After the incredible weeks we have had, with Usain Bolt on May 31, Tirunesh Dibaba with the 5,000 meters world record on June 6. Bob Ramsak fills us in the happenings at the Ostrava Golden Spike meeting tomorrow in the Czech Republic....
TRACK PROFILE Report #767
WORLD RECORD FOLLOW-UPS FOR BOLT, DIBABA ON TAP IN OSTRAVA
By Bob Ramsak
(c) 2008 TRACK PROFILE Report, all rights reserved
OSTRAVA, Czech Republic – Two World records have been set on the track thus far in this Olympic season, and both of the record breakers will be making their eagerly-anticipated follow-up appearances when the IAAF World Athletics Tour resumes at the Golden Spike Grand Prix in Ostrava, Czech Republic on Thursday.
- Bolt’s 2008 200m debut
At the Reebok Grand Prix 11 days ago, Usain Bolt captured the world’s imagination with his scintillating 9.72 dash, making the 21-year-old the world’s fastest man. The run was hardly a ‘Bolt out of the blue’, but rather a follow-up to his sizzling 9.76 victory at the Jamaica International in Kingston from early May. The Jamaican is clearly the quickest man on the planet at the moment, which leaves people wondering: how fast can he now cover 200 metres, the event he still considers his favourite? That answer will come just after 8:20 p.m.CET on Thursday.
Whether it is his better event remains to be seen, but it was over the half lap that Bolt first made waves internationally. He clocked a World junior record at 16, has run 19.75 since and last year was the runner-up at the World championships behind Tyson Gay. This race will be his last before the Jamaican Championships 27-29 June, where he intends to double.
On paper, Brian Dzingai (20.12 PB), Stephane Buckland (20.06) and Briton Marlon Devonish (20.19) are the closest pursuers but in reality Bolt is on another level.
- Dibaba rides World record momentum to Eastern Europe...
Clearly on another plane too is Tirunesh Dibaba, the twice World 10,000m champion who shattered the 5000m World record in Oslo last weekend, where she stopped the clock in 14:11.15. Her performance knocked more than five-and-a-half seconds from the record set a year earlier by Meseret Defar on the same track. So persistent in her pursuit was Dibaba that she covered the final 3000m in just over 8:27; last year only one woman ran faster in a 3000m race.
Still only 22, Dibaba’s 30:15.67 personal best from 2005 ranks her as the ninth fastest ever, and with her streak of success continuing at the World Cross Country Championships, she is already well on her way to ranking among the all-time distance greats. Missing of course is an Olympic triumph – she took bronze in the 5000m in 2004 – and her performance on Thursday will go a long way in helping her – along with Ethiopian selectors - decide whether she’ll attempt a distance double in Beijing.
As in Oslo, she’ll be joined by older sister Ejegayehu who has a 30:18.39 to her credit; Werknesh Kidane, whose 30:07.15 ranks her as the fourth fastest ever; and Benita Johnson, the Australian record holder (30:37.68) in the 10,000m and Marathon.
Of particular interest will be Kenyan Linet Masai’s debut over the distance. Just 18, she followed up her 2007 World junior Cross Country triumph with a bronze medal finish in the senior race in March.
- ... and so does Kaki
Besides Dibaba’s heroics in the 5000m, the most stunning display at Bislett Stadium on Friday came in the men’s 800m where Abubaker Kaki, running from the front, scorched to a superb 1:42.69 victory, a World junior record* for the Sudanese sensation and the fastest in the world in five years. Kaki, the World indoor champion, will celebrate his 19th birthday in 11 days, and will presumably be looking for an early birthday present here. Second in Oslo was Kenyan David Rudisha, himself only 19, who improved his career best to 1:43.72, and will be looking for revenge here.
Others in the field include Kenyans Boaz Lalang, Asbel Kiprop and Gilbert Choge, and 2001 world bronze medallist Pawel Czapiewski of Poland, who signaled a returned to form with his B race victory in Berlin.
- Atkins headlines 100m, Wariner aiming for 300m World best, plus Ohuruogu’s 400m debut
Osaka silver medallist Derrick Atkins will be the man to beat in the 100m. The Bahamian arrives in this sprawling eastern Czech city on the heels of a quick 9.98 (+2.3) victory at Oslo’s leg of the AF Golden League last Friday.
American Michael Rodgers, who finished second to Atkins in the Norwegian capital, is also in the field, along with multi medal winning hurdler Terrence Trammell. British Olympic hopes Harry Aikines-Aryeetey, defending Ostrava champion Craig Pickering, and Devonish, who will contest a dash double, continue their build-up to the UK selection trials.
Another exhibition in long sprinting is expected in the rarely-run 300m where World and Olympic 400m champion Jeremy Wariner will make his debut over the distance.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” Wariner said after his world-leading 43.98 full lap performance in Oslo.
In his final outing prior to the U.S. trials, he’ll be aiming for 30.85, a difficult world best set by his manager Michael Johnson at altitude in Pretoria in 2000. Without the benefits of high altitude, the fastest performance is 31.31 by LaShawn Merritt in 2006.
Jamaican Xavier Brown and Chris Lloyd of Dominica are also entered, along with Olympic Decathlon champion, Roman Sebrle.
Covering all the sprint bases, there is a men’s 400m on the programme as well, featuring Jamaican Ricardo Chambers, Britons Martyn Rooney and Tim Benjamin, and Australian Jon Steffensen.
The women’s 400 will also feature the reigning World champion, with Briton Christine Ohuruogu making her first start over the distance this season. The 24-year-old opened her Olympic campaign with personal bests in the 100 and 200. The Russian pair of Natalya Antyukh and Olga Zaytseva should provide the stiffest challenge.
- Strong men’s 5000 as well
As is tradition in Ostrava, the longest race on the men’s programme is one of the finest gatherings of talent on the early season calendar, and this year’s 5000m is no exception. Topping the loaded field is a solid triumvirate: World indoor 300m champion Tariku Bekele, and Kenyans Eliud Kipchoge and Augustine Choge.
The younger of the Bekele brothers, Tariku is gradually working his way out from behind the long shadow cast by big brother Kenenisa. He improved to 12:52.45 in Berlin two weeks ago where he finished second. With a PB 12:53.66, Choge is marginally slower on paper, but his recent form – a world-leading 1500m victory in Berlin, a 3:50.30 PB in Oslo’s Dream Mile and a world-leading 7:32.01 for 3000m in Doha early last month – indicates he should be taken seriously over the longer distance. Both will need to bring their A game against Kipchoge, the 2003 World champion who is always a solid threat when he steps on the track. In his most recent outing, he was third in the Hengelo 10,000, clocking 26:54.32.
Robles v Payne in the Hurdles as Jones wraps up European Spring tour
A year ago, little-known David Payne stormed over the final five barriers to romp home to a big victory here in the 110m Hurdles, defeating among others Cuban Dayron Robles. The pair return this year as well, with Payne as the reigning World championships bronze medallist, and Robles, now a perennial speedster, still seeking his first major international accolade. Joining them will be veteran Terrence Trammell, a previous winner in Ostrava with the biggest trophy case among the entrants. This season Robles has run 13.20, Payne a wind-aided 13.28 to finish second in Eugene on Sunday, and Trammell 13.11 to win in New York.
Wrapping up her pre-U.S. Olympic Trials European tour, World indoor champion Lolo Jones will start as the favourite in the women’s 100m Hurdles. After victories in Hengelo and Belgrade, Jones was third in Berlin and runner-up in Oslo, and will be looking for one more solid outing before fully turning her focus on the notoriously difficult American selection meet.
Five women in the field have career bests from 12.71 to 12.73 – Americans Kellie Wells and Candice Davis and Pole Aurelia Trywianska, among them - promising a fierce battle.
With injury sidelining World champion Jana Rawlinson, Poland’s Anna Jesien and Melaine Walker will the class of the field in the 400m Hurdles. American Christine Spence made a big leap forward to 54.21 this spring and could also be a threat.
Tune’s turn for One Hour challenge
A year ago, the meet began with Haile Gebrselassie’s successful assault on the World record for the One Hour run. This year it’ll the women’s turn in the classic distance challenge. More specifically, it’ll be Gebrselassie’s Ethiopian compatriot, Boston Marathon champion Dire Tune’s turn. She’ll be gunning for 18,340m, a mark set by Tegla Loroupe a decade ago in Borgholzhausen, Germany. Four pacesetters will assist in the bid which begins at 5 p.m., an hour and a half prior to the main programme.
- Vlasic, Lukyanenko headline jumps
The star of the women’s High Jump is one of the biggest names in the sport, reigning World champion Blanka Vlasic. The Croatian heroine, who upped her world lead to 2.04m in Oslo on Friday to remain in the Golden League Jackpot chase, will be aiming for her 27th consecutive victory. While Czech fans will be rooting for Romana Dubnova and Iva Strakova, both with 1.95 career bests, Emma Green (1.98m indoor PB this year) will continue to look for the form that brought her World championships bronze in 2005.
Russian Yevgeniy Lukyanenko, the World indoor champion, leads the field in the Pole vault and arrives in Ostrava on the heels of his outdoor PB 5.85 which brought him the win in Berlin. The loaded field also includes Germans Tim Lobinger and Fabian Schulze, Swede Alhaji Jeng, and 2005 World champion Rens Blom who is on the rebound from injury.
- Separate stage for Hammer Throws on Wednesday
The meet opens on Wednesday (11) with a special afternoon session of the Hammer Throw. The strong women’s field includes Cuban Yipsi Moreno, Pole Kamila Skolimowska , Croatian Ivana Brkljaèiè, and German Kathrin Klaas. Brkljacic arrives after her runner-up finish at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene on Sunday, where she threw 73.73m.
The men’s field includes finishers two through five from last summer’s World championships, topped by Slovenia’s silver medallist Primoz Kozmus, and Slovak Libor Charfreitag, who took bronze.
Of strongest interest locally will be the women’s Javelin competition, which features a clash of current giants, led by World champion Barbora Spotakova (69.15m PB), and European record holder Christine Obergföll and European champion Steffi Nerius, Germany’s formidable 1-2 punch. The Czech’s victory here a year ago – among her victims was Nerius – was a strong signal of things to come later in Osaka. Briton Goldie Sayers is also in the field, after her victory over the German pair over the weekend in Kassel. and World record holder Osleidys Menendez of Cuba.
South African Robert Oosthuizen is the favourite in the men’s contest.
The women’s 800 features more than a half dozen women with sub-2:00 credentials. Lucia Klocova of Slovakia, second in Oslo, leads the field which includes World indoor champion Tamsyn Lewis, and Russia’s European champion Olga Kotlyarova.
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