Tula, RussiaOnly two gold medals were at stake today but the struggle in the qualifying events was really severe.
There was no surprise in the 100m Hurdles, with Marya Koroteeva, Irina Shevchenko and Natalya Kresova, who is the leader of the fastest Russian hurdler this year, taking the top three positions in today’s final.
The question was in what order would they cross the finish line? And following a very close finish all three athletes clocked personal bests.
Irina Shevchenko took the title in 12.67 with only the photo-finish revealing that Marya Koroteeva was the runner up and Natalya Kresova took the bronze with the same time of 12.70.
The women’s 400m Hurdles wasn’t expected to be as closely fought as World record holder Yuliya Pechonkina was the outstanding pre-event favourite. Pechonkina didn’t let her fans and admirers down clocking 53.71.
However the bronze medalist from Paris 2003 was pushed to her limits by the newly emerging star of the season Ekaterina Bikert who was only one hundredth of a second behind!
The experienced Ekaterina Bakhvalova finished third in 55.06 which does not guarantee her a position in the Russian Olympic team as it is now up to the Council of coaches to decide whether to select Bakhvalova or the recent World junior champion from Grosseto Ekaterina Kostezkaya who took the fourth place in 55.75.
The semi-finals of the women’s 400m were also included in today’s programme and as rare as it can be no fewer than five athletes with personal bests of under 51 seconds lined up in the same race.
Natalya Antuh won her heat in 50.39 with another 8 runners dipping under 51 seconds in the two semis. Natalya Nazarova won the second semi-final in 49.82.
In the men’s 400m Anton Galkin clocked 44.93. It is only 0.33 slower than the national Russian and former European record set 24 years ago by the 1980 Olympic champion Victor Markin in the Luzhniki stadium.
Galkin is now the fastest European at 400m and number 19 in the world season top-list. Oleg Mishukov was second in 45.67 and Andrei Rudnitzkiy also ran under 46 seconds – 45.97. An exciting final is expected for tomorrow.
Excellent results were also recorded in the women’s 800m semi-finals. The winner of one of the semis Tatyana Andrianova clocked 1:58.02. Three more runners made it better than 2 minutes – Olga Raspopova 1:58.28, Oksana Zbrozhek, 1:58.58 and Natalya Tziganova 1:58.95.
There were no surprises in the men’s 800m semis with Yuriy Borzakovskiy easily clocking the fastest time of 1:48.57. Evgeniy Ivanov won the second semi-final in 1:48.84. Unfortunately Dmitriy Bogdanov got injured and he didn’t run in the semi-final.
More than 30 athletes competed in the men’s long jump. Ruslan Gutaullin is leading after the qualifying – 7.69 just in the first attempt.
In the absence of World champion Tatyana Lebedeva who is exempted from the selection Anna Pyatykh is leading in the women’s triple jump with 14.34 in the first attempt.
Nickolai Dolgopolov and Rostislav Orlov for the IAAF.