2012 AVIVA Grand Prix: Lui Xiang over Robles, Clarke beats Carter & Powell, Ennis Impressive, Epic 2 mile!, by Alfons Juck, note by Larry Eder

Liu_XiangR-AsianG10.jpgLiu Xiang, 2010 Asian Games, photo by PhotoRun.net

The AVIVA Grand Prix was a tremendous meet. Perhaps the most competitive event on the 2012 indoor circuit so far. Lui Xiang versus Dayron Robles, with Dexter Faulk and Aries Merritt made this the best 60m hurdle race of year (only David Oliver missing). Liu Xiang won in WL of 7.41 over Robles 7.50! Lerone Clarke upset both Nesta Carter and Asafa Powell. Powell just had a bad start, and Clarke and Carter rolled on. And Jessica Ennis showing her stuff in a fine 60m hurdle victory in PR 7.87 and two pbs in long jump indoors, with final 6.47m! Tianna Madison, the 2005 world champ in LONG JUMP, continues to amaze as she blasted 7.11 for 60 victory, remember she ran 7.02 and 7.05 last weekend!

Eliud Kipchoges' fast two mile of 8:07.39 over Mo Farah's hard charging 8.08.07. Farah broke the British record of John Maycock from 2002 of 8:17.06 and the 39 year old European record of 8:13.2 (set on 18 February 1973) of one Emiel Puttemans, the Belgian gardener who won silver medals in both the 5,000m and 10,000m in Munich! Farah ran tough, noting that he was a bit tired over the last 1,000 meters.

8,000 fans, sold out since November, the AVIVA Grand Prix lives up to its rep: a well attended meet, great competition and best TV on circuit. It is also a historical event, as FastTrack agency, the marketing group that brought UK Athletics in 1999, back from bankruptcy, will no longer be doing the marketing for the federation, starting March 1.

Uk Athletics Niels de Vos, paid tribute to Alan Pascoe , Jon Ridgeon and their team at Fast Track at a small cocktail party on Saturday evening, post Aviva Grand Prix. de Vos, Ridgeon and Pascoe's comments were heartfelt and thoughtful. The truth is that FastTrack has given UK athletics both a financial and media footing that is second to no national athletics federation in the world.

The glue that binds the successful merchandising and branding of a sport, and federation like UK athletics is great stories to tell. One has to go back many years to find more compelling athletes or stories. The man who will see his rep on the line is Ian Stewart, meet director and UK endurance mentor. This Aviva Grand Prix showed that the quality of the event and the enthusiasm is there as 2012 gets into full swing.

UK Athletics has the focus of the most sophisticated media organizations in the world, print, digital and TV. It comes down to one thing in 2012: how the British athletes perform. At the end, nothing else matters. It will be a fascinating year.

Liu Xiang beats Robles, Clarke beats Carter and Powell
BIRMINGHAM (GBR, Feb 18): Five world leads, one European all-time best and British success highlighted the Aviva Grand Prix meet in Birmingham NIA packed by 7500 spectators. In All-Athletics.com indoor meeting rankings Birmingham is now number one in the 2012 season. Former world record holder Liu Xiang returned in style at 60 m hurdles with national record and world leading 7.41 clearly beating Dayron Robles 7.50. In another expected top duel Lerone Clarke also got national record and world lead 6.47 in the 60 m over team-mates Nesta Carter 6.49 and Asafa Powell 6.50. Meseret Defar in great 3000 m improved her own top mark of 2012 to 8:31.56. Another world lead in men´s 2 miles by Eliud Kipchoge 8:07.39 (5th best perfomer ever) with world champion Mo Farah second in European all-time best 8:08.07. The former mark 8:13.2 by Emiel Puttemans was from exactly February 18, 1973. Jessica Ennis made the crowds happy with world leading 7.87 in the 60 m hurdles. Another PB by Ennis in long jump 647. The winner Shara Proctor twice improved the UK indoor record first to 670 and in last round to 680. More British wins in technical events for Holly Bleasdale 470 in the pole vault (on count back over Anna Rogowska 470), Robbie Grabarz 232 in the high jump (tried at 239) and J.J. Jegede 804 PB in the long jump. Former long jumper Tianna Madison continued to impress in the 60m with another pair of fair fast times. Fresh from wins over Veronica Campbell-Brown and Allyson Felix in Fayetteville last week, Madison opened her account with 7.11 in the heats followed by victory in the final in 7.07. Fastest out of the blocks, Ivet Lalova improved her PB from 7.16 to 7.14 while Ezinne Okparaebo set a Norwegian record of 7.17. Nery Brenes looked on course for victory in a very fast time in the 400m, but the Costa Rican - who was disqualified in Karlsruhe on Sunday - tripped on the curb in the home straight and fell out of contention. This allowed UK indoor champion Nigel Levine to take a repeat victory and the European under-23 champion scored an outright PB of 45.71 to move to equal fifth on the UK indoor all-time rankings and European leader. Shana Cox made it a British double with victory in the women's equivalent in 52.18 over European indoor champion Denisa Rosolova 52.44. Ethiopia took a brace of victories in the middle distances, starting with Mohamed Aman's national indoor record of 1:45.40 in the 800m. The 18-year-old lunged past European champion Marcin Lewandowski from Poland to win by one-hundredth while Joe Thomas and Andrew Osagie delivered PB performances in fourth and fifth. Team-mate Genzebe Dibaba smashed the stadium record in the 1500m. Dibaba, who was initially supposed to go head-to-head with Defar over this distance, clocked 4:01.33 while Hannah England came through in the closing stages to take the runner-up spot in 4:09.79. Nixon Chepseba prevailed ahead of a strong field in the 1500m. The Kenyan set a season's best of 3:34.70 to outsprint long-time leader Bethwel Birgen while Andy Baddeley led a spate of British indoor PBs in fifth in 3:37.16. Angelika Cichocka from Poland won the 800m in a season's best of 2:01.90.  With help from Athletics Weekly website.

Sanchez 48.78 world best
VAL DE REUIL (FRA, Feb 18): European champion Christophe Lemaitre won the 60 m at the National Indoor meet here in 6.59 ahead of Nigerian Peter Emelieze 6.60. 2004 Olympic winner Felix Sanchez clocked as first ever in the indoor 400 m hurdles sub 49 seconds with 48.78. Also fast the 7.18 by Laverne Jones-Ferrette of US Virgin Islands ahead of Vida Anim 7.29, Christine Arron 7.30 and Verena Sailer 7.32. Slovenian Marina Tomic won the 60 m hurdles in 8.13 beating Adriana Lamalle 8.14. Young Ethiopian Tizita Bogale won the 1500 m in 4:08.86. Poland´s Artur Ostrowski clocked 1:47.97 in the 800 m, Kenyan Benjamin Cheruiyot 7:57.45 in the 3000 m. Fast hurdles 7.54 by US Fred Townsend ahead of French Thomas Delmestre 7.65 and Pascal Martinot-Lagarde 7.65 (and 7.63 in heats).

Ruzavin fast at 20 km 1:17:45
SOCHI (RUS, Feb 18): In third event at Russian Winter Walking Championships fast men 20 km by Andrey Ruzavin who clocked 1:17:45 ahead of Sergey Morozov 1:17:50, Andrey Krivov 1:18:24 and Stanislav Yemelyanov 1:18:28. Ruzavin is so 10th best performer ever.

Filippidis Greek record 575
ISTANBUL (TUR, Feb 18): Kostas Filippidis of Greece improved his own national pole vault record to 575 at the Balkan Indoor Championships on site of next month´s World Indoor event. Another Greek win for Dimitrios Hondroukokis with 226 in the high jump. Serbian Asmir Kolasinac was the best in the shot put 20.05 and Azerbaijan guest Hayle Ibrahimov clocked 7:42.39 in the men´s 3000 m. In women events Bulgarian wins for Inna Eftimova at 60 m (7.26), Vania Stambolova in the 400 m (52.36) and Venelina Veneva in the high jump 193 (over Esthere Petre and Anna Simic 191). Romanian Cristina Bujin was the best in the triple jump (14.04) and home star and European champion 2010 Nevin Yanit clocked 8.16 in the 60 m hurdles.

Shmidt runs 8:41.01 NR and EL
SUMY (UKR, Feb 18): Sensational Ukrainian 3000 m record 8:41.01 by Svitlana Shmidt highlighted the third day of national indoor championships. It is also European leader 2012. Second Natalya Tobias 8:59.94. In the women 800m Natalya Lupu clocked 2:01.46 ahead of Olena Sidorska who improved the national junior record to 2:03.73. Irina Akhkozova won the long jump (653). In the high jump Viktor Shapoval beat on count back Bohdan Bondarenko, both 223 and European U23 Champion Sheryf El-Sheryf was the best in the triple jump (16.81).

Chinese dominating
HUANGZHOU (CHN, Feb 18): Asian Athletics website informs that as expected hosts China dominated the proceedings on the opening day of 5th Asian indoor athletics championships by claiming the top honours in seven out of eleven finals held. However athletes from Arab nations had also something to cheer with Iranians Reza Bouazar and Maryam Toosi annexed the gold in the 400m for men and women in 48.09 and 53.85. Leading the seven winners from China are high jumper Zheng Xingjuan and long jumper Li Jinzhe. Xingjuan, fifth at the last world indoor championships at Doha in 2010, sailed over 1.92m comfortably for the gold. However her intention to better defending champion Marina Aitova's meet mark of 1.93m could not materialised as she failed in her all three attempts at 1.95m.  East Asian Games champion Li Jinzhe achieved 798 to win.  Chinese hurdlers Jiang Fan (7.74) and Wu Shuijiao (8.24) posted new meet marks to win in their respective categories.  Berlin world championship finalist Liu Xiangrong was another athlete to improve the championship best with her 18.37m in the women shot put. Yang Yangsheng cleared 550 in the pole vault. Sensation in men´s 60 m semifinals when Iran sprinter Hassan Heidarpour improved the national record to 6.59. 

Perez 6.55, Maslak 46.14
GENT (BEL, Feb 18): Cuban Yuniel Perez was fast at IFAM Meet here when he won the 60 m in 6.55 ahead of Jaisuma Saidy Ndure of Norway 6.64 and pre-race favorite Dwain Chambers 6.70 (and 6.64 in heats). Czech Pavel Maslak bettered the old national record of Karel Kolar 46.21 in 1979 to 46.14 in the 400 m. Brian Gregan of Ireland won the other race in 46.66. Belgian 2009 European indoor champion Eline Berings got Istanbul standard 8.07 at 60 m hurdles. Spanish wins for Antonio Reina in the  800 m 1:47.36 and Jacksoin Quinonez at 60 m hurdles 7.71. Young Ethiopian Soresa Fida was the best in the 1500 m 3:42.42 beating Czech Jakub Holusa 3:42.55. Concepcion Montaner won the long jump 632 where Tatyana Lebedeva returned with 596 as fourth. German Raphael Holzdeppe was the best in men´s pole vault (553) and Rianna Galiart of Netherlands with 433 in women pole vault. Second young Ukrainian Hanna Shelekh 428 and third Aurelie De Ryck new Belgian record 428.

Karoki and Chepkirui
NAIROBI (KEN, Feb 18): Japan-based Bedan Karoki and Joyce Chepkirui braved rising temperatures of over 20 degrees celsius to triumph at national cross country championships. However, it was the absence of elite athletes, who have before dominated the event that raised concerns on the future of cross country. Majority of elite runners opted to focus on the World Indoor championships next month or the Olympics Games in August. Karoki rose to the occasion with his trademark killer sprint that left Timothy Kiptoo gasping for breath to win the men's 12km race in a time of 35:19.2. Kiptoo, who won the KCB Cross Country jackpot, finished second in 35:25.0 while World cross country bronze medallist Vincent Kiprop of Kenya Defence Forces was third in 35:37.0. Women 8km race saw little known Joyce Chemtai stun opponents to win in a time of 26:08.0. Margaret Wangare of Police finished second in a time of 26:09.4, while World marathon champion Edna Kiplagat also running for police finished third in a time of 26:12.8 and Emily Chebet finished fourth in a time of 26:17.3. From The Standard.

Otto clears 592
POTSDAM (GER, Feb 18): Second day of Potsdam Pole Vault meet saw at Sterncenter Bjorn Otto clearing world leading 592 cm but only for some minutes. After that he tried at German record 601. Otto cleared 572 in second, 582 in first and 592 again in second. Ukrainian Maksim Mazuryk was second 572 and Karsten Dilla third with 562 cm.

Lavillenie 593
NEVERS (FRA, Feb 18): European Champion Renaud Lavillenie improved the world lead of Bjorn Otto later during Saturday evening to 593 cm. The Frenchman then tried at 605 cm. At Pole Vault series final meet he achieved his 5th best mark ever.


POTCHEFSTROOM (RSA, Feb 18): Elroy Gelant won the South Africa CC Trials with 34:49 at 12 km. Second David Manja 35:01 and third Boy Soke 35:06. In women 8 km Lebo Phalula 27:08 beating Mho Mabula 27:37 and Lebogang Phalula 28:10.  The top 4 athletes (seniors and juniors) have a guaranteed spot in the team for the Africa Cross Country Championships taking place on 18 March in Cape Town.

SPALA (POL, Feb 18): Olympic finalist Artur Noga gets faster, at local meet clocked 7.69 at 60 m hurdles. Jakub Krzewina improved in the 400 m to 46.98. Karolina Tyminska in preparation for Istanbul pentathlon won the long jump (654) and the shot put (15.09).
ADLER (RUS, Feb 18): Sergey Makarov impressed at winter throwing meet with 83.39 in javelin. He extended his career 80+ seasons to all since 1994. In discus Bogdan Pishchalnikov 63.46 and his sister Darya 62.68. Marina Maksimova achieved 60.12 in women javelin.

BIRMINGHAM (GBR, Feb 18): Official 3000 m splits at 2 miles saw Tariku Bekele at 7:37.0, Eliud Kipchoge 7:37.2, Mo Farah 7:37.4 European lead 2012 and Moses Kipsiro 7:37.4.

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