Gold medallist Yevgeniy Lukyanenko in action in the men's pole vault (Getty Images) © Copyright
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Despite the rain, meet records fall at Znamenskiy Memorial

Zhukovskiy, RussiaDespite the occasional rains that dampened part of the afternoon, several meeting records fell at the 50th Znamenskiy Memorial in Zhukovskiy, just outside of Moscow.

The Znamenskiy Memorial is one of a select group of Area meetings at which points can be acquired by athletes to qualify for the IAAF / VTB Bank World Athletics Final, to be held on 13-14 September in Stuttgart, Germany.

Many of the highlights were on the infield, topped by the excellent result by World indoor champion Evgeniy Lukyanenko of Russia in the Men's Pole Vault. Lukyanenko set a meet record of 5.91m, a personal best for the 23-year-old, adding a centimetre to the 5.90m with which he captured gold in Valencia. He tried at 6.00m but failed mostly because of the wet sector. Pavel Gerasimov was second (5.66m) and Australian Paul Burgess third (5.56m).

28th in a row for Vlasic

Blanka Vlasic of Croatia won the High Jump without any resistance. Maybe it was the total absence of rivals or the rain that started twice during the tournament that prevented her attempts at improving Stefka Konstadinova’s World Record. But Vlasic set a new meeting record after clearing the bar at 2.03, leaving far behind Radzivil from Uzbekistan and Yekaterina Savchenko (RUS) who both cleared only 1.93. Vlasic went on with three tries at 2.06m.

Excellent results were achieved in the pre-programme, only contested by Russians.

The result of Gulfiya Khanafeeva in the women's Hammer Throw of 73.80m is the season's best in Russia. According to Khanafeeva, she is looking forward to improving upon it because only those who'll be able to surpass the 76m mark will have, according to Khanafeeva, chances of winning in Beijing.

World Hammer Throw lead for Zagornyi

In the men's event it was Aleksei Zagornyi who made the specialists raise their eyebrows. The 30-year-old reached 81.39m, the farthest in the world this year. After years and years of failures, Russian male hammer throwers are back at the top of the world lists. Zagorniy, who is rather far from being famous, was supported by the trio of his compatriots who also surpassed the high standard set be the All-Russian Athletic Federation for the coming Olympics. Igor Vinnichenko was second with a 79.80m throw, followed by Kirill Ikonnikov (79.20m) and Sergei Kirmasov (78.55m). It looks like the glorious epoch of Yuriy Sedykh is gradually returning.

The women's Long Jump was another attraction. World famous Tatyana Kotova leaped 6.66m but was only fourth. It was another Tatyana — Lebedeva — who won the competition, reaching 6.88m. She was followed by Irina Simagina (6.77m) and Ludmila Kolchanova (6.75m). It looks like the intentions of Russian long jumpers are serious indeed.

Borza coasts to victory

Yuriy Borzakovskiy made the home crowd happy winning 800m in 1:45.40, not bad at all for the beginning of the season. In the women’s race, Olga Kotlyarova was considered to be a favourite, but was only the runner-up (1:59.99) losing to Tatyana Popova who clocked 1:59.60.

Good early season Russian 400m depth

The Znamenskiy Memorial opened with a distance that's always considered to be specifically Russian. And this time the women's 400m proved not to be an exception. The former World 200m champion Anastasiya Kapachinskaya moved up from her speciality this time and won the full lap in 50.45, the best result of the Russian season. She was well accompanied by her compatriots Ludmila Litvinova and Tatiana Veshkurova, who clocked 50.69 and 50.84 respectively. The race shows that the Russian Olympic relay team in Beijing will be extremely strong and may be victorious.

The women's 100m didn't turn into a battlefield between Bahamian Debbie Ferguson and Evgeniya Polyakova. Polyakova stopped the clock at 11.21 with Ferguson clocking a disappointing 11.26 to finish third behind another Russian, who was also credited with 11.26.

But Ferguson proved that she was in tip top form after her notable 22.28 victory in the 200m.

The guests were unbeatable in the men's 100m. Kim Collins from St.Kitts and Nevis won with a quick 10.10, with Samuel Francis from Qatar second in 10.20. The fastest Russian Roman Smirnov (10.38) was only fifth.

Elsewhere

After a long maternity leave Yelena Zadorozhnaya won 1500m clocking the second best Russian performance of the season, 4:07.62. She was in a way supported by the male performers who set the mark of the Russian outdoor season best at 13.58 in 110m Hurdles (Igor Peremota) and 3:39.74 in 1500m (Vyacheslav Sokolov).

20-year-old Leonard Patrick Komon from Kenya set a new meet record in the 5000m, reaching the line in 13:17.48. The old record had been set before he was born. But he was in such a hurry to catch his plane that he even failed to appear at the prize ceremony and to receive the winner’s Cup.

Dmitriy Valukevitch from Slovakia was second to none in the men's Triple Jump, reaching 17.46m. Vadim Vasilevskiy of Latvia won the men's Javelin Throw with an 85.78m effort, defeating Russia’s former World champion Sergey Makarov, who threw 81.36m.

Nickolai Dolgopolov and Rostislav Orlov for the IAAF