Isinbayeva clears a new World record of 4.92 in Brussels (© Getty Images)
Saif Saaeed Shaheen demolished the World 3000m Steeplechase record by 1.65 seconds, and Yelena Isinbayeva raised the women’s Pole Vault record to 4.92m to delight the capacity 47,000 crowd and extend the euphoric Athens Olympic atmosphere into the Stade Roi Baudouin for tonight’s Memorial Van Damme, TDK Golden League meeting.
Two remain in the hunt for one million dollars
The campaign for at least a share of the one million dollars of the TDK Golden League Jackpot was continued this evening by four athletes but after the close of play we were down to just two remaining contenders, Bahamas’ Tonique Williams-Darling and Christian Olsson of Sweden. Losing out were the Domincan Republic’s Feliz Sanchez (through injury) and Hestrie Cloete of South Africa who was outclassed.
Shaheen delivers his World record message
The energy behind Shaheen’s 7:53.63 World record run was all the frustration he felt about missing out on the Olympics because of his ineligibility under IOC rules due to his change of nationality last year from Kenya to Qatar. Able under IAAF rules to compete in the World Championships in 2003, a title which he took in the most dramatic style in the Stade de France, Shaheen’s attack on the World mark this evening sent out the strongest of messages, that despite the marvellous Kenyan podium sweep in Athens, the sport should not forget that the World champion was absent.
France’s Vincent Le Dauphin took the race through 1000m (2:36.13 – over four seconds inside the old record at that point), and then the Kenyan Kipkirui Misoi carried on the pacing duties. Shaheen tracked the Frenchman, running safely in third place and then kept at Misoi’s shoulder when Le Dauphin dropped out. With 3 laps to go Shaheen hit the front, passing 2000m in 5:18.09 - just under a second inside the split for the previous record at that point - and stretched away to the finish, powered on by the enthusiastic support of the Brussels crowd, who seemed to re-energize the Qatari’s resolve.
Appropriately, this was the stadium which had witnessed the previous World record of Moroccan Brahim Boulami (7:55.28 – 2001) - a runner since (2002) banned for EPO - who was back racing tonight but who could not keep up the pace (third 8:02.66). Beating the Moroccan to the line was Paul Kipsiele Koech in 8:02.07. The Kenyan Olympic bronze medallist had been the previous fastest in the world this season (7:59.65) before tonight.
Despite Shaheen’s record the loudest applause of the night awaited local heroine Kim Gevaert who approximately 30 minutes later strode home in dominant style for an unopposed win in the women’s 200m in 22.58. A World record and a home win, Meeting Director Wilfried Meert could not have wished for more!
But on a night of athletic dreams, he got more!
Ninth World record for Isinbayeva
Yelena Isinbayeva said in yesterday’s press conference that when she first started her vaulting career after her migration from gymnastics, that she had never heard of Sergey Bubka. Well, the 22 year-old is already fast developing an illustrious jumping pedigree which might one day match the six-time World gold medallist. Tonight, the women’s Olympic champion established the ninth World record of her remarkable career.
The Russian began at 4.47m, and took that and her next height (4.62) on her first attempts. She failed first time at 4.72, but passing moved on to 4.82 and cleared that with style. Another ten centimetres higher, and a total of three vaults later (neither of her first two attempts at the new record were close), and Isinbayeva flew high and clear over the crossbar to improve by just one centimetre her winning height in Athens on 24 August.
In joint second place on 4.72 were Russia’s Tatyana Polnova and Monika Pyrek of Poland. A personal best and a national record were the respective rewards for these two women, who with identical jumping cards through four heights could not be split.
Svetlana Feofanova was fourth (4.62). Canada's Dana Ellis with 4.47 for fifth, set a national record.
Williams-Darling – Unopposed win
Bahamas’ Tonique Williams-Darling didn’t give any impression that she might have been tired after her Olympic winning exploits of 24 August. She was never seriously challenged in the women’s 400m. Rather it was Athens silver medallist Ana Guevara of Mexico and USA’s Monique Hennagan who looked lethargic.
Williams-Darling looked more than impressive down the finishing straight taking the line in 49.59, with Guevara, the World champion making up enough in the final metres to secure second place (49.95) in front of Hennagan (50.06), who had been fourth in Athens. Way out of it was Olympic bronze medallist Natalya Antyukh, who finished ninth and last (51.95).
Olsson dominates with one leap
Sweden’s Christian Olsson only registered one mark in the Triple Jump, with two passes and three fouls following his first round 17.44 but it was a distance far and away good enough to kill this competition dead. The nearest approach to the Olympic champion’s lead came in the fourth round from Russia’s Danila Burkenya (17.26), and Romania’s Marian Oprea followed just two centimetres short of that mark with the next jump of that round. So the Russian at least reversed his minor medal placing from Athens, when he had taken the bronze behind Olsson and Oprea. Oprea’s 17.24 was good enough for third tonight.
Sanchez and Cloete lose out
Falling foul of a slight hamstring pull was Felix Sanchez, who had won the Olympic 400m Hurdles title last week and at the time had immediately discarded his famous lucky wristband charm! So with just under 200m of tonight’s race still to be run the win streak for Sanchez of 36 races (counting finals only) and his TDK Golden League Jackpot hopes were tragically ended. Winning the race was Bayano Kamani of Panama in 48.30 seconds.
Hestrie Cloete, the other Jackpot contender to lose the plot this evening, was simply outclassed by her Athens nemesis Yelena Slesarenko. Tiredness was the main opponent of the twelve athletes competing, with even Russia’s Olympic champion who had leapt 2.06 in Athens, struggling at 1.98. Slesarenko made that height on her second attempt, and also did the same at 2.00m, which was her best leap of the evening. Cloete, who took the silver behind her in Athens was in trouble earlier with a second time clearance needed to clear 1.96, and after passing 1.98, the World champion was far from success on all her three attempts at 2.00.
Now just Williams-Darling and Olsson are left to fight on in Berlin, knowing that victory there** will guarantee at worst 500,000$US each, as winners of all six TDK Golden League meetings.
9.87 national record for Powell
Running in lane four of the men’s 100m, Jamaica’s Asafa Powell with a national record of 9.87 made up for some of his Olympic disappointment where he finished fifth. The 22 year-old who had previously improved to 9.91 this season, the former Jamaican best, did not get fully into his running until about 40 metres at which point he drew himself up to full height and powered away from the field in extremely convincing style.
Olympic 200m champion Shawn Crawford had promised something very special this evening, and while he also dipped under 10 seconds (9.99), it was only the Jamaican who lived up to the pledge. Third was Ghana’s Aziz Zakari (10.04).
In the men’s 200m, Frank Fredericks said his farewell to the Memorial Van Damme crowd in the most appropriate manner. The 36 year-old who is on the point of retirement, and was recently elected to the IOC Athletes Commission, came home first in 20.20, ahead of World champion John Capel (20.24) and Bernard Williams (20.24).
7:27.72 for Kipchoge
Becoming the ninth fastest man of all-time over 3000m, World 5000m champion Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya won in 7:27.72, though he was pressured all the way to the line by James Kwalia (7:28.28 PB), with Boniface Songok in third (7:30.62). Double Olympic champion Hicham El Guerrouj had been due to start but gave his apologies to the crowd from the infield quite understandably citing his tiredness after his remarkable 1500m/5000m double in Athens. In total eight men finished well inside 7:40 tonight.
It was a Jamaican dash double as Aleen Bailey took the women’s 100m in 11.08, and was followed home by Bulgaria’s Ivet Lavola (11.11) and Olympic silver medallist Lauryn Williams (11.16).
Close finishes in men’s 800m and women’s 1500m
A dramatic last 60 metres sprint tussle saw Wilfred Bungei take a close win in the men’s 800m in 1:43.48 from African champion William Yiampoy (1:43.50) and Joseph Mutua (1:44.09). Bungei, the Kenyan champion who had finished his below-par Olympics in fifth place, sneaked down the inside of lane one to take the win.
There was also a close dip finish in the women’s 1500m which saw World champion Tatyana Tomashova take the race ahead of fellow Russian Natalia Yevdokimova. Tomashova who took the silver in Athens put in a sustained sprint through to the line in 4:02.27, with second placed timed at 4:02.37 and third, another Russian, 2001 World 5000m champion Olga Yegorova (4:02.94).
Intriguing was the run of Olympic 800m bronze medallist Jolanda Ceplak. The Slovenian who has a personal best of 4:02.04 for 1500m, and season’s fastest of 4:04.44, was never in touch and came in dead last in 4:15.09, as if running another race altogether.
Five under 3:31
The highest quality men’s 1500m brought five men home in under 3:31, with the win being taken by Kenyan Timothy Kiptanui in 3:30.24, ahead of Ivan Heshko of Ukraine who established a national record of 3:30.33, with Kenyan Alex Kipchirchir following home the World bronze medallist in his own PB of 3:30.46. Olympic silver and bronze medallists Kenyan Bernard Lagat (3:30.73 – 4th) and Portugal’s Rui Silva (3:30.90 – 5th), were run out of the battle in the last 80 metres.
Masai runs personal best in fast 5000m
Edith Masai, the World bronze medallist made up in a small way for her Olympic DNF with a personal best and meeting record of 14:42.64 in the women’s 5000m which began tonight’s international programme. Masai forced the pace through 3000m (8:49.42) coming home in full command, and slightly increasing her advantage in the last lap over France’s Margaret Maury, who finished second in a national record of 14:43.90. Britain’s Jo Pavey was third (14:49.11). Maury’s time took nearly four seconds off the previous French best (Yamna Oubouhou, 14:47.79 - 2000); Masai ducked under her PB by over 2 seconds (14:45.35 - 2003).
Berhane Adere who had predicted a World record attempt tonight was called home by the Ethiopian Federation, and did not race.
World Junior record
At the other end of tonight’s programme, the longest, and final race, the men’s 10,000m was won by Qatar’s Abdullah Ahmad Hassan in 26:59.54, a season’s best for the 23 year-old. 2001 World champion Charles Kamathi was second in his own 2004 best of 26:59.93, with fellow Kenyan Mark Brett, third in a personal best of 27:02.00. Fourth was Sammy Kipketer (27:04.61).
Back in fifth was World Junior champion Boniface Kiprop of Uganda with a World Junior record of 27:04.00 (& national record) improving Kenyan Richard Chelimo's 27:11.18 (1991). The 18 year-old who was fourth in Athens, had run his previous best of 27:15.88, a world youth best, at this meeting in 2003 when finishing ninth.
21m Shot battle
Spain’s Manuel Martinez, the 2003 World Indoor champion took the Shot with a season’s best of 21.15, ahead of USA’s Reese Hoffa (21.07) and Joachim Olsen of Denmark the Olympic bronze medallist in third. The Spaniard who was fourth in Olympia had led since his second attempt but the last round of the competition was the most dramatic in terms of the minor places. South Africa’s Janus Robberts’ fifth round put of 20.98, was overtaken first by Hoffa’s 21.07 and then Olsen’s 21.05, and so Robberts found himself in fourth.
Athens silver medallist Otis Harris took the men’s 400m in very convincing style but his winning time of 44.79 said more about everyone’s post Olympic tiredness than anything else.
Fourth in Athens but a clear winner tonight was Russia’s Mariya Koroteyeva in the women’s 100m Hurdles. Spanish record holder Glory Alozie was second 12.79, just getting the verdict over Texan Jenny Adams. The American had the same time in third.
Chris Turner for the IAAF
**To claim their share of the TDK Golden League Jackpot, all winner’s must compete in the World Athletics Final in Monaco.