Tuesday, August 29, 2007 was day four of the 11th IAAF World Championships. Again, a wonderful day of competition. The Kenyans swept the steeplechase, for the first time since 1997, Russian women swept the long jump. Janet Kipkosgei of Kenya set her second national record, runnng the lead the entire way and Kerron Clement, showing the talent he has always posssessed, won the 400 meter hurdles in grand style! Upset of the Championships? Lithuania's Virguilius Alekna fails to medal and go over 70 meters in discus!
Women's 800 meters
We have seen the future of the 800 meters for women and it is Janeth Jepkosgei of Kenya. In the semi finals, she hit the 400 meters in 56.14, and then ran 1:56.17 for the Kenyan National record. Would she try the same tactics again? Sure, they might work in a semi, but surely not in a finals!
Au contraire, mes amis! Japeth Jepkosgei of Kenya went out, hell bent and did not look back in the final, hitting 26.58 for 200 meters, 56.16 for 400 meters, 1:26.19 for 600 meters and a new Kenyan National record at the finish, plus a gold medal for Kenya! Janepth Kepkosgei's 1:56.04 made history in many ways, first, it was the first time in any distance event, that the race had been run from front all the way, in a World championship. It was also the first gold medal for Kenya at this distance.
Japeth was relentless. In the process, she destroyed the race for medals for the Russian, Olga Kotyarova and and the Belarus Svetlana Usovitch of Belarus -who faded in the stretch. Two newcomers got medals!
The move by Hasan Behanssi with 250 meters to go and Mayte Martinez of Spain gave both countries their first medals at the distance!
And then, there was the sad collapse of Maria de Lourdes Mutola. Nine times as a finalist in World Champs, Mutola was in the fight until fifty meters to go. When she saw she could not possibly win, she seemed to collapse on the infield. High opera and drama in the middle distances.
Men's Steeplechase-Kenyan Sweep
The steeplechase has become, at these championships, like watching NASCAR racing. There is this group at auto races who come to see the crashes. Well, in the heats, there were several crashes, not the least reason due to the fact that the heat was so brutal. Josh McAdams, the US and Pan Am champ, in the rounds, looked ready to make the final until he tipped on the last barrier and dropped from third to fifth, after a gutty, gutty race. Tom Brooks did a somersault over a barrier as other guys hit the barrier head on in his heat. Aaron Aguayo of the U.S. ran 8:30.86 for tenth in his heat, and did not advance.
The conditions in the final were a bit better. Mustafa Mohammed of Sweden came in here with a dream. After breaking the iconic Swedish record of one Anders Garderud, 1976 Olympic gold medalist, this summer, all of Sweden was wishing Mohammed on.
Mustafa Mohammed led through kilometer one in 2:52.63 and 2,000 meters in
5:37.43 (2:44) with the Kenyan team right on his back. Ahmed Ali-Amri of Saudi
Arabia, one of the few who can challenge the Kenyans did a roller derby style crash into a barrier-he was a dnf. He was lucky he did not need brain surgery with the power of his crash!
To say that this race was physical was an understatement. Ezekial Kemboi of Kenya stumbled over a barrier, nearly ending his race.
The Kenyan trio of Athens gold medalist Ezekial Kemboi, Athens silver medalist Brimin Kiprop Kiproto of Kenya and number three in the world last year, Richard Kipkemboi Mateelong were in postion the entire race. In fact, the race did not begin for the medals until 300 meters to go. Then, Kiproto acted like an intermediate hurlder and sprinter all out, hurdling the barrier and then the same with the final water jump--he was on a mission and was unstoppable. As he lead Kemboi and Mohammed from Sweden, it looked, even after the barrier like Mohammed might take a medal. But Richard Kipkemboi Mateelong of Kenya hand another idea.
As Brimin Kiproto hurdled the last barrier and began his celebration, Ezekial Kemboi made it gold and silver for Kenya, with Mohammed in third. Then, this gust of wind, actually, Richard Kipkemboi Mateelong hurdled the last barrier, hell bent on that bronze and that party was over.
Kenya went 1,2, 3 for the firs time since 1997! In fourth, Mustafa Mohammed of Sweden was in fourth and Boubadaleh Tahri of France, who had made up the most room on the last lap took fifth after catching three other runners in the stretch. Halii Akkas of Turkey took sixth and Eliseo Martin of Spain was seventh.
The picture of the night though was the three Kenyans, who had just finished their lap of honor, grabbing Janeth Kepkosgie in their arms after her gold medal finish in the 800 meters!
400 meter intermediate hurdles--it's Kerron Clement
Okay, look, I truly like Kerron Clement. He is just a nice young man. He is one of the most physically talented young athletes I have ever seen. He is the ONLY athlete in the world who can challenge Jeremy Wariner at 400 meters, but he also is the ONLY athlete in the world who can own the 400 meter hurdle world record.
The race was supposed to be won by James Carter, with Felix Sanchez in the fight. Marek Plawgo of Poland had looked so darn good in the qualifying I moved him to bronze and put Carter and Clement in the mix, but if Clement hurdled, he had it.
Well, Kerron ran his race. He got out strong, made up the stagger on Sanchez and put Sanchez into racing for the silver. Clement hurdled adequately the entire race and when hurdle nine came, he actually did not stutter, but came off the hurdle in the lead and took it home, the gold medaist, in a world leading 47.61 (remember, Kerron has run 47.24!) Felix Sanchez showed he is past his injuries, running 48.01, a season best, for silver and Marek Plawgo of Poland took bronze in 48.12, a Polish national record.
James Carter just did not run well, taking fourth in 48.40, with Derrick Williams of the U.S, who seemed ready for a medal, cramping and still finishing in 52.97.
I promised Faith, Kerron's agent, that I will let him alone on the hurdling, so good job, Kerron, you got your deserved gold medal!
Women's Pole Vault-three jumps for Yelena!
Jenn Stuczynski, who recently jumped 4.88 for the AR, is injured, got a jump in at 4.55, missed at 4.65 twice and pulled out with a bad ankle. Feofannova was off form, so there was really no competition for the grand dame of the pole vault!
Isinbayeva missed her first jump at 4.80 meters, but, by the time she went for her second attempt, which she cleared, the party was over, she was the only one left in the competition!
In fifth place, Vanessa Boslak of France set a national record of 4.65, which she cleared on her second attempt. In fourth place, Monika Pyrek of Poland set her personal best, clearing 4.75m. In third place, Svetlana Feofanova of Russia also cleared 4.75 meters. In second place, Katerina Badurova of the Czech Republic set a national record of 4.75 meters and at 4.80 meters, it was gold number three for Yelena Isinbayeva.
Not a good day for Helsinki winner, Tianna Madison, who took tenth in the long jump. Tatyana Lebedeva of Russia jumped 7.03, not once, but twice! She came bck in the firth round and jumped 6.98m, giving her the three longest jumps of the competition! In the silver position, Lyudmila Kolchanova of Russia jumped 6.92 m and in the bronze position, Tatyana Kotova of Russia jumped 6.87m, her seasonal best. In fourth was Nadia Gomes of Portugal, who jumped 6.87.
This Russian medal bonanza was not unexpected, but watch out for Lebedeva in the triple jump-her best event! The Russian sweep happened in the last round, as both Kolchana and Kotova achieved their best jumps in round six!
Discus- not Alekna
In Nike Prefontaine a few years ago, I stood next to Virgilius Alekna of Lithuania and told him that he made me look like a shrimp. He smiled. Virgilius is the man of the discus, but as he proved here, even he is human.
Having injured his calf a few weeks ago, Virjilius was not in top form and finished fourth! Gerd Kanter , the silver medalist in the Helsinki world champs took the gold this time, with a huge throw of 68.94 in his third attempt. Germany's Robert Harting threw 66.68 meters for the silver and Rutger Smith of the Netherlands took the bronze in 66.42 meters. But today, it was Gerd Kanter, who gave Estonia only its second gold medal in a world championships.
How dominant was Alekna up til Osaka? Try this on for size: Olympic champion, World Champion, 37 consecutive wins. Alekna could hit 65.24 meters, breaking his record of 17 consecutive victories over 70 meters.
For complete results from August 28, 2007: http://osaka2007.iaaf.org/results/bydate.html#racedate=08-28-2007
For related stories from iaaf.org: http://osaka2007.iaaf.org/news/kind=2/newsid=40953.html#osaka+2007+highlights+day
For complete coverage from American Track & Field: http://www.american-trackandfield.com/features/worldchamps07list.html
For the interactive digital version of American Track & Field resource guide: