Russian javelin thrower Mariya Abakumova (© Getty Images)
The Moscow Challenge, an IAAF World Challenge meeting, saw the headlines being made by two namesakes on Tuesday (11): Russian javelin thrower Maria Abakumova and Ukrainian sprinter Mariya Ryemyen.
Abakumova, the 2011 world champion, produced an outstanding 65.94m with her first attempt, then threw 60.45m as persistent rain started, and then decided to pass her next two attempts to avoid getting injured.
Germany’s Katharina Molitor was the only other thrower to manage over 60 metres in the deteriorating conditions, throwing 60.08m on her final attempt.
“Curiously, though I am Russian, it's the first time I have competed in the Luzhniki arena,” said Abakumova after going through her paces at one of the crucial test events ahead of this year’s World Championships in August.
“My main goal was to get used to the surface, and to the wind. I actually liked both and the blue track is my lucky charm, as I won on a similar surface in 2011 in Daegu. Personally, I like the blue colour more than red, and it was a nice refreshing, light, wind; usually in such big arenas there is no wind at all.”
“Talking about my result, it is my best throw since the middle of March,” added Abakumova, who currently tops the 2013 world list with the 69.34m she threw at the European Cup Winter Thowing in Spain three months ago.
“Technically, I am still not stable, but this is because I have been competing every three days recently and I just don't have time for training. Now, I will take a break until the European Team Championships in Gateshead, and I am sure I'll be able to improve my technique.”
Ryemyen did not have the luxury of Abakumova, and being able to run for cover from the driving rain, and had to run in the downpour on the wet track. Nevertheless, she proved her status as favourite and ran close to her recent season's best of 22.70, stopping the clock in 22.73.
Also worthy of note was the personal best of 23.80 for Russian 16-year-old prodigy Kristina Sivkova, who finished fourth. The Russian medal prospect at the World Youth Championships this summer was a late replacement and only learnt she had a lane on Monday night.
“I am kind of glad that I got the chance to run on the wet track,” said Ryemyen, the European 200m champion. “Now, any weather at the World Championships won't be a surprise for me. I can say that this kind of blue Mondo surface remains fast even when it's wet so I am sure the results in the sprints at the World Championships will be very fast.”
Another Ukrainian victory on the track went to Olha Zemlyak, who won the 400m in 52.26.
Brathwaite beats Russian brothers
2009 world 110m hurdles champion Ryan Brathwaite won in 13.34, with his younger compatriot Shane Brathwaite – no relation – finishing third, while the Shabanov brothers of Konstantin and Filipp placed fourth and seventh.
“I do have some technical mistakes, but it's normal,” said the winner, who clattered about half the hurdles on his way down the track. “I treated this competition like a practice, so I maybe I lacked concentration. It was an easy win for me, and the track is fast. I did not expect I would run 13.30 in such training mode.”
Strong rain started during the final lap of the women's 1500m, but there was a clear victory for Yekaterina Ishova. In her season opener, the 24-year-old Russian showed solid form to clock 4:09.06.
Yuriy Borzakovskiy lost out in a close finish over two laps of the track to South Africa’s Andre Olivier, who took an early lead before crossing the line in 1:44.93. Russia’s 2004 Olympic 800m champion was second in a season's best of 1:45.24.
“Unfortunately, my feeling is strongly subject to weather changes, and today was a bad day for me," explained Borzakovskiy. “It was really stuffy at the warm up, then after the rain started I felt slightly better, but still my legs were heavy; that's why I did not manage to produce a fast finish, what is basically my strong side.”
Veronika Mosina, who competed in the triple jump at the London 2012 Olympics, switched events and won the long jump in a personal best of 6.79m while 20-year-old Russian Gulshat Fazletdinova won the national championship 10,000m in 32:01.83, the best time by a European distance runner so far this year.
Germany’s three-time world silver medallist Nadine Kleinert, now 37, reached 18.39m to win the shot put by more than a metre while Ukraine’s in-form Bohdan Bondarenko, who has cleared 2.33m twice in recent weeks, had to settle for a high jump win with 2.28m, beating Russia’s Daniil Tsyplakov on count-back.
Long jump world record-holder Mike Powell was one of the first to arrive at the stadium on Tuesday, apart from the 30 kids who were already waiting for him to hold a master class which was part of the IAAF Kids Athletics program.
It was Powell's second master class in the Russian capital. At the first one back in 2009 he spotted the blossoming talent of Darya Klishina, who was to go on to win the European junior title later that summer.
“What a great girl. She has got amazing talent,” Powell commented on Klishina at the time. This time Klishina, the 2011 and 2013 European indoor champion, was present in the stands while Powell was busy looking for new Russian talent.
Natalia Maryanchik for IAAF