Sunday, 26 August 2007

Osaka 2007 - HIGHLIGHTS, Day 2

Tyson Gay outclasses Asafa Powell in the final stages of the men's 100m final(Getty Images)

Osaka, Japan - The battle of the speed kings was won by Tyson Gay of the USA, and World record holder for 100m, Asafa Powell must be wondering what he has to do to win a major title.

The Jamaican got the drop on Gay with a terrific pick out of the blocks from lane four in the 100 metres final, while Gay beside him in lane five seemed to stumble after his slightly faster reaction time, and take an age to pick up speed for the chase. It didn’t happen immediately, but both Gay and Derrick Atkins of the Bahamas pegged Powell back. The American surged past at seventy metres, and the Bahamian at eighty. And that was how it finished, with a gleeful Gay smiling broadly, indeed almost laughing loud as he cross the line first in 9.85sec. Atkins clocked a national record of 9.91 in second, and a disappointed Powell took bronze with 9.96.

European record for Klüft

Queen Carolina’s reign continues. Attempts to depose Carolina  Klüft have regularly foundered on the rocks of her talent and will, if not her sheer joy in competing.  And so it was in the Nagai Stadium on Sunday evening (26). The bad news for pretenders to her crown is that Klüft is getting better and better. The Swede’s winning streak - she was last beaten in a multi-events competition in March 2002 – continued with another World title. Despite being edged in a couple of events, Klüft never looked like being beaten, and that all-round excellence delivered her the victory in a personal best of 7032 points, a European and national record of course. The second place total of 6832 points was a Ukrainian best for Lyudmila Blonska, whose achievement was to get within 200 points of Klüft. In third place, despite her trade mark low level javelin throw was Kelly Sotherton of the UK, with 6510 points, also a season’s best.

Vili’s last put pounce

Valerie Vili of New Zealand won a cliffhanger contest in the women’s Shot Put, the second final this evening. Vili came from behind the defending champion, Nadezhda Ostapchuk of Belarus with a final put of 20.54 metres, a personal best, a national and Oceania record. Ostapchuk also improved with her final throw, and there were some tense moments all round before it was measured at 20.48 metres, just four centimetres shy of Vili’s mark.

Triple triumph for Perez

Earlier in the day, Jefferson Perez of Ecuador won his third successive gold in the 20k race Walk. Like the men’s Marathon on the opening day, temperature and humidity were high accordingly Perez’s winning time of 1:22:20 was five minutes slower than the World record he set in winning his first title in Paris 2003. Originally penalised and disqualified, European champion Francisco Javier Fernandez of Spain was reinstated on appeal, and won the silver medal after passing Hatem Ghoula of Tunisia just a few minutes away from the line. The bronze was a ‘first’ for North Africa.

Three Helsinki winners downed

Three defending World champions were defeated this evening with Ostapchuk losing in the Shot, Zulia Calatayud (women’s 800m) went out in the semi-final stage, and Bershawn Jackson (400m Hurdles) nearly hit the deck and was also run out at the penultimate round of his event.

Running in the second of three semi-finals, the Cuba’s Calatayud was never in the hunt in the two-laps, and finished well off the back, in 2:06:97, a time that she was probably doing as a 14-year-old. But track legend Alberto Juantorena, double gold medallist in Montreal 1976, told us afterwards that she has been suffering from a shinbone problem all summer, and wanted to run, but not aggravate the injury.

The race was won impressively, in 1:58.97 by Svetlana Klyuka of Russia. Sviatlana Usovitch eschewed tactics again in the first heat. The Belarussian just went to the front, and challenged anyone to pass. As in the heat, she was so far ahead for most of her race that it was no contest, and she clocked 1:58.11, a personal best no less. Janeth Jepkosgei of Kenya went one better, going through the first lap in 56.54, and eased to victory in a national record of 1:56.17, the world’s leading time. Even a super-fit Calatayud would have problems with a performance like that, the more so since Jepkosgei looked untroubled.

Marek Plawgo of Poland was the fastest qualifier, with 48.18 for the men’s 400 metres Hurdles final, which takes place on Tuesday evening (28). But Olympic champion, Felix Sanchez continues to impress in his comeback after almost three years of injury. He won his semi in 48.35sec but a few metres before it had been World champion Bershawn Jackson who had been leading, stepping heavily through and then onto the last hurdle. Third place missed the automatic qualifying spot and 48.95 was no way good enough for a fastest qualifier entry to the final. The talented but erratic Kerron Clement of the USA won the third semi in 48.60sec.

The only upset in the women’s 100 metres quarter-finals was the disqualification for a false start of Susanthika Jayasinghe of Sri Lanka, who had been third fastest in the first round heats in the morning. Merlene Ottey ran her 59th race in the World Championships, and clocked 11.66, for fourth place in the morning’s heat. It wasn’t good enough to qualify further, but the veteran Jamaican-born Slovenian just keeps clocking up the statistics for longevity

Pat Butcher for the IAAF

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