Victories by four Olympic champions and five new meeting records capped another high-energy edition of the Hanzekovic Memorial in Zagreb on Tuesday (4), the penultimate 2012 meeting of the IAAF World Challenge series.
One of those records fell early before a near-capacity crowd at the Sportpark Mladost courtesy of hometown girl Sandra Perkovic, whose London triumph in the Discus Throw was the first-ever track and field Olympic gold for Croatia. Her homecoming performance, five days after she captured the Samsung Diamond League's Diamond Race Trophy in the event, was a 65.79m effort which broke the meeting record she set two years ago.
The 22-year-old dominated the early evening, opening with 65.40m, hitting the winner in round two and again throwing beyond 65 metres in round five.
"I was a little disappointed with the competition," said the 22-year-old, who added 23 centimetres to the previous meet standard. "They didn’t really motivate me."
"I wanted to throw 70 metres, but that’s ok. I have to leave something for next season."
Zinaida Sendriute of Lithuania was a distant second with 62.69m with Frenchwoman Melina Robert-Michon (60.50m) another two metres back.
Another record to fall at the meeting's 62nd edition came in the final event, courtesy of Olympic 200m champion Allyson Felix. The American throttled the opposition with her 22.35 run, her first over the distance since the London final.
"It’s great getting a meet record," said Felix, who knocked Nigerian Maercy Nku’s 22.53, set in 1999, from the record books.
Jamaican Aleen Bailey edged Charonda Williams of the U.S. for second, 22.95 to 22.96.
Pars beats back Fajdek
Krisztián Pars was another Olympic champion to win here, but he wasn’t resting on his laurels until he took control of the competition with a 79.14m throw in round five. Pole Pavel Fajdek led the competition until then from the second round when he reached 78.80, his best on the day.
At 78.05m Ukraine’s Olexiy Sokyrskiyy also beat the 78-metre line to finish third. Primoz Kozmus, Slovenia’s Olympic silver medallist, was never in the hunt and had just one fair throw, a modest 73.01 from the second round.
Makhloufi comfortable victor in the 1500
Another Olympic champion who lived up to his title was the surprise London winner Taoufik Makhloufi. The Algerian broke from the tightly knit pack with about 350 metres remaining en route to a 3:32.58 victory, comfortably ahead of Kenyans James Kiplagat Magut (3:33.31) and Daniel Kipchirchir Komen (3:33.39), a personal best for the former and season’s best for the latter. In a quality race, the top six – all Kenyans – reached the finish in under 3:35.
Hoffa’s dominance continues
Tomasz Majewski will leave the Croatian capital as the only individual Olympic champion in the field to face defeat. And again it came at the hands of Reese Hoffa, the London bronze medallist who underscored his 2012 role as the world’s finest shot putter in one-day meetings.
Each of the Americans five measured throws sailed beyond the 21-metre line on a night when no one else in the field could manage the trick once. Opening with 21.34m, he improved to 21.76m, reached 21.56m on his third throw and his ultimate winner with his fourth. Fouling in round five, he closed his series with 21.70m.
It was Hoffa's fifth straight victory since London, and his 11th in 13 competitions since mid-April.
Majewski was more than a metre back with 20.70m for second, with Ryan Whiting edging Canadian Justin Rodhe by just one centimetre for third with 20.52.
Richardson takes memorial Hurdles triumph
The Zagreb meeting honours the memory of Croatian inter-war hurdler Boris Hanzekovic, giving the high hurdles pride of place on the programme each year. This edition was no different with Olympic silver medallist and reigning World champion Jason Richardson the event's marquee attraction. He didn't disappoint, coming through with a commanding 13.07 win, well ahead of past Zagreb winner David Oliver (13.22).
"I’m a little tired but happy for the end of the season," said Richardson, who apparently likes the Zagreb track. Last year he ran a 13.04 PB when finishing second. That's since been lowered to 12.98.
South African Lehann Fourie, an Olympic finalist, was third in 13.28, just 0.01 shy of his career best.
In the women's 100m Hurdles contest, Ginnie Crawford won her sixth race of the season in 12.68 ahead of compatriot Queen Harrison (12.74). Another step back Canada's Priscilla Lopes-Schliep finished third in 12.86. Kellie Wells, the Olympic bronze medallist, slipped at the second hurdle and eventually reached the line a distant seventh.
Jeter, Bailey collect convincing 100m victories
Carmelita Jeter won here for the second straight time, taking her seventh 100m victory of the year comfortably in 11.07, well ahead of U.S. compatriot Jeneba Tarmoh, who clocked 11.30. The latter just edged Jamaican Aleen Bailey (11.32) and Charonda Williams (11.33).
Ryan Bailey wasn’t quite as dominating in the men’s race, but his 10.02 victory was convincing. Kim Collins was second in 10.14, in turn well ahead of Jamaican Mario Forsythe (10.25).
The closest race of the night came in the women’s 800m where a careful read of the photo was a necessity.
American Maggie Vessey edged compatriot Brenda Martinez by just 0.02 in 1:59.61, a personal best for the latter. Kenyan Winny Chebet (1:59.85) in third also dipped under two minutes with Russian Elena Kofanova (2:00.05) fourth.
A meet record fell in the men’s 3000m Steeplechase for the second straight year, courtest on Kenyan Jairus Kipchoge Birech. The 19-year-old upset Olympic brone medallist Abel Mutai by more than half a second 8:11.80 to 8:12.47.
Meet records for Proctor and Okoye
Two more meet records to fall came on the infield. Shara Proctor of Great Britain reached 6.79m in the final round to steal the victory from Belarusian Nastassia Mironchik-Ivanova, who jumped 6.68 in round four. Chelsea Hayes of the U.S. was third with 6.64m.
In the men's Discus Throw young Briton Lawrence Okoye was the class of the late afternoon, his 67.25m coming in the last round as well to beat the 66.90m mark set by Robert Fazekas in 2001. Dutchman Eric Cadee was second just three centimeters ahead of Pole Piotr Malachowski, 65.67m to 65.64m.
Jamaican Rosemarie Whyte dominated the 400m, winning by nearly two seconds in 50.08 from Czech Denisa Rosolova (52.07). It was a meet record for Whyte who took down Novlene William-Mills' 50.31 set last year.
Briton Martyn Rooney won the men's one-lapper, clocking 45.78 comfortably ahead of Pole Marcin Marciniszyn (46.22).
And finally, Swede Alhaji Jeng won the men's Pole Vault on countback over Latvian Markes Arents at 5.40m.