossed the ball 21.68m and pushed Cantwell back. Cantwell roared back in the sixth round with a towering 21.83m heave, a mark for which Mikhnevich had no answer. Cantwell, with previous wins in 2004 and 2008, becomes the first man ever to win three indoor Shot Put titles.

Long wait over for Jones who hurdles into the US record books

Lolo Jones marked up another championship record in the women’s 60m hurdles. After two frustrating heats where she barely advanced - in the earlier semi-finals Jones was so off-balance she stepped out of her lane twice - Jones finally put together a smooth race. It paid off with a 7.72 clocking, making her the third-fastest all-time, succeeding Gail Devers as the US record holder, and putting her well ahead of Perdita Felicien and Priscilla Lopes-Schliep in tonight’s final.

Jones was followed on the track by the men’s 60m, which went to last year’s silver medalist Dwain Chambers. Chambers’ 6.48 dash put him head and shoulders ahead of the field.

Several other Saturday evening finals turned out nearly as wild as the Shot Put final.

The men’s Long Jump started out at a pedestrian pace and stayed that way until only four jumps remained, with Fabrice LaPierre using his third, fourth and fifth jumps to push himself out into the lead with a best mark of 8.17m. Then Godfrey Mokoena, the defending champion, leapt from fourth into the medals with an 8.08m jump. He bumped Michael Watt out of the medals, but Watt leapfrogged Salim Sdiri, second at the start of the round but fourth after Watt jumped 8.05m to re-take bronze. Sdiri tried, but failed, to jump back into the medals, and then the gold was assured to LaPierre. An Australian 1-3.

Record fourth straight for Defar

The women’s 3000m was a crowd favorite, as again a boisterous crew of Ethiopians was distributed across three sections of the stadium. They stood and cheered from the start of the introductions to long after the medal ceremony, and their patience was rewarded when defending champion Meseret Defar finally broke from the pack and sprinted for home. Defar’s sprint wasn’t as dominating as it sometimes is, but it was fast enough to hold off Vivian Cheruiyot and that was enough for Defar. After crossing the line she grinned and jumped up and down with pure, undisguised joy.

Mekonnen defends at 1500m

The men’s 1500m final also went to an Ethiopian favorite, Deresse Mekonnen, who managed to stay clear of the jostling and stumbling which so often goes along with a championship 1500m. Mekonnen covered every move and had the speed remaining finally to top the late-race charge of a pair of Moroccans, Amine Laalou and Abdalaati Iguider. Iguider held on for silver but Laalou faded and Haron Keitany came in for bronze at the finish line.

Brown and Dunn take 400m crowns

The men’s 400m had to be called to their blocks twice after the raucous crowd proved to loud for the first attempted start. Once the start was clean, the rest of the race was rough; first the runners tangled trying to reach the rail after the break, then when Chris Brown of the Bahamas, first to the rail, began running away on the backstretch, Bershawn Jackson and David Gillick, the closest pursuers, tangled again and almost came to a stop. William Collazo took advantage of the confusion to get past and grab the silver medal behind Brown; Jamaal Torrence took bronze, and Gillick, eventually, was disqualified.

The women’s 400m was, fortunately, slightly less rough, though Tatyana Firova tangled with Novlene Williams-Mills after the 200m mark and Williams-Mills stepped off the track entirely. Debbie Dunn won the race to the break and held on for the victory in 51.04.

After Osaka, Valencia and Berlin, Vlasic conquers Doha

Blanka Vlasic won another High Jump title by clearing 2.00m when Ruth Beitia and Chaunte Howard Lowe could not. Vlasic then put the bar to 2.05m, which would match the championship record, but missed that three times. The women’s Triple Jump went to Olga Rypakova, who set a national record for Kazakhstan and, in fact, an Asian record at 15.14m.

Parker Morse for the IAAF

Sunday, 14 March 2010 Doha 2010 - Tamgho’s triple ends championships with a bang - Sunday Wrap

An agile Teddy Tamgho of France celebrates his new World indoor record in the Men’s Triple Jump with lap of honour (Getty Images)

relnews Teddy Tamgho placed the exclamation point at the end of the final day of the 13th IAAF World Indoor Championships here in Doha, Qatar when he reached 17.90m in the Triple Jump to shatter the World Indoor record.*

Tamgho held second position at 17.41m from the very first round of competition in the Aspire Dome, but it was Yoandris Betanzos of Cuba who delivered the early leading mark. Moving out to a world-leading 17.69m in the first round, Betanzos dominated the competition well into the sixth round, even though Tamgho improved to 17.50m in the fifth round.

Tamgho and Betanzos were thus the only jumpers remaining, with the bronze medal (which went to Betanzos’ team-mate Arnie Girat, who moved into third on the fifth round with a 17.36m hop) determined.

Tamgho wasted no time and arrived at the board with tremendous speed. It was clear from his second step off the board that the mark would be very long, and it looked possible that he had even bested the WR marker placed next to the pit. Indeed he had; when the measurement was announced, it was 17.90m, 7cm beyond the WR of 17.83m shared by Aliecer Urrutia (Sindelfingen, 1997) and Christian Olsson (whose mark came at the 2004 World Championships in Budapest).

Tamgho knew it was long, and was already halfway around the track with the hope of gold. Betanzos had a tall act to follow, and in the end could not improve on his first mark. He would settle for silver. (Olsson, as it happened, was fourth with a first-round 17.23m leap.)

Commanding title defence by Kaki

If Saturday was the day of the defender, Sunday was much less kind to defending champions. The only individual champion from Valencia who retained a title Sunday was Sudan’s Abubaker Kaki, who reprised his impressive wire-to-wire race by sprinting to the front of the men’s 800m and simply holding off all challengers to win in 1:46.23. Kaki’s pace was sufficiently ferocious that once Kenya’s Boaz Lalang and Adam Kszczot of Poland fell in behind, the leading order did not change for the rest of the race - Lalang took silver and Kszczot bronze even in the face of a furious rush from Kaki’s team-mate Ismail Ahmed Ismail.

Terrence Trammell lost the title to Dayron Robles in one of the fastest 60m Hurdles races ever seen indoors. Robles overhauled Trammell only at the finish line, clocking 7.34 to set a new Championship record and establish the third-fastest mark ever. Trammell, timed in 7.36, equalled the American record set by Allen Johnson and joined a three-way tie for third-fastest hurdler ever. David Oliver, third in 7.44, picked up a PB; Liu Xiang was seventh in 7.65.

First golden jump for Murer

Also among the less successful defenders was Yelena Isinbayeva. After her catastrophic no-height in Berlin and a scare in qualifying, Isinbayeva played it safe in Doha and entered the competition at 4.60m. She then passed to 4.75m, which is where the trouble began; when she failed to clear there, the World record holder fell to fourth behind Anna Rogowska of Poland, the outdoor champion, whose last clearance had been 4.70m. It was then down to Fabiana Murer of Brazil and former World champion Svetlana Feofanova of Russia; Murer cleared 4.80m on her first attempt and Feofanova on her second, so when both went out at 4.85m the gold went to Murer, silver to Feofanova.

Yaroslav Rybakov suffered a similar fate in the High Jump, though when he failed to clear 2.33m he at least had the comfort of taking silver ahead of Dusty Jonas. Ivan Ukhov, who cleared 2.33m on his first attempt, did the same at 2.36m and made two tries at a world-leading 2.41m before calling it a night and celebrating his first World title.

New PB gives one more title to Campbell-Brown

Veronica Campbell-Brown delivered the women’s 60m title to Jamaica, rolling up the early lead of Laverne Jones-Ferrette and running a PB 7.00 in that final. Jones-Ferrette took silver with 7.03 and Carmelita Jeter settled for bronze in 7.05.

Nadezya Ostapchuk launched a stunning last-round 20.85m toss in the Shot Put to recover the lead in that event and end Valerie Vili’s nearly-three-year winning streak. Vili’s 20.49m fifth-round effort gave her silver, with Natalia Mikhnevich taking bronze with a first-round 20.42m. Also on the infield, Berlin World champion Brittney Reese long-jumped 6.70m in the first round to take gold in that event, with defending champion Naide Gomes second with a 6.67m mark.

Yougest woman and oldest man

Defending champion Gelete Burka found herself upstaged by her younger compatriot Kalkidan Gezahegne in the women’s 1500m. When Burka sprinted for home at the bell, Gezahegne was on her shoulder, and when Gezahegne pulled clear on the homestretch, Natalia Rodriguez, the Spaniard judged responsible for Burka’s race-ending fall at the Berlin World Championships, also stole by to seize silver and leave Burka only bronze. Gezahegne is the youngest woman ever to win a World Indoor championship.

In the very next race, Bernard Lagat became the oldest man ever to win a World Indoor championship when he ended the title defence of Tariku Bekele in the men’s 3000m. In a race which saw a lot of early position-changing as the contenders tried to find and defend just the right places for their late-race charges, Lagat turned out to find the best spot, which was on Bekele’s shoulder as the Ethiopian cranked the pace faster and faster. With a bit more than a lap to go, Lagat moved out and around the tiring Bekele and glided away as though he had only just begun to race. Spain’s Sergio Sanchez and Kenya’s Sammy Mutahi caught Bekele in the homestretch to seize silver and bronze. Lagat added this gold medal to the one he won in this event in 2004, when he was a mere 29 years old.

USA dominate relays

On the track, the only other successful defence came from the USA men’s 4x400m team, which ran the fastest time that event had seen since the 2006 championships in Moscow. The USA team’s lead in the final laps was so commanding they ran nearly unnoticed over the closing leg, with all attention in the Aspire Dome focused on the battle between Great Britain, Belgium, and the Dominican Republic for silver and gold. Belgium took that silver with Great Britain close behind.

The women’s 800m went to Russia’s Mariya Savinova, who headed Jennifer Meadows only in the final strides to establish a new world-leading time of 1:58.26. Meadows, at 1:58.43, lowered the national record she set earlier this season; Alysia Johnson, the early leader, took bronze. Pre-race favourite Anna Pierce moved up to fourth at the end, and in fifth Egle Balciunaite set a Lithuanian national record of 2:01.37.

In the women’s 4x400m, another defending champion was dethroned as the foursome from the USA, led by 400m champion Debbie Dunn and anchored by outdoor 200m champion Allyson Felix, held off the defending Russians, anchored by 400m silver-medallist Tatyana Firova. It was the first time the Russians had been defeated in this event since 1993, and the first time the USA had won it. Jamaica, who were the last team to win before the Russian’s eight-championship streak began, set a national record of 3:28.49 in third.

Parker Morse for the IAAF