ZURICH: Jelimo 1:54.01


Friday, 29 August 2008 Jelimo hones in on historic mark; Bolt electrifies in Zürich - ÅF Golden League

Pamela Jelimo runs the third fastest 800m of all time (Getty Images)

Zürich, Switzerland - Pamela Jelimo’s latest improvement of the senior African and World Junior 800m record, and Usain Bolt’s first outing since Beijing were the undoubted highlights of tonight’s Weltklasse Zürich, ÅF Golden League meeting, in front of a capacity 26,000 strong Letzigrund stadium crowd.

Bolt electrifies but provides no shocks

“Lightning Bolt” electrified us again but there was to be no storming finish in Zürich. While not quite as extravagantly coasting to victory as he did in the Beijing 100m final, Jamaica’s Usain Bolt was smoothness personified as he made up for an appalling start.

His 0.193 reaction time to the gun was the slowest of the entire nine man field, but he effortlessly cut through the field from about 30 metres out to take a comfortable victory in 9.83 sec (-0.5m/s wind).

Has anyone run such a time in cruise control, without hitting top gear? Bolt brilliance again and we were served up the now customary “Lightning Bolt” posing after the race which sent the crowd wild.

In second, USA’s Walter Dix, the double Olympic bronze medallist, produced 9.99, with Olympic silver medallist Richard Thompson third in 10.09.

“It was a good, nice track, great crowd,” said Bolt who spoke with a noticeable cold. “My start was not too good. I concentrated on winning, and as I’m starting to get a cold I was not able to think about any faster time. My coach told me that I should make sure to end the season healthy.”

Jelimo and Vlasic remain in the $1 Million hunt

With only one more meeting to go, Pamel Jelimo and Blanka Vlasic successfully completed the fifth of six stages in their quest to at least share the ÅF Golden League $1 Million Jackpot by the conclusion of the series in Brussels next Friday (5 Sep).

Jelimo improves Area senior and World Junior record again!

There is no stopping the 18-year-old Pamel Jelimo. The Kenyan Olympic 800m champion improved the Area senior and World Junior records jointly for the fourth time this season (the junior mark for a fifth) with a 1:54.01 run.

This puts the phenomenal teenager who has only been racing 800m for the first time this season into third place on the all-time list, with just World record holder Jarmila Kartochvilova (TCH 1:53.28 – 1983) and Nadezhda Olizarenko (URS 1:53.43 – 1980) ahead. COUPLE OF SHOCKERS, THESE TWO.kk:rolleyes:

The race was taken through 400m by Svetlana Klyuka in 55.66sec. The Russian who was fourth in Beijing had been specially contracted to pace the race given there are few athletes who have the strength to set the necessary pace for Jelimo. Klyuka continued down the back straight for quite a way before stepping aside for the Olympic champion, who is learning race by race a more balanced approach to two lap running. What will another winter’s training and a year’s more competitive experience bring the world we can only guess, and there are still at least two more opportunities for Jelimo to stun us in 2008.

Bahrain’s World 1500m champion Maryam Jamal, a heavily legged fifth at her specialist distance in Beijing, showed a lot more spark in the Kenyan’s wake tonight, setting a national record of 1:57.80. 1:58.66 back in May was Jamal’s previous national record best.

Well beaten in third was World 800m champion Janeth Jepkosgei in 1:58.26. What a difference a year makes. A year ago, Jepkosgei was the season’s great find and won here in 1:59.03, with the Kenyan record at the time standing to her at 1:56.04. There is no argument that we have witnessed a seismic change in women’s 800m running in 2008.

“I can tell you I’m so tired,” said Jelimo. “The World record is now closer but I’m not sure I can do it this year, maybe next.”

Maria Mutola, who has taken twelve victories in Zürich, made her final farewell to the crowd in great style finishing fourth in 1:58.71, while a newcomer to the two laps, Olympic 1500m champion Nancy Lagat, was ninth in 2:05.84.

Vlasic resumes control

With Olympic champion Tia Hellebaut exceptionally heavy legged following her first time clearance 2.05m victory in Beijing - the Belgian would finish eighth with 1.90 - it was left to World champion Blanka Vlasic to overcome a shaky moment at 1.98. With two poor attempts at that height the Croatian sailed clear on her last effort, and being the only athlete to clear the next height of 2.01 (with her second jump) she confidently kept herself on path to the $1 Million Jackpot.

Russia’s Olympic bronze medallist Anna Chicherova was second at 1.98 beating USA’s Chaunte Howard, who was sixth in Beijing, at the same height on count back.

“Everybody was so tired,” said Vlasic. “So it was good to win and remain in the Jackpot race. I must say that the track surface was soft for me. When I pushed hard I could not find my technique.”

Thorkildsen emphasises who is boss

If breaking Jan Zelezny’s Olympic record in Beijing with a 90.72m release to become only the fourth man in history to retain an Olympic Javelin Throw title wasn’t enough, Andreas Thorkildsen of Norway hit another 90m mark in Zürich to emphasise once again who is the boss with a spear.

All but one of Thorkildsen’s series of four valid efforts - 86.29, 90.28, 88.15 and 89.05, pass, foul - would have taken the victory tonight. While Finland’s World champion Tero Pitkämäki is slowly rediscovering his top form (87.26m for second), compatriot Tero Järvenpää threw long again (86.45), and 2004 Olympic silver medallist Vadims Vasilevskis of Latvia was also over 85 metres (85.97 – season’s best), the Norwegian was once again in a different class.

“I threw really well today,” said Thorkildsen. “I made only very small technical mistakes, otherwise I could have thrown even further.”

Wariner bounces back

Jeremy Wariner was blown away by LaShawn Merritt in Beijing who was all but a full second ahead of his season long rival. Tonight the double World champion was the one in charge, winning in 43.82 from the Olympic gold medallist who finished in 44.43. Wariner took control from the midway point and Merritt, who was running in lane 3 immediately inside him, had no response.

Wariner’s time was his season’s best. Notably only Merritt’s winning time in Beijing of 43.75 is faster in 2008, but that will be the one that lives in the memory such is the ultimate reality of all post Olympic comebacks even when as impressive as the one Wariner produced today.

Robles pushed all the way by Oliver

There was none of the expected dominance by Cuba’s World record holder and newly crowned Olympic champion Dayron Robles. It’s not that he ran a bad sprint hurdles race it’s just that David Oliver, the only other man under 13secs this year, suddenly rediscovered his top form. The American had beaten Robles in their opening outing of the season in Berlin (1 June) but by the time Beijing was reached Oliver had no answer to the fluency of the Cuban. Tonight Oliver was back to very near his best clocking 12.98 in lane 4 with such a drive that Robles, outside him in 5, only just held him off, winning in 12.97.

Jones back to winning ways

Lolo Jones made no hurdle error in Zürich, as had cost her the Olympic title last week. The experience which will probably haunt the World Indoor 60m Hurdles champion for the rest of her career, was put to the very back of her mind tonight. The American won the 100m Hurdles in a tight finish (12.56; -0.2m/s) from Spain’s Josephine Onyia (12.62) with Australia’s Olympic silver medallist Sally McLellan in third (12.63).

USA’s surprise Olympic winner Dawn Harper was back in sixth in 12.73. But like the few other defeated Beijing winners tonight, I doubt the 24-year-old who won in Beijing in a PB of 12.54 will lose much sleep, as unlike Jones and the other avengers she no longer needs to dream about owning an Olympic gold medal.

Taylor holds off Clement

Angelo Taylor, was well aware that the 2007 and 2005 World champions, respectively Kerron Clement and Bershawn Jackson, who had finished behind him in the 400m Hurdles in Beijing in that order, were intent on gaining revenge here.

Taylor, who also won the Olympic laurels in 2000, was not about to give them that satisfaction. Taylor bravely took on the field form the gun, blasting the first 200m, and still had a sizeable advantage on Clement entering the final straight. Clement was closing fast but just as we thought the Olympic champion had shot is bolt, he dug deep and in the run off the final hurdle to the line had enough strength to prevail – 48.07 to 48.20.

Also challenging hard down the home straight was Jamaican Danny McFarlane who closed out just behind these two protagonists in 48.40. Jackson was never in the race finishing in seventh in 49.19.

Bekele surpreme

Ethiopia’s World 5000m and 10,000m Olympic champion and World record holder made a demonstration out of tonight’s 5000m. Eight Kenyans (not counting the two pace makers), two Ugandans, and one Qatari, the vast majority of whom had not even raced in Beijing, had no answer to the relatively fatigued limbs of Kenenisa Bekele.

The Ethiopian maestro said yesterday he was “a little tired” after his three races, two golds and two Olympic records in China. But even at 90% capacity Bekele is a match for the rest of the world. His virtually solo run this evening ended in a 12:50.18 world season lead, nine seconds ahead of his nearest rival (Moses Kipsiro of Uganda 12:59.48). Enough said!

Isinbayeva takes straight forward victory

Why ever doubt Yelena Isinbayeva in the women’s Pole Vault? In trouble at 4.75m, her doubts if she experienced any, which I doubt, were soon dispelled at her next height. Game over and no surprise!

The Russian who has won everything that there is to be won during the last Olympiad and set her 24th World record in Beijing while defending her Olympic title, took the win with a first time clearance at 4.88.

In second position after a third time success at 4.75 behind American Area record holder Jenn Stuczynski, who had taken that bar in her second attempt, the peerless Isinbayeva flew well clear over 4.88, while the American had three failures at 4.93 in response, after passing what was ultimately Isinbayeva’s winning height.

Season’s best for Richards, redemption also for Felix

Her recent extravagant racing tactics were slightly subdued tonight. After her heavily legged run into the line in China, Sanya Richards produced a more conservatively paced race even though after the first 150m she was already up on the stagger on the athlete immediately outside her in lane five. Shericka Williams of Jamaica, who had taken silver ahead of Richards’ Olympic bronze, was that athlete, and she had no answer (finished fourth in 51.28) this evening to the former Golden League Jackpot winner who came home easily in a season’s best of 49.74.

The American was most of a second ahead of her nearest opponent, Russia’s Tatyana Firova (50.70). Confidence restored for Richards? Perhaps yes but oh what might have been in Beijing!

Allyson Felix was another Olympic disappointment by her own illustrious standards. Like Richards, the double World champion at 200m made up in sorts for her silver behind Veronica Campbell-Brown in Beijing with a confident run in 22.37. Felix was probably surprised to find she was not in the lead with 90m to go, as in front coming out of the bend was Lauryn Williams. Felix took little time to settle that attack and crossed in 22.37, with Williams second in 22.68, and Marshevet Hooker completing a USA sweep in 22.74.

Koech off sub-8 form

It was a brave bid to become the first sub-8min runner of 2008 but Paul Kipsiele Koech, the world season leader with 8:00.57 couldn’t quite manage the effort needed when alone at the front with three laps to go. He crossed in 8:04.26.

Well beaten but setting the European lead for 2008 in second place was Mahledine Mekhissi-Benabbad of France in 8:08.95. There was a PB for Kenyan Michael Kipyego in third (8:09.05). Olympic bronze medallist Richard Maatelong was eighth in 8:28.38.

Ramzi surprised

Running in the first track event of the main programme this evening, Rashid Ramzi one of the large group of Beijing Olympic champions who had assembled in Zürich, was beaten in the run into the line in the men’s 1500m. The Bahraini who took the Olympic crown in style was upstaged by African champion Haron Keitany in a PB of 3:32.06 to Ramzi’s 3:32.86, which was his season’s best.

Third and fourth places were also taken by Bahrain via Belal Mansoor Ali and Yusuf Saad Kamel, respectively 3:33.06 (SB) and 3:33.11 (PB). In 8th was 2007 World 800m champion and Beijing 800m bronze medallist Alfred Kirwa Yego, who set a PB of 3:33.69.

Very heavily legged was Asbel Kiprop, the Beijing 1500m silver medallist, who was in the lead at the bell (behind the pace maker) but faded badly in the last 400m to finish 13th in 3:36.68.

Long Jump taken by Al-Saba, and relay by USA

The men’s Long Jump was won by Saudi Taher Al-Saba, who was eleventh in Beijing, with a PB equalling 8.35m. Back into some form was European champion Andrew Howe of Italy, with 8.06 for second place. The Italian who was injured earlier in the season, had been one of the major casualties of the Beijing qualification round. These two were the only athletes over 8m tonight.

The evening was closed out by the Zürich Trophy, a 4x100m relay race which went to the USA thanks to a dip finish which denied a quartet from Trinidad and Tobago – 38.01 to 38.03.

Chris Turner for the IAAF

Friday, 29 August 2008 Bouncing back: Jones, Vlasic, Wariner, beat back Beijing blues - ÅF Golden League

Blanka Vlasic survives one more round of the Golden League (Getty Images)

Related News Zürich, Switzerland – No victory can ever make up for coming up short in the Olympic Games. But for a trio of pre-Beijing favourites who bounced back with vengeance in Zürich, defeating those who snatched gold from their grasp in the Chinese capital, their follow-up performances were certainly cathartic. Or, as Lolo Jones said, even therapeutic.

“This race was good because I can refocus, focus on the rest of the year and the years to come,” said Jones, the world leader and heavy favourite in the 100m Hurdles in Beijing. Her gold medal ambitions came to an abrupt end when she clipped the ninth hurdle, knocking her out of contention. In Zürich, she returned to her winning ways with a 12.56 performance while Olympic champion Dawn Harper was well back in sixth, clocking 12.73.

“It was good therapy,” Jones said. “The key is learning from your mistakes and to keep trying. It is extremely hard to get rid of all those doubts and fears. And wonder if you can ever make it. But you have to push those aside and literally concentrate on the day. On today.”

Blanka Vlasic, whose 34-meeting win streak came to an end with her runner-up finish in Beijing one week ago, returned to her winning ways as well to remain in the $1 Million ÅF Golden League Jackpot chase.

“It was nice to see that I could win again,” the Croatian World champion said after her 2.01m victory. Emotionally drained and fighting a cold, Olympic champion Tia Hellebaut was never a factor, finishing seventh with a leap of just 1.90m.

“The result wasn’t important tonight,” Vlasic added. “Only the victory was. I’m glad I’m still in the running for the jackpot.”

In the 400m final in Beijing, two-time World champion Jeremy Wariner was a shadow of his former self. His bid to become only the second man to successfully defend an Olympic crown was quashed when he was handily defeated by LaShawn Merritt, crossing the line a distant second on the losing end of the greatest victory margin in Olympic history.

In Zürich he came back with an impressive 43.82 victory, his fastest of the year, and most importantly, well ahead of Merritt who finished second in 44.43.

“I ran a season’s best,” Wariner said, “and I’m hoping to improve on this race and end on a good note. I want to have the world lead by the end of the season and try to have the No. 1 world ranking. I have two races left to try and do that.”

All told, the trio couldn’t have produced a finer way to cure their Beijing blues. Yet in the back of their minds rang the words Merritt shared with reporters on Thursday: “Whatever happens tomorrow, I’m still going to be Olympic champion.”

Bob Ramsak for the IAAF

how did Jarmila Kartochvilova run so damn fast. Was this record done in the 80s?

Wheaties and death training. Jelimo is going to smash it. Give her/him time. Btw, has anyone ever heard Jelimo speak? Does she know English?

I thought they were testing for sex-cheating in Beijing. If that’s true, then it seems he passed the test. Err, I mean she did.

I want to hear her voice. Anyone have a clip?

Bolt electrifies but provides no shocks

“Lightning Bolt” electrified us again but there was to be no storming finish in Zürich. While not quite as extravagantly coasting to victory as he did in the Beijing 100m final, Jamaica’s Usain Bolt was smoothness personified as he made up for an appalling start.

His 0.193 reaction time to the gun was the slowest of the entire nine man field, but he effortlessly cut through the field from about 30 metres out to take a comfortable victory in 9.83 sec (-0.5m/s wind).

Has anyone run such a time in cruise control, without hitting top gear? Bolt brilliance again and we were served up the now customary “Lightning Bolt” posing after the race which sent the crowd wild.

Psssht…NEXT…My American brutha Dix representin’ comin’ in 2nd.

By Luke Phillips
ZURICH, Aug 29 AFP - Jamaican sprint king Usain Bolt continued his unstoppable streak of form with a comprehensive win in the 100 metres at the Zurich Golden League meeting here today.
In the packed 26,000-capacity Letzigrund Stadium, Pamela Jelimo of Kenya also went close to beating the oldest track and field world record in the books in the women’s 800m.
Bolt, who set an unprecedented three world records en route to Olympic 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay golds, beat a field that included six of the Olympic finalists plus 200m silver medallist Shawn Crawford.
The 22-year-old timed 9.83sec, the 14th fastest time ever, and a time bested by only three other sprinters - the now-retired Maurice Greene, Asafa Powell and Tyson Gay.
It was good: a nice track and a great crowd,'' said Bolt. My start was not too good. I concentrated on winning, and as I am starting to get a cold, I was not able to think about any faster a time.
My coach told me that I should make sure to end the season healthy.'' Double Olympic bronze medallist Walter Dix of the United States came second in 9.99s, with Trinidad and Tobago's silver medallist from Beijing, Richard Thompson, in third at 10.09s. Olympic 800m champion Jelimo broke her own world junior record when she ran the third-fastest time ever in the event, which also marked 35-year-old multi-medal winning Maria Mutola's last competitive international race. Led magnificently through 600 metres by Russian pacemaker Svetlana Klyuka, who was fourth in the Olympic final, Jelimo clocked 1:54.01. Only Czech Jarmila Kratochvilova (1:53.28) and Russian Nadezhda Olizarenko (1:53.43) have run faster, back in 1983 and 1980 respectively. Jelimo's victory means she remains in contention for the one-million-dollar Golden League Jackpot along with Croatian Blanka Vlasic, who won the women's high jump with 2.01m. The series' final meeting comes in Brussels next week. I am so tired,’’ said Jelimo. But this was my best race with the best pacemakers. The world record is now closer but I'm not sure I can do it this year, maybe next. There's still one race to go for the jackpot.'' It was a mixed night for the 10 other Olympic champions on show. World record holders Kenenisa Bekele of Ethiopia and Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia won the men's 5000m and women's pole vault with ease, the former clocking a world lead of 12:50.18 and the latter clearing 4.88m. Cuban 110m hurdler Dayron Robles beat American archrival David Oliver by one-hundredth of a second in 12.97s for his third Golden League win of the season. Norwegian javelin thrower Andreas Thorkildsen dominated the field with a best of 90.28m to follow up on his Olympic success. And Angelo Taylor saw off Kerron Clement in a re-run of the men's 400m hurdles in Beijing, the double Olympic champion winning in 48.07s. But Bahrain's Olympic champion Rashid Ramzi was beaten into second in the 1500m and Belgian high jumper Tia Hellebaut crashed out at a miserly 1.90m. LaShawn Merritt was beaten into second in the men's 400m by American compatriot Jeremy Wariner and Lolo Jones also redeemed herself after her disastrous showing in the 100m hurdles, beating Olympic champion Dawn Harper. It was no revenge for me because I beat myself in Beijing, I wasn’t beaten by the other girls in a clean race,’’ said Jones.

I’ve heard her speak in an interview, yes. I don’t remember it well enough to give you some kind of a description, but her voice didn’t surprise me in any way, I don’t think so…

Bolt apart, Jelimo has been my star of the year. The way she runs the 800 as a sustained sprint is awesome - reminds me of when Seb Coe burst through in 1979. Hope she breaks the WR some time.