Robles, Kallur Fly over the Hurdles in Stuttgart! by Bob Ramsak

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The hurdles are becoming a huge story for 2008. Dayron Robles of Cuba ran a superb 7.36 for the mens 60 m indoor hurdles and showed that, at 21, he should be considered a serious threat to take Colin Jackson's fourteen year old 7.30 record.

Susan Kallur of Sweden was even closer to the women's record, 7.72, only .03 off the 18 year old record of her countrywomen, Ludmila Enquist.

It has been good to know that Wilfred Bungei has been able to race and also keep his family out of harms way! Enjoy the piece by Bob Ramsak!

ROBLES, KALLUR THREATEN WORLD RECORDS, SEVEN WORLD LEADING PERFORMANCES IN STUTTGART

by Bob Ramsak
(c) 2008 TRACK PROFILE Report, all rights reserved

STUTTGART, Germany (02-Feb) -- Dayron Robles and Susanna Kallur nearly sped into the record books at tonight’s Sparkassen Cup, producing two of eight world leading performances before a raucous capacity crowd at the Hanns-Martin Schleyer-Halle in Stuttgart.

In each instance, their respective races seemed to be in the bag by the second hurdle. With the early season momentum the pair brought to Stuttgart, fast times were predictable, but that world records that have stood for more than a decade – the men’s for nearly 14 years and the women’s for a staggering 18—wasn’t quite on the radar.

Robles’ final came first, and after a comfortable 7.49 in his heat, he showed how at home he feels in Stuttgart. His personal best on 7.38 coming in was set here last February, and in September he returned to run 12.92 in the 110m hurdles and into a tie as the fourth fastest in history. After his scorching 7.36 performance tonight, he moved into a tie as the second fastest in history. Barely 21, the Cuban bluntly illustrated that Colin Jackson’s 7.30 world record is a distinct possibility.

In terms of all-time performances, the 26-year-old Kallur was even better. She too got down to business quickly, clocking 7.78 in the heats, but even she was surprised with her 7.72 barn-burner in the final, just .03 off the world record, set when Kallur eight years old. Only the owner of that record, Ludmila Engquist has run faster.

Behind her, American Lolo Jones improved to 7.86 for second, with Jamaican Vonette Dixon a distant third (7.94). In the men’s race, Germany’s Thomas Blaschek stirred the crowd with a strong second half en route to his career best 7.54 to edge American Allen Johnson by a narrow .01.

DESPITE DOMINATING RUN, DEFAR DISAPPOINTED

There aren’t too many athletes who would describe the fourth fastest performance in history as “disappointing”. But Olympic 5000m champion Meseret Defar is not your typical athlete.

After crushing a solid 3000m field by more than 11 seconds at tonight’s Sparkassen Cup in front of a raucous packed house, clocking 8:27.93 in the process, the 25-year-old Ethiopian sounded almost apologetic after her performance on the same track where she set the world record of 8:23.72 one year ago.

“I came here for the record,” she said, “and I’m a little disappointed. I’m in good shape, so I don’t know what happened. Maybe after the Boston race --it was very hard in Boston-- I am a little bit tired.” A week ago at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games, Defar chopped more than a dozen seconds from the previous world best over two miles, clocking 9:10.50.

She was on pace for the first 2000 meters, passing the first kilometer in 2:47.6 and the second in 5:38.79. Although she was clearly pulling away from Ejegayehu Dibaba, subsequent laps of around 34 and 35 seconds put the record out of reach. She regrouped over the final two circuits, closing with a sub 32-second final lap. Defar has now produced six of the ten fastest performances over the distance and while five women have dipped under 8:30 indoors, she is the only one to have done it twice.

Dibaba held on for second, clocking 8:39.08, about two-and-a-half seconds slower than her runner-up performance in Boston a week ago. Sylvia Kibet of Kenya was a distant third in 8:54.18.

In the men’s 3000, it was Tariku Bekele who dominated the proceedings with an impressive 7:31.09 performance, another world leader. It was a massive indoor PB for Bekele, barely 21, and not far from his outdoor best of 7:29.11. It was also a performance that moved him all the way up to the No. 4 spot all-time, just behind older brother Kenenisa (7:30.51).

Well back in second was compatriot Abraham Cherkos Feleke, just 18, who clocked 7:38.03 to hold off Kenyan Shadrack Korir (7:38.11).

There was an Ethiopian 1-2 in the men’s 1500m as well, producing the first world leader of the evening. In a spirited run, Deresse Mekkonen shadowed compatriot Mekkonen Gebremehdin for the initial 1200m. The latter made the first decisive move to take the race, but Mekkonen powered into the final bend and into the lead midway through the final turn, before reaching the line in 3:38.52.

The men’s 800 was billed as yet another showdown between Olympic champion Yuriy Borzakovskiy and world indoor champion Wilfred Bungei of Kenya. But at the moment, there isn’t anyone to match the form the 26-year-old Russian is displaying.

With the entire field choosing to ignore pacesetter John Litei, it was Bungei that was forced to lead, with Dmitriy Bogdanov close on his shoulder while Borzakovskiy ran comfortably in the middle of the pack. With Bungei leading at the bell, Borzakovskiy decided against employing his typical late race come-from-behind tactics. Instead, he powered past the Kenyan as they entered the backstretch and never looked back, cruising to a commanding 1:45.58 victory. Bungei held on for second with a season’s best 1:46.38, with Latvian Dmitrijs Milkevics overtaking Bogdanov for third in 1:46.67.

In the men’s long jump, Chris Tomlinson took down his own British record with a 8.18m leap, yet another of the evening’s 2008 pacing events. Leading after four rounds with a 7.96 leap, he reached the big one on his fifth. Jamaican James Beckford and Pole Marcin Starzak each reached 7.88.

The women’s long jump, while not producing a world leader, did result in a South American record for Brazil’s Maurren Higa Maggi, who reached 6.87m. In a consistent series, she backed that up with jumps of 6.86 and 6.81. South African Karin Mey was a surprise runner-up with a 6.84 best.

After equalling the season’s fastest of 7.16 in the prelims, Tahesia Harrigan of the Virgin Islands nearly duplicated the effort in the final, taking the victory in 7.19. Angela Williams was a distant second in 7.24, her fastest dash since 2003.

In the men’s 60, Craig Pickering edged American Mike Rodgers 6.58 to 6.60. Olu Fasuba of Nigeria was third, also credited with 6.60, but was the fastest in the prelims, running 6.57.

Maria Mutola began her farewell tour on an up note, but her win in the evening capping 800m wasn’t nearly as dominating as the others that came before. Briton Jenny Meadows, fifth at last year’s European Indoor Championships, ran a gutsy race near the front throughout before being overpowered by the seven-time world indoor champion, 2:02.44 to 2:02.96.

Elsewhere, Pole Zuzanne Radecka won the 400m in 53.47, edging Germany’s Jonna Tilgner (53.54), and in the men’s pole vault, Russians Yevgeniy Lukyanenko and Igor Pavlov each topped out at 5.81, with the former winning on the countback.

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