A near World record miss for Adere in Oslo’s Golden League
2003-06-28Two wonderful 5000m races, a 2.01m High Jump for Inga Babakova, and another majestic (Area record) Triple Jump of 15.11 for Yamile Aldama were the highlights of the Exxon Mobil Bislett Games, the first meeting of the 2003 IAAF Golden League.
After a 38 year history the Bislett Games tonight waved farewell to one of the most hallowed Athletics stadiums in the world, the Norwegian capital’s famous Bislett stadium, which will be torn down and replaced by a state of the art facility on the same central city location by 2005.
The main international programme of the evening was opened by Lord Sebastian Coe, ‘Seb’ to most athletics fans, the double Olympic 1500m champion who in the years 1979 to 1981 established four World records in this stadium – one at 800m, two at 1000m and one at the Mile.
Aldama and Babakova jump supreme
Cuba’s Yamile Aldama was for one determined to close the stadium’s history on the highest of notes and even before the opening speeches had leapt to an Area Record and world season’s lead of 15.11m in the women’s Triple Jump. The Cuban’s series was solid to say the least being backed up with three other marks which ranged from 14.63 to 14.97m.
African record holder Francoise Mbango (CMR) was second with a season’s best of 14.88, and World champion Tatyana Lebedeva (RUS) who had leapt 15 metres in Greece last Tuesday (finishing second to Aldama), was today back in third with 14.86.
The women’s High Jump which ultimately turned out to be the final curtain of this great stadium produced a high quality result worthy of Bisletts tradition. Topped by a 2.01m winning effort for 1999 World champion Inga Babakova who was celebrating her 36th Birthday today, the Ukrainian took her win on the third attempt. Her compatriot Vita Palomar and Russia’s Irina Mikhalchenko were both successful over 1.99 for second and third places in that order after count back.
Babakova’s 2.01 came after a second time success at 1.99, though that was much cleaner than her higher jump with the bar left wobbling as she came down to the loud applause of the spectators.
The surprise of the competition was the failure of Sweden’s double World Indoor champion Kajsa Bergqvist at 1.97m (sixth place – 1.95m).
Two world junior records
World record ambitions were in the mind of at least one athlete this evening, as World Indoor 3000m champion and record holder Berhane Adere made a brave attempt on the women’s 5000m record. The Ethiopian, despite a blistering sprint which she unleashed with 200m to go to finally dispose of any possible challenge from Werknesh Kidane, the World Cross Country long course champion, just fell short of China’s Jiang Bo’s 1997 World mark of 14:28.09.
Adere finished with 14:29.32 an African record (beating Gete Wami’s previous 14:30.88) a 2003 world lead, Kidane was second in 14:33.04 (PB), with a new World junior record in 14:39.94 taken by the third finisher Tirunesh Diababa, the World Junior Cross Country champion (previous WJR 14:45.90 Jiang Bo, 1995). That all three runners were from Ethiopia says everything about the current distance running power of the East African country, which has recently even been putting Kenya into the shade.
The men’s 5000m, the final track event re-emphasised the point again, with Ethiopia’s double double World Cross Country champion Kenenisa Bekele taking a desperately close battle for the tape (12:52.26) from Kenya’s Sammy Kipketer (12:52.33 PB).
The Kenyans had tried to recover some much needed pride by ganging up on the Ethiopian, with five of their number led by Sammy Kipketer attempting to sandwich Bekele as the bell sounded. At one point as Abraham Chebii burst wide and fast past Bekele’s right shoulder and established a 10 metres lead, it looked like it might be all over for the young Ethiopian but as the last 100 metres was reached, Bekele was back in command.
Kipketer, the Commonwealth 5000m champion was not giving in though and Bekele was given a real fight to the finish, just gaining the edge. In third place Eliud Kipchoge established a new World junior record of 12:52.61 (previous Philip Mosima 12:53.72 - 1996). Chebii was fourth in 12:54.99, a personal best, with his compatriots James Kwalia (12:54.58) the young find of the season, and Albert Chepkurui, also going under 13 minutes for personal bests.
Throughout the course of both the men’s and women’s races the Bislett crowd had pounded their feet and clapped their hands in the rhythms of old, throwing echoes back to the great feats of distance running which this stadium has witnessed in it’s illustrious career. Sadly, for the benefit of the last day of the old Bislett, Adere in particular, couldn’t quite follow in the successful World record steps of the likes of Ingrid Kristiansen (1981 and 1984), David Moorcroft (1982) or Said Aouita (1985) but all the same the two 5ks gave us a moment of typical Bislett magic.
Sturrup upsets White
Chandra Sturrup of the Bahamas surprised US champion Kelli White on the line in the women’s 100m. Running in lane eight (a novelty for this final year) next to the crowd, Sturrup was up level with White by the 60m point and by the tape had edged just enough in front to inflict defeat on White – 10.96 to 10.97. The margin was so close that the victory flowers were initially given to the American, who had been called the winner by the stadium announcer.
The men’s dash turned into a duel between the top Britons, with the European 100m record holder Dwain Chambers (10.15) having to give best to his younger colleague Mark Lewis Francis, who had also stolen the British team berth at last weekend’s European Cup in Florence (at which he also won). Lewis Francis’s winning time was 10.12.
A stride for stride battle down the finishing straight and a desperate lunge for the line in the women’s 400m Hurdles brought victory to Australia’s Commonwealth champion Jana Pittman in 54.42 seconds, ahead of double European champion Ionela Tirlea of Romania (54.47). USA’s Sandra Glover was third with 54.80.
Stanislav Olijar improved his own Latvian sprint Hurdles record in the men’s 110m race, winning in 13.14 to equal the stadium record of Allen Johnson (1997), and improve his world season’s lead.
Sergey Makarov of Russia, who is currently mister consistent in the javelin, continued an unblemished season with a 85.61 win. He would seem after the first meeting of the Golden League to be one of the firmest bets for the 1 million $US Jackpot, which goes to any athlete who wins his or her individual discipline at all six of the meetings in the 2003 series.
Wilfred Bungei of Kenya would have been many peoples favourite to challenge for this years jackpot too but he didn’t event clear the first barrier. The Kenyan who is the reigning world silver medallist both indoors and out, and who had been under 1:44 three times already this season, unexpectedly tied up in the home straight, and was passed by South Africa’s Mbulaeni Mulaudzi. The South African’s winning time was 1:44.11 to Bungei’s 1:44.15. Spain’s Antonia Manuel Reina was well adrift in third 1:44.65, with World champion Andre Bucher in fourth 1:44.99.
Maria Mutola, World and Olympic champion at the 800m remained ascendant over the women’s two lap race taking the win in 2:00.62. Her old arch rival Stephanie Graf was second in 2:00.92 but Mutola was never really challenged tonight.
The women’s 1500m was taken by Ukraine’s Irina Lisinskaya in 4:04.62, with Russia’s Yelena Zadorozhnaya, second (4:04.97) and Hungary’s Judit Varga 4:05.82 in third. Lisinskaya had taken the race by the scruff of the neck in the final lap, and entering the final 100 metres had a clear margin over the Russian who never made any impression on her by the finish.
The men’s Pole Vault which suffered from the late withdrawal of World Indoor champion Tim Lobinger, the current outdoor world lead, was won by USA’s Olympic champion Nick Hysong in a four way ‘tie’ on 5.70m. On count back the Sydney gold medallist took the win from World Cup winner Okkert Brits (RSA), and fellow Americans, Toby Stevenson and Jeff Hartwig. “Hats off” to Stevenson for even having the courage to set foot in the stadium, as it was here in Bislett last year that he suffered a major accident which led to an ambulance trip from the stadium and a long stay in hospital.
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