This was my first night in Roma, ever, and it lived up to the billing that I had given it all of these years. Fidal (the Italian Federation) and the Italian Olympic Committee, I have been told, really upped the game this year. They were rewarded with one of the best nights of track & field that I can remember in my 35 years of being a track geek.
The setting, was, well, glorious. The Stadio Olympico is imposing and a huge setting for any sporting event. Right next to the Stadio Olympico is the 1960 Olympic track site, which was being used as the training track for Thursday evening’s festivities.
The crowd of 47,000 plus was enthusiastic and knowledgable. They were also remarkably young, which gave me much solace. Lots of young track fans!
photo by PhotoRun.net
Who were they here to see? Usain Bolt, Andrew Howe received much of the applause. Their local hero, a World Champs medalist, Andrew Howe is finally on the comeback trail.
The only down time for the crowd, the entire night, was the men’s 5,000 meters, as no local runners were in the event. Not that Imane Merga’s WL was not fun to watch for track geeks. The 2011 World Cross Champion and 2010 Samsung leader is exciting to watch. However, how to we satisfy the quest for fast times and the interest for local heroes? The local identity brings in new fans. This is one of our sport’s true challenges. And this was a perfect night for fast distance races, as seven men under 13:00.6 for 5,000 meters can attest!
The biggest surprise of the night may have been Khadevis Robinson, who won the 800 meters, having built a strong lead off the final stretch. Our lesson of the evening-it is all about the competition, and Robinson’s stretch run entertained and challenged many middle distance fans.
The third stop of the 2011 Samsung Diamond League showed our sport at its best: great competition and new stars draw the fans. The 2011 Compeed Golden Gala, Roma, would have made the late IAAF President, Primo Nebiolo quite proud, I believe.
The current IAAF President, Lamine Diack, was in attendance, and seemed quite pleased with this great night of Athletics in the Eternal city.
BOLT WINS, 7 WORLD LEADS
ROME (ITA, May 26): The 31st Compeed Golden Gala
meet which was 3rd stop of Samsung Diamond League registered seven world
leading marks and close win of superstar Usain Bolt at the 100 m. Some 40 000 watched an
excellent evening of athletics in typical Italian summer weather. Also a world
junior record was broken in women steeple race and seven European leading marks
of the year are rounding the facts of the day.
Event by event
100 m: Usain Bolt returned after 10 months with a win in 9.91 (+0.6)
after a slow starting reaction 0.174 and strong finish. Second Asafa Powell in
9.93 (67th sub 10 what is new record) and third Christophe Lemaitre clocked
European leading 10.00. “I think over the time it should be ok. I got through
my first race. I was so nervous. I got a bad start and then kind of started to
panic. My coach will analyze the race. I was not proud of the race. But I am
getting there,” Bolt was quoted.
200 m: Home win is always nice. Long jumper Andrew Howe beat sprint
specialist in 20.31 (+1.1), the fastest time in Europe
this year. Jamaican Marvin Anderson from Racers TC was second (20.49). This was
400 m: Chris Brown had the best finish in 45.16 over Jermaine Gonzalze
45.43 and another European lead 45.53 by Jonathan Borlee. Also non-DL.
800 m: RudishaÂ´s pacemaker Tangui started well for a fast race (49.83)
but the rest did not follow. At the end a surprise win for US Khadevis Robinson
1:45.10 over World champ Mulaudzi 1:45.50.
5000 m: Diamond Race winner 2010 Imane Merga as usual waited and won
with first years sub 13 (12:54.21). Second Isaiah Koech, the surprise of the
indoor season, who as junior improved outdoors to 12:54.59 (but was faster
indoors this year). Chepkok third 12:55.29, Sihine returned to the track after
two years with 12:57.86 as 5th. Six dipped sub 13.
400mH: LJ Van Zyl remains unbeaten in 47.91 over Dai Greene who had his
best ever opener 48.24 (also EL).
PV: Renaud Lavillenie returned the Doha
loss to Malte Mohr with 582 (WL) first attempt clearance, Mohr was second
(572), Mazuryk third (562).
TJ: Idowu started the season well, with world lead 17.59 in third attempt
(-0.6). He was only 1 cm
behind the meet record of Jonathan Edwards. Olsson solid second 17.29.
SP: Canadian record holder Armstrong remains unbeaten with 21.60 in fifth attempt.
Majewski is getting better (21.16) and was second over Hoffa (21.13) and
4×100 m: Canada
won this race over European teams in 38.65. Second Italy 38.89 (EL) and third Germany 39.09.
200 m: That was a tough combination and so another surprise win of the
evening for Bianca Knight in 22.64 (+0.9) over Kerron Stewart 22.74 and Debbie
Ferguson 22.76. After the 400
m Felix was 4th (22.81) and Sanya 5th (22.88).
400 m: World leading nice 49.81 win for Felix over Montsho 50.47,
McCorory 50.70, Dunn 50.79 and Sanya Richards-Ross getting faster 50.98 as 5th.
1500 m: Here the world lead was expected, but Maryam Jamal showed superb
shape after a commanding win in 4:01.60 over Meskerem Assefa 4:02.12 (PB),
third Burka 4:03.28 beating Doha winner Mishchenko 4:03.53 and last year
Diamond winner Langat 4:03.66.
Steeple: Milcah Chemos is the name here, world leading 9:12.89 at the
end. Second Sofia Assefa improved to Ethiopian record 9:15.04 and fourth Adamu
Birtukan improved the world junior record to 9:20.37. Briton Hatti Dean as
sixth EL 9:37.95.
100mH: Another thriller. Harper at the end gets it in 12.70 (+1.1) with
Wells second 12.73, Carruthers followed 12.80 and Swiss Urech superb fourth
12.84 (EL). Lolo Jones stepped on the 6th hurdle (at that time was in
contention for top 3) and did not finish.
HJ: Blanka Vlasic cleared as only 195 in second and then tried at two meters. A
group of four cleared 192 behind her.
LJ: World champ Brittney Reese in fourth attempt got 694 (-0.4) and in
sixth the same 694 (-0.2). Second early leader Jimoh (687, -0.1).
DT: Perkovic gets second win with 65.56, Barrios second 64.18,
interestingly both top marks in second round.
JT: Russian Abakumova responded with 65.40 in fourth round.
Second Obergfoll 63.97 and third Spotakova 63.32.
KUNSHAN (CHN, May 26): Defending Asian Champion Margarita Matsko of
Kazakhstan not only improved on her season leading time but also set new record
of Asian GP in women 800 m
with a solo run 2:00.89 during second of three meets Asian GP series. Former
Asian champion and World and Olympic finalist Xie Limei of China delivered
a fine performance in women’s triple jump 14.06. In women high jump
Uzbekistan’s Svetlana Radzivil beat on count-back Thailand’s Wanida Boonwan as
both cleared 192 cm.
Yun Zhiming took the long jump with 805 (-0.1). In triple jump Korea’s record
holder Kim Duk-Hyung won with 16.87 (-0.7) just 1 cm ahead of home Dong Bin
(16.86). Surprise in menÂ´s discus as Wu Jian achieved 62.56 and was better than
Iranian duo Mahmoud Samimi (62.29) and Mohammed Samimi (62.03). But the win for
by Sajad Moradi in the 800 m
(1:47.95). Fan Jiang clocked fast 13.55 (+0.5) in the 110 m hurdles and Zhang
Guowei cleared 228 in
high jump. Chen Qiang was the fastest in the 100 m (10.45, -0.4) and China won the
4×100 m in 39.46. The series ends on Sunday in Wunjiang. With help from Asian
SOFIA (BUL, May 26): Nikolay Atanasov started the season at the “New
Stars” meeting with 796 in
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