Valerie Adams in action in the Shot (© Getty Images)
A newly-refurbished Mestsky Stadion in Ostrava welcomed record crowds on Thursday (27) at the 52nd edition of the Golden Spike, an IAAF World Challenge meeting, where world-leading performances by Tirunesh Dibaba and Valerie Adams were just some of the many highlights.
Indeed, such was the quality of the meeting, the fact that Usain Bolt was a late withdrawal was almost forgotten as several meeting records tumbled on a cool evening.
Held earlier in the evening, the women’s 10,000m provided athletes an opportunity to achieved qualifying marks for this year’s IAAF World Championships, but three-time Olympic gold medallist Tirunesh Dibaba wasn’t content to simply coast around and dip under the ‘A’ standard of 31:45.
Instead, the Ethiopian went out hard and ran out a clear winner in a world-leading 30:26.67, smashing by 27 seconds the meeting record she set when winning here in 2008. For Dibaba, who has never lost over 10,000m ever since taking up the event in 2005, this was her 10th consecutive victory over 25 laps.
Kenya’s Gladys Cherono finished three seconds behind in 30:29.23 as three of Dibaba’s team-mates broke 31 minutes – Belaynesh Oljira (30:31.44), Yeshaneh Ababel (30:35.91) and Sule Utura (30:55.50).
Adams, the world and Olympic champion in the Shot, put together an outstanding series. After opening with 20.15m, she improved on her own world-leading mark three times – first with 20.55m in round two, then 20.64m in round four, before ending with 20.88m on her final attempt.
It was the seventh-best throw of her career and the best mark witnessed in Ostrava since 1984.
Meeting records for James, Hejnova, Lavillenie and Chemos
The oldest meeting record of the Golden Spike finally fell, thanks to Kirani James in the 400m. The world and Olympic champion from Grenada flew around one lap of the track in 44.49, smashing the 44.70 meeting record set by Alberto Juantorena in 1976.
More than half a second behind, South Africa’s rising talent Wayde Van Niekerk set a big PB of 45.09 to finish ahead of European champion Pavel Maslak.
The winning margin in the women’s 400m Hurdles was even bigger as Olympic bronze medallist Zuzana Hejnova delighted the home crowd with her win in 53.32, improving Ionela Tirlea’s meeting record of 53.87 set a decade ago.
The rest of the field finished outside 55 seconds with Hejnova’s compatriot Denisa Rosolova taking second in 55.12 from Australia’s Lauren Boden (55.55).
Olympic champion Renaud Lavillenie was once again up against familiar rivals Bjorn Otto and Raphael Holzdeppe in the pole vault. And once again, the Frenchman came out on top.
Lavillenie entered with a second-time clearance at 5.62m before Otto momentarily took the lead at 5.72m. Lavillenie responded by sailing over 5.82m at the first time of asking as Otto failed three times. With victory in the bag, Lavillenie then cleared 5.92m on his first attempt and bowed out after three misses at 6.00m.
Confusion in 100m and Steeplechase
When Kemar Hyman false-started in the men’s 100m, most of the runners only realised in the closing stages that the race had been recalled. Asafa Powell was one of the few who continued right to the finish line. After discussions with the starter and the meeting organiser, the athletes agreed to re-run the race a bit later in the evening.
Fortunately for Powell, the Jamaican won again at the second time of asking. Running into a -0.5m/s headwind, Powell clocked 10.06 to beat Kim Collins (10.08) and Mike Rodgers (10.16) with World junior champion Adam Gemili setting a season’s best of 10.19 in fourth.
There was confusion too in the women’s 3000m steeplechase. Pacemaker Valentyna Zhudina dropped out just before a barrier, which threw the concentration of the athletes behind her. Ethiopian trio Fente Birtukan, Hiwot Ayalew and Etenesh Diro all crashed into the barrier, allowing Milcah Chemos to steal a march and move into the lead.
Ayalew caught up with the Kenyan, but ran out of gas in the home straight as Chemos kicked ahead to win in a meeting record of 9:17.92. Ayalew clocked a season’s best of 9:19.87 in second.
Clear wins for Pearson, Aman and Kipruto
There had been talk of a potential World record in the men’s 3000m Steeplechase, but World junior champion Conseslus Kipruto was left with too much work to do and had to settle for victory in 8:11.27, more than 13 seconds ahead of the rest of the field.
World indoor champion Mohamed Aman bided his time in the 800m before sprinting away from the field in the final 60m. The Ethiopian crossed the line in 1:43.78 as three other men dipped under 1:45 – Andre Olivier (1:44.45), Anthony Chemut (1:44.69) and Ferguson Rotich (1:44.93).
World and Olympic 100m Hurdles champion Sally Pearson made a winning return, having been forced to cancel some of her early-season races after picking up a minor injury. Competing in her first Hurdles race since taking gold at the London Olympics, Pearson won comfortably in 12.67 – her fastest ever season debut. The Australian was the only athlete to break 13 seconds as Lucie Skrobakova of the Czech Republic was second in 13.02.
Another athlete making their season debut was Yelena Isinbayeva, the two-time Olympic champion in the Pole Vault. She opened with a first-time clearance at 4.72m to jump right into the lead, then sailed over 4.78m with clear daylight over the bar.
Olympic silver medallist Yarisley Silva tried to take the lead at 4.84m, but failed three times and had to settle for second place with 4.72m. Isinbayeva also failed at 4.84m, but was clearly delighted to be back.
Bekele and Harting beaten
Kenenisa Bekele has fond memories of competing in Ostrava. The Ethiopian three-time Olympic gold medallist set a 10,000m world record here in 2004 and this was his first race in the Czech city since that performance. But this time he was competing in the 5000m and he was out-classed on the final lap.
Fellow Ethiopian Muktar Edris, the world junior champion over the distance, put in an impressive kick on the final lap to open up a significant gap over the rest of the field. The 19-year-old set a PB of 13:03.69, almost three seconds ahead of Augustine Choge (13:06.37) as Bekele wound up fourth in 13:07.88.
In the Discus, held on the eve of the meeting alongside the Hammer finals, World and Olympic champion Robert Harting suffered his second defeat of the season. This time the German was beaten by compatriot Martin Wierig, 67.46m to 67.10m. In a close contest, just three centimetres separated the next three athletes – Ehsan Hadadi (66.98m), Gerd Kanter (66.97m) and Piotr Malachowski (66.95m).
Elsewhere, Vitezslav Vesely produced another Czech victory, much to the delight of the home crowd. The European javelin champion produced a consistent series with his best mark of the day, 87.58m, coming in the first round. 2009 World silver medallist Guillermo Martinez was second with 84.39m.
Bohdan Bondarenko notched up his fifth High Jump victory of 2013, winning with 2.28m with Jaroslav Baba in second (2.25m).
Former Ethiopian Sifan Hassan, now representing the Netherlands, kicked away hard down the home straight in the 1500m to win with a PB of 4:04.02, going to second on the Dutch all-time list.
Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF