Sprinter Marie-Josee Ta Lou of the Ivory Coast in action (© Getty Images)
Had it not been for an extra 0.1m/s of wind, Ivory Coast’s Marie-Josee Ta Lou would have come away from the IAAF World Challenge meeting in Dakar on Saturday (23) with a big PB in the 100m.
Unfortunately for the African silver medallist, her 11.08 victory was aided by a 2.1m/s tailwind, marginally over the allowable limit. Had it been legal, it would have broken the meeting record and moved Ta Lou one place up the national all-time list to second place, behind double world silver medallist Murielle Ahoure.
Nevertheless, Ta Lou’s 0.43 margin of victory over USA’s Kenyanna Wilson showed that the 26-year-old is in incredible form. Just last week in Montgeron, she equalled her PB of 11.20. One week prior to that, she finished a close second to two-time world indoor bronze medallist Tianna Bartoletta at the IAAF World Challenge meeting in Kawasaki, both athletes clocking 11.26.
Her performance in Dakar was something of a home coming for Ta Lou, as she has trained at the IAAF High Performance Training Centre in the Senegalese capital for the past 18 months under the guidance of Ivorian Anthony Koffi.
Before that, she had spent time in Shanghai studying physiotherapy, which restricted her athletics opportunities. But now, after a good period of uninterrupted training in Dakar, she is flourishing and looks set to challenge for more victories on the international circuit this year.
Berry takes challenge lead
This meeting also formed part of the IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge. After fourth-place finishes at the previous two legs of the challenge in Beijing and Kawasaki, USA’s Gwen Berry finally recorded her first win of the 2015 series.
Her throw of 69.50m was some way down on her PB of 73.81m and season’s best of 72.26m, but that didn’t matter as it was more than enough to win, finishing exactly two metres ahead of Ukraine’s Iryna Novozhylova.
It means that as the only woman to have taken part in three competitions so far in this year’s challenge, Berry has moved into the lead in the overall standings with 212.60 points. Already that’s higher than her score from the whole of 2014, but she will need to pick up a few more points throughout the series to challenge for a top-three position.
Four meeting records broken
While the wind ruined Ta Lou’s chances of breaking the meeting record in the 100m, three more meeting records were broken on Saturday, all in women’s events.
Kenya’s Magdalene Masai, younger sister of 2009 world 10,000m champion Linet Masai, continued her breakthrough in the 3000m steeplechase. The 22-year-old finished more than two seconds from Ethiopia’s 2011 world finalist Birtukan Fente, winning in 9:31.55 to set her third PB in as many races this year.
Ethiopian junior Buzuayehu Mohamed set a PB of 9:40.00 in third place, eight seconds ahead of 2012 world junior champion Daisy Jepkemei, who had beaten Mohamed to the bronze medal at last year’s IAAF World Junior Championships.
On an evening when strong winds affected the sprints and jumps, the conditions calmed down briefly when Portugal’s Susana Costa took her winning leap in the triple jump. The 30-year-old added three centimetres to her PB to win with 14.22m, breaking the meeting record set nine years ago by Romania’s Adelina Gavrila.
The other meeting records came in the javelin and high jump. Latvia’s European under-23 champion Lina Muze won the javelin with a season’s best of 60.48m, finishing more than a metre in front of Brazil’s Laila Domingos. Meanwhile, Nigerian record-holder Doreen Amata produced her best leap for four years to win the high jump with 1.94m.
Ndiaye achieves popular victory
There was just one event in Dakar won by an athlete from the host nation.
Senegal’s World University Games silver medallist Amadou Ndiaye held off Ukraine’s two-time European bronze medallist Stanislav Melnykov to win the 400m hurdles in a season’s best of 50.53. Melnykov clocked 50.66 to finish a stride ahead of South African duo PC Beneke and Le Roux Hamman.
Three weeks after being part of a team that twice lowered the national 4x100m record at the IAAF World Relays, Ramon Gittens of Barbados enjoyed some individual success.
Aided by a 5.1m/s tailwind, the 27-year-old won the 100m in 10.08. South Africa’s Roscoe Engel and Henricho Bruintjies finished second and third respectively, clocking 10.12 and 10.16.
Bruintjies later gained redemption in the 200m. The wind still strong at 3.7m/s, he won in 20.71as Gittens could only managed fourth place.
Elsewhere on the track, Cuba’s Yuneisy Santiusty won the 800m in a season’s best of 2:02.12, finishing just ahead of Benin’s Noelie Yarigo. Olympic silver medallist Caster Semenya was a distant fifth in 2:04.19.
Bahrain’s Benson Seurei won the 3000m in 7:53.93 while USA’s Pat Feeney won a close 400m in 45.88, finishing just 0.02 ahead of Egyptian record-holder Anas Beshr.
Croatia’s 2008 world junior discus silver medallist Marin Premeru unleashed the fourth-best throw of his life to win the shot with 20.29m. On the eve of the main competition, Cuba's Lois Maikel Martinez won the discus with a season's best of 62.54m.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF