Sprints, Hurdles Rule in Gothenburg and Linz

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Indoor track is up and running all over Europe and tonight, the Millrose Games in New York. I was supposed to be at Millrose, but I am sitting at home in Fort with bronchitis. I will have a column on MIllrose Games on Saturday!

Enjoy this column from Bob Ramsak, as he travels the European circuit to give our readers an insider's view of sport:

ROBLES, SAVIGNE IMPRESS, US SPRINT SWEEP IN LINZ

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

LINZ, Austria -- Cubans Dayron Robles and Yargelis Savigne continued their early season roll at the inaugural gugl.indoor meeting in Linz tonight (31-Jan).

Just two days after his world-leading 7.45 victory in Gothenburg, Robles was clearly the class of the field during his seemingly effortless – and dominating - 7.53 performance in the 60m Hurdles.

“I feel great,” Robles said about his strong season’s start. “I’m definitely in better shape that I was at this time last year. As I’m getting older, I’m getting stronger.”

Still just 21, Robles is clearly not the same man who struck world indoor silver in Moscow two years ago during his first weekend of indoor competition. Well ahead off the final hurdle, he confidently shut it down and sauntered to the finish line.

Running in his second race of the season, former World champion Allen Johnson was second in 7.62, well ahead of another Cuban, Yoel Hernandez, who reached the line in 7.68.

The three will meet again in two days in Stuttgart.

SAVIGNE THREATENS NATIONAL RECORD

Savigne, the reigning World champion in the Triple Jump, was even more dominant. Sealing the victory with an opening round leap of 6.52, she sailed 6.77 in the second round, a mark just two centimetres shy of her national record set a year ago in Stuttgart.

After a 6.42 effort in the third round, the 23-year-old decided to call it a night. She too moves on to Stuttgart where the competition will be much more stiff.

Snezana Rodic (formerly Vukmirovic) of Slovenia was a distant second, reaching 6.15 with her opening leap.

RODGERS, WILLIAMS TAKE CLOSE 60M CONTESTS

Both the dashes were nearly too close to call, particularly the men’s where American newcomer Mike Rodgers and Briton Simeon Williamson ended in a virtual dead heat, each credited with a 6.60 clocking. After a lengthy review Rodgers, who closed impressively, was given the nod. His win eclipsed his former career best of 6.64 while Williamson equalled his.

Another Briton, Scott Ryan was third in 6.64, with Kim Collins, in his first indoor race since 2005, fourth (6.66).

In the women’s race, American Angela Williams seemed to have the race sealed after some 50 metres, but was nearly caught by quick-closing Ivet Lalova. Her initial advantage proved too much and she held on for the win in 7.29 to the Bulgarian Olympic finalist’s 7.31. Muriel Hurtis, the fastest in the heats at 7.33, was never a factor in the final and came home fourth in 7.38.

The women’s 60m Hurdles too was a close contest. Second two nights ago in Vienna, Candice Davis won here, again clocking 8.02 to equal her two-day old career best. Quick from the gun, the 22-year-old American held off the relentless pressure from Danielle Carruthers, who was a closed second in 8.04, herself just a hair ahead of Cuban Anay Tejeda (8.05). Kellie Wells, who improved to 8.01 in Vienna, was a distant fourth here (8.26).

WOMEN's 4x800m RELAY WR ASSAULT FALLS SHORT

After a pair of sluggish opening legs – just under 2:08, and just under 2:09-- the assault on the women’s 4x800m relay world record of 8:18.54 never materialized. Instead, the highly favoured Russian quartet of Tatiana Firova, Natalya Pantelyeva, Yevgeniya Zinurova and Natalia Yevdokimova had a race on their hands against an inspired squad from Ukraine. Exchanging the lead on virtually ever leg, the Russians held on for an 8:30.66 victory, with Ukrainian anchor Zoya Gladun reaching the line in 8:31.00. The relay almost took a tragically comic turn between legs two and three when Pantelyeva nearly handed off to Ukrainian Tamara Tverdostup; the two were wearing identical tops.

ELSEWHERE...

Tim Lobinger took the men’s Pole Vault after a second attempt clearance at 5.61. The German bowed out at 5.71, with one effort relatively close.

Briton James Brewer collected a strong front-running victory in the men’s 1500m, clocking 3:41.89, holding off a strong late-race charge by compatriot James McIlroy (3:42.01).

The 800m contests were kicker’s affairs, with Kenyan Richard Kiplagat taking the men’s race (1:49.31) and American Sasha Spencer the women’s (2:03.82).

Clemens Zeller gave the home crowd a brief victory in the 400m (47.32) but he was later disqualified for impeding two-time World indoor champion Aleyne Francique, who jogged the final 80 metres.

A crowd of about 1000 turned out at the first international meet at the Intersport Arena. Motown legend The Temptations were the featured musical guests, but only a few dozen spectators stayed for the second of two sets.

ENDS

For more on global track, click: http://www/trackprofile.com

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