Visa Sign as one left the Olympic Trials Festival on the last night of the US Olympic
Trials, July 6, 2008, 11.30 pm shot by Larry Eder.
That is the way I feel right now on the eve of the Beijing Olympics. And the last major meeting prior to Beijing, the Aviva London Grand Prix answered a few questions.....
TRACK PROFILE Report #799
BOLT STRIKES AGAIN WHILE CAMPBELL-BROWN IMPRESSES IN LONDON
By Bob Ramsak
(c) 2008 TRACK PROFILE Report, all rights reserved
As expected, the spotlight was on the sprints on the second day of the Aviva Grand Prix in London, and it shined particularly brightly on a pair of fleet-footed Jamaicans.
Usain Bolt, the world record holder in the 100m, again clearly displayed that at his best, at the moment there is no faster man in the world. Despite looking side to side and easing up considerably down the homestretch, Bolt, not yet 22, crushed a solid field in the 200m with his 19.76 second dash. This year only he has run faster.
So dominant was Bolt that some 60 meters into the race he had already made up the stagger on Wallace Spearmon who was running to his outside. The Beijing-bound American was more than a half second back in second, stopping the clock in 20.27.
- Dash Double in Beijing?
Bolt reiterated after the race that the decision on whether he’ll contest both sprints at the Olympic Games rests solely in the hands of his coach, Glen Mills. Said Bolt, “my coach hasn’t made a bad decision in five years, so if he says I should only do one, I’ll only do one.”
His manager, Ricky Simms of Pace Sports Management, said the decision will not be made until the final technical meeting in Beijing, just prior to the start of the track and field program on August 15.
Likewise, Veronica Campbell-Brown, produced a little something for Jamaican selectors to ponder after a powerful win in the 100m. The world champion over the distance and the reigning Olympic champion in the 200m, powered by quick-starting compatriot Shelly Ann Fraser by the midway point en route to a convincing victory in 10.87 in the 100m, a season’s best. Campbell-Brown, who finished a disappointing fourth in the event at the Jamaican trials behind Kerron Stewart, Fraser and Sherone Simpson, still has a remote possibility to be upgraded, but apparently isn’t holding her breath.
“We recognize and respect the results of our Trials,” her manager Claude Bryant of On Track Management said, “and all of our competitions from Trials until Beijing are geared at representing Jamaica to the best of her ability.”
American Torri Edwards, who is heading to Beijing, was well back in fourth in 11.09. Meanwhile, American Lauryn Williams didn’t even reach the final after finishing a well-beaten fifth in her heat in 11.21, while Allyson Felix, after a lackluster outing in the 200 yesterday, apparently decided against running.
- Lukyanenko, Hooker both at 5.97m (19-7) in the Pole Vault
The most impressive performance in the field events came in the men’s pole vault, with both Yevgeniy Lukyanenko and Australian Steve Hooker clearing 5.97m (19-7), the first time two men have jumped so high in the same competition. The victory went to the Russian, who sailed over on his second attempt while Hooker needed all three. Lukyanenko, the world indoor champion this year and the most recent inductee into the event’s six-meter (19-8 ¼) club, has been the world’s most consistent vaulter since his success in Valencia in March and will head to Beijing as a solid gold medal threat.
American Brad Walker, the year’s world leader at 6.04m (19-9 ¾ , U.S record) opened at 5.72m (18-9 ¼), then passed to 5.92m (19-5), which he missed, before bowing out with two jumps at 5.97m. Walker told IAAF.org correspondent Matthew Brown that it will take a six meter jump to win in Beijing.
- Jones takes a thriller over McLellan
It’s difficult to say who was the more impressive in the women’s 100m hurdles: American Lolo Jones, who trailed over each of the ten barriers but still took a narrow win in 12.58; or Australian Sally McLellan, who led the contest the entire way before just losing out to Jones as she stumbled across the line to stop the clock in 12.61.
For Jones, the U.S champion, it was her fifth straight victory, and eighth in 11 outings this season. Meanwhile the Australian, still only 21, lowered the Oceania record to 12.58 in Lucerne, Switzerland, 10 days ago to suddenly emerge as an outside medal threat in Beijing. In the blanket finish, reigning Olympic champion Joanna Hayes --who will not defend her title next month-- was third in 12.63.
In the 400m hurdles, World champion Kerron Clement produced a solid victory. Clearly ahead by the fifth barrier, he cruised to a 48.36 win and perhaps most pleasing to the 22-year-old will be his confident drive down the homestretch, where more often than not, he struggles with choppy rhythm. Not so in London. Briton Richards Yates was a surprise in second with a career best 49.06, ahead of Poland’s Marek Plawgo (49.27), the bronze medallist at the world championships last year.
Jamaican champion Melaine Walker collected her sixth straight victory in 54.22, just shy of her 54.18 season’s best. In second, Anna Jesien of Poland (54.98) also dipped under 55 seconds.
Briton Marilyn Okoro turned in a confidence-boosting win in the 800m. Taking the lead just past the bell, she quickly built a gap on the field and powered home unchallenged in 1:58.45, a career best for the 23-year-old. Italian record holder Elisa Cusma was next in 1:59.33 while Morgan Uceny, a U.S. trials finalist in both the 800 and 1500, kicked hard to finish third in 2:00.01, the second career best for the 23-year-old Cornell grad in 13 days.
In the men’s race, Ugandan record holder Abraham Chepkirwok got the edge over Briton Micheal Rimmer, 1:45.64 to 1:45.76, while behind them, Olympic silver medallist Mbulaeni Mulaudzi of South Africa and Canadian Gary Reed, last year’s world championships silver medallist, got tangled up in a collision some 200m into the race, and didn’t finish.
Another Briton, 21-year-old Martyn Rooney, who lives in nearby Croyden, produced the first sub-45 second performance of his career with his overwhelming victory in the 400m in 44.83, well ahead of Canadian record holder Tyler Christopher (45.29).
World high jump champion Blanka Vlasic decided to give her 34-meet win streak a much-needed rest, leaving Russian Anna Chicherova alone to dominate the field, which she did. Chicherova needed a second try to sail over 2.01m (6-7), but 1.95m (6-4 ¾ ) would have sufficed as three others --Canadian Nicole Forrester, American Amy Acuff and Belgium’s European champion Tia Hellebaut-- topped out at 1.92m (6-3 ½ ).
Boniface Kiprop, a former world junior 10,000m champion with sub 26:40 credentials over the distance, won the 3000m in 7:39.95 for a Ugandan national record. Kenyan Mike Kigen was second in 7:37.66, ahead of Irishman Alistair Cragg (7:38.60) and Ethiopian Abebe Dinkesa (7:40.00).
American Jen Rhines, who’ll run the 5000m in Beijing, turned in a good tune-up to win the women’s race in 8:53.26 over Kenyan Pauline Korikwiang (8:56.98).
British champion Greg Rutherford won the long jump with an 8.16m (26-9 ¼) leap, and European record holder Christina Obergfoll of Germany won the javelin throw with a 65.93m (216-3) toss.
The meet concluded with some urgently-needed baton work in the men’s 4x100m relay. A U.S. squad of Rodney Martin, Travis Padgett, Shawn Crawford and Darvis Patton carried out their duties well, clocking 37.80 ahead of Trinidad (Darrel Brown, Marc Burns, Aaron Armstrong, and Richard Thompson) whose 38.00 was a national record.
TrackProfile.com is used with permission of the publisher, Bob Ramsak.