Marya Konovalova (RUS) (Getty Images) © Copyright
General News Yekaterinburg, Russia

Russian Christmas celebrations get underway with national record in Yekaterinburg

Thirteen days after the western Christmas, on 7 January the Russian Orthodox Church celebrated its Christmas Day in accordance with the old Julian calendar. And marking the occasion appropriately a new national Russian record was set in the women’s 2000m in Yekaterinburg today (7).

The whole country of Russia is currently indulging in New Year holidays, with the national ‘back to work’ not taking place until next Monday 11 January. It looks like only the athletes are working during the long period of Christmas time!

The first national record of the indoor season was set today in Yekaterinburg at the 19th Yalamov Memorial Meeting called the ‘Christmas Starts’. Mariya Konovalova at sped 2000m in 5:38.98, and excluding intermediate times achieved in longer races achieved the 5th best ever result registered indoors in the world at the distance. A split of 2:51 was clocked at 1000m and then with a sustained acceleration Konovalova took the lead. Anna Alminova, the European Indoor 1500m champion was the runner-up in 5:48.25.

As far as the rest of the women’s programme was concerned former World Indoor 400m champion and multiple international relay medallist Natalya Nazarova was the focus of attention and she didn’t let her fans down clocking 1:10 12 for 500m.

In the 60m dash, one of Russia’s Olympic winning 4x100m relay Aleksandra Fedoriva set her personal indoor best of 7.34 seconds, while the lead-off leg of that Beijing squad and the fastest Russian of last summer, Yevgeniya Polyakova clocked 7.35 for second place. Marya Bolikova got the bronze losing out by a hundredth of a second.

European U23 400m champion Kseniya Ustalova clocked 37.09 seconds for the 300m which seems to be quite a promising result at the start of the new indoor winter season for the youngster.

The European Indoor champion at 800m Mariya Savinova won the 1000m in her native city of Yekaterinburg clocking 2:36.07. She improved her personal indoor best by 1.5 seconds. On the 28 December Savinova had gained a victory at 400m in Cheliabinsk in a time of 53.46 seconds, and looks set for another fine indoor campaign.

Christmas Day turned out to be lucky for two brothers. Sergei Usoltzev won the men’s 1000m in 2:22.92, while Anton Usoltzev was the race winner in the 3000m in 8:04.00 after Kenyan Edward Mutai who had led after 2000m failed to keep up the pace. The Kenyan eventually finished 4th, 8:06.40. Finishing second in the race was the ever-green Vyacheskav Shabunin who in the veteran category set a 3000m world best for a 40 year-old in a time of 8:04.34, which secured him second place overall.

Another attraction of the Memorial was the men’s High Jump where several experienced athletes took part. Aleksandr Shustov was the best clearing 2.27m with Mikhail Tzvetkov and Andrei Tereshin sharing second place with 2.24m.

In the 60m sprint hurdles Igor Peremota won in 7.67 seconds leaving behind Aleksei Drermin – 7.88.
Maksim Dyldin, a member of Russia’s Beijing Olympic bronze medal winning 4x400m relay squad, prefers this winter to compete at longer distances, and was the 500m winner in 1:01.63. After his victory Dyldin admitted that exactly in a month’s time he’ll try to challenge to Yuriy Borzakovskiy over 600m at the Russian Winter Tournament - IAAF Permit meeting - in Moscow.

A real fight was expected in the men’s 60m where a bunch of well known sprinters lined-up. The guest from Lithuania Rytis Sakalauskas clocked 6.71 seconds, a personal best, leaving behind Russian national champion Roman Smirnov – 6.75. Third place unexpectedly went to the little known Pavel Bichigov – 6.84. Andrei Yepishin, one of the most talented Russian sprinters was fourth – 6.90.

In the 300m, the victory of Ivan Teplykh was not a surprise (34.08 secs).

Nickolai Dolgopolov and Rostislav Orlov for the IAAF