Blanka Vlašic wins the high jump with a 2.03m clearance (Getty Images) © Copyright
General News Valencia, Spain

Valencia 2008 - HIGHLIGHTS Day 3

The women's 1500m final here at the 12th IAAF World Indoor Championships will be written in the record books for quite a few years, as the race established a national record for Bulgaria (Daniela Yordanova, 4:04.19), Area records for Asia (Maryam Yusuf Jamal, Bahrain, 3:59.79) and Africa (Gelete Burka, Ethiopia, 3:59.75), and a World record** (pending ratification) from gold medal winner Yelena Soboleva of Russia, who ran 3:57.71.

Behind Soboleva came countrywoman Yuliya Fomenko in 3:59.41, a PB, and while Soboleva collected a $50,000 bonus for the World record, Fomenko may claim some of the glory.

"We agreed together to run at a pace which suited us both, and whoever was strongest on the last lap would win." The Russians took the pace from the beginning, burning off challenger after challenger.

Soboleva led the first three laps, Fomenko the next three, and then it was Soboleva at the bell and going away to break the record.

A good evening for Russia

In the session where Yelena Isinbayeva collected her gold medal from yesterday's (Saturday, 8th) Pole Vault competition, the Russian team picked up four more gold medals: Soboleva's, Olesya Zykina's 400m victory (in which she just edged team-mate Natalya Nazarova), the women's 4x400m relay, and Evgeniy Lukyanenko's victory over outdoor World champion Brad Walker (USA) in the men's Pole Vault.

After Zykina and Nazarova had such a close race in the open 400m, they teamed up to run the third and fourth legs on the 4x400m relay, in the process winning Nazarova her seventh World Indoor Championships gold medal, tying Maria Mutola for the record. (Five of Nazarova's have now come from the 4x400m relay.)

The Russian haul for the whole championships was just one silver medal short of the total brought in by Team USA, and that missing silver might have been found in the men's relay. The Russians were strong contenders but dropped to the back of the race after bobbling the second handoff - the same exchange which knocked the Australian team out of contention in the morning's qualifying rounds.

A new champion for the 800m

Speaking of Maria Mutola - and Australia - the ageless Mozambican came up short in the end in her quest for an astounding eighth World Indoor Championships gold medal.

Mutola, who first won the 800m in 1993 and was competing in her ninth consecutive World Indoor Championships (she placed second in 1999), struggled to stay in touch with the front when Australian Tamsyn Lewis and Ukrainian Tetiana Petlyuk forced the pace late in the race.

Mutola tried, but it was Lewis, who was not on anyone's list of potential winners, who became only the fourth woman ever to win the 800m at this event. Lewis's time, 2:02.57, was unimpressive, but the result was incredible even to her. "This is amazing. I still can't believe it," she said afterwards.

Clay dominates but Sebrle meets disaster

Bryan Clay's (USA) dominating day-one lead in the Heptathlon seemed invincible as day two started, and the championship was practically handed to him when his primary challenger, Decathlon World record holder Roman Sebrle (CZE), cramped up during the 60m Hurdles and crashed to the track between the third and fourth hurdles. Clay held his own in the Pole Vault and left no room for the new second-placer, Andrei Krauchanka (BLR) to close in, finishing with 6371 points, a new heptathlon PB.

Krauchanka, himself only 22, was the revelation of the Heptathlon at 6234 points, a national record for Belarus.

Kaki Khamis finishes still full of running

The men's 800m was won by the youngest-ever World Indoor Championships winner, Abubaker Kaki Khamis of Sudan. The long-striding Kaki Khamis, only eighteen years old, took the lead when the runners broke from lanes and did his best to simply run away from the field. He passed halfway in 51.26 and fought off every attempt on the lead in the second half of the race, eventually winning in 1:44.81 over Mbulaeni Mulaudzi (RSA), 1:44.91, who got a second silver to go with his 2004 gold.

Kaki Khamis's youth showed in his celebration, as he nearly sprinted his lap of honour and ran high-knees down the homestretch, grinning widely. Every athlete in the final ran a PB, without exception, and three including Mulaudzi ran national records.

Christopher proves saving pays

Canada's Tyler Christopher ran the fastest time in the world this year in the men's 400m by allowing Johan Wissman and Chris Brown to duel at the front for most of the race, then striding by like the pair were standing still on the final homestretch. Christopher's winning time of 45.67 (to Wissman's 46.04) belies how late the race was left; Christopher's speed over the last 100m was simply that much faster than anyone else's.

Vili, and everyone else

Valerie Vili of New Zealand had four legal puts in the women's shot, and three of them would have been good enough to win the competition.

She only needed one, her first, which was a 20.19m pitch when nobody else in the event could crack 20m.

Bekele keeps 3000m gold in the family

With defending champion Kenenisa Bekele not present in Valencia, it fell to his younger brother Tariku to defend the gold, and while the winning margin showed the family resemblance, the younger Bekele has a style all his own. Launching a long kick from 400m out and shifting gears again at the bell, Bekele left no room for doubt about the day's champion, finishing in 7:48.23.

Champions on the runway

Naide Gomes of Portugal reached 7.00m in the fifth round to take the victory in the women's Long Jump, ahead of Maurren Higa Maggi's third-round 6.89m leap, a South American record. Phillips Idowu of Great Britain won the other way, skipping out to 17.75m in the men's Triple Jump in the second round, a mark which would stand for the rest of the competition.

The last medals of the championships went to the US 4x400m relay team, which ran 3:06.79 to hold off a strong Caribbean challenge from Jamaica (3:07.69) and the Dominican Republic (3:07.77) and Croatia’s Blanka Vlasic who easily fulfilled expectations adding the World Indoor title to the Outdoor gold she won seven months ago in Osaka.

Vlasic bode farewell to the Valencia crowd with three decent failures at a would-be 2.09m World indoor record.

Parker Morse for the IAAF