Laussanne Perspective: Powell Improves to 9.72, Bolt Files a 19.63, by Bob Ramsak, Notes by Larry Eder

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Derek Miles, fourth in Beijing, was second in Laussane, at 5.70m, to Yevgeniy Lukyanenko.

TRACK PROFILE Report #823
02-September-2008

POWELL IMPROVES TO 9.72, BOLT FILES 19.63 IN LAUSANNE

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

LAUSANNE, SWITZERLAND -- The Usain Bolt victory tour continued tonight at Lausanne’s Athletissima Super Grand Prix, but it was Asafa Powell who did his utmost to steal the show.

Yesterday, Powell, the former world record holder, promised that he wouldn’t let Bolt, the current record holder out of his sites. He backed up that pledge adequately with a sensational 9.72 dash in the 100m to underscore his status as history’s second fastest man.

“I felt very confident coming here today, I know I had it in me,” Powell said after a performance that knocked 0.02 seconds from his previous career best, a mark that just a little over three months ago was the world record. “I just had to put it on the track. And that’s what I did.”

Just 40 meters into the race there was little doubt about who the winner would be. As he approached the line, the near-capacity crowd of some 14,000 at Lausanne’s Stade Olimpique held their collective breath until the scoreboard flashed the result. Even Powell appeared impressed by his performance before seeing the time.

“I really wanted to execute and I know that if I executed my race I’m going to run really fast.”

Pleased with his career best – who wouldn’t be?—Powell said he believes that there is more to come.

“It’s always important to run fast. There’s no doubt that I really want the World record back but I’m not going to kill myself over it.”

His stellar late season --he won in Gateshead on Sunday, dashing 9.87 through a chilly heavy rain --form bodes well for his next outing, a highly touted face-off with Bolt and American champion Tyson Gay in Brussels on Friday night.

“Brussels is also a fast track and I’m going out there with the same shape as I’m in. I’m just feeling very confident and hopefully I can do it.”

Walter Dix was well back but still ran well, taking second in 9.92, with Jamaican Nesta Carter third (9.98).

- Bolt just shy of X-Man’s meet record

As dominant as Powell was in the 100, Bolt was doubly so in the 200. But comparatively speaking, wasn’t quite as fast.

Clearly in the lead some 30 meters into the race, the 22-year-old triple Olympic champion forged onwards to clock 19.63 seconds, his second fastest performance to equal the meet record set here by Xavier Carter two years ago.

“I didn’t run at my maximum at the end because the season is ending,” said Bolt, who clocked an other-worldly19.30 in the Beijing final, the only time this season he’s run through the line over the half-lap. Here he eased up over his final five or six strides. “It’s more important for me to win races than to get a good time at the end of the season.”

Like in Beijing, it was simply no contest. More than half a second back in 20.24 was Churandy Martina, who in turn was well ahead of Wallace Spearmon’s 20.54.

- Oliver takes Robles

There was no world record in the men’s 110m hurdles, but there was a bit of revenge for David Oliver. The Beijing bronze medallist beat Olympic champion Dayron Robles for the second time this season, and it wasn’t particularly close.

“I knew I could do better than in Bejing,” said Oliver after his 13.02 easily bested the Cuban’s 13.17. “I’m really happy I added my name to this meeting.”

“I had a good start,” Robles, the world record holder at 12.87 said, “but then I hit a hurdle. I wanted to run faser today, but it happens. That’s life.”

Dawn Harper was out to show that that her Beijing win in the women’s 100m hurdles wasn’t a fluke. Although she had little problem dispensing with pre-Olympic favorite Lolo Jones, here she was edged by Jamaican Delloreen Ennis-London.

“I feel so relaxed tonight,” said Ennis-London, who edged the American 12.60 to 12.63. “You have to fight hard to win these races.”

But that relaxed mood isn’t likely to last too long. Just a little over a half hour after the race, Sports Illustrated reported that Ennis-London was one of two Jamaicans who had received shipments of Human Growth Hormone between June 2006 and February 2007.

Jones was a distant fourth clocking 12.86.

- Walker’s momentum continues

Melaine Walker bided her time in the 400m hurdles, choosing not to panic when she was marginally trailing Briton Tasha Danvers and American Tiffany Ross-Williams. But the pair soon paid for their speedy first halves. Walker calmly took the look heading into the straight off of hurdle eight and was well ahead by nine before cruising through the line in 53.73. It was well off of the Olympic record 52.64 that blasted her to gold in Beijing, but a time that only two others have bettered this year.

Pole Anna Jesien snuck by in the waning moments to finish second just ahead of Danvers, 54.76 to 54.79.

- … so does Meritt’s and Fraser’s

Lashawn Merritt returned to sub-44 territory with a convincing 44.98 victory in the 400m.

“I’m closing up my season here so I really wanted to finish with a victory,” said Merritt, who’s heading back home to Virginia for a post-Olympic celebration with family and friends. He does plan to return to Europe next weekend for the World Athletics Final in Stuttgart and one final head-to-head with Jeremy Wariner.

Closing well was 400m hurdles Olympic champion Angelo Taylor, posting a season’s best 44.38 to finish second.

Like Merritt, Shelly-Ann Fraser bounced back from a post-Beijing defeat to take the 100 in 11.03, ahead of Jamaican teammate Kerron Stewart.

“It was a close race and I’m really happy I won it,” said Fraser, who pulled off one of the biggest Beijing upsets. “I lost in London (on Sunday) so I was a it nervous, a bit emotional.”

Marshevet Hooker was next, finishing third (11.09).

- Switching roles, Kiprop, Kamel prevail

Trying his hand at another distance, Olympic 1500m silver medallist Asbel Kiprop moved down to the two-lap race and met with immediate success. Battling with Beijing winner Wilfred Bungei heading off the final turn, he passed the Kenyan with about 50 meters to go to take a convincing victory in 1:44.71, a personal best.

First Alfred Kirwa Yego (1:44.77) and then Ugandan Abraham Chepkirwok (1:45.00) overtook Bungei, who faded badly down the homestretch to finish fourth (1:45.31).

“I wanted to win this 800 at any cost,” Kiprop said. “I saw the 1500 earlier and I as very inspired.

Likewise, 800m ace Yusuf Saad Kamel took another stab at the metric mile, and his follow to an impressive outing in Zurich was even more impressive tonight. Near the front at the bell, Kamel waited until the final 15 meters to effortlessly pass world leader Daniel Kipchirchir Komen to win in 3:32.83, another personal best.

“It felt very good,” said Kamel, who confirmed that the longer race will occupy more of his focus in 2009. “I felt very comfortable and strong through the final straight.”

Komen, who couldn’t respond to Kamel’s kick, held on for second in 3:33.03 to hold off Zurich winner Haron Keitany, who was third across the line in 3:33.62.

- Jamal, Jepkoskei take middle distance wins

In some ways a reprise of the Golden League race in Paris six weeks ago, Maryam Yusuf Jamal stormed to an impressive victory in the 1500m, improving her season’s best to 3:59.84.

“It’s important for me to win in Lausanne, at home,” said Jamal, who is based in Lausanne.

U.S. champion Shannon Rowbury was tight on the Bahraini’s heels through the bell before Jamal managed to pull away for good as the pair headed into the final turn. Rowbury clocked 4:01.97, the third fastest performance of her career.

Further back, Briton Lisa Dobriskey was fourth (4:05.18), just ahead of Spaniard Nuria Fernandez.

With Pamela Jelimo resting for Friday’s Golden League finale in Brussels, world champion Janeth Jepkosgei was able to take the spotlight and she handled it adequately, taking a comfortable victory in 1:58.15, her first victory of the year.

“It’s great to run without pressure,” Jepkosgei said, whose next outings include another 800 in Brussels on Friday and the 1500m in Rieti on Sunday.

Russian Yekaterina Kostetskaya overhauled Jamaican Kenia Sinclair to take second, 1:58.90 to 1:59.02.

- Elsewhere

After a pair of fouls and sluggish efforts that landed well shy of the 60m mark, surprise Beijing silver medallist Mariya Abukumova reached a solid 66.09m in the fifth round to over take Steffi Nerius in the javelin. With just two fair throws, Nerius reached 64.47 for second. Olympic champion Barbora Spotakova only had a pair of fair throws, her 62.24 from the fourth round good enough for fourth.

Brazil’s Jadel Gregorio won the triple jump with a 17.30m leap, while Olymic champion Nelson Evora, never a threat, was a distant fourth (16.90m). Naide Gomes pulled out the win in the long jump with a final round 6.77m leap, topping Tatyana Lebedeva, who reached 6.64m in round four.

Jamaican Shericka Williams, the Beijing silver medallist, poured it on over the final straight to take the women’s 400 in 50.47, while Tatyana Firova edged by compatriot Yuliya Guschina to get second, 50.71 to 50.85.

Held 50 minutes earlier, the B race was marginally faster. Novlene Williams got out the quickest and held on to win in 50.33, ahead of American Mary Wineberg (50.86). 2007 world silver medallist Nicola Sanders was a distant third (51.11).

In just his second professional race, Travis Padgett won the 100m B race comfortably in 10.07, well ahead of Frenchman Martial Mbandjock (10.16).

Just a pair of jumps were enough for Yevgeniy Lukyanenko to take the pole vault at 5.75m, with American Derek Miles second (5.70m).

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