Defar Clocks 9:06.2 for Two Miles in Prague! by Bob Ramsak, Track Profile

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The O2 arena in Prague was host to a tremendous track meet last night! For the third time this short season, Meseret Defear ran a world leader-two of her runs, the 5,000 meters, and last nights' two mile, were world records!

TRACK PROFILE Report #865
26-February-2009

DEFAR CLOCKS 9:06.26 WORLD BEST FOR TWO MILES IN PRAGUE

By Bob Ramsak
(c) 2009 TRACK PROFILE Report, all rights reserved

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PRAGUE – After her sensational 9:06.26 world best in tonight’s two-mile contest at the inaugural edition of the aptly named Meeting of World Record Holders meet in the Czech capital, Meseret Defar was visibly pleased with her short, but sterling 2009 indoor season.

“My goal was to get three world records this season,” the 25-year-old Ethiopian beamed. “I only missed one, so that’s not bad.”

Eight days ago, Defar broke the world indoor mark in the 5000m with a 14:24.37 run in Stockholm. In Stuttgart 11 days earlier, she narrowly missed her own record in the 3000m, clocking 8:26.99. On paper, an assault on her own 9:10.50 standard in the rarely run event was certainly within her capabilities. But it didn’t come easily.

Frustrated behind pacesetter Ksenia Agafonova for the first mile, Defar had plenty of ground to make up after reaching midway in just under 4:38. Urged on by her husband who was shouting out splits in Amharic from trackside, Defar managed to up the tempo dramatically to cover the final mile in under 4:29.

“She was a bit slow and I had to make up the time over the final laps,” Defar said of Agafonova, who went on to finish the race. “There was a time when I thought the record might not happen.”

Her negative split tonight was considerably faster than the 4:37/4:33 back-to-back miles she produced at the Reebok Boston Indoor Games a year ago, suggesting a marked improvement in her early season speed. But Defar said that the focus of her winter training hasn’t been on speed alone.

“This year I’ve worked very hard on all aspects of my race,” she said. “I had to make up this year for what I lost last year.” Before and after each of three appearances this winter, Defar has expressed disappointment with her 2008 season, when she failed to defend her Olympic title. Her rewriting of the all-time lists over the past 19 days, she said, was an important message to no one but herself.

“This is a strong message to me because 2008 was such a disappointment. This will boost my morale for this year.

Defar said she’ll lighten her training load considerably over the next two weeks before focusing her full attention to defending her world 5000m title at the world championships in August.

Zakia Mrisho of Tanzania won the race for second over Lidia Chojecka, clocking 9:32.75 to the Pole’s 9:33.23.

- Ismail moves up to No. 4 all-time in the 800m

Defar’s was the third world lead of the evening, with the first coming in the men’s 800, the first main program event on the newly constructed oval. The contest featured the fourth face-off this season between Olympic gold and silver medalists Wilfred Bungei and Ismail Ahmed Ismail, but from the outset, it was for Ismail, already the world leader, a race against the clock.

The only runner to stick fairly close to the two pacesetters, the 24-year-old powered on as he passed the bell, with no one giving him a serious chase. He reached the line in 1:44.75, breaking Abubaker Kaki’s Sudanese national record to join rare company inside the event’s all-time top five. Only Wilson Kipketer, Yuriy Borzakovskiy, and Kenyan Joseph Mutua have covered the distance faster indoors.

“I am happy for the Sudanese record,” said Ismail, who was also warmly congratulated by training partner Kaki for his achievement. “I would like to continue like this in the summer.”

As fiercely as Ismail defended the front spot, so too did Boaz Lalang with the runner-up position. The Kenyan Olympian, who celebrated his 20th birthday just 18 days ago, stopped the clock in 1:45.19, knocking more than two full seconds from his career best. Bungei was well back in third, but still managed a 1:45.91 season’s best.

Kaki completed a Sudanese double with a solid victory in the 1000m in 2:17.22 to finish his season undefeated in three races over the distance this winter. Kenyan Augustine Choge was second, clocking a career best 2:17.79.

- Cherkos puts fierce kick on display

In the men’s 5000m, the pre-meet plan called for a trip to rarely treaded sub-13 minute territory. For a stretch, it seemed that Paul Kipsiele Koech and Abreham Cherkos might succeed, but in the end it was a race between the two that took over. With the Kenyan steeplechase specialist doing much of the front-running, Cherkos, last year’s World indoor 3000m bronze medallist, bided his time until the bell, when he unleashed a kick to which Koech simply couldn’t respond. Cherkos clocked 13:07.83, another world leader, with Koech reaching the line in 13:09.37. Both contested the distance indoors for the first time.

- Isinbayeva settles for 4.90m win

While Defar hit two-for-three in her World record or world best ambitions this winter, Yelena Isinbayeva will have to settle for one notch lower and be content with the pair of records she set in her debut in Donetsk.

The Russian, the meeting’s poster girl, didn’t start the competition until 4.75m, when the rest of the field had already packed up their gear for the night. She needed a second try at her opening height, and a second at 4.90m as well before the bar raised to a would-be World record of 5.01m. Her third attempt was the best, thrilling the 8,452 spectators for a second or two, before the bar came tumbling down.

“I think I was jumping well today,” Isinbayeva said,” but I didn’t have stiff enough poles.” She broke into tears briefly after the competition, but coach Vitaliy Petrov managed to cheer her up quickly.

South American record holder Fabiana Murer was the runner-up after a second jump success at 4.55m.

- Elsewhere...

While the spotlight in the womens’ 60m Hurdles fell on Olympic champion Dawn Harper’s first and only race of the indoor season, her compatriot Danielle Caruthers had other ideas. The winner in Valencia 12 days ago, the 29-year old Caruthers sped to an impressive victory in 7.89, just a scant 0.01 seconds shy of her career best. Eline Berings’ 7.97 performance for second was a Belgian nation record, while 2006 World champion Derval O’Rourke of Ireland dipped under eight second for the first time this season, taking third in 7.99. Unable to shake out the rust, Harper was never a factor, and finished sixth in 8.08.

In the men’s hurdles, American Dexter Faulk’s momentum continued. The 24-year-old won his fourth consecutive contest handily, beating Dutch record holder Gregory Sedoc 7.55 to 7.64.

With a strong second half, World leader Carmelita Jeter cruised to a 7.20 win in the 60m, her third victory in a row. World champion Angela Williams was second (7.27) with Yekaterina Butusova of Russia third (7.31).

The men’s dash was considerably closer, with Briton Craig Pickering edging Kim Collins in a photo finish. Both were credited with 6.58, a season’s best for Collins, last year’s World Indoor Championships runner-up. Rolando Palacios finished third in 6.62, a Honduran national record.

On the infield, Czech Roman Novotny produced much-appreciated home victory in the Long Jump after an 8.05m fourth round leap. Cuban Wilfredo Martinez was second with a season’s best 7.96m.

In the women’s High Jump, Spanish champion Ruth Betia placed herself closer to the Turin medal picture with a season’s best 1.98m clearance. Czech Iva Strakova was second, clearing 1.96m.

[ED NOTE: Attached, a general view of the O2 Arena in Prague.Credit: Bob Ramsak/TRACK PROFILE Report]

ENDS

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The TRACK PROFILE REPORT is a news and feature service published by the Track Profile News Service. In addition to regularly dispatched news, profile and interview features, subscribers also receive exclusive on-site updates from major national and international competitions, usually within 24 hours. Copyright (c) 2008 by Bob Ramsak and TRACK PROFILE. All rights reserved. Reproduction, republication, reposting and retransmission in ANY form is strictly prohibited without express permission from the editor. Small portions may be reproduced ONLY if accompanied by source citation and *ADVANCE* notice in writing to Track Profile. Please contact the editor at [email protected] for reprint permission. [ Visit www.trackprofile.com for more. ]
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