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3rd IAAF Golden League Meeting in Rome

Greene and Jones turn up the heat in Rome as five remain in contention for the Golden League Jackpot

2002-07-14

By IAAF Staff / www.iaaf.org - real,- BERLIN-MARATHON thanks the IAAF for its support

After a jet-lagged start to his European tour, Maurice Greene blasted back to the summit of world sprinting with a superb 9.89 victory in the 100m – the fastest time in the world this year. Ignoring the distractions of two false starts by his training partners Jon Drummond and Ato Boldon, the World and Olympic champion took full advantage of the warm, still conditions, and the brand new track surface. Greene got away cleanly and powered clear of his rivals by the halfway stage, holding off the fast finishing Tim Montgomery who clocked a season’s best 9.94 in second place. Bernard Williams was third with 10.00 - also a season’s best. The wind speed was +0.9 mps.

In the women’s A race, Marion Jones was exactly one second slower than Greene with 10.89 - unwinding her full stride in the latter part of the race to ease clear of Jamaica’s Tayna Lawrence, who had her usual electric start but faded to 11.02 to finish second. With the climatic conditions in her favour for the first time this summer, Jones was rewarded with a season’s best, despite a negligible +0.7 tail wind, and the knowledge that the IAAF Golden League Jackpot is still within her grasp.

Felix Sanchez - another Jackpot contender - was an even more emphatic winner in the 400m hurdles, cruising to a world leading mark of 47.73, not only beating local hero Fabrizio Mori (3rd in a season’s best of 48.23) but breaking the Stadium record into the bargain. Sanchez timed his effort well, letting the Americans Eric Thomas and James Carter do the early work, before gliding past after the eighth hurdle. "This was my best race of the year, but my competitors pushed me to a very fast time. It’s not going to be easy to keep this streak going with such a depth of field each time, but I will definitely try …"

Gail Devers also managed to keep her Jackpot dreams alive by scorching to a 12.51 victory on the new Mondo track of the Olympic Stadium. Devers had an average start and needed to work hard in the second half of the race to stay ahead of Jamaica’s Bridgette Foster, who finished just 4/100ths adrift in second place. World Champion Anjanette Kirkland was third in 12.71, but had to dip to stay ahead of Glory Alozie, who clocked 12.72.

In the women’s 400m, Ana Guevara continued her impressive streak by winning her third successive Golden League race of 2002, holding off Jamaica’s Lorraine Fenton to set a new Mexican record of 49.51, also the fastest time in the world this year. Fenton, who pushed Guevara hard in the final straight, also dipped under 50 seconds with 49.82.

Maria Mutola - the World and Olympic 800m champion - made a rare appearance at 1500m tonight, surprising a host of specialists to win in 4:01.50, a personal best but also the fastest in the world this year. Britain’s Kelly Holmes was the leader at the bell - reached in 2:59 - but the Mozambican unleashed a decisive finishing surge, moving past the tiring Holmes with about 40 metres to go. The Briton was also overtaken by the Belorussian Alesya Turova, who clocked a personal best of 4:01.50 in second place. Holmes held on for third with a season’s best of 4:01.91, just ahead of 38 year-old Regina Jacobs who clocked 4:02.51. Marla Runyan - the US Champion at 5000m - finished 6th with a personal best of 4:02.95. In total, there were 12 personal or season’s bests in the race, including a national record of 4:05.05 for Belgium’s Veerle Dejaeghere, who finished 15th.

For the third time in successive weeks, Hicham El Guerrouj demonstrated just why he remains the undisputed king of the middle distance, winning the 1 Mile in 3:48.28 - a season’s best and the fastest in the world this year. The Moroccan was shepherded through 800m in 1:51.96 and reached the 1200m mark in 2:49.99. But left alone from that point - he never looked like challenging his world record of 3:43.13, set on this same track in 1999. Behind the Morrocan, an almighty battle was raging between Portugal’s Rui Silva and William Chirchir, with the Kenyan finishing second in a season’s best of 3:49.49, and Silva setting a national record just 1/100th behind. Reyes Estevez, who finished second to El Guerrouj in the 1999 World Championships at 1500m, showed he is returning to something like his old form by clocking a personal best of 3:51.82 in 6th place. Brazil’s Hudson DeSouza – who made a brave effort to shadow El Guerrouj on the third lap - set an Area record of 3:52.97 in 10th place.

After leading for the greater part of the 5000m, Gabriela Szabo was poised to take another decisive step towards her Jackpot goal - but lost out in a last lap sprint. As the bell sounded it was Ethiopia’s Berhane Adere who made the decisive break but another East African, Edith Masai of Kenya, eased past her to cross the finish line first in 14:53.77. Adere held on for second with 14:54.46, with Szabo third in 14:54.46. The Romanian had shadowed the pacemakers through the early part of the race, going through 1000m in 2:58.76, 2000m in 5:57.19 and 3000m in 9:02.69 - just ahead of Spain’s Marta Dominguez, Japan’s Kayoko Fukushi and Adere. But the pace was erratic ranging from 71.9 sec to 74.4 laps and with 1200m to go, Fukushi began upping the tempo in a vain attempt to draw the sting out of the fast-finishers. The Japanese athlete eventually finished 7th but her 15:02.08 was a new national record. Personal bests were also set by Zhor El Kamch of Morocco (15:01.34 for 5th) and Isabella Ochichi of Kenya (15:01.42 for 6th).

The other Jackpot contenders to fall by the wayside were Britain’s Jonathan Edwards, who was beaten for the first time in the Golden League this season by Walter Davis (USA), and Benjamin Limo, who had the misfortune to meet an inspired Salah Hissou in the 5000m. Edwards had been leading the Triple Jump in the absence of his usual GL rival Christian Olsson with 17.23, until Davis uncorked a 17.33 in the fourth round. Despite the Briton’s last efforts, this remained the best mark of the competition.

In the 5000m, Morocco’s Hissou simply ran the legs of his rivals - building up a huge lead which Limo could never break down. Hissou - the 1999 World Champion at 5000m and former world record holder for 10,000m - clocked 12:55.85, a world leading mark for the year, but it was the manner of his victory, front-running past 4000 metres in 10:27.63, that was most impressive. “I’m coming back from a break of one and a half years,” said Hissou after the race. “Because of injuries, I think I have had four real seasons in my 10 year career. I knew that Limo had a strong finish so I tried to open up a gap before the last 100 metres. My main goal this season is the World Cup which means I have to win at the African Championships in Tunis. Beating the Kenyans here today is good for my confidence.”

Germany’s Tim Lobinger snatched victory in the Pole Vault with a third time clearance at 5.85. His countryman Lars Borgeling had been leading the competition despite having made only two clearances at that stage - first time at 5.55 and 5.75. He went on to fail all three of his efforts at 5.85. US champion Jeff Hartwig finished third and Olympic Champion Nick Hysong fourth - both with bests of 5.75. Each Golden League competition in 2002 has now been won by a different vaulter.

You have to go back to 1984 to find a season where Igor Astapkovich has thrown less than 80 metres, and the 39 year-old Belarussian continues to impress after beating a top-class field tonight with his last round effort of 80.79. Vladislav Piskunov (UKR) finished second with 80.47 and Andrey Skvaruk third with 80.27 – with both marks also achieved in the final round. Five men bettered 80 metres, including Hungary’s Adrian Annus, who led until the final round with 80.17, and his compatriot Balazs Kiss who managed 80.07. The reigning Olympic and World Champion Szymon Ziolkowki could finish only 10th with a best of 77.25.

Frank Fredericks has been troubled by injuries for the past few years but the 34 year-old - who was 200m World Champion in 1993 - is back with a vengeance this season, winning the 200m with 19.99, just 2 hours after clocking 10.07 to finish fifth in the 100m. The Namibian, who is an active member of the IAAF’s Athletes Commission, has his sights on the Commonwealth Games that start later this month in Manchester where he only plans to run the longer sprinter.

The men’s High Jump also proved to be an enthralling contest, with Canada’s Mark Boswell going close to Javier Sotomayor’s meeting record of 2.37 with a third time clearance at 2.35. Boswell, the World Junior champion in 1996, was pushed hard by Sweden’s Stefan Holm, who was leading the competition after a first time clearance at 2.33. Another Swede, Staffan Strand, jumped 2.28 to finish equal third with Andrey Chubsa of Belarus.


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