Just as the opening day was clearly the day of the Kenyans, today was the day for new stars of the sport to get crowned! As we saw several new faces take on some old ones and emerge victorious.
The most exciting event of the day was the last event of the day as the men’s 400 meter runners took to the track. Defending champion LaShawn Merritt (USA) lined up in lane four flanked by Jermaine Gonzalez (JAM) inside him and Kirani James (GRN) to his outside. Having run a WL leading 44.35 in the opening round and following it up with another 44.76 in his semi, one had to wonder if Merritt was headed for something special or if perhaps he left a bit on the track too early. From the gun it was clear that James intended to find out as he took off around the bend and down the backstretch with Merritt right behind. In the third 100 Merritt made his move and went by the youngster to emerge off the turn with a lead of a couple of meters. At that point it looked like Merritt was headed for something special, James began his drive heading up the straight. Over the final 50 meters James gained a bit with every step as Merritt’s legs started to look a bit heavy. Then with some 15 meters left Merritt began to uncharacteristically tighten up and James edged by right at the line as Merritt struggled to stay up. Behind them Kevin Borlee (BEL) outran Gonzalez down the straight to get the bronze. It was a gutsy win for the young Granadan who at eighteen became the youngest ever 400 champion in this meet. The sport now has a new King James, and one has to wonder just how many more titles he may be able to add over the years.
44.60 – Kirani James (USA)
44.63 – LaShawn Merritt (USA)
44.90 – Kevin Borlee (BEL)
I have the same question for David Rudisha who took the 800 meter title in what amounted to a canter for him, as the field let him have his way. Leading from the gun, Rudisha went right to the front and controlled the pace in an easy 51.33 first lap, as the rest of the field decided to play the wait and kick game against a man they can’t outkick. Former champion Yuriy Borzakovskiy (RUS) tucked in behind Rudisha heading into the bell lap as the rest of the field strung out behind them – jockeying for position down the backstretch. With 200 to go Abubaker Kaki (SUD) began to try to close on the leaders, but Rudisha was beginning to open his stride and methodically pull away. Heading down the fisnish stretch Rudisha simply poured it on with Kaki attempting to overtake Borzakovskiy. Rudisha crossed the line several meters clear to become champion with Kaki just edging Borzakovskiy at the line. It’s scary just how easy he made 1:43.91 look, and barring injury or illness I can see several more titles in store for the twenty two year old Kenyan.
1:43.91 – David Rudisha (KEN)
1:44.41 – Abubaker Kaki (SUD)
1:44:49 – Yuriy Borzakovskiy (RUS)
In the women’s pole vault we saw an official changing of the guard as Yelena Isinbayeva (RUS)was unable to mount the podium. With the real vaulting starting at 4.70m/15’ 5” Isinbayeva, Fabiana Murer (BRA)and Svetlana Feofanova (RUS)all passed to the next height. Meanwhile Martina Strutz (GER) made it on first attempt and Jenn Suhr (USA) on second as the fight for medals began. At 4.75m/15’ 6.5” Murer &Feofanova made the bar on their first attempts. Isinbayeva missed on first try and passed to the next height. Strutz made on her second try while Suhr bowed out. At 4.80m/15’ 9” the two Russians bowed out and it was the end of an era for Isinbayeva. Strutz made the height on first attempt to move into the lead as Murer took two tries. At 4.85m/15’ 11” Murer cleared the bar on first attempt while Strutz missed, forcing her to pass to the next height to try and win gold. Neither athlete cleared another height as Murer became the first World Champion in what could become the post Isinbayeva era.
4.85m – Fabiana Murer (BRA)
4.80m – Martina Strutz (GER)
4.75m – Svetlana Feofanova (RUS)
We also got a new young champion in the Heptathlon as twenty three year old Tatyana Chernova (RUS) took advantage of a very poor javelin by favorite Jessica Ennis (GBR) – only 666 points – to surge by for the surprise win. Ennis was leading throughout and was having a fine competition. Chernova began to close when she boomed 6.61m/21’ 8.75 “in the long jump to make up 21 points. Then came the javelin and a huge 246 point swing and Chernova only had to hold off Ennis in the 800.
6880 – Tatyana Chernova (RUS)
6751 – Jessica Ennis (GBR
6572 – Jennifer Oeser (GER)
Tomorrow is essentially a rest day with only the 20K Race Walk on the docket. But semifinals were held earlier in both the men’s and women’s 400 hurdles – the finals of which will be held Thursday. In the men’s semis defending champion Kerron Clement was eliminated running only 52.11 for last in heat two. In heat one Javier Culson (PAN) looked strong as he won in 48.52, leaving Angelo Taylor (US) in third and waiting to qualify on time – which he finally did. The winner of heat two was David Greene (GBR) who also looked very strong. Heat three was won easily by Bershawn Jackson (USA) while runner up L.J.van Zyl, the yearly leader all year long, looks hard pressed to pull this one out on Thursday. This race suddenly looks to be very wide open as early favorites are not looking sharp.
The results were similar in the women’s semis. In heat one Kaliese Spencer (JAM) looked to have heavy legs and finished only third (having to wait to qualify on time) as Vania Stambolova (BUL)looked very strong as she won easily. Heat two saw Natalya Antyuhk (RUS) power away for the win as defending champion Melaine Walker (JAM) looked a bit sluggish. The one early favorite that looked in form was Lashinda Demus (USA) who ran easily to the fastest time of the day with a 53.82. And judging from today’s semis Demus has a shot at upgrading from her previous two silver medals in this meet.
We also had heats in the men’s 1500 and semis of the women’s 1500 earlier today. In the men’s event we (USA) had both Matt Centrowitz and Leo Manzano qualify to the next round. Andrew Wheating, however, looked horrible in his heat running a non-qualifying eighth. He languished well back in the pack for the majority of the race and had none of the “oomph” he showed last year. In the women’s semis most of the primary characters moved on to the final. A major casualty, however, was nancy Langat (KEN) who like Wheating was just never in it. Morgan Uceny (USA) once again showed tremendous race smarts and qualified easily. The other American in the race, Shannon Rowbury, was another that just didn’t seem to have it finishing in twelfth place. The women’s 1500 final will also be held on Thursday.
Tomorrow I’ll take a look back on the first few days of the meet. As well as a look ahead to the final days.