News02 Jul 2003


Sanchez and Mutola shine in wet conditions in Lausanne

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Felix Sanchez will aim at defending his world title in Paris (© Getty Images)

Lausanne, SwitzerlandDespite the atrocious weather conditions, there were world leading performances from both Felix Sanchez of the Dominican Republic and Mozambique’s Maria Mutola, the undoubted stars of tonight’s ‘Athletissima 2003’ IAAF Super Grand Prix meeting.

On a wet track the pair of World champions mastered not only the unhelpful conditions but their rivals with outstanding victories.

In a fantastic women’s 800 metres race, Mutola won at a canter in the superb time of 1:56.57, much quicker than the previous world best mark for the year of 1:57.76 ran by Jolanda Ceplak of Slovenia last month.

Behind the seven-times World champion indoors-and-out, the next five finishers set season's best. Leading the jamboree were runner-up Diane Cummins of Canada. The Commonwealth silver medallist behind Mutola last July clocked 1:58.89. In third place Kenya's Faith Macharia ran 1:59.23.

Sanchez already the season's world leader with a time of 48.07 achieved last week in Trikala, Greece, really turned on the style in his 400m Hurdles race. The World champion breezed under the 48-seconds barrier with a runaway victory in 47.80, that saw him finish over a second clear of the Jamaican pair of Dean Griffith and Danny MacFarlane who finished in 48.83 and 48.99.

"The last two races I did, my technique was not good at all," said the Dominican Republic star. "But today technically today I was perfect. My two goals for the season are the Pan-Am Games and Paris. In Paris I fear Diagana for his experience. In fact there are other runners who are as fast as well, but in those important moments experience makes the difference."

Former World Junior champion Deji Aliu brought the cream of American sprinters - an absent world record holder Tim Montgomery the notable exception - to its knees in Lausanne tonight.

Following up his recent successes in Lille and Trikala, the Nigerian easily outshone top US stars Bernard Williams and Maurice Greene. Aliu the 1994 World junior gold medallist, won against an almost negative wind, in a time of 10.04, well clear of US champion Williams who clocked 10.10.

Greene the World and Olympic champion looked impressive in the early part of the race, but in the rush for the line finished third, 1/100sec behind Williams.

In the women’s dash, European record holder Christine Arron of France, lost her 100 metres unbeaten record for the season when succumbing to a fast finishing Chandra Sturrup.

Arron after the birth of her child last year has returned to track action with remarkable success this summer - but tonight was beaten by a much faster rival. Arron finished 0.03sec behind Sturrup who chalked up a relatively easy victory in 11.12. Third place was claimed by Torri Edwards. Third in the US Championships, the American finished in 11.20.

Latvian Stanislav Olijar may have lost his season's unbeaten record at 110 metres Hurdles tonight but the Latvian decimated his own national record. In a breathtaking finish, last year's European silver medallist seemed set for his eighth successive win of the season - but reckoned without the power of Allen Johnson.

The reigning three-times World champion and 1996 Olympic gold medallist kept calm and stormed through for victory in 13.06 - the fastest time of the season. Behind the American, Olijar, 24, lowered his Latvian record from 13.14 to 13.08 - in High Hurdling terms a remarkable improvement.

"I took a very bad start unlike Johnson who did it very well," said Olijar. "Despite that I'm happy with my race.”
 
China's Xiang Liu who set a world junior record at the Lausanne meeting last year, finished third in a season's best 13.17.

There was also a personal season's best of 12.57 for evergreen Gail Devers in the women’s equivalent, the 100m hurdles. Runner-up Brigette Foster of Jamaica, the world season lead (12.45) clocked 12.61, with Devers’ US teammate Miesha McKelvy third in 12.66.

A blistering finish saw Coby Miller take the men’s 200 metres in a personal season's best of 20.04, 1/100sec ahead of recently crowned US champion Darvis Patton. Making it a clean sweep for the Americans, Ramon Clay finished third in 20.34.

There was also a personal season's best of 5.85m for World Pole Vault champion Dmitri Markov of Australia. Also having his best performance of the summer was Israel's European champion Aleksandr Averbukh who cleared 5.80m for second. Third was American Derek Miles with a best of 5.75m.

A brilliant middle distance victory for Yelena Zadorozhnaya, saw the Russian posting the fastest women’s 3000 metres time in the world this year. Breaking away with three laps remaining - the same tactics which won her the Spar European Cup final nine days earlier - Zadorozhnaya clocked 8:35.50. That was much quicker than the previous world lead of 8:41.89 held by Britain’s 8:41.89, and gained the two-times European Cup winner a runaway success.

On a night when Russia challenged the might of the normally dominant African athletes, Tatyana Tomashova last year's European 1500m bronze medallist, finished third (8:44.78), with Meseret Defar of Ethiopia, last year's World junior 3000m and 5000m champion, ahead of her in second (8:43.36). World Cross Country champion Werknesh Kidane of Ethiopia was fourth in 8:46.14
 
World season lead Cornelius Chirchir lead a Kenyan clean sweep of the podium places in the men's 1500m, with his third successive race win. The world junior record holder won in a time of 3:34.06 in a sprint for the line from last year's African champion Bernard Lagat (3:34.27), and Laban Rotich  who clocked 3:34.35.
 
In the men’s 3000m Steeplechase, there was a meeting record of 8:06.37 from Ezekiel Kemboi who retained his title with fellow Kenyans Kipkitui Misoi and Paul Koech following him across the line in 8:10.83 and 8:15.00, for another East African 1-2-3 finish.

With the home fans roaring their support, Swiss World champion Andre Bucher narrowly failed to take a surprise 800 metres victory over yet another Kenyan. Bucher, who after a 10 weeks absence returned to win the European silver medal last summer, put in a fabulous finish over the final 20 metres of what was only his third race so far this summer. But it wasn't quite enough to catch Kenya's World Championships silver medallist Wilfred Bungei who won in 1:44.53.
 
Dogged by injury with another stress fracture picked up this April, Bucher ran his season's best, a highly respectable 1:44.86. Kenya's Nicolas Wachira claimed third place in 1:45.04.

World and Olympic silver medallist Lorraine Fenton took a scorching win in the women’s 400 metres with a superb time of 49.71. It was a season's best for Jamaican, with only Ana Guevara of Mexico, the world leader with 49.34 having ran faster this year.

Powering down the finishing straight, Fenton who anchored her country to the World 4x400m title two years ago, easily held-off the challenge of Commonwealth Hurdles champion Jana Pittman (50.98) and Svetlana Pospelova (51.12) the twice European Cup winner.

In the men’s 5000m, striking for home with 350 metres left, Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele repeated his Oslo victory over Kenya's Sammy Kipketer - but on this occasion by a much greater margin than the near dead heat which they had raced to in the Bislett Stadium last Friday.
 
Tonight, Bekele clocked 13:06.05 from Kipketer who ran 13:07.78. Third place went to another Kenyan Leonard Mucheru in 13:08.50.

European champion Robert Fazekas 27, left it fairly late before clinching victory in the men's Discus. On a cool night with the throwing area wet after heavy rain throughout the day, Fazekas produced a winning effort of 64.98m in the fifth round.

That clinched the Hungarian - this year's world leader with a throw of 70.78m - victory, and maintained his season's unbeaten record with his fifth successive win. Fazekas, a former judo player, pushed the German pair of World champion Lars Riedel and Michael Mollenbeck into the minor placings - although the former fought to the bitter end.

Riedel 36, a five-times World champion led the competition with 63.98m until Fazekas's winning throw. Then in the last round, Riedel a former Olympic champion, unleashed an effort only 69cm short of Fazekas's winning performance. Mollenbeck, World bronze medallist two years ago, with only two valid throws, produced his best mark of 63.61m in the third round.

Germany's Steffi Nerius narrowly won the women’s javelin, throwing 63.81 metres, 29 centimetres ahead of Russia's Tatyana Shikolenko. Finland's Mikaela Ingberg threw a season's best of 62.68m for third place.

There was a 17.32m Triple Jump win for Marian Oprea, the Romanian easily beating his nearest challengers Kenta Bell of the US who cleared 16.92m, and Cuba's Alexander Martinez whose best was 16.85m.

Vita Palamar of the Ukraiune won the women’s High Jump on count-back with a 1.97m clearance from World champion Hestrie Cloete of South Africa, and Inga Babakova of Ukraine who had jumped to a 2.01 victory in Oslo last Friday.