Richards supreme, Isinbayeva survives, Perry denied - IAAF Golden League, Zürich
Friday 7 September 2007
Zürich, Switzerland - Tonight’s re-start of the IAAF Golden League, which had taken a break along with the rest of the meetings of the IAAF World Athletics Tour during the 11th IAAF World Championships (Osaka, Japan - 25 Aug to 2 Sep), witnessed one of the three remaining challengers for at least a share of the $1 Million Golden League Jackpot - which is on offer to anyone who remains victorious at all six Golden League meetings in 2007- lose out.
On a coldish night (+13C) in the impressive new Letzigrund stadium, a full house of 26,500 at the Weltklasse Zürich meeting watched Sanya Richards and Yelena Isinbayeva sustain their win streaks in contrasting style, while Michelle Perry’s Jackpot ambitions evaporated thanks to a third place finish in the women’s 100m Hurdles. Perry’s vanquisher was European champion Susanna Kallur who had found herself without a medal in Osaka despite leading into the last barrier. The Swede’s winning time was 12.66 seconds with Perry, who had retained her World title in Japan, third, sharing the same time of 12.68 as second placer Delloreen Ennis-London (JAM), who had been bronze medallist in Osaka.
Sanya Richards supreme in Zürich
In a class of her own
Richards was the class act of tonight’s two successful Jackpot contenders who now go on to fight it out next weekend for their fifth and sixth wins of the series when the Golden League moves to Brussels (Fri 14) and then Berlin (Sun 16).
After a low key season by her illustrious standards Richards at last shifted her summer into top gear just as we were all feeling the first nip of autumn in the cold September night air of Zürich. In a powerful run which one would guess had as its dynamo Richards’ triple frustrations of illness which had hampered her early season preparations, her non-qualification for the Osaka 400m, and her below par performance in the World 200m final last week, she regained her peerless status.
Susanna Kallur after her hurdles win in Zürich
Richards was an athlete with a mission tonight, aside the monetary need to keep in the hunt for the $1 Million Golden League Jackpot, she had to re-establish the form and reputation which had secured her the title of female World Athlete of the Year in 2006. Blasting from her blocks in lane 4, Richards was ahead of her opponents on the stagger from the off and was never headed.
Richards reward was an improvement on her world season lead of 49.52 which she had set when winning in Paris in the second meet of the Golden League series (6 July). Her 49.36 was far and away enough to demolish the challenge of Britain’s Christine Ohuruogu, who had been crowned World champion in Richards’ absence. The Briton finished back in fourth (51.32) with Osaka bronze medallist Jamaican Novlene Williams (50.85) and Amy Mbacke Thiam of Senegal (50.95) between her and the American victor.
“I expected a fast race because I wanted to attack my personal best,” said Richards. “Entering the final straight I didn’t know they were so far behind. It was mentally tough for me tonight but I was ready to pull out a great victory. It was my World Championship today.”
The new Letzigrund stadium packed with 26,500 spectators
Issy has to get busy at 4.80
Yelena Isinbayeva was by no means as dominant in the women’s Pole Vault, in fact with one failure behind her at 4.75, then having passed that height and missed her first attempt at 4.80 she was perilously close to plummeting out of the Jackpot hunt altogether. Controlling the event at that stage was her compatriot, the 2003 World champion and 2007 bronze medallist, Svetlana Feofanova who had been successful on her first approach at 4.75m.
I suppose we shouldn’t have doubted that the World, Olympic and European champion and World record holder would find the necessary height and competitive spirit on her last attempt but even though she went clear tonight’s demonstration of vaulting was far from vintage Issy.
Janeth Jepkosgei dominates in Zurich
“Something technically bad happened, I do not know exactly what it was,” confirmed Isinbayeva. “I’m lucky to have got over (4.80m).”
Jepkoskei dominates from the front again
Aside the Jackpot battle and the phenomenal solo run of Richards, the star act of the fourth leg of this season’s Golden League was without doubt the newly crowned World 800m champion Janeth Jepkosgei. The Kenyan took a virtually gun to tape victory with much the same style if not the same speed as in the semi-final and finals stages in Osaka. No one is currently in Jepkosgei’s class. Her 1:59.03 was achieved coming away from the field in the last 100m, with Osaka bronze medallist Mayte Martinez of Spain in second (2:00.42) and Italy’s Elisa Cusma, third (2:00.54).
Bernard Lagat wins the 3000m in Zürich
Kepkosgei though was not pleased with her run and blamed the ‘slow’ time on the cold weather. “The reason is clear: the weather change from (the heat of) Osaka.”
Lagat, Jamal and Vlasic carry top Osaka form to Zürich
Impressive too was Osaka 1500m and 5000m winner Bernard Lagat, who took a sprightly looking 3000m win in 7:38.77, an achievement which came on a night when many of the Osaka medallists looked tired and jet lagged from their experiences in and from their travel back from Japan.
Xavier Carter signals he is the ‘X-man’ after his meet record win in Zürich
Osaka women’s 1500m champion Maryam Jamal was equally confident in the manner in which she defeated much of the cast from last week’s World Champs final. Silver medallist Yelana Soboleva of Russia was still no match in second (4:07.66), and Ukraine’s surprise bronze medallist Iryna Lishchinska was way off the mark here (4:14.70 - 11th). The Bahraini’s winning time was 4:06.32.
In the women’s High Jump, Blanka Vlasic of Croatia was also supreme taking the win in a meeting record equalling 2.04m, on her third effort, with two out of her three attempts at a would-be World record of 2.10 also quite decent. Olympic champion Yelena Slesarenko of Russia with a 2.01 clearance on her third try was second, the only other athlete on this chilly night able to get above 2m.
Meet record for Carter
Blanka Vlasic jubilant with 2.04m in Zürich
A meeting record in the 200m of 19.92 seconds beating the 19.95 that 1992 Olympic champion Mike Marsh had run in Zürich in that Olympic year was some minor compensation for fellow American Xavier Carter. The third-fastest 200m man of all-time (19.63 – 2006) had sustained a knee injury at the USA champs which denied him what seemed a certain spot in the national squad for Osaka. Here Carter destroyed the challenge of Jamaica’s World silver medallist Usian Bolt (20.19) with another World finalist Johan Wissman of Sweden in third (20.47).
Baala on the up, but no way back yet for Webb
Alan Webb took to the stadium video screen to head-up the men’s 1500m introducing the race to the Letzigrund crowd but that was to be the only time this evening that the American’s face was seriously in the frame, his challenge blown away on the final lap. Considering that Webb leads the world season list (3:30.54) his 3:39.69 for 7th was nearly as disappointing as his form in Osaka when he finished 8th in the final. But there was better fortune for another Osaka ‘could have been’ as France’s Mehdi Baala, the European champion, who last week in the Nagai stadium was disqualified in his semi-final for impeding a couple of his opponents, was the majestic winner in 3:38.62.
Christine Arron takes her second Zurich victory
Another French athlete who was below-par in Osaka, as she was coming back from injury, also left the Letzigrund with a smile as broad as Baala’s. Christine Arron took the women’s 100m in 11.17 ahead of USA’s Torri Edwards, fourth in Osaka, who was second here in 11.22. Osaka Bronze medallist Carmelita Jeter took third again (11.24) but World silver medallist Lauryn Williams was way out of contention (7th 11.34).
Pitkämäki and Evora defeated
In the Javelin Throw, it was the beginning and the end in round one. Norway’s Olympic champion and last week’s silver medallist in Osaka, Andreas Thorkildsen ultimately sealed the victory with his first and only effort - 89.51m a season’s best - as he promptly retired from the competition after that throw to protect himself from injury in the cold. The only person to make a challenge was a very tired looking World champion Tero Pitkämäki of Finland who launched an 87.44m effort in the fourth round. World bronze medallist Breaux Greer (USA) was third with 83.15, and also retired after completing his third round.
Mehdi Baala of France wins in Zürich
Another newly crowned World champion to lose in the infield was Portugal’s Nelson Evora whose third effort of 17.18m (+1.0m/s wind) in the Triple Jump was two centimetres shy of the win taken by Osaka bronze medallist American Walter Davies who jumped 17.20m (1.4) in the same round. The only other jumper over 17m was USA’s Aarik Wilson (17.11m / 0.1) with Brazil’s World silver medallist Jadel Gregorio in fourth (16.86m / 0.5).
There was an encouraging win for Cuba’s Dayron Robles who had finished out of the medals in Osaka. The 20-year-old Pan Am champion took the sprint hurdles in 13.15 (-0.2m/s) beating the Osaka silver (Terrence Trammell 13.22 – 2nd) and bronze (David Payne 13.39 – 7th) medallists in the process. For the record, four-time World champion Allen Johnson took third tonight in his season’s best of 13.23.
Without the presence of Tyson Gay who withdrew from the race this morning citing tiredness after his three gold medal campaign in Osaka (100, 200, relay), and that of World record holder Asafa Powell, who will run in Rieti on Sunday, the men’s 100m dash was a relatively low key affair. Portugal’s Olympic silver medallist Francis Obikwelu won in 10.17 (0.1m/s) with a blanket finish of another three athletes finishing in 10.20 closing out the other minor places in the following order - Marlon Devonish (GBR), Jaysuma Saidy Ndure (NOR), and Olu Fasuba (NGR).
The men’s Pole Vault was won by former World Indoor champion Ivor Pavlov of Russia, who was fourth in Osaka. A first time 5.75m clearance was enough for the victory on count back from another two on the same height, Björn Otto (GER) and Evgeniy Lukianenko (RUS) who were respectively second and third.
Zürich Trophy signals the finale
The first night in the new Letzigrund ended with the new Zürich Trophy 4x100m Relay with triple World champion Tyson Gay running the third leg of USA’s 38.40 parade victory over Jamaica (38.82) and Germany (38.82).
The international ‘national’ pre-programme!!??
The pre-programme in Zürich which in former years brought about many world class surprises has been relegated to a few ‘national’ races, though how an international 800m of the quality assembled here fits that title is anyone’s guess. Kenya’s World Junior champion David Rudisha came away with a solid 1:45.51 win, in his wake was Britain’s Osaka semi-finalist Michael Rimmer (1:47.68) and 4xtimes American champion Khadevis Robinson (1:47.74). This was Rudisha’s second World Athletics Tour victory of the year having won in Lausanne’s Super Grand Prix in July.
Bulgaria’s Ivet Lalova won the women’s 200m in 23.41, while Darvis Patton (USA) took the men’s ‘B’ 100m in 10.22.
Chris Turner for the IAAF
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