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LRC: 2008 Weltklasse Zürich Recap
Men's 1,500m: Tired Ramzi & Co. Upstaged By Keitany
Weltklasse Zürich Zürich (SUI) - Friday, Aug 29, 2008
|3||Belal Mansoor Ali||BRN||3:33.06||14|
|4||Yusuf Saad Kamel||BRN||3:33.11||12|
|5||Juan Carlos Higuero||ESP||3:33.37||10|
|8||Alfred Kirwa Yego||KEN||3:33.69||4|
|12||Daniel Kipchirchir Komen||KEN||3:35.81||3|
|13||Asbel Kipruto Kiprop||KEN||3:36.68|
|14||Shedrack Kibet Korir||KEN||3:40.00|
|Philemon Kipkorir Kimutai||KEN||DNF|
|Vickson Naran Polonet||KEN||DNF|
Women's 400m: Richards Back To Winning Ways But Still Not The Year's Best
In the absence of Olympic Champion Christine Ohuruogu (Great Britain), the small measure of revenge offered to Jeremy Wariner on his Beijing conqueror in the Weltklasse men's race could not be completely afforded to the USA's Sanya Richards, but the bronze medallist did have the opportunity to find some form of redemption with a victory and had a chance to deliver the year's best time. As in the Olympic final, Richards got out ahead of the field by halfway, but this effort was a bit more controlled and she pulled away rather than rigging up in the homestretch. In the end, Richards demolished the field, winning by 0.96 seconds and perhaps leaving Zürich a little happier than when she arrived. One question remained unresolved: Richards' time of 49.74 was slower than Ohuruogu's winning time in Beijing, so it is difficult (in fact, moot) to speculate whether her best performance might have been good enough for a gold medal. Richards did easily crush one of her Olympic foes, silver medallist Sherika Williams, who was perhaps lackadaisical following such a strong performance at the Olympics and finished a whopping 1.54 seconds behind Richards in 4th.
Men's 3,000m Steeplechase: Koech Runs Away From Tough Field
This race seemed set up for two reasons - a race against the clock for the first sub-8:00 showing of the year and a race for redemption for world leader Paul Kipsiele Koech. Koech has enjoyed world-wide domination of the steeple all year save one race - the Kenyan Trials, where he was 4th. With the Olympic silver medallist, France's Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad, and bronze medalist, Kenya's Richard Mateelong, in the race, Koech certainly was looking to prove that he could have been the best had he been allowed to compete in Beijing.
The race had some serious pacemaking lined up as the target times were 2:38 at 1k and 5:17 for 2k. The race went out hard from the start and 400 meters in, Koech was right behind the two rabbits and had 2-3 meters on the next competitor. The 1k was spot on in 2:38.55 and Koech was 4-5 meters up on Michael Kipyego. Another 10 meters back were 2004 Olympic Champion Ezekiel Kemboi (7th in Beijing) and Wesley Kiprotich. But a lap later, Kipyego had caught on and was trying to hang on with Koech. Kipyego's bid didn't last long as soon Koech was all alone with the rabbit, who was struggling. It seemed to be all about Koech from there on out.
Koech ran through 2k in 5:20.01, or right on 8:00 pace, but the pace had lagged in the last 1,000m, and Koech didn't look particularly springy. He would hold on and tough it out for the win in 8:04.26. It's amazing he didn't run in the Olympics, considering he has proven himself far and away the best steepler in the world this year (aside from one meet at altitude in Kenya). The guys back in the pack actually made it interesting as the Frenchman, Mekhissi-Benabbad, made a furious rush to steal 2nd by a nose over Kipyego and Kiprotich. Mustafa Mohamed of Sweden was never in it and only ran 8:20.10 to continue a sub-par finish to his season. Bronze medallist Mateelong was likewise never a factor.
|1||Paul Kipsiele Koech||KEN||8:04.26||20|
|8||Richard Kipkemboi Mateelong||KEN||8:28.38||4|
|Antonio David Jiménez||ESP||DNF|
|James Kiplagat Kosgei||KEN||DNF|
|Tareq Mubarak Taher||BRN||DNF|
Men's 110m Hurdles: Robles Narrowly Defeats Game Oliver
Cuba's Dayron Robles and America's David Oliver have produced the most remarkable results of the 2008 season in the high hurdles. Both have seasonal bests under 13.00, with Robles setting the new world record at 12.87 and Oliver running 12.95 (plus a 12.89w). Oliver fell to both Robles and American David Payne at the Olympics, but didn't seem too perturbed to settle for bronze. In Zürich, with a slight +0.3 tailwind, Robles got all he could handle from the flawless Oliver. Both hurdlers ran very smooth races, barely tapping hurdles if contact was made at all. Robles was out quick, with a half-step advantage through the midpoint of the race. But Oliver did not go easily, and ran probably the best race of his career. He ended up losing by the narrowest of margins, 0.01 seconds, but that is nothing to be ashamed of because we're talking about perhaps the world's greatest high hurdler in history in Robles. Interestingly, we've heard track announcers mention that to beat the smooth, machine-like Robles, a competitor had to put him under pressure. This seemed to be good advice as Robles visibly tightened up in the final meters upon sensing Oliver's pressure, and even leaned too early. Oliver did a tremendous dipping lean at the line - reminiscent of Colin Jackson, quipped the British announcers - to almost steal the win. A few other competitors were not at their best. Anwar Moore stopped at the first hurdle and Aries Merritt was a distant 4th in 13.41.
Women's 800m: Jelimo Closing In On WR As A Legend Says Goodbye
The performance of the meet unquestionably goes to Kenya's 18-year-old Olympic Champion Pamela Jelimo, who once again was so dominant as to make viewers forget about the rest of the field, as she delivered another junior world record, the #3 performance of all-time and the fastest mark since the world record was set in 1983. Enlisting Olympic 800m 4th-placer Svetlana Klyuka as pacesetter and hoping for ambitious splits of 55-flat at 400m and sub-1:24 at 600m, it was clear Jelimo wanted to attack the venerable world record of Jarmila Kratochvílová (Czech Republic). Since Jelimo was still alive for at least half of the Golden Jackpot and could not afford a blowup, the sizzling pace might have seemed risky, as she was facing a field equal in strength to that of the Olympic final, including fellow Kenyan and 800m silver medallist Janeth Jepkosgei and 1,500m gold medallist Nancy Lagat (also of Kenya). The savvy competitors had little hope of matching Jelimo's best performance but would pounce ruthlessly if she faded after too fast a start.
As has been the case in her other rabbitted races, Jelimo wasted no time latching onto her pacer and getting well clear of the field. By 400m (Klyuka 55.66), the pace was a little behind the target time (although the WR had been run off a 56.1 split) and Jelimo seemed antsy to pass Klyuka and get rolling. The main field was slightly strung out but actually reasonably close at the bell, but that would all change on the backstretch. At the 550m point, Klyuka was evidently slowing rather than picking it up, so Jelimo sailed past and was on her own and the chase group was suddenly about 15 meters adrift. The 600m mark was reached in 1:25.12, which seemed to make the world record impossible and even a seasonal best iffy, as the 3rd 200m was 29.45 and the final half lap is normally the slowest in an all-out 800m. But the Kenyan prodigy somehow blitzed an unaccompanied 28.89 to finish in 1:54.01, trailing only Kratochvílová and Nadezhda Olizarenko (Soviet Union) on the all-time list and leaving fans to wonder how fast Jelimo could run if pressed or even with a fast enough rabbit for the first 600m.
Bahrain's Maryam Yusuf Jamal, who had led from over 500m out in the Olympic 1,500m final only to tie up badly in the final straight and finish out of the medals, won the race for second against the main pack and produced a PR of 1:57.80. Jepkosgei came home 3rd, followed by Mozambique's Maria Mutola.
This meet marked the swan song for Mutola, who won 12 successive Weltklasse titles and considers the event extremely special. A veteran of six Olympic Games, the first one coming in 1988 at the age of 15, Mutola is the most decorated 800m runner in history and one of the most honored in all of track and field. Her achievements include: 2000 Olympic Champion, 1993, 2001 and 2003 World Champion, 1993, 1995, 1997, 2001, 2003, 2004 and 2006 World Indoor Champion, silver medal in 1999 World Championships, silver medal in 1999 World Indoors, bronze medal in 1996 Olympics, bronze medal in 1997 World Championships, bronze medal in 2008 World Indoors, and numerous additional appearances in global championship finals. Her 800m career best of 1:55.19 is tied for 9th all-time and she has 5 of the top 10 performances at 1,000m, topped by a 2:29.34, a former world record and still #2 all-time. All told, that's 16 medals in global competition, 11 of them gold - an incredible career.
As one star exits the stage, another - perhaps to become the most brilliant of all time - has clearly arrived.
Men's 100m: Bolt Runs Like "Superhero" Again, Despite Runny Nose
Everyone in Zürich was treated to the spectacle that is Usain Bolt on Friday night. On this occasion, he lined up for a 100m, at one time in his career his weaker event. After the Olympic final, however, when the Jamaican decided to be the first man to break 9.70 (and the first to do it while gesturing to the crowd for the last 15m), the 100m is arguably his best event. In any case, the man is presently a bona fide crowd pleaser. Promoters will be packing the stands whenever this man hits the track with his Pumas blazing. Before the straight dash started, every time the camera was on him, Bolt would check himself out on the stadium big screen while shadow boxing, dancing, pointing in his now famous fashion with his mock serious face, and generally showing everyone how sure he was that he was going to wipe the Mondo with their track suits.
The competition was anything but weak. For any other competitor, the field would be considered daunting: Olympic silver medallist Richard Thompson (Trinidad & Tobago), bronze medallist Walter Dix (USA), 200m silver medallist Shawn Crawford (USA), 4th-placer Churandy Martina (Netherlands Antilles), Travis Padgett (USA) with his 9.89 PR, 6th-placer Michael Frater (Jamaica) and 7th-placer Marc Burns (Trinidad & Tobago). But it was the Bolt show, and there was no doubt about it. The announcers paused to allow the humble viewers to fully soak in the response Bolt got after his introduction. The crowd was standing and applauding thunderously. Announcers quipped that he was "received as a superhero - as he should be."
Can you guess the results? Thompson got out first, while Bolt got off to a solid, though not spectacular, start. Bolt's large frame was even with the field after 30m, but this changed rapidly as he turned on the jets. This one was over by 50m as Bolt crushed the field in the remaining segments of the race to win going away in 9.83 seconds. Pedestrian for Bolt, but amazing considering it's one of the best times ever run and it was done into a -0.5 headwind. Dix closed very well for a clear second place, also dipping under 10 seconds in 9.99, followed by Thompson in 3rd at 10.09.
After flying through the finish, Bolt slowed down to take his pretty yellow victory flowers and did his best Andreas Thorkildsen impersonation by hurling them into the stands. While he was moving at less than full pace, he made sure to throw in some suave dance moves and poses to feed a crowd hungry for more and more Bolt. Cameras were all around him; he circled the track slapping hands with everyone in the first 5 rows, seemingly, and the Jamaicans (Swiss-Jamaicans?) in the crowd were singing away. It was an "unbelievable atmosphere" as the announcers said.
We cracked up when Bolt told an interviewer after the race that he didn't get a good start because he's been afflicted with a head cold. Instead of relaxing and thinking about his start while in the blocks, Bolt said he was worried about his nose running.
Men's 400m Hurdles: Angelo Taylor Rolling At The Right Time
American 400m hurdlers are at the top of their game this August and people are totally taking it for granted. After Angelo Taylor, Kerron Clement and Bershawn Jackson went 1-2-3 at the Olympics, there was no talk of our mighty mid-distance sprinters. These guys have consistently beaten the rest of the world all year and deserve a lot of credit. At the Weltklasse, Taylor was out extraordinarily fast, with Danny McFarlane (Jamaica) and Clement slightly behind. But this race was Taylor's. Despite giving away nearly all of his early lead to Clement via a slow tie-up and a stutter on the next-to-last hurdle (a mistake he avoided in his near-perfect Olympic performance), Taylor came off the final hurdle and surged to the line first in a strong 48.07 to outlast a solid, well-executed performance by Clement, who passed McFarlane late for 2nd in 48.20. "Batman" Jackson went out really slowly but his trademark finish could only bring him past one competitor as he struggled home in 7th in 49.18.
|5||Frikkie Van Zyl||RSA||48.98||10|
Men's 400m: Wariner Runs Seasonal Best To Handily Defeat Merritt
A great performance by American Jeremy Wariner evened him with LaShawn Merritt at 3-3 for the season. Wariner set a seasonal best of 43.82 with a very smooth race from start to finish. His time still was not better than Merritt's from the Beijing final, so he has no real claim to be the better man at this event any longer, despite having beaten Merritt three times in 2008. At the start, Wariner was just outside Merritt (lane 4 to lane 3). Merritt shadowed Wariner as both were out fairly fast, with Merritt seeming to close a bit going into the final turn. Wariner ran brilliantly in the last 150m, especially as he pulled away from Merritt significantly in the last straight. Merritt faded to a well-beaten 2nd in 44.43. American David Neville, who was the third piece of the dominating US sweep in Beijing (which, again, nobody really paid enough attention to), came home last in this race in 46.41, which actually seemed to underscore what an amazing performance he had mustered up in the Bird's Nest. Big thumbs up to the young man Neville for edging out Chris Brown of the Bahamas in the Olympics.
|7||Cedric van Branteghem||BEL||46.21||6|
Men's 5,000m: Bekele Takes Charge Early Again
Facing an extremely strong field which included several top-5 finishers in the Olympics at 5,000m or 10,000m, double Olympic Champion Kenenisa Bekele may have appeared a bit tired and therefore vulnerable on paper. He made it known that he had no intention of trying to lower his own world record and would settle for another win and a 2008 world leader if the pacesetting was on target. Could a mere mortal rise up and catch the King off his game?
Early in the race, the pacing was dead on target for a world leader (12:50.55 by Kenyan Moses Masai, the 4th-placer in the Olympic 10,000m, who was in the Zürich field). The rabbits ran 61+ pace through 1k (2:33.89) and the big names were lined up right behind. After 3 laps, the lead rabbit, Bernard Kiptum, got away from the group and the pack was stuck behind Jonathan Komen, the second pacer, who seemed to be having some trouble and had fallen roughly 10m off the pace. Bekele waited the better portion of a lap and decided to run around Komen and catch up to Kiptum.
At 2k (5:10.08), Bekele passed Kiptum and, as in the Olympic final, dared the others to hang with him. A group of four materialized - Bekele, bronze medallist Edwin Soi (Kenya), Masai, and Olympic 5,000m 4th-placer Moses Kipsiro (Uganda) - followed by the next pack, which was led by 10,000m bronze medallist Micah Kogo (Kenya). By 3k (7:44.27), the same group of 4 was still intact with Bekele still acting as both pacesetter and favorite to win.
Just prior to 3,400m, Bekele looked around a couple of times to assess the situation and then just took off. The ensuing lap was run in 60.90, which built Bekele a lead of 15 instant meters. Masai and Kipsiro tried to respond with an increase in their own pace but continued to lose ground. Three to go - the lap split was 60.53 and Bekele's lead was now 25m. At 4k (10:16.32), the chasers had no hope and the lead was 40m. With game, set and match in hand, Bekele "settled" back to laps of 61.79 and 62.76 before bearing down again to get the world leader late in the final lap. With a fast last straight, the Ethiopian superstar nipped under Masai's seasonal best in 12:50.18 in a largely unassisted effort. Kipsiro cracked 13:00 in 2nd ahead of Masai. Bekele seems as dominant on the track this year as he has ever been in any of his World Cross-Country routs and he surely looks capable of lowering his world records in either of the long track races if he is rested and provided with perfect pacing assistance.
|2||Moses Ndiema Kipsiro||UGA||12:59.48||16|
|3||Moses Ndiema Masai||KEN||13:00.15||14|
|4||Edwin Cheruiyot Soi||KEN||13:07.98||12|
|5||Ahmad Hassan Abdullah||QAT||13:09.97||10|
|7||Mark Kosgei Kiptoo||KEN||13:13.09||6|
|9||Boniface Kiprotich Songok||KEN||13:33.22||3|
|10||Leonard Patrick Komon||KEN||13:35.52||3|
|11||Boniface Kiprop Toroitich||UGA||13:40.71||3|
|Bernard Kiptanui Kiptum||KEN||DNF|
|Jonathan Kipkoech Komen||KEN||DNF|
Men's Javelin: Thorkildsen Hurls Another Mighty 90m
Only 12 men have ever thrown the javelin over 90m. Four of those men were present in Zürich, including 2-time Olympic Champion Andreas Thorkildsen of Norway. Facing a stacked field complete with two Finns named Tero and a Swede named Magnus (so they must be good at the javelin), Thorkildsen threw 90.28m in his 2nd round toss, putting the crowd in awe. In all, the top four all bested 85m in a wonderful competition. Americans don't get too riled up about the javelin, but in the Scandinavian countries and Switzerland, the fans love their spear throwers.
Women's High Jump: Vlašic More Clutch When $500,000 Is On The Line
Well, Tia Hellebaut of Belgium sure didn't follow up her gold medal with an equally inspiring performance in Zürich. In Beijing, she cleared 2.05m to take down Blanka Vlašic, winner of 34 consecutive previous high jump competitions. This time, it was Hellebaut missing thrice at 1.95m and exiting near the bottom of the score sheet. Vlašic, though, with one more Golden League meet left to contest, had to win to stay in the running for her share of the US $1 million jackpot. Incredibly, with one attempt left at 1.98m, Vlašic had to make the height or face defeat in consecutive meets. One defeat cost her the Olympic gold, another would cost her at least 500 grand. Perhaps Vlašic learned something about freezing under pressure last week, because she was able to clear 1.98 on her last jump, and eventually conquer foes Chaunté Howard (USA) and Anna Chicherova (Russia) with a 2.01m clearance for her latest win. The Croatian sensation was roaring after her makes, and after her last miss she was roaring at her coach in the crowd.
In other action, Yelena Isinbayeva (Russia) remained undefeated in the pole vault, vanquishing silver and bronze medallists Jenn Stuczynski (USA) and Svetlana Feofanova (Russia) among others with a meet record of 4.82m. Stuczynski missed three times at a new American record of 4.93m and Isinbayeva passed thereafter.
Hussein Taher Al-Sabee (Saudi Arabia), only 11th in the Olympic long jump final, equalled his career best to win with 8.35m, a mark which would have taken gold by a centimeter in Beijing.
The women's 200m was without gold medallist Veronica Campbell-Brown (Jamaica), which gave silver winner Allyson Felix (USA) a relatively wide margin of victory (22.37 to 22.68) over fast-starting compatriot Lauryn Williams.
American LoLo Jones returned to dominance in the 100m hurdles following her Beijing heartbreak, getting by all three Olympic medallists with a 12.56 victory. Dawn Harper, who barely made the US team and pulled a huge upset at the Games to take gold, was only 6th here.
Finally, the USA men's 4 x 100m squad squeaked out a 38.01 to 38.03 win over the silver medal team from Trinidad and Tobago, thanks in part to a clutch anchor by Darvis Patton, who (despite switching hands with the stick) ran even with open 100m Olympic silver medallist Richard Thompson and got the win on the lean.
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