Tianna Bartoletta at the 2016 IAAF World Challenge meeting in Kawasaki (© Getty Images)
World long jump champion Tianna Bartoletta completed a 100m-long jump double for the second straight year at the Seiko Golden Grand Prix, an IAAF World Challenge meeting, in the Japanese city of Kawasaki on Sunday (8).
Bartoletta, working with a new approach point in the long jump, leapt 6.61m on her third attempt to win by six centimetres over Australia's Brooke Stratton, and then returned to the track about two hours later to triumph in the 100m, clocking 11.23 into a stiff -1.7m/s breeze.
She was concise when describing her performance in the long jump: "Horrible."
In the US athlete's own defence, she explained that her coach had instructed her to shorten her approach the night before the competition. Not having practised from that distance, she said she came up 50 or so centimetres short of the board on each jump.
Still, she looked at the positive: "I learned a lot about myself. I learned why I became a champion again, because I don't give up, even when it's not perfect conditions."
In the 100m, she was beaten out of the blocks, and it wasn't until the last 30 metres that she finally caught and then passed Nigeria's Blessing Okagbare, who finished second in 11.30.
"Slow, you can say it was slow," said Bartoletta, when asked about her start. "You know what they say, it's not how you start, it's how you finish. And my start has been more powerful, so it looks slower, but my velocity is higher, so I think that's what carries me through.
"A lot of people panic when they're behind like that, and I really did a good job of remaining patient, and staying in my lane. What I could have done better was not lean so early, but that was just mental fatigue on my part."
And the time of 11.23? "I'm going to throw out the time. The headwind was a little strong, I felt it running, it was like resistance training. I'm not really worried about that, I'm more pleased with how I felt today."
After completing the double in Kawasaki last year, Bartoletta went on to strike long jump gold in the Chinese capital and hopes she can repeat that at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, while adding in the 100m.
Kawasaki comfort zone
"I'm comfortable here; it's a good place for me to kind of know where I'm at as an athlete going into the season," said Bartoletta. "We hope to see the same thing (in Rio) but this meet is perfect, because my Olympic Trials schedule is almost just like this schedule."
Czech Republic's Jakub Vadlejch retained his Kawasaki title in the men's javelin with a world-leading and personal best throw of 86.76m.
The 25-year-old Vadlejch, who has been recognised as a talent in his event since his junior days but failed to make the final at his past five major championships including last summer’s World Championships, exceeded the career best of 86.21m he threw last summer in Karlstad.
He took the lead in the first round with 85.07m, which would have sufficed for victory, before throwing his winning effort in the fifth round.
Japan's Ryohei Arai, ninth in Beijing, finished second with a toss of 84.41m and moved up to second on the 2016 world list at this early stage in the season. He was followed by Chinese Taipei's Huang Shih-Feng, who added more than a metre to his previous national record set in 2013 when he finished third with 83.32m. The top five throwers all surpassed 83 metres.
While happy with his personal best, Vallejch was not totally satisfied. "In my last competition in South Africa, I felt much, much better technically," he said. "I had there five throws over 83."
Canadian pole vaulter Shawn Barber, the other gold medallist from the 2015 World Championships in action at Todoroki Stadium, cleared 5.62m on his first attempt, which was good enough for the victory.
"The winds were crazy out there," said Barber. "Feeling these winds, I'm happy with the height I had today. It would have been nice to go higher. I had a lot of height on the bars I didn't make. I just couldn't figure it all out there at the end."
Barber was pushed by the Japanese pair of Daicihi Sawano and Seito Yamamoto, who both cleared the same height before the trio all brought the bar down three times at 5.70m.
However, Sawano needed two attempts to make 5.62m while Yamamoto needed three and they finished second and third respectively.
"It was good, that's why we come to these meets," he said. "You want to see what the people are going to be doing at the Olympics in a couple of months. I know a good deal of these people are going to be there, so it's prep for that."
Barber joined the elite six-metre club at the Pole Vault Summit in Reno in January. On the road to Rio, which includes two meetings in China before heading to Europe, he expects to clear that height again.
"I think I'll find six metres outdoors very soon, given the right conditions and atmosphere," he added.
Nozawa delights the home crowd
The hosts came out with a victory when Keisuke Nozawa put on a late surge for an impressive win in the men's 400m hurdles. His time of 48.67 not only topped the Olympic qualifying standard of 49.40 but also the more stringent 48.74 set by the Japanese Athletic Federation.
Chinese athletes had 1-2 finishes in three events.
World silver medalist Zhang Guowei, fresh off a second-place finish at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Doha on Friday night, finished ahead of compatriot Wang Yu on fewer misses after both cleared 2.33m in the men's high jump.
In the men's long jump, Huang Changzhou leaped 7.95m to finish seven centimetres ahead of Wang Jianan while Xie Wenjun won the 110m hurdles in 13.36, with Zhang Honglin second in 13.59.
Canada's Pan American Games champion Elizabeth Gleadle denied Japan's Yuki Ebihara a victory in the women's javelin, hurling the spear 62.59m on her final attempt. Ebihara had led throughout after recording 62.13m on her first throw.
Behind the leading pair, world youth champion Haruka Kitaguchi threw a national U20 record of 61.38m, the best mark by an U20 athlete in the world this year, which also establishes her as a potential medal contender at the IAAF World U20 Championships Bydgoszcz 2016 in July.
Ethiopia's Tigat Assefa Tessema set a meeting record in the women's 800m with a winning time of 2:00.66 while double world silver medallist Justin Gatlin was a convincing winner of the 100m in 10.02, running into a -0.4m/s headwind.
Ken Marantz for the IAAF