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Golden League in Rome

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"/images/news/goldenleague.gif" align="left" />Yamile Aldamas 15.29m Triple

Jump, Hicham El Guerrouj under 3:30 in the 1500m, and the vanquishing of the

famous Ethiopian duo Bekele and Gebrselassie at 5km, were the highlights of the

action at the Peroni Golden Gala - the third of this season’s IAAF Golden

League meets - in Rome’s Stadio Olympico, as both remaining Golden League

Jackpot contenders won through easily.

Golden Duo both win

Two women began tonight still on the trail of gold in the six meet Golden

League, the Olympic and World 800m champion Maria Mutola, and the previously

far less renowned sprinter Chandra Sturrup.

However, if anyone believed the pressure of her new found world status would

effect Sturrup, they were proved mistaken tonight as the 31 year-old sprinter

from the Bahamas remained firmly on track to win the $1million Golden League


By 30 metres of the women’s 100m, Sturrup in lane five had already cut

a marginal lead over the Americans outside her, US champion Kelli White (lane

4) and Torri Edwards (lane 6). She was never to be headed again, and with a

determined drive to the line she established a world season’s lead of

10.89. White bettered 12 seconds too (10.99), and Edwards finished in a 11.05

PB. Edwards was also to set another personal best later when winning the 200m

in 22.28, ahead of Bahamas’ Debbie Ferguson (22.65), and White 22.71.

In yesterday’s press conference Sturrup had said she had continued to

train for the 100m as if Marion Jones was still running this season, but by

what we witnessed tonight even the triple Olympic champion would have had

problems coping with Sturrup.

Mutola left nothing to chance in her quest for at least a share of the gold,

with a well timed last 100m sprint in the women’s 800m which saw her

breeze past all but Jolanda Ceplak with ease with 80 to go, but inevitably took

the Slovenian World Indoor record holder with just 30 metres to the finish. The

Mozambique star broke the tape with 1:57.21, a meeting record, drawing Ceplak

with her to a 1:57.44 season’s best, with Morocco’s Mina Ait Hammou

in third in a personal best (1:57.82).

The quality of the race was re-emphasised as Stephanie Graf finished in a

season’s best of 1:57.99 in fourth, and both Germany’s Claudia

Gesell (1:58.93 season’s best) and Australia’s Tamsyn Lewis

(1:59.88) were also under two minutes.

Aldama - Area Record

World Indoor champion Tyree Washington had been the first athlete to get

Rome’s 30,000 crowd excited with a 44.42 clocking in the men‘s

400m, in which he trounced the opposition in fine style and put himself on the

favourites list for Paris.

In the women’s Triple Jump, Cuba’s Yamile Aldama played the same

upbeat role model for the Rome crowd with a world season’s lead of 15.29m

which came in the final round. This Central American record was enough to get

the Rome crowd off their seats in noisy appreciation. World champion Tatyana

Lebedeva who had beaten the Cuban in Paris last week was always behind during

the competition, finishing second with a best of 14.86m from the fourth round,

which was already less than Aldama’s 14.90m third round lead.

Chebii takes upset win

Excitement was there aplenty in the men’s 5000m, in which the

predicted duel between Ethiopia’s distance running royal family Haile

Gebrselassie and Kenenisa Bekele was upstaged by the Kenyan interloper Abraham


Running through 3000m in 7:45.60, all the major players were part of a small

leading pack, with Bekele and Gebrselassie taking turns at the front. The World

record holder Gebrselassie took them into the final 400m (bell 12:03) but on

the top of the last bend he turned to beckon Bekele through, seemingly

admitting that he did not have what it would take to win the final sprint.

It was a grand abdicating gesture from the former Emperor, however all did

not go as planned for the Ethiopian duo because while Bekele proceeded through,

he was immediately challenged by Chebii who passed the cross country ace with

50 metres to go and blazed throught he finish in 12:57.14, with Bekele second

12:57.34, and Gebrselassie third in 13:00.32.

Just four months after Kenya’s darkest day, as Bekele strode home

effortlessly to his second World Cross Country double in Lausanne, they have

found an answer to the Ethiopian distance dynasty, and it is clear that Paris

next month will be no automatic World championship party for Bekele. Its now

obvious that Chebiis victory over Gebrselassie in Paris last week was no fluke,

this is a man here to stay, and Kenya is back in the long distance driving


El Guerrouj sub 3:30

Hicham El Guerrouj won the men’s 1500m in fine style but it was in

reality a paced time trial, as no one except the designated pace makers came

within 10 metres of the Moroccan triple World champion. Not that that should

detract from a fine run, which produced the 29th sub 3:30 clocking of his

illustrious career.

Passing the bell in 2:33, El Guerrouj put on the style of old and drove hard

to the finish with only Benjamin Kipkirui (second in a season’s best of

3:32.59) even vaguely offering a threat down the back straight. El

Guerrouj’s winning time was of course a world season’s lead –


In a classy women’s 1500m, there was a bump for World 5000m champion

Olga Yegorova on the final bend which sent her shooting momentarily on to the

infield but nothing was going to stop her from recording a season’s debut

win at the distance in a world leading 4:01.00. The Russian had previously only

won the European Cup 3000m this summer.

Tonight Yegorova was followed home strongly by Spain’s Natalia

Rodriguez in a personal best of 4:01.30, clear of two other women who also

ducked under 4:02 – Suzy Favor-Hamilton 4:01.69 and Kelly Holmes 4:01.96.

It was a high quality race in which 18 runners went under 4:09, with the

race’s tail end was brought home by Algeria’s Olympic champion

Nouria Benida-Merah in 4:08.44 (18th and last), a season’s best.

Defar defies Szabo

Gabriela Szabo who had taken the 3000m in Paris last Friday with a defeat

defying late charge from no where, left her final move even later in

tonight’s 5000m. The Romanian Olympic 5000m champion had not calculated

on the finishing power of double World junior champion Meseret Defar of

Ethiopia, who clocked a personal best and meeting record in 14:40.34. Never

coming into real striking range was Szabo in second 14:41.35, with

Ethiopia’s Ejegayehnu Dibaba in third 14:41.67 PB.

In all, nine women went under 15 minutes but most surprising of all both the

Ethiopians, World Indoor 3000m champion Berhane Adere (14:42.89) and World

cross country champion Werknesh Kidane (14:44.40) were left for speed in sixth

and seventh places respectively.

Sanchez and Johnson supreme

Felix Sanchez, the World champion from the Dominican Republic was in his

normal majestic form in the men’s 400m Hurdles taking the win in 48.15

seconds. However, he would have been surprised that coming into the final 100m

he was still headed by USA’s young Bershaw Jackson in lane nine

(ultimately fourth 48.62). Of course, it didn’t take long before Sanchez

was ahead, and though he came off the penultimate hurdle a little shakely the

win was safely in his hands. Second was South Africa’s Llewellyn Herbert

(season’s best 48.50) split in the photo with Britain’s Chris

Rawlinson, who was third also on the same time.

Allen Johnson got his pre-race wish which he made at yesterday’s press

conference, and won the 110m Hurdles in a time under 13.10. However, the World

outdoor and Indoor champion at the High Hurdles cut it very fine with a 13.08

race which he dominated from the gun. Chasing the American through to the line

was World Junior record holder Xiang Liu of China (13.20), with Duane Ross

beating the rest of the nine man final to the final podium spot (13.24).

The men’s 100m dash was taken in a very close finish by USA’s

John Capel running in lane 2 (10.04), with a blanket finish for second between

US champion Bernard Williams (10.06), World champion Maurice Greene (10.09),

and Dwain Chambers the European record holder (10.09). There is very little to

choose between the world’s sprinting elite this year, with no one

remaining dominant for more than a race or two, which will provide us with

certainly one of most intriguing World Championships conundrums next month.

Bernard Williams was later to much more than make good for his defeat, as in

the final track event of the night he took the 200m in a marvellous personal

best and world season’s lead of 20.01. The finish with fellow American

Shawn Crawford could not have been closer, as the 2001 World Indoor champion

only missed the win by one 100th of a second, a season’s best.

The surprise 800m winner in the first Golden League in Oslo was the South

African Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, and again he pulled off another confident win with

1:44.00, ahead of compatriot Hezekiel Sepeng. The world season’s leader

Wilfred Bungei and 2001 World silver medallist, who had been the victim of the

South African in Oslo was back in fourth (1:44.66). Dutchman Bram Som was third

1:44.40, and World champion Andre Bucher (SUI)seventh (1:44.81).

Pittman improves to 53.62

Australias Jana Pittman who had already held the world season’s lead

(53.76) in the women’s 400m Hurdles improved to 53.62, to beat her

vanquisher in Paris, Sandra Glover (third 54.15 season’s best) and double

European champion Ionela Tirlea (fourth 55.53). It was a fine race but Pittman

staggered coming off the final barrier and looked tired. In second place

reaffirming her growing status after her second place in Zagreb (54.32 PB)

during the week, was Britain’s Natasha Danvers who set another personal

best of 54.02.

High Jump and Pole Vault world leads

World champion South Africa’s Hestrie Cloete was in good shape going

over 2.00m in the women’s High Jump for the second time this week (won in

Zagreb on Monday) and summer. In doing so she beat most of the world’s

elite including Olympic champion Yelena Yelesina (1.97 4th =), Inga Babakova

(1.97 5th=) , Anna Chicherova (1.97 7th=) and a very much off form Kajsa

Bergqvist (1.94 11th). Ukraine’s Vita Palamar was second and Amy Acuff

third, both on 1.97 but separated on count back. Cloete’s series of jumps

were clean and clear with first time attempts at all her five heights until she

met her match at 2.03.

The mens High Jump was an even better competition won in a worlds seasons

lead by South Africas Jacques Freitag who jumped 2.35 to defeat Canadas Mark

Boswell (2.31 seasons best), with a national record for Jamaicas Jermaine Mason

in third (2.31m). The most amazing aspect of Frietags jumping tonight is that

he is on the road back from a broken ankle sustained last year. The 21 year-old

South African has a personal best of 2.37 from 2002.

Such was the quality of tonights meet that the mens Pole Vault which kept

the 100m start end of the stadium entertained throughout with loud applause in

response, garnered a world seasons lead as well, as Frances Romain Mesnil

vaulted 5.92m on his first attempt. Audaciously he even had a try at 6.00m

before retiring.

It was a stirring competition made all the better by an Italian record for

Giuseppe Gibilisco (5.82) and a seasons best by Olympic champion Nick Hysong


The 25 year-old Mesnil who won the European Cup in Florence in June will

celebrate his birthday in two days time, and must be on course this season to

beat his personal best of 5.93m which he set in 1999.

2002 Commonwealth, and recently crowned CAC Games champion Elva Goulbourne

of Jamaica took the women’s Long Jump with a third round 6.71m leap,

which took the lead from Tatyana Kotova’s 6.63m, with the Russian’s

mark ultimately good enough for second.

A disappointing men’s javelin was won by Russia Sergey Makarov with a

84.74m best, with triple World and Olympic champion Jan Zelezny out of sorts

with just 81.52 in fourth.