Elena Lashmanova of Russia wins the 5000m Race Walk final (Getty Images) © Copyright

Race walking gold stays in Russia - Day Four - Morning report

Bressanone/BrixenAfter a brave effort of front walking, 17-year-old Elena Lashmanova took a well deserved World Youth gold medal in the year’s world best time in this age category 22:55.45 to become the fifth Russian to win the 5000m Race Walk in the 10-year history of this competition.

 Lashmanova didn’t leave anything to chance this morning as she led from start to finish although she did fail to maintain the 100m lead she had gathered half way through the 12 and a half laps. Eventually Lashmanova had just under five seconds to spare over fast finishing Yanelli Caballero of Mexico (22:59.27) who prevented Russia from scoring their second consecutive one-two finish as she overtook Svetlana Vasilyeva in the very last metres.

“This was a difficult race,” said the winner. “I am not very happy with my time but it was enough to win the gold medal.”

Lashmanova was well off two-time World Youth champion Tatyana Kalmykova’s World Youth best of 20:28.05 set in Ostrava two years ago but conditions in this Northern Italian city were very different. If Lashmanova’s first place was never challenged, the race for silver proved the most interesting as Vasilyeva’s attempt to stay within reach of her strongest compatriot early in the race eventually meant she could not respond to Caballero’s surge.

The diminutive Mexican who turned to race walking just one year ago had a more conservative start deciding to remain in the chasing pack until the last kilometre before improving gradually and eventually winning her country’s third medal in the history of this competition, a silver after two bronze medals (also in the race walking events!).

Following the inaugural victory of Tatyana Kozlova in Bydgoszcz, only China’s Jiang Kun has been able to rival with the Russian super power in the girls’ race walking taking gold in 2001. Of the 18 medals at stake since 1999, Russia has won 5 golds, 3 silvers and 2 bronze.

5 down 2 to go in girls Heptathlon

Great Britain’s Katarina Thompson who had an overnight lead of 64 points in the girls’ Heptathlon increased it to 199 points after a superb 6.31 personal best in the Long Jump, the fifth of seven events.

Thompson’s second round effort was an improvement of 14 centimetres on her previous record and a mark which would have easily qualified her for the individual event final.

With 4380 points after 5 events, Thompson is now well on schedule to improve on her personal best total of 5481 provided she holds on in the Javelin which, reminiscent of World Senior leader Jessica Ennis, is not one of her strongest events. Famously Ennis had been in the lead of the 2003 World Youth Heptathlon until she dropped into fifth position at the penultimate event.

Thompson’s best in the javelin stands at 32.50 and even if she was to lose a few points she can still count on a strong 800m to finish off her seven-event effort.

The battle for the minor medals just livened up as Germany’s Kira Biesenbach jumped from third overnight to second at 4181 points her 6.10PB in the Long Jump being worth 880 points. Latvia’s Laura Ikauniece, who will most likely make up ground in the javelin, had to be content with 5.67, also a personal best, and is now in third overall at 4120 points.

Medley Relays

The heats of the boys and girls Medley relays proved a very entertaining end of action this morning and with no fewer than 27 teams in the boys and 17 in the girls qualification to tomorrow’s final was always going to be a tough task.

Only the winner in each of the four boys’ heats was guaranteed an automatic spot so there would be no saving energy in the youth medley relay which consists of a 100, 200, 300 and 400 legs.

Anchored by Shogo Momiki, Japan were the first to make it through as the Asians clocked a new World Youth lead of 1:53.58 ahead of New Zealand and Australia whose 1:53.97 and 1:54.49 would eventually be the second and third fastest losing times.

But the first heat was dramatic for the South African team whose second and third leg runners Richmond Collins and Michael Kruger respectively failed to achieve a clean exchange and by the time Kruger picked up the baton the Africans’ hopes for a spot in the final had already vanished.

Running in the final heat, the US came close to a similar fate as 100m champion Prezel Hardy who was running the 200m leg and was holding a comfortable lead half way through the second bend started slowing down and losing ground. Evidently uncomfortable and maybe even hurt, Hardy only just managed to pass on the baton to Jaron Roberson but teams of Brazil and Canada – with 100m silver medallist Aaron Brown running the 300m leg - had already taken advantage and jumped into the lead.

While Leandro De Araujo of Brazil held on to the only automatic qualifier in the lead with 1:54.23, Dedric Dukes, who will compete in the 200m semi finals this afternoon and is a strong contender for gold, ran a superb final lap to clinch second for the USA in 1:54.82 ahead of Canada’s 1:54.90. Eventually both North American teams would advance as fastest losers.

Other heat winners included teams of Trinidad and Tobago in 1:54.09 and Jamaica in 1:53.89.

US girls set World Lead

In the girls’ Medley relay, the United States clocked a new World Youth leading time of 2:07.51 to understate their intention to maintain their country’s stranglehold of the event in the history of the World Youth Championships.

Indeed, with the exception of the inaugural edition of Bydgoszcz 1999 where the US had to be content with silver behind a Jamaican quartet which included the likes of Olympic champions Veronica Campbell and Melaine Walker, the stars and stripes athletes have won all the girls’ Medley relay World Youth titles.

Anchored by individual 400 gold medallist Ebony Eutsey the US quartet overcame their scare when Briana Nelson and Michelle Brown running the second and third legs respectively had a far from ideal exchange.

Winners of the first heat, Canada were the second fastest qualifiers at 2:09.27 with Katherine Reid running a fantastic final leg to hold off the close challenge of Hungary and Nigeria. Lillia Lorand held on to second in 2:09.68 which would prove the fastest losing time and enough for Hungary to qualify for the final. In third, Nigeria was also within the fastest qualifiers but was eventually disqualified after it was viewed that second leg runner Josephine Ada Omaka ran in the lane on her inside for most of her 200m leg.

The final heat offered a great duel with arch rivals Jamaica and Bahamas battling out for the only automatic qualifier. After Jamaicans had led for most of the race, Katrina Seymour had the best surge and gave Bahamas the upper hand in 2:10.12. Jamaica obviously advanced to the final with 2:10.72 which bodes well for a friendly revenge tomorrow.

Long Jump qualifiers

The morning action had started with the girls’ Long Jump qualification round where the standard to advance to tomorrow’s final had been placed at exactly 6 metres by the IAAF Technical Delegates.

In the end seven athletes automatically qualified including High Jump finalist Alina Rotaru of Romania who bounced back from narrowly missing out on a medal yesterday evening to a new first round personal best 6.26.

Only US champion Jennifer Clayton went further this morning as she too landed to a new personal best 6.37 in her first attempt.

China’s Minjia Lu, the World Youth leader at 6.43 opened with a secure 6.19 to top group A and looks as the strongest contestant for the title.

All other automatic qualifiers improved their personal bests to advance with Australia’s Brooke Stratton landing at 6.13, A’Lexus Brannon of the US at 6.11, Franziska Geier of Germany at 6.09 and Jamaica’s Rochelle Farquharson at 6.01.

Chinese Tapei impresses in Javelin qualifiers

There was an unexpected name at the top of the boys’ Javelin Throw qualifiers as Shih-Feng Huang of Chinese Tapei improved his personal best by over 2 metres to score a first round automatic qualifying mark at 74.75.

The next best on the day was Frenchman Killan Durechou whose 74.68 second round effort was also a personal best.

There were five other automatic qualifiers including Florian Janischek of Germany and Marcin Krukowski of Poland who are both among the year’s top ten performers. Of that list major casualties included South Africa’s Dean Goosen whose 66.56 was almost 6 metres off his personal best and not enough to qualify and most dramatically Finland’s Mikko Martinmaki who had to be content with a very disappointing 62.93 for 23rd overall.

The World Youth leader and holder of the World Youth best at 83.02 Valeriy Iordan came close to a similar fate as his 67.76 followed a first round foul and preceded a poor 58.83. Eventually the Russian made it through as the tenth best this morning but he will have to regroup if he wants to stand up to his role of favourite for gold.

Laura Arcoleo for the IAAF