Category: World Championships


After the ladies, there comes now the turn of the gentlemen and time to pick the top male performer on the arena of Istanbul at the end of last week. There is a wide range of choices available starting with the big guns as Aston Eaton ran over both the opposition and the world record with a mighty 6645pts in the heptathlon, great Bernard Lagat timed his race to perfection to hold off the younger challenges of Augustine Choge and Mo Farah in a highly tactical 3000m, Renaud Lavillenie finally fended off a resurgent Brad Walker in the skies of pole vault and Justin Gatlin evoked images of his grandeur of old to dominate the men’s 60m in 6.46 secs.

Nevertheless, surprises seemed to be the order of the day as Aries Merritt got it right when it mattered on a wishy-washy build-up through the rounds to stun Xiang Liu over the hurdles, Dimitris Hondrokoukis must have been hardly fancied in any quarters to steal a narrow win over very much the who-is-who of men’s high jump, Ryan Whiting struck a stunning late winner over David Storl right when the shot put contest looked like heading the German’s way and ‘overlooked’ Costarican Nery Brenes forced Kirani James into the shadows on a searing run of 45.13 secs in the 400m.

Christian Taylor‘s defeat at the hands of countryman Will Claye, who pulled together a superb series, in the triple jump would not so much strike as a surprise on the form books as over the manner of it, having opened out to a seeming gold medal banker of 17.63m before the latter came back with a massive 17.70m in the second round.

So whom would you pick as top man in Istanbul?

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With the World Indoor Championships now behind us and slotted into the timeline of history, it’s about time to assess performances and pick out the individuals that have made the greatest impression around on the arena of Istanbul from Friday through to Sunday. Let’s start with the ladies first where there is a wide diversity of choices on offer to pick from.

Natalya Dobrynska blended an upset on favourites Jessica Ennis and Tatyana Chernova along with a world record in the pentathlon, Sanyar Richards-Ross thoroughly dominated the 400m, Sally Pearson turned a class apart over the hurdles in 7.73 secs and Brittney Reese worked magic to fly out to a massive 7.23m in the long jump.

But there were also the underdogs that triumphed like returning mother Chaunte Howard-Lowe to stun the nearly invincible Anna Chicherova in the high jump, Yamile Aldama to land a first major title well into her 39 years at an impressive 14.82m and the British quarter of Shana Cox, Nicola Sanders, Christine Ohuruogu and Perri Shakes-Drayton that ran out of their skin to pip the US outfit on the line against all odds in the women’s 4x400m.

So whom would you go for? Make your pick please!

It started like a dream, it ended in heartbreak… Jessica Ennis blasted out of her blocks to a lightning start to her pentathlon venture over the hurdles but a similar, yet sharper, fluctuating performing pattern to Daegu saw her surrender a second title in a row at the back end of the day.

The early to mid stages of the pentathlon hardly suggested that Ennis could possibly miss out on gold

Astonishingly enough, it wasn’t Tatyana Chernova, widely touted as the major threat in the run-up, to thwart her plans as the Russian languished nearly anonymous on the fringes of the affair but Olympic champion Natalya Dobrynska who struck a decisive blow out of the woodwork right when her own challenge looked like weathered away.

As Ennis admitted post-competition, there can always be slip-ups on the way as such is the nature of multi-events but what might suggest an alarming streak was that they cropped up on the same corners of the arena, namely the jumps. Which, in turn, is mystifying seeing that her build-up in both disciplines was very promising; an indoor PB of 6.47m in the long jump and a straight return to 1.90s in the high jump.

The European champion is a fierce competitor second to none, never lacking mettle or desire, and an ultimate professional that leaves nothing to chance in her preparations so how those ‘lapses’ in her performance could be possibly accounted for? This is going to be a very challenging area for her and coach Tony Minichiello to probe effectively over the following months and smoothe out any potential underlying issue leading up to London.

There was plenty of speculation hanging around over how genuine was Chernova’s 8.02 secs in the 60m hurdles recently at the Russian Championships. Such a mark could substantially shift the dynamics of the contest and the towering Russian was called on to confirm her revised status. Well, in the end she hardly did herself any favours in the face of it, just as her season-find compatriot Ekaterina Bolshova nowhere near justified her startling early season huge world-leading PB of 4896pts.

Ennis screamed out of her marks to leave everyone else for dead by hurdle two and blazed down the track to claim the race by a street in a sizzling 7.91 secs, her second fastest ever worth 1150pts, and gain a firm hold on the lead from the off as Chernova struggled in vain to offer any sort of competition in a distant second in 8.29 secs for 1064pts, within her familiar standards.

Dobrynska arrived further behind in third in 8.38 secs to pick up 1044pts whereas Bolshova wound up a disappointing last but one in 8.62 secs for just 991pts.

The first damage to Ennis’s chances may have been brought on in the high jump as she departed well earlier than anticipated with only 1.87m (1067pts) to her name, at the third effort at that, but that didn’t seem to matter much at the time as Bolshova tied at the same height, with Chernova staying a notch lower along with Dobrynska at 1.84 (1029pts).

And it looked all but game over when the Briton rebounded well from a relatively slow start of 13.89 to register a SB of 14.39m second time out and wind up to a big total PB of 14.79m (847pts) in the final round of the shot, soaking up the anticipated counter-attack of Dobrynska who had to do with 16.51m (962pts, SB) in a stronghold of hers.

That was the place where the Ukrainian would have hoped to mount a charge to the front, a 17 plus performer, but Ennis held on to her lead even by a shade to effectively tighten her grip on gold.

Austra Skujyte (LTU) moved into the top three (second) for the first time with 16.26m (946pts) whereas Chernova looked done despite a SB of 13.90 (787pts) and Bolshova threw the towel into the circle after a poor 12.07m (666pts) at the bottom of the order.

Nevertheless, Ennis was caught on the hop and left stranded as Dobrynska hit a SB of 6.57m (1030pts) at the death in the long jump to turn the affair thoroughly round into a firm favourite with a lead of 93pts and just a discipline to spare, making the best of the Briton’s slump to just 6.19m (908pts) compounded with a foul in the final round, while Skujyte remained second as the two swapped places either side of her.

The final stages of the pentathlon with Dobrynska setting a new world record

The ghosts of Daegu manifested themselves to haunt Ennis again as she went into the 800m chasing the nearly impossible of beating the Ukrainian with at least a 6.5 secs margin, which turned a bridge too far in the end. The final act was simply played out with Dobrynska shadowing her every move round the track to keep within safe distance of a late surge in a PB of 2:11.15 and finally clinch the much coveted global crown.

On top of that, the fast pace ensured she toppled the long-standing world record of Irina Belova (RUS) with a total of 5013pts in the wake to become the first ever marker to breach the barrier of 5000pts in history, doubling the effect and her delight – it’s not a little thing making history after all.

Ennis was still rewarded for her heroic efforts with a new UK record of 4965pts for silver as she crossed the line first in a PB of 2:08.09 and will take plenty of material to the drawing-board in order to lay out the best possible campaign to London. If anything, she knows that she is still the best, what she has got to do is make sure she doesn’t fall into the same pitfalls again.

Skujyte held comfortably the third spot for a well-deserved bronze on also a national record of 4802 pts but Chernova will be far from pleased to wind up fifth on 4725 and so will be a mere sixth Bolshova on 4639pts.

Eaton marches on in the heptathlon

By stark contrast to a knife-edged pentathlon, the men’s equivalent has turned into an Aston Eaton vs the scoring system affair that can hardly bear the term contest as his rivals cannot anywhere near keep up with his dizzy pace through the disciplines.

The American may have been somewhat slow out of his marks to a 6.79 secs (958pts) in the 60m, still sufficient to hand him an early 29-point edge, but settled quickly into his stride to take off to a sensational PB of 8.16m (1102pts) in the long jump and well on world record pace, gathering 2060pts and a 151pts lead on Oleksiy Kasyanov (UKR).

A second PB on the bounce with 14.56m (763pts) in the shot injected further impetus into his challenge to 2823pts after three disciplines, Kasyanov slicing off the deficit to 110pts, and Eaton topped off the first day over a SB of 2.03m (831pts) for a total of 3654pts so far, a sound 165pts on the Ukrainian and a full 365pts on currently third-placed Artem Lukyanenko (RUS).

Elsewhere…

Dwain Chambers kept his nerve and coped well to start the defence of his title on the front foot as he commanded the last first-round heat of the 60m in 6.65 secs amidst nearly farcical circumstances that as good as compromised the credibility of the championships on the first day. What with the malfunction of speakers in the starting blocks and the system failing to identify flyers time and again, there was havoc wreaked and heavy casualties made across the opening flights of heats in both men’s dash and the women’s hurdles.

None more so than slight pre-event favourite Lerone Clarke (JAM) who was left chasing shadows and even hobbled injured across the line in just 7.05 secs in the third heat for a short-lived cameo in the championships as Italian Simone Collio was allowed to get away with a blatant false-start, winning in 6.68 secs.

All the same, former world champion Justin Gatlin showed composure to put away the penultimate section in 6.64 secs with ease and suggest an early favourite, fastest out of the preliminaries, as countryman Trell Kimmons had notched the previous run in a slower 6.70 secs.

In the same light, sensational American Kristi Castlin, top-ranked in the world, was left watching in dismay as the other runners were going away waiting for a recall that never came after a flyer apparently coming from the adjacent left lane by final top-placer Alina Talay (BLR, 8.11) in the second heat, with Jamaican Vonette Dixon also pulling over after the second hurdle in the same thought.

British captain Tiffany Porter, having born the brunt of a renewed malicious ‘plastic Brit’ attack by Daily Mail, negotiated her task and tension superbly to come away a thorough winner of heat three in 8 secs dead and assert herself as a genuine medal contender, nevertheless it was global outdoor champion Sally Pearson (AUS) that sent rumbles of thunder around the arena as she stormed over the sticks to a blistering 7.85 secs to emerge as red hot favourite for gold, a new Oceanian record from the outset.

Both Brits made their way into the semifinals of the men’s 800m although via different routes in a preliminary round that saw Sudan’s Ismail Ismail, fourth in Doha, bomb out early but otherwise followed normal service.

Joe Thomas opted to take matters from the front this once to put away the fourth heat in 1:49.73 but a foot injury creeping in saw him slightly struggle in the dying stages and could compromise his chances. On the other hand, Andie Osagie was narrowly edged out of the automatic places by a mere two hundredths into third in the same time earlier in the second section and endured a nervous wait before he ensured of his own passage as best of six fastest losers, yet rather comfortably in the end.

Results

http://www.iaaf.org/mini/wic12/Results/ResultsByDate.aspx?racedate=03-09-2012

An stunning performance by the quartet of Shana Cox, Nicola Sanders, Christine Ohuruogu and a sensational Perri-Shakes Drayton snatches gold narrowly ahead of the US team, anchored by individual champion Sanya Richards-Ross, in a thrilling relay encounter

Sally Pearson (AUS) dazzles over the hurdles to an overwhelming victory in 7.73 secs, equal fourth all-time, while British captain Tiffany Porter recovers from a poor start to snatch silver in 7.94 secs

Nery Brenes was hardly even brought up as a contender in the run-in, though the signs were there, but took the men’s 400m by storm in a searing 45.13 secs

Sanya Richards-Ross dominates the women’s 400m from start to finish by nearly a second in 50.79 secs with Britain’s Shana Cox 5th in an indoor best of 52.13 secs

Chaunte Howard-Lowe returns with a vengeance to stun red-hot favourite Anna Chicherova over a winning 1.98m in the high jump

Aston Eaton takes the world record by storm to 6645pts in winning the Heptathlon by a mile

American Ryan Whiting stages a stunning late onslaught to come away with gold in the shot, launching the two furthest puts in the world in his last two attempts – 22.00 & 21.98m!

Will Claye and Christian Taylor battle out an enthralling triple jump affair at dizzy distances of 17.70 and 17.63m respectively

Veronica Campbell-Brown leaves it late but comes through, even narrowly, to retain her global title in the women’s 60m

London have well-deservedly earned the right to host the World Athletics Championships in 2017 and bring the prestigious athletics showpiece to Britain for the first time in history after a successful bid to IAAF in Monaco.

There might have been a nervous wait until the verdict of the 27-strong council came out, falling slightly behind schedule, but the British capital’s case was always the most convincing to emerge comfortable winners in the end by 16 votes to 10, as IAAF president Lamine Diack announced. The president himself does not vote save the event of a tie.

Sebastian Coe, who once again proved to be the talisman of British Athletics with his ‘Midas’ touch, said “We believe 2017 will cement the clear, unambiguous vision we offered the world in 2005, a vision that promised a real legacy through unprecedented levels of investment in our new national stadium. This is the natural continuation of the work being done on 2012.”

He was the one who initiated the presentation before teenage sprint sensation Jodie Williams and Sydney heptathon Olympic champion Denise Lewis took over for the main pieces of the bid.

The final outcome marks the effective start of a ‘Golden Age’ and a lasting legacy for athletics in the country that will savour both the Olympic Games and the World Championships within five years, a finest incentive to retain the firm upturn in the fortunes of the sport and engage more and more people on the way. So plenty to look forward to and rejoice!

Interior view of the Olympic stadium at Stratford

The tension and anticipation is soaring up as the clock is ticking the hours away towards crunch time, around 4pm GMT, as London and Doha will be engaging in the final act of the battle for the right to host the 2017 World Championships, with plenty at stake on both sides.

For London there is more than the prestige of staging yet another major sport event in quick succession on the Olympics in the forthcoming summer. A winning decision is going to be instrumental in retaining the athletics legacy of the new-buit Olympic stadium at Stratford and keeping the momentum going for the following five years after London’s Olympics showpiece. There is nothing but the most important piece missing to complete the picture.

Interestingly, the presentation of the bid will be entrusted with two women who represent the glorious past and athletics tradition in the shape of Sydney heptathlon champion Denise Lewis, heading up the scheme, and the golden future of the sport in teenage sprint prodigy Jodie Williams. That could turn a brilliant stroke on the part of the London team particularly stressing silently the opposite reality of Doha in that aspect.

But maybe a good deal of the British capital’s fortunes will lie again with a man lying and watching a little further behind; Sebastian Coe, the talisman of British athletics as he has emerged to be and the bearer of powerful influence both as a former great of the track and a vice president of the IAAF currently. Could he apply his ‘Midas’ touch once again?

Undoubtedly, London has so much going for it and holds so many advantages over Doha to claim the precious prize. The infrastructure to stage such an event is sound and already in place, there is a rich tradition and legacy running through the entire history of the sport, the guarantee of large knowledgeable crowds packing the Olympic stadium session in session out, by far better and more conductive competitive conditions and the city itself shapes a pulsating multicultural hub of the modern world second maybe only to New York.

There have been vivid latest rumours and speculation that IAAF may opt to please both sides and hand over a global championships to London and Doha apiece between 2017 and 2019. But there is nothing more than speculation to that at the moment whereas the championships at stake is “what London will be able to deliver” in the worlds of Coe. Which makes the final decision so crucial later today.

Hopefully, everything is going to work in London’s favour to hold all the aces today (11-11-11) and this day is not only going to serve as ‘Remembrance Day’ but also as a day to remember for years to come.

Greats Maurice Greene and Gail Devers have been among the latest inductees to the National Track and Field Hall of Fame as announced by US Track and Field earlier in the week, formally admitted into the halls of the very great American athletes of all time.

‘Mo’ won four global titles over 100 and 200m from 1997 through to 2001 and crowned an illustrious sprint career with a convincing Olympic title over the short dash in Sydney 2000, holding off Trinidadian teammate Ato Boldon.

He was very much invincible and dominated the 100m scene in particular like very few in history during those golden five seasons, holding the world record with 9.79 secs set in Athens in 1999 (0.1m/sec) before the Jamaicans took over.

Greene blows away the challenge of Tim Montgomery to win the 100m in 9.82 secs despite limping over the last 15m or so in Edmonton 2001

Despite ongoing serious injury problems following 2001, he managed to stretch his medal-winning streak into Athens 2004 where he got Olympic bronze in a blanket finish thriller snatched by Justin Gatlin at the death. He still owns the 60m world record indoors at a daunting 6.39 secs.

Devers, for her part, was one of a special kind as she combined the flat and the hurdles 100m to the highest level like none else. Funnily enough, while she won two rather surprise Olympic titles over the dash on the trot, regarded as her ‘second’ event, she never got her hands on an Olympic medal of any colour in her speciatly, the hurdles.

Devers denies Merlene Ottey to the 100m global title by a fraction in a blistering 10.82 secs in Stuttgart 1993

She did claim, though, three world titles and two silvers therein spanning an amazing 10 years from 1991 in Tokyo to 2001 in Edmonton. On top of that, she collected four indoor global golds in either the flat or the hurdles 60m.

This is a ‘behind-the-scenes’ video on some of the British athletes during the last stage of their preparations at the holding camp in Ulsan. A nice funny glimpse at some different and maybe widely unknown aspects of certain athletes. Check it out!

A rejuvenated Dwight Phillips upsets pre-championships favourite Mitchell Watt (AUS) to conquer an equal record fourth world title and carve his name alongside Ivan Pedroso (CUB) at the very top of the men’s long jump in the history of the championships.

Veronica Campbell-Brown eventually bucks the trend to claim her first ever 200m gold ahead of 100m champion Carmelita Jeter and defending champion Allyson Felix (USA)

Jesse Williams (USA) edges gold in a pulsating final in the men’s high jump

Usain Bolt wins the 200m in a sizzling 19.42 secs from twice silver medalist in Daegu Walter Dix

Mariya Savinova stuns Semenya Caster down the home straight to claim a thrilling victory in the women’s 800m

Mo Farah turns his dream into shape to mount the top of the world in the 5000m holding off great Bernard Lagat (USA)

Sally Pearson (USA) storms to a lightning 12.28 secs to win the women’s 100m hurdles

The battle of battles in the women’s javelin eventually tipping towards Maria Abakumova thanks to a late monster of 71.99m

Following on from the women, who was the top male performer in Daegu in your view? Usain Bolt who dominated the men’s 200m in a  mightly 19.42 secs and anchored Jamaica to a new world record of 37.04 secs in the men’s 4x100m relay, Mo Farah who claimed an emphatic victory over 5000m coupled with a close silver in the longer distance, Christian Taylor who stunned everyone to topple Phillips Idowu off the top in reaching the fifth farthest mark in history (17.96) in the triple jump – or someone else? Take your pick of the bunch!