World Indoor Champs, Day 1, Evening Session! Great Night of Track & Field!

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What an evening! Was it the shot put, the mens' 1,500 meters heats, the 60 meter finals,
the pentathlon or all of it! You decide. Here is my report from Valencia, Spain on the first evening of the World Championships!

March 7, 2008
Evening Session
World Indoor Champs

Greetings from Valencia! The weather is nice as we spend most of our day inside the Palau LLuis Puig Stadium. About 5,000 fans, and a couple thousand media are here to cover the 12 World Indoor Championships!

AF to Sponsor Golden League

After the morning session, media were treated to a press reception and interviews with Jeremy Wariner, Sanya Richards, Janeth Jepkosgei and Susana Kallur. The press conference was to announce the Swedish company AF ( pronouced OU
EF), as the title sponsor for the 2008 and 2009 Golden League. The million dollar purse does give the six meets some following on the world stage.

What was interesting here was that Jonas Wistrom, the President and CEO of AF,
Liame Diack, the President of the IAAF and Nick Davies, after their presentation, gave the microphone to Jonathan Edwards, the world triple jump record holder and now TV correspondent, interviewed Sanya Richards, then had Sanya join him to interview Jeremy Wariner, Janeth Kipkosgei and Susana Kallur.

Wistrom noted that, for a global company, it made sense to tie into a global sport and athletics in general and the Golden League in particular makes great sense! I was able to get a few minutes with Mr. Wistrom afterwards. He had worked in the Silicon Valley for awhile for Sun and Silicon Graphics. Affable, he noted that his company was involved in projects in Europe, Asia, South America, but had yet to
develop a business in North America. AF does consulting in the IT business.

The interviews were pretty good as well. Sanya Richards, at Edwards' prompting, did talk about her bad health last year and how she wanted to use the Golden League this year to build to her peak for Eugene and Beijing. " I want to win a championship, " noted Sanya Richards.

Jeremy Wariner, who just opened his season with a fine 44.8 in Australia, answered questions about changing from long time coach Clyde Hart, to a a new coach. He took it all in stride noting, " the training is not changing, I just changed coaches." I had a few moments with Jeremy afterwards, updating him on an interview of his on BBC where Wariner gives young runners some tips on how to run the 400 meters. he continues to improve on the public stage.

The revelation was Janeth Jepkosgei, the front running new queen of the 800 meters. Kipkosgei is the real thing, and should challenge, over the next three years, the world record for women at 800 meters, dating back to 1983, has been considered untouchable.

The final athlete was Susana Kallur. Edwards asked Ms. Kallur if she was used to being called "world record holder". Ms. Kallur noted that she is not used to that moniker yet, but she will try. The Swedish hurdler also noted that she had a coaching change this year, and that she was quite pleased with the change. Whatever the reason, her technique is on, her speed is on and her timing over the hurdles this winter ( I saw her race in Birmingham) is near perfection.

The final part of the AF puzzle was put to rest with Susanna Kallur. By coming to know more about the sport by sponsoring Kallur over the past years, AF saw the opportunity with the Golden League and the IAAF!

***********
Evening session

Women, semi finals, 60 meters

Ene Franca Idoko of Nigeria continues her dominatio here with a 7.10 qualifier in heat 1 of the semi finals. Yevgeniya Polyakova of Russia took second in 7.20 and also moved on to the final.

In heat two, Tahesia Harrigan of the British Virgin Islands ran 7.12 to move to the final along with Jeanette Kwakye of Great Britian, who ran 7.13.

In heat three, Angela Williams of the US ran 7.12 with Oludamola Osayomi of Nigeria in second in 7.21.

The fastest semi was heat two, and Euro sprint goddess Kim Gevaert of Belgium and her 7.18 and and Alexis Joyce of the US and her 7.22 moved to the final.


Men's 60 meters, semi final


Dwain Chambers ran a personal best of 6.55 to take this heat-and he was caught sleeping at the start by Amr Ibrahim Mostafa Seoud, who ran 6.69 for an Egyptian national record-and he was fourth! In second was Isaac Uche of Nigeria, who ran 6.65 to move to the final.

In heat 2, Michael Rodgers of the USA, all the way from Wisconsin, ran a 6.54 for his personal best! In second, Brazil's Vicente De Lima ran 6.59 to move with Rodgers to
the final later tonight!

In the third heat, Olusoji A. Fasuba of Nigeria ran 6.51, the world leader to move on to tonight's final. Andrey Yepishin of Russia ran a seasonal best of 6.60 to take the final qualifying place for the final.

The race looks to be between Fasuba, Chambers and Rodgers. My picks: Rodgers,
Chambers, Fasuba.

Women's Pole Vault qualifying

So, the goal here is to be in the top eight vaulters, or get the auto standard of 4.55 meters. It took 4.45 meters to be in the top eight! Pavla Rybova of the Czech Republic
was the last qualifier with her clearance of 4.45m for eighth. Naroa Agirre of Spain tied Agirre for eighth, keeping the crowd happy, clearing 4.45 for a seasonal best, In seventh position was Svetlana Feofanova of Russia, Athens silver medalist, World champ bronze, gold, silver medalist, former WR holder, with her 4.45 meters. In sixth, Anna Rogowska of Poland, Athens bronze medalist, cleared 4.50m. Tied for fourth were Fabiana Murer of Brazil and Jenn Stuczynski of the US at 4.50 meters. Third qualifier was Monika Pyrek of Poland, European silver medalist and World Champs bronze medalist (Edmonton, 2001), cleared 4.50 meters. In second was Anne Battke, who cleared a personal best in 4.50 meters for second best qualifier.

Finally, the goddess of the pole vault, Yelena Isinbaveya of Russia, shows up, takes one jump, clears 4.55 meters, yawns and is the top qualifier. This is what Ms. Pole Vault had to say, " I feel great! I did a good jump. I am feeling in a really good shape. it was quite good not to wait too long for my first jump. Tomorrow, I will do my best."

Now remember that readers, her best is a world record!


Women's 800 meter qualifying

Maria Mutola set a record just by showing up! Competing in every World Indoor since 1993, Mutola has competed in nine world indoor champs, more than any other man or women! In those nine champs, she took gold seven times and a silver in 1999! She has indicated that her long career is coming to an end. How will she end it? Time will tell, my readers.

In heat one, Elisa Cusma Piccione of Italy took the first qualifier with her 2:01.62. Tasmy Lewis of Australia ran a national record, to qualify in second in 2:01.85. Marian Burnett of Guyana set her national record, also getting in with a 2:02.35 and Margarita Fuentes-Pila of Spain held on, running her seasonal best of 2:03.89 in fourth. What a fast heat!

In heat two, Maria de Lurdes Mutola of Mozambique ran a 2:04.82 to move onto her ninth world champs semi final. Matye Martinez of Spain was second in 2:04.92.

In heat three, Seltana Ait Hamou of Morocco barely held on to the lead, with a 2:04.69 in first. Ewelina Setowska-Dryk of Poland drove to the finish, running 2:04.71 for the last qualifier in this round.

In round four, Tetiana Petlyuk of Poland ran 2:00.40 for first, with Jennifer Meadows of Great Britian in second in 2:00.60 for second, MIhealia Neascu of Romania in third in her seasonal best of 2:00.79 and Nicole Teter, former Sierra College star, in fourth in 2:01.73. All four qualified from this round!

Men's Shot Put--Cantwell Cranks!

Christian Cantwell now has earned another cover of MO Runner and American Track & Field.

Showing the poise of a true champion, Cantwell started with a 21.14 meter throw, then went 21.19m, 21.59 m, a foul, 21.72m and finally a throw of 21.69 meters.

Cantwell took the lead in round one, lost it for a round in round two and after that, the party was over.

Moscow champ Reese Hoffa went 20.31, then took the lead with a 21.20m for round two and came back with a 20.74, but fouled the last three throws!

What was impressive about Cantwell was that he put on the pressure and just did not stop!

Cantwell is in the toughest event on the toughest team in the world, the US track team. His one subpar performance in 2004 cost him the Olympic team. Think about that! Christian has come back from that rough day and rough year to challenge himself and his competitors.

In third place was Tomacz Majewski of Poland, who threw 20.93 meters on his third throw, which held up for the bronze medal.

Cantwell had this to say after his gold medal performance: "It was a very good competiton. I keep on training hard everyday and here is the result. However, I know you can have good days and bad days and today was a good day. Hoffa is a great athlete but he can also be beaten. It is going to be a long year and the season just started and will finish in Beijing."

Observation 04

Spanish athletes were noted today wearing black ribbons. They were showing their sympathy for Isaias Carrsco, the former councilor of the Vizcaya town of Mondragon, who was assassinated this morning. Tomorrow is the day of national elections in Spain.


Men's 800 meters qualifying

Abubaker Kaki Khamis of Sudan ran 1:47.80 for the top qualifier. My three to watch in the next round are Fabiano Pecanha of Brasil, Eugenio Barrios of Spain, Nick Symmonds and Khadevis Robinson of the US.

Men's 1,500 meter qualifying

Belal Mansoor Ali of Bahrain took the field through 200 meters in 29.33, 400 meters in 60.84, and then Deresse Mekonnen of Ethiopia took over, hitting the 600 meters in 1:31.17. Carsten Schlangen of Germany took over at 800 meters in 2:00.08. He also lead at the 1000 meters in 2:29.49 and by 1200 meters, Deresse Mekonnen was in control, running through 1400 meters in 3:25.92 and the 1,500 meters in 3:39.74.

Running the smartest race of the night as Commonwealth gold medalist Nick Willis of New Zealand. Willis stayed in fifth, then moved up through the pack to second and by two laps to go was in prime real estate position to qualify. His personal best of 3:40.66 was the second place and only other position to qualify.

In heat two, Daniel KIpchirchir Komen of Kenya was a man on a mission. He lead from the gun, hitting 200 meters in 30.47, 400 meters in 59.41, 600 meters in 1:28.23, 800 meters in 1:58.12, 1,000 meters in 2:27.96, 1200 meters in 2:57.26 and 1400 meters in 3:25.15, to win in 3:39.07. Following his strong pace were Juan Carlos Higuero of Spain, in 3:39.46 and Youssef Baba in 3:39.89. Rob Myers of the US moved through the pack and finished fourth in 3:41.73, but did not move on. British champ James Mcilroy was in the race through 800 meters, mostly in third or fourth position, dropped back to sixth, moved back up and then dropped out at 1100 meters.

The third and final heat was won by Mekonnen Gebremedhin of Ethiopia in the last stretch in 3:37.16. Suleiman Kipses Simotwo of Kenya was second in 3:37.23 and Rashid Ramzi, of Bahrain was third, in a personal best of 3:37.31. Arturo Casado of Spain, running 3:40.99, got the last qualifier.

This race will be one of the highlights of the weekend.

Pentathlon-Sotherton charges, just misses Hellebaut !

In one of the most amazing turn of plays in sports that I have witnessed, I have to take my hat off for one Kelly Sotherton of Great Britian.

So, lets get the story off right:

Tia Hellebaut of Belgium ws having an excellent day. She hurdled 8.54 for 1008 points, high jumped 1.99 meters for 1224 points, threw the shot 13.85m for 784 points and long jumped 6.41 meters for 978 points. After four events, she was leading with 3994.

In second was Kelly Sotherton, with 3887. She had lead the hurdles in 8.25 with 1073, dropped to fourth in the high jump in 1.81m, came back in the shot in 14.57 m for 832 points and won the long jump in 6.45 meters for 991 points. Anna Boddanova was in third in 3870 and Nataliay Dorynska of the Ukraine was in fourth in 3859.

Using Karolina Tyminsk of Poland as a pacer, Sotherton finished second to the Pole, who ran 2:08.64 for 9985 points and Sotherton took 965 points with her fine 2:09.95, cutting Hellebaut's lead from 107 down to a scant 17!

Hellebaut, in a a pack with Dobrynska of Russia, nearly collapsed, and just crawled across the finish line. LYudmile Blonska of the Ukraine started to collapse with about fifteen meters to go.

The effort of five tough events in one day had beaten up the field. After seeing Sotherton do an indoor triathlon in Birmingham three weeks ago against Kluft, it is clear this Brit is one tough athlete. Congrats to Hellebaut, who looks poised to challenge the multi event world as well!

Women's 60 meter final

Angela Williams, overcoming a great start by Tahesia Harrigan of the British Virgin Island, took the gold tonight, running a world leading 7.06! Jeanette Kwakye of Great Britian ran a national record, to take the silver in 7.08 and Harrigan set her national record in 7.08.

Ene Francis Idoko of Nigeria had been expected to be tough, and had a fast start, but faded as fast as her start, running 7.26 for sixth. Kim Gavaert of Belgium ran 7.22 for fourth.

In the end, Williams and Kwakye came from behind and ran through the finish, and their second half of their races, plus their determination won them their medals!


Mens' 60 Meter Final

Well. Olusoji A Fasuba of Nigeria ran a brilliant race,f rom the start and ran another world leader, taking the gold in 6.51. In second was Great Britians' Dwain Chambers in 6.54, a personal best and in the bronze position was 2003 Outdoor Gold medalist Kim Collins of St. Kitts, in his seasonal best of 6.54.

The gold medalist commented on his race this way: " I felt strong for this competition. I am happy being a World Champion. To get an Olympic medal is my target now. I know I can do even better than the 6.51 I performed today. The track was really good, though, I am getting stronger and this is shown in my time today." Congrats to OLusoji Fasuba!

Dwain Chambers commented, " This has been my gold medal and the taste of competion is back. I will be going to bed with a smile on my face tonight after the nightmare I have been through. Running is what I do best and all i wanted to do was run here. "

Kim Collins, the bronze medalist noted: "Winning a medal having run in five World Indoor Champs is a fantastic feeling. I am very proud of my performance because it has been a very fast race and I have felt good when I was running."

Mike Rodgers of the US was fourthin 6.57 and Vincente De Lima was fifth in 6.60.

******

It is ten pm local time here, 3 pm Wisconsin time. I am about to close up for the night. More interviews tomorrow, but for now, it is tapas time!

For more on our sport, try http://www.runningnetwork.com

1 Comment | Leave a comment

What happened to Lyudmila Blonska at the end of 800m of pentathlon in Valencia? Last image on TV showed her motionless on track several minutes after the competition end.

Mario,

Blonksa went down with about four other pentathlon
athletes, Helliubutt nearly lost her gold medal. My
take was dehydration and the warmth in the stadium
got to them. It was solid, solid performances!

Larry

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