Luke Fagan doesn’t only maintain his form nicely but is also slipping through the gears way deep into a long season as he made the most of a high quality dash in Dubnica, Slovakia, to surge into new territories by means of a massive PB and under the Olympic B standard of 10.21 secs (0.8m/sec) for fifth, erasing his mere four-day-old previous mark of 10.34 secs (-0.5m/sec) at Hilversum (Holland) last Sunday.

The writing was there on the wall, though, since he set a marginally windy 10.26 secs (2.1m/sec) at the BAL match at the Sportcity in mid August and the 23-year-old, a former European U20 bronze medalist over 200m, has come a long way out of the shadows that haunted him for a few straight seasons. He even cruelly missed out on the third vacant 200m spot on the British team to Daegu as he equalled the A standard of 20.60 secs a week too late on the deadline, having finished a surprise third from the outside lane at the UK Trials, but he is now making sure he bolsters up his footing as a genuine prospect for the Olympics in London next summer.

It is a real shame, however, and quite odd that men’s 200m races come so far and few between on the international circuit lately as he could demolish his PB and even storm the top of the UK rankings this season on the strength of this form.  A problem also faced by Commonwealth champion Leon Baptiste, trying to salvage something of this term, who looks likely to resort to a midweek race in Watford against 400m man Chris Clarke as a way out of a dead end.

Racewise, the men’s 100m final rose equal to its billing as it turned into an enthralling blanket affair down the home stretch that saw four sprinters come within 0.05 secs of each other across the line, eventually edged by Olympic silver medalist Richard Thompson in 10.05 secs as the Trinidadian looks to recover his best form after his slump in Daegu. Evergreen Kim Collins (SKN) came a mere two hundredths behind in 10.07, forging an excellent string of performances through the season, Jamaican Michael Frater got third spot at an equal margin in 10.09 secs and Dwain Chambers agonizingly missed out on a top three placing in 10.10 secs, having won his heat in 10.24 secs (0.4m/sec) earlier on.

The UK champion, who spends time training with Dan Pfaff’s squad, has now knitted together a haul of seven races between 10.01 to 10.10 plus a brace of 10.13s into strong headwinds, his best ever, but that sub 10 clocking still remains elusive this term. But, hopefully, this is going to shape a sound platform to launch an attack on the top tier of global sprint next summer.

In the women’s short dash A race, 23-year-old Jamaican rising prospect Schillonie Calvert, a 11.05 secs performer this summer, eased to a far more comfortable win that she would have expected in 11.17 secs over Bulgarian Ivet Lalova (11.37), a 10.96 marker this season, and compatriot Aileen Bailey (11.39), into a headwind of -0.7m/sec at that. Britain’s Anyika Onuora was a place behind in fourth in 11.54 secs to get the scalp of European indoor champion Olesya Pohv (UKR), who posted a modest by her standards 11.58 secs.

UK record holder Montell Douglas delivered the sole British win of the day in 11.65 secs into a -1.0m/sec headwind in the B race ahead of some glorious names of the past in European record holder Christine Arron (FRA, 11.76) and never-die great Jamaican Merlene Ottey, who posted 11.92 secs at her 51 years of age! What an awesome example of track and field passion the Jamaican has been stretching over four decades now!

Onuora returned on the track later on to take a second fourth place in 23.47 secs (0.4m/sec) over 200m some way behind Lalova, who controlled the race in 23.15 secs up front.

Jason Richardson, the new world champion, turned in a class of his own as he flowed over the sticks to turn in a sublime 13.08 secs (-0.1m/sec) in the 110m hurdles, adding to his fabulous tally, and way beyond Andy Turner, who had to be content with a runner-up spot in 13.49 secs ahead of Americans Jeff Porter (Tiffany‘s husband) and Ty Akins – 13.55 and 13.59 secs respectively. The top two renew their rivalry in the streets of Newcastle at the Great North City Games on Saturday before they both bow out of the 2011 track season.

Onto the infield, the imprerious Valerie Adams (NZL) reigned nonchalantly to spare massive daylight of over two and a half metres on the women’s shot put field with a third-round 20.73m, backed up by a Valeridiction 20.50 put and second-effort 20.42m, whereas the hammer turned into a thriller in stark contrast as Betty Heidler (GER) ground out a fifth-round 75.83m to just sneak ahead of world champion Tatyana Lysenko‘s early lead of 75.80m for a narrowest victory.

On the men’s side, late developer Trevor Barry (BAH), Daegu’s bronze medalist, effected a slight upset on new global champion Jesse Williams (USA) at 2.27m on countback in the high jump, Ivan Ukhov staying at just 2.24m for third, while relatively unknown Bernard Mbungua (KEN) served up the shocker of the day as he outclassed his illustrious compatriots Paul Kipsiele Koech and Ezekiel Kemboi in the 3000m steeplechase to a runaway win in a big PB of 8:12.27, the latter two coming well behind in 8:16.62 and 8:20.80 respectively.

Finally, Lashawn Merritt cruised to some easy spoils in a admittedly slow 45.75 secs over 400m, probably in not so conductive conditions, as Berlin bronze medalist Rennie Quow (TRI) failed to conclude his efforts.

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