Jamaica’s World 100m record holder* Usain Bolt justified all expectations tonight (Sun 13) at the Athens Grand Prix - Tsiklitiria 2008 - in the Olympic stadium with his Jamaican 200m record of 19.67 seconds.
Bolt’s time was a world season lead, the fastest ever by a Central American and Caribbean athlete. A 2.37m leap accomplished by Sweden’s Stefan Holm in the men’s High Jump was also a 2008 global world lead. There was a meeting record by Cuban Dayron Robles in 13.04 secs in the men’s 110m Hurdles, while in the Long Jump there was a personal season’s best for Greece’s Luis Tsatoumas (8.44m).
“Tsiklitiria 2008” is a Grand Prix status meeting within the IAAF World Athletics Tour 2008.
Bolt – fifth fastest of all-time
The absolute dominance of Usain Bolt in the 200m was expected, and tonight the Jamaican gave no ground to anyone. He started the race dynamically, sweeping his opponents aside, entering the final straight with perhaps a two metres margin and finishing with an advantage of about ten.
Bolt clocked 19.67 sec, facing a slightly negative wind mark (-0.5 m/s), his time was a world season leading performance, the fifth fastest time in history, which improved his previous best of 19.75 (Kingston, JAM 24 June 2007).
Far back was Antigua’s Brendan Christian who clocked 20.36 to take second place, in front of Zimbabwe’s Brian Dzingai, 20.45.
“I am very satisfied with my performance. The crowd helped me a lot. I feel sure I will be very strong at the Olympic Games,” confirmed Bolt.
Campbell-Brown clocks 10.92m, and Atkins wins with 10.10
The Bahamas’ Derrick Atkins, silver medallist at the Osaka World Championships, approached his season’s best (10.04 in Rome last Friday) to defeat the Americans in the 100m. He crossed the line in 10.10, leaving Olympics qualifier American Darvis Patton (10.14) and his compatriot Mark Jelks (10.19) in second and third respectively.
Running in an earlier 100m heat, Barbados’ Andrew Hinds clocked 10.26.
World 100m champion Veronica Campbell-Brown of Jamaica shone again in the women’s 100m. Accelerating brilliantly in the second part of the race, the Olympic 200m champion, who will not contest the 100m in Beijing after finishing fourth in her national trials, clocked a classy 10.92 to win ahead of the Bahamas’ Chandra Sturrup, 11.14. Americans Angela Williams and MeLisa Barber followed with 11.15.
The Bahamas’ experienced Debbie Ferguson, the Olympic 200m bronze medallist dominated the first women’s dash race of the night with 11.21, over American Stefanie Durst (11.33).
Robles (13.04) and Van Zyl (48.22)
Cuban Dayron Robles, the new World record holder* in the 110m Hurdles clocked a meeting record of 13.04 (-0.1m/s), although he slightly clattered the last two hurdles which deprived him an even better performance.
David Payne from US was second with 13.27, while the best European this year, Czech Petr Svoboda placed third with 13.42. In this race, Greece’s Konstantinos Douvalidis clocked 13.63 confirming his participation at the Beijing Olympic Games.
Eric Michum and Joel Brown dominated the earlier first heat with 13.46 and 13.49 runs respectively.
South Africa’s LJ Van Zyl significantly improved his season’s best in the 400m Hurdles to 48.22 sec setting the third best world performance of the season. Van Zyl was in a close race, powering away in the last 30 metres from Jamaica’s Danny McFarlane, second with 48.67, and American Reuben McCoy, third with 48.78.
Holm sets world leading 2.37m; Walker leaps 5.90m
Sweden’s Stefan Holm returned to the stadium where he won the Olympic gold medal four years ago. Russia’s Andrey Tereshin like the Swede needed two attempts to go over 2.30m, and found the next height of 2.32 too rich for his blood. Holm though cleared on his first approach to that bar, and then went on for a successful leap at 2.37m on his third attempt.
The performance added 5cm to Holm’s season’s best and 1cm to the world season lead of USA’s Dusty Jonas. Holm then had three unsuccessful attempts at 2.40.
In the Pole Vault, World champion Brad Walker who also leads the global season list with his 6.04m (Eugene, 8 June) was successful with a second time attempt at 5.90m.
The performance made up for Walker’s poor 5.65m showing at his last meet, which was the US Trials, that only just allowed him to scrape into the Beijing squad in third place.
After taking the win tonight Walker then had three attempts at 6.06m, one of them pretty close.
Russia’s Igor Pavlov took second place with a third time success at 5.75m. This height Walker passed having entered at 5.70m, which he took on his first try, and then moved straight to 5.90m.
Tsatoumas jumps 8.44m
The Athens Grand Prix was a chance for one more successful test for Louis Tsatoumas who leapt on his first attempt to 8.44m, improving his season’s best and giving him third position of the 2008 world list for the Long Jump. His previous season best had been a 8.32m wind legal at the national champs and a 8.36m windy jump in Thessaloníki (9 July). His PB is 8.66m (2007).
Cuba’s Ibrahim Camejo, second in the season’s list this year (8.46m) was runner-up tonight with 8.27m, while American Brian Johnson was third with 8.10m.
Jamal wins the 1500m in 4:00.67
Bahrain’s Yusuf Maryam Jamal was the winner of the women’s 1500m with 4:00.67, the fourth fastest time of the season. The reigning World champion was the only runner to follow the official pace of Anastasyia Fesenko from the first lap, then took the lead after the second lap and managed to hold on well until the finishing line was crossed.
Ukraine’s Irina Lishchynska clocked a season’s best 4:01.61 for second place and Bulgaria’s Daniela Yordanova the third with 4:02.37.
Cuban two-lap doubles
2005 World champion Zulia Calatayud of Cuba improved her season’s best to 1:59.26 to win the 800m with great assurance. A good turn of speed in the final half of the finishing straight left behind France’s Elodie Guegan, second with 1:59.68, Jamaica’s Kenia Sinclair (1:59.84) and Yvonne Hak of the Netherlands (1:59.98 PB).
In a relatively slowly paced men’s 800m race, a Cuban was also the winner. Yeriman Lopez Garcia, already second on the world list thanks to his 1:43.07 in Jerez on 24 June, clocked 1:44.04 tonight. In the lead as the race entered the home straight no one had an answer to his awesome finishing kick which left Uganda’s Abraham Chepkirwok second with 1:44.26, and Bahrain’s Yusuf Saad Kamel, third 1:44.40.
Richards clocks 49.86 in the 400m
America’s Golden League Jackpot winner Sanya Richards dominated the women’s 400m with a 49.86sec season’s best, the third best in the world this year. Richards, whose previous 2008 fastest had been her 49.89 which she clocked when winning the US Olympic Trials, had a healthy lead entering into the final straight. When it looked like she might be challenged about 70 metres out, the 2005 World Championships silver medallist again powered away impressively.
Jamaica’s Novlene Williams was second with 50.54 , while American Mary Wineberg clocked 50.58 for the third place.
Jepkorir and Kemboi win steeplechases
Qatar's World record holder Saif Saaeed Shaheen who this summer is attempting a comeback after a long period of injury took the lead from the very first metres of the race, but surprisingly abandoned two laps before the end of tonight’s men’s 3000m Steeplechase.
Athens Olympic Champion Ezekiel Kemboi of Kenya who was second in Rome on Friday night was the confident clear winner in 8:09.25.
In the women’s Steeplechase, Kenyan Eunice Jepkorir, silver medallist in the World championships last year, who set an Area record in Huelva, Spain on 13 June in 9:11.18, won with 9:26.56. Ethiopia’s African champion Zemzem Ahmed was second with 9.29.84, with World Junior record holder Ruth Bisibori clocking 9:30.23 in third.
Greek national record holder Irene Kokinariou took fifth place, smashing her own record with 9:30.72
Spotakova wins the close javelin competition
In swirling wind conditions which made throwing difficult, a fifth round release of 63.70m by the 2007 World champion Barbora Spotakova gave the Czech the win, beating World record holder Cuba’s Osleydis Menendez’s fourth round 63.40m. The Cuban also improved in the fifth with 63.63m.
European record holder Christina Obergfoll finished in third position thanks to her opening 63.32m which had led until the midway point, she had fouls on all her five other throws.
There was a season’s best for Portugal’s World champion triple jumper Nelson Evora with a 17.23m victory; no one else managed to exceed the 17m line.
Finally, Latvia’s Eriks Rags was the winner of the men’s Javelin Throw with 84.38m, his only valid throw. He was followed by Germany’s Alexander Vieweg who improved his career best to 83.27m for second.
Michalis Nikitaridis for the IAAF
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NOTE: ** World record subject to usual ratification procedures