Isinbayeva Sets First World Record in three years at Golden Gala, by Bob Ramsak, Notes by Larry Eder


Yelena's Isinbayeva set a world record in the pole vault at the Golden Gala in Rome last night. Her jump of 5.03, or 16-6 was her first world record in three years, and shows the naysayers that Isinbayeva is indeed the most dominant athlete of this era. Jenn Stuzcynski's clearance of 4.92 is putting some pressur eon Isinbayeva, but both athletes are at differenct parts of their careers. We will look forward to a battle royale over the pole vault, coming soon!

Wariner's slight win over Merritt should give Wariner some confidence. But the races in this event through Beijing should be fascinating!



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

[NOTE: Delay in transmission due to travel. My apologies for any inconveniences. - BR]

ROME – Failing to raise her own world record since 2005, Yelena Isinbayeva has attracted no shortage of critics over the past two seasons. But in her eagerly-awaited outdoor debut, the 26-year-old Russian silenced those detractors quickly with a sensational 5.03m (16-6) clearance to highlight Friday night’s 28th Golden Gala, the third stop on the six-meet ÅF Golden League series.

After a pair of seasons in which she struggled to master technical changes instituted after a move to a new coach at the end of 2005, the Isinbayeva who debuted in the Italian capital tonight was on the surface an entirely different jumper than the one we last witnessed at the World indoor championships just four months ago. That she was technically sharp and fast was readily apparent from her opening 4.70m (15-5) height, when all but three others had already called it a night, a massive clearance that indicated that a world record might be in the cards in the evening’s final event.

A first attempt success at 4.80m (15-9) followed. She needed a second try before a monster clearance at 4.95m (16-2 ¾ ) --supplanting American record holder Jenn Stuczynski as the world leader-- before her second attempt success at 5.03m added two centimeters to her previous record while upping her tally of outdoor world records to 12, and 22 overall.

“I expected it,” she said. “I expected to break the world record tonight.”

Two years ago, Isinbayeva predicted that she could well take the record up several more notches, predicting that 5.20m (17-0 ¾ ) could be possible. After this evening, that figure doesn’t seem so far fetched.

Poland’s Monika Pyrek was second, topping out at 4.75m (15-7) with Germany’s Silke Spiegelburg third at 4.70m(15-5).

- Wariner strikes back, but just barely

While Isinbayeva provided the late hour heroics on a thoroughly entertaining evening at the Stadio Olimpico, the keenly anticipated face-off between Jeremy Wariner, the world and Olympic champion, and his rapidly rising challenger, LaShawn Merritt, in the 400m, certainly didn’t disappoint. After a pair of successive defeats at the hands of Merritt, Wariner came through with a much needed confidence booster, albeit by the narrowest of margins. After a relentless dual over the final 50 meters, Wariner, running to Merritt’s inside in lane four, got the edge when Merritt mistimed his lean, winning by a scant 0.01 seconds in 44.36. Their next, and final round prior to Beijing, comes next Friday night in Paris. [For more on Wariner-Merritt, se TPR #782].

- Jelimo, Vlasic stay alive in Jackpot chase

While drama was the operative descriptor in the men’s 400m, dominance was yet again the only superlative to describe Pamela Jelimo’s latest outing in the 800m. Taking over from pacesetter, former world 400m champion Amy Mbacke Thiam, at the bell, the Kenyan teenager yet again built a substantial that was never challenged to stay alive in the $1 million Golden League Jackpot chase. This time she clocked 1:55.69, again beating the reigning world champion Janeth Jepkosgei (1:58.74) by more than three full seconds. Ukrainian Yuliya Krevsun was just a tick behind (1:58.74) in third, with Maryam Yusuf Jamal (1:59.34), the world 1500m champion, fourth.

Russian Yelena Soboleva, who produced a sub-1:56 performance last weekend in Tula, was initially entered, but was apparently a late hour withdrawal, choosing instead to spend the weekend at home where she clocked a world-leading 3:56.59 over 1500m at the Kuts Memorial in Moscow on Thursday.

By comparison, Blanka Vlasic seemed a mere mortal in the high jump, but nonetheless joined Jelimo in the jackpot hunt with her 32nd straight victory. The Croatian star didn’t miss until the bar was raised to 2.05m (6-8 ¾ ); once there she produced one good attempt before calling it a night. Her 2.00m (6-6 ¾ ) winning height was her lowest of the season, yet it’s a height that only four others have negotiated thus far this year. One of those is Olympic champion Yelena Slesarenko, who finished second, beating Belgian Tia Hellebaut; both cleared 1.98m (6-6).

- Another injury scare for Powell?

It took a careful photo reading to determine the winner of the men’s 100m. Portugal’s Francis Obikwelu, the Olympic silver medallist was given the nod over world silver medallist Derrick Atkins, with both stopping the clock in 10.04, just ahead of Jamaican Nesta Carter.

The headlines were created in the opening round however, where Asafa Powell’s injury woes continued. After building a significant lead midway through the first of two heats, the former world record holder abruptly pulled up some 30 meters from the finish, fading to fifth in 10.19. His manager Paul Doyle confirmed that he suffered a mild groin cramp, but didn’t expect it to be a serious injury.

“He’s had problems in that area in the past so it’s just too risky to run in the final,” he said, adding, “He felt completely fine before the race.”

- Laalou, Kiprop kick to middle distance wins

Two years ago, Amine Laalou cruised to a surprise victory here with a Moroccan national record of 1:43.25, and tonight he put in an encore performance. Yusuf Saad Kamel controlled the race after the pace setter stepped off the track, but Olympic silver medallist Mbulaeni Mulaudzi was on his shoulder, at the ready to pounce down the homestretch. He did at the top of the straight with his sites set for home. But Laalou powered by on the outside to steal a strong victory in 1:44.27 to Mulaudzi’s 1:44.61. Saad Kamel (1:44.68), the son of former world champion Billy Konchellah, held on for third while world champion Alfed Kirwa Yego, in the front after the first lap, faded to fifth (1:45.05).

Teenagers have been creating quite a few headlines in the middle distances thus far this season, so it shouldn’t have been a complete surprise when 19-year-old Asbel Kiprop surged powerfully from third to victory in the 1500m.

Morocco’s Abdalaati Iguider, the winner of three of his four races this year, positioned himself nicely before moving to the front with about 300 meters to go. Two-time European champion Mehdi Baala challenged as the leaders headed into the final straight, but Abdalaati managed to fend off the Frenchman’s challenge. But not so when Beijing-bond Kiprop glided be effortlessly on the outside en route to his 3:31.64 win, a career-best by nearly three-and-a-half seconds. A surprise fourth at the world championships a year ago, Kiprop has already collected some noteworthy honors. Last year he won both the world junior cross country title and the African Games crown at 1500m.

Iguider, the runner-up, was awarded with a 3:31.88 personal best, edging Algerian Tarek Boukensa (3:31.98), who just barely edged Baala (3:32.00) at the line.

- Dibaba cruises

In her first 5000m appearance since smashing the world record at Oslo’s ExxonMobil Bislett Games a month ago, Meseret Defar had no intentions to mount an assault on that 14:11.15 standard. But she did show that her month-long lay off did little to dull her race sharpness. But the time pacesetter Olga Komyagina reached 2000m in just over 5:42 --the pace in Oslo was just over 5:43—only Dibaba and Ethiopian compatriot Meselech Melkamu were left in the leading pack. The pair took turns with the lead in the latter stages, until Dibaba took the lead for good at the bell, and powered away with half a lap to go. Her 14:36.58 performance was the third fastest in the world this year, with Melkamu (14:38.78) becoming the sixth woman under 14:40 this season.

Kim Smith continues to improve. Finishing fourth, the New Zealander set a new Australian Area record, clocking 14:45.93, supplanting Benita Johnson’s 14:47.60 set six years ago. The 26-year-old Smith, knocked nearly four seconds from her previous best of 14:49.41 from last year.

Sileshi Sihine defended his Golden Gala title in the men’s 5000m, out-kicking Eliud Kipchoge down the homestretch, 13:04.94 to 13:05.26. Tariku Bekele, who controlled part of the early pace, was third, clocking 13:06.00.

There was little drama in the men’s steeplechase, with world champion Brimin Kipruto (8:15.71) kicking away from Olympic champion Ezekiel Kemboi (8:16.91) with relative ease. “I have a good feeling about Beijing,” said Kipruto, the Olympic silver medallist four years ago.

- Jackpot chase ends for Onyia, Jackson, Al-Sabee

With their 1-2 finish, Jamaicans Brigitte Foster-Hylton (12.60) and Delloreen Ennis-London (12.62) put an end to Josephine Onyia’s Jackpot run. The Spaniard, who took surprise victories in both Berlin and Oslo, was a distant sixth here, clocking 12.85.

Conversely, world record holder Dayron Robles simply crushed the field in the men’s 110m hurdles. Building a clear lead by the third hurdle, the 21-year-old Cuban cruised to a 13.08 victory, a country mile ahead of runner-up Sergiy Demidyuk (13.40) of Ukraine and Beijing-bound American David Payne, who clocked 13.43. But Robles was particularly impressed.

“I didn’t feel any spark of speed during the race,” he said.

Bershawn Jackson also watched his Jackpot hopes slip away as world champion Kerron Clement effortlessly passed him over the final barrier to win the 400m hurdles in 48.23, to Jackson’s 48.34.

Jamaican Melaine Walker looked impressive down the homestretch in the women’s race, winning comfortably in 54.36 from Pole Anna Jesien (54.71).

American champions Allyson Felix (200m) and Sanya Richards (400m) switched preferred distances with mixed results. Felix was an easy winner in the 400 clocking 50.25, well ahead of Jamaicans Novlene Williams (50.79) and Shericka Williams (50.83). It wasn’t quite as quick as Felix was hoping for. “I still have to recover from the trials, she said.”

Richards, a finalist in the 200m at last year’s world championships over the half lap, cruised a season’s best 22.49 but was still well behind Jamaican standout Kerron Stewart, who won running away in 22.34. Bahraini Rakia Al-Gassra, who looked impressive a week ago with her 100m victory in Milan, ran a strong turn but faded from second to fourth over the final 40 meters, clocking a national record 22.65.

Apparently back to full fitness, Irving Saladino returned to action to win the long jump with an 8.30m (27-2 ¾ ) effort. Modest by the Panamanian’s standards, it was nonetheless enough to turn back the Saudi pair of Mohamed Al Khuwalidi (8.22m /26-11 ¾ ) and Hussein Al-Sabee (8.08m /26-6 ¼ ), ending the latter’s Jackpot run.

World champion Tero Pitkamaki led a Finnish 1-2 in the men’s javelin, reaching 87.70m (289-7) to win ahead of Tero Jarvenpaa (83.45m /273-9).


Used with permission of Track Profile, and publisher Bob Ramsak.

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