American Jeff Hartwig yesterday took the membership of the six-metre pole vaulters club to eight when he cleared that height during the IAAF Grand Prix II meeting in Saint Denis (Paris).
The undisputed president of the club is, of course, the current world record holder in the event, the man who has cleared the height more than any other and who first did so in 1985: Sergey Bubka. The other members are Germany's Tim Lobinger (1997), Russia's Rodion Gataullin (1994), Igor Trandenkov (1996) and Maksim Tarasov (1997), South Africa's Okkert Brits (1995) and the other 1998 entrant, Dmitri Markov of Belarus (February 1998).
Hartwig cleared the height at his third attempt: "I was close on on my first two attempts and just thought: be patient, take your time and it will happen. I stayed with the poleto get all the energy on my third jump and went right over it."
In the process Hartwig smashed the previous American national record of 5.98m set by Lawrence Johnson in May 1996. "That is one of the most difficult things to do, having the opportunity to jump 6 metres in competition. It tried to keep it out of my mind that it was 6 metres or an America record. I just look at it as the next height."
Also in Saint Denis, Morocco's Zohra Ouaziz and Gete Wami from Ethiopia got some small measure of revenge for their defeats in the IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Morocco, when they beat the double world cross country champion, Sonia O'Sullivan (IRL). Ouaziz won the 5000m race in Paris with a respectable 14:42.11, whilst Wami came in a close second with 14:44.61. O'Sullivan trailed in third in 15:03.76.
France's Josiane Llado - European cross country champion, set a new French mark for the distance with her sixth place time of 15:16.13. In the 400m hurdles, American world record holder in the event, Kim Batten, was beaten by Olympic Champion Deon Hemmings of Jamaica, who crossed the line in 54.21.
Hicham El Guerrouj of Morocco was an easy winner in the men's 1500m event, where he coasted to victory in an unexciting 3:32.34, over a second down on his performance in Hengelo on Monday.