Turkey’s Elvan Abeylegesse tonight took apart the women’s 5000m World record, which had belonged to the little known Chinese Jiang Bo since 1997 (14:28.09), improving the mark by over three seconds to 14:24.68 at the Evergood Bergen Bislett Games.
After a solid two days of heavy rain in Bergen, the sun shone on Norway’s second city, golden rays which were more than matched by the sparkling competition at this the opening meeting of the TDK Golden League 2004. The venue for the action was the refurbished Fana stadium, which was full to its spectator capacity of 15,000.
Determined run blows away record and class field
The women’s 5000m contained much of the cream of the world’s distance running talent, including the Ethiopian trio of Tirunesh Dibaba (World 5000m champion), Meseret Defar (World Indoor 3000m champion) and Derartu Tulu (Olympic 10,000m champion). However, it was their former compatriot Elvan Abeylegesse, who represents Turkey, who was the star of tonight’s show.
Besides the initial pace of Oksana Belyakova of Russia (1000m in 2:49 - three seconds ahead of Jiang Bo’s record pace), and a spell at the front by Tirunesh’s sister Ejegayehu Dibaba (2000m 5:47.36 – behind schedule), the record run was created by a gutsy lone effort by the Turk, who was ahead of a pack of 7 opponents with six laps to go, and was never threatened again.
Ten seconds ahead at 4000m!
Abeylegesse who won the World Athletics Final 5000m in Monaco last summer took the race through 3000m (8:37.84 – over three seconds ahead) and 4000m in 11:30.43, a staggering 10 seconds ahead of record schedule. While she began to feel the strain of that dramatic middle race effort, she always remained 8 to 10 seconds ahead of the Dibaba sisters, and another Ethiopian, Sentayehu Ejigu.
The bell was sounded for Abeylegesse with 13:18 on the clock, and she was spirited home by an enormously vocal crowd who rose to their feet in appreciation of her effort. The 21 year-old responded, driving to the finish with all her heart and crossed the line in 14:24.68. In doing so she became Turkey’s first ever athletics World record breaker, and reaped a 50,000 Euros bonus.
In second came the World champion Tirunesh Dibaba, who still a junior (19yrs 11 days) established a World Junior record of 14:30.88, with her sister (14:32.74), and Ejigu (14:35.18), setting personal bests in third and fourth. Tulu was fifth in 14:46.51, with Defar becoming the last runner to dip under 15 minutes (14:58.79).
A roar of approval to match in the men’s 5000m
However, if we thought we had heard the Bergen crowd roar an athlete home we were not counting on the effect of national pride because within the next half hour Marius Bakken’s 13:08.27, a Norwegian record for 10th place in the men’s 5000m, was greeted with as great, if not greater, roar of approval than that which had brought Abeylegesse home.
The race was won by John Kibowen in 13:01.94, with Gebre Gebremariam (ETH), second in 13:02.28 and Mulugeta Wondimu (ETH) in third (13:02.42). The good pace brought national records for Australia’s Craig Mottram (13:03.37 – also Area record – 5th) and Uganda’s Boniface Kiprop (13:07.56 – 8th).
Devers honoured by Bislett
Gail Devers may have been eclipsed by Canada’s World indoor and outdoor champion Perdita Felicien in the last year but the 37 year-old former three-time World sprint Hurdles champion, who is the season’s fastest (12.50), is not about to become an also-ran. Tonight she headed the Canadian coming off the penultimate barrier in the women’s 100m Hurdles, and won in 12.56. Felicien was second in 12.66. In honour of her illustrious career, Devers was awarded the Bislett Games medal immediately after the race.
Felix Sanchez in the men’s 400m Hurdles had his own hard battle with Britain’s Chris Rawlinson but with his challenger weakening coming into the last few barriers, the double World champion from the Dominican Republic came home an assured winner in 48.54, with Rawlinson (third 48.99) nipped just before the line by Jamaica’s Danny McFarlane who came second (48.92).
Discus world lead
In what is already his fifth competition of the summer Lithuania’s Virgilijus Alekna, the reigning World and Olympic Discus champion produced a marvellous series of throws (three over 68m) to improve his current World season’s best of 69.14m (4 June) to 69.21m with his fifth round effort. Notably the 32 year-old took the scalp of his chief rival for the Olympic crown in Athens, Hungary’s European champion Robert Fazekas (third – 66.72m). Gerd Kanter of Estonia was second with 67.15m, in what was a high class opener to the evening’s TDK Golden League programme.
Area record for Greer
American Breaux Greer threw 87.39m to win the men’s Javelin beating Russia’s Sergey Makarov (86.19), the champion last summer in Paris. Ok, it was not enough to recapture the World season’s lead which the 27 year-old had held earlier this summer (86.83) but still an Area record and the defeat of the reigning World champion can’t be a bad night’s work! Andreas Thorkildsen, the World junior record holder (in this stadium in 2001), was third with 84.12.
Important psychological win for Olsson
World indoor and outdoor Triple Jump champion Christian Olsson of Sweden with a third round 17.58m, both broke the Bislett meet record of Jonathan Edwards (17.23), as he said he would at yesterday’s Strawberry Party, but more importantly defeated Brazil’s Jadel Gregorio (17.31 - second).
The Brazilian who had won the World Indoor silver behind Olsson this winter, is the current world outdoor season’s leader (17.72), and so it was important for the Swede in their first meeting of the summer to dispel any notion that he had a challenger for either the TDK Golden League or the Olympic title in Athens.
Olsson left no doubt this evening who remains the boss, with four jumps greater than Gregorio’s best.
Sub 50 seconds 400m
World Indoor bronze medallist Tonique Williams of Bahamas produced a surprising 49.78 seconds world season's lead and personal best in the women's 400m beating her compatriot Christine Amertil (50.97), with Romania's double European 400m Hurdles champion Ionela Tirlea, third (51.05).
Williams had a previous PB of 50.24 (2003) and had won in Ostrava on Tuesday in 50.28.
Revenge for the defeated
Americans Shawn Crawford and Justin Gatlin who train together, carried on their week long 200m track battle tonight with Crawford, who lost to his colleague in Ostrava, winning through in a time of 20.31. Gatlin was second in 20.39, with Francis Obikwelu in third (20.46).
There was also sweet revenge for another Ostrava loser. Women’s double World High Jump champion Hestrie Cloete (RSA) took a 1.98 win over USA’s Tisha Waller (1.96), and more significantly Croatia’s Blanka Vlasic (1.96) who had inflicted defeat on her on Tuesday night. Cloete’s series of seven heights was a very clean affair with first time clearances at the first six, with three failures at 2.00m ending her Bergen campaign.
Ukraine’s Iryna Lishchynska who had been luckier than both Crawford and Cloete on Tuesday, also took the win in the women’s 1500m tonight in 4:03.76, well taken from Romania’s Maria Cioncan (4:04.17), and Meskerem Legesse of Ethiopia (4:04.88).
The men’s 1500m, the traditional end to Bislett’s proceeding each year also had this honour in Bergen, and was won in a close battle to the line by Bernard Lagat, the World Indoor 3000m champion, in 3:34.08, who just held off Ukraine’s World bronze medallist Ivan Heshko (3:34.11). Alex Kipchirchir who so nearly defeated El Guerrouj earlier this week, was third with 3:34.33.
Of the other events – Yuriy Borzakovskiy inflicted his usual devastating finishing straight kick to win the men’s 800m in 1:44.41 beating Kenya’s Wilfried Bungei who though tying up made it to the line in 1:45.04 for second. Belgium’s Joeri Jansen was third (1:45.18). World champion Djabir Said Guerni was back in 7th (1:45.94).
The women’s 100m went to World champion Torri Edwards in 11.21 seconds; the men’s “B” 400m Hurdles was taken by Czech Jiri Muzik in 49.59; Nigeria’s World Cup 100m winner Uchenna Emedolu won the “B” 200m race in 20.90, and Britain’s Tim Benjamin produced an assured 400m win in 45.67.
Reporting for the IAAF in Bergen -
Laura Arcoleo and Chris Turner