Where Your Dreams Become Reality
IAAF Golden League Rome - 3rd Stop In The 6-Stop Tour
Tyson Gay 9.77 AR, Christin Wurth-Thomas 3:59.98, Tons Of Big Performances For World Stars
The 3rd Golden League meet of the year was spectacular. There were big races all over the place, led by Tyson Gay tying his American record in the men's 100 and defeating Asafa Powell in the process.
In terms of distance races, Kenenisa Bekele's run for the jackpot continued, as Maggie Vessey earned a stunning win in the women's 800, Christin Wurth became just the 5th American to break 4:00 and Dorian Ulrey got the Olympic A standard!
Great races and events all throughout the meeting and some surprisingly good American mid-d performances. We start our recap with the men's 100 and then take you event-by-event first through some great distance action, then the sprint events, then the field events.
Lead Story - Men's 100m, Women's 1,500m
Men's 100m - Boom! 9.77 For Tyson Gay (Ties His AR, 3rd All-Time)
Tyson Gay had shown every time he'd run in 2009 that he was back and in either top form or near-top form. Yet, he hadn't had to defeat any big-time competition all year. Well, any worries about Gay are officially over as he tied his American record and blitzed the field.
Gay moved to the lead midway through the race but then Jamaica's Asafa Powell showed he also is in fine form as he moved closer to Gay at 60m. Gay began to pull away from Powell in the final 40m as Powell tightened noticeably as he was put under intense pressure, while the American was fluid through the line.
Message in a bottle?
In warm, calm conditions, the race rabbit got the splits perfectly right and the two race leaders ran aggressive, confident races. The splits were 63, 64, 64 and 60 for Jamal. Wurth-Thomas deserves praise for again running aggressively and getting herself in front of the pack and near the pace in a big field. The American started to fade in the third lap, but pulled herself back up and closed really smoothly to pass Lausanne 800m winner Oksana Zbrozhek in the final 150m. Zbrozhek really went for it with Jamal and paid a big price in the last 200m, providing the perfect carrot for Wurth-Thomas.
Jamal was defeated in a sprint finish less than a week ago in Lausanne by Ethiopian Gelete Burka. That race was marred by poor pacemaking, though in the end Burka showed that she is the class of the world currently. But Friday in Rome, Jamal lowered Burka's world best of 3:58 to a very strong 3:56 to exact a rather meaningless bit of payback.
Wurth-Thomas joins Jenny Barringer in the American sub-4:00 club, becoming the first US duo to break the barrier in the same year.
Susan Kuijken, the NCAA champion from Florida State and The Netherlands, was in last place 600m into the race and did not perform well, though she still ran 4:09 for a next-to-last finish.
Splits for rabbit, Jamal and Wurth-Thomas
Women's 800 - Maggie Vessey!!!!!
Vessey, who was 4th in the US Trials after falling more than 20 meters behind with 200 to go, was never that far back in Rome. She did run in her customary last place position for the last lap but she was in contact with the pack, which was taken through 400 in 57.95 in another perfect job by the rabbit. Vessey was probably just under 60 seconds. By 500, Vessey was already moving up but when you move up that soon, there is a lot of traffic. Heading into the final turn, 2009 US champ Hazel
Clark had the lead, but Vessey was
trying to move up on the outside. But moving up three or four wide on a turn isn't an easy thing to do and Vessey didn't get a lot of traction. Coming into the final 100, Clark still had the lead and Vessey was 5th. Heading down the homestretch, Clark started to falter and it was clear her bid for victory was over. Vessey, however, wasn't gaining any ground. With 20 meters to go, she was in third, with 10 meters to go she was still in third. Then suddenly she started to gain and at the line - the improbable had
Vessey 2:00.13 to Italy's Elia Piccione's 2:00.14 and Spain's Mayte Martinez's 2:00.21. 2007 world champion Janeth Jepkosgei was 6th in 2:01.39 and Hazel Clark 7th in 2:01.41.
The commentators said Vessey was likely disappointed that she didn't break 2:00.00, which is what she needs for the World Championships.
We sure hope she isn't upset. And we sure hope that the IAAF gets a brain and gives the winners of any event in a Golden League meet an automatic A standard.
You win one of the biggest meets in the world - make that two of the biggest meets of the world - and you are told you aren't fast enough for Worlds. Give us a break. Pure stupidity that needs to be fixed.
Results below and Race video.
Men's 5k - Bekele's Dominance Is Growing
Scary to think that Bekele claims he is just working himself into shape, as in the end, he was the clear winner and unchallenged over the last 200. For his efforts, he was rewarded with his first sub-13:00 clocking of the year, a world-leading 12:56.23.
The meet organizers wanted fast pacemaking and they got it. They were hoping for a 12:50 type race and despite what the announcers on the IAAF feed were saying, the pace making was pretty good. The opening 1k was 2:34.52 (2:36 is 13:00-flat pace), and followed by kms of 2:37.35 and 2:38.04, so 3k was passed in 7:49.91 even though there was a 64 second lap in there from 1,800 to 2,200. Just when it looked like the pace was going to slow a great deal, Mark Kiptoo, the 33-year-old captain of the 2009 Kenyan cross-country team, decided to get things going again and ran a 60.09 to tow the field through 3,400 in roughly 8:50. Clearly a ton of guys were going to break 13:00 if they kicked.
As the race was unfolding, Bekele did what everyone expected him to do. He stayed near the front but clearly had no interest in forcing the pace. With 800 left, only six guys were still in contention with the lead group. With 600 to go, Bekele went to the lead and just slowly pushed down the pace.
Considering he was on track for a world leader, Bekele didn't need to throw down. His gradual acceleration over the last 600 was more than enough. Approaching 200 to go, a Kenyan or two was still trying to hang with Bekele but never did the viewer feel they were about to make a move. With about 220 remaining, Bekele looked over his shoulder, checking to see how hard he'd need to go. Bekele probably didn't feel too threatened as it didn't look like a big fight was coming, but one doesn't want to blow a possible $1 million dollar jackpot. Bekele threw down a 26-high last 200 to get the win. He covered his last 800 in just over 1:59, as the next-to-last lap (leader to leader) was 62.27 and the final lap by Bekele was a 57.01.
Coming down the homestretch, Bekele pulled way clear of the field. But the guys behind him were still running fast. The next five or six finishers all set personal best times, with the top 6 in the race all breaking 13:00.
The scary news for Bekele's supposed rivals is that Bekele is clearly getting better. Meanwhile, many of his supposed rivals are getting worse. The runner-up in Berlin, Abraham Chebii, ran 13:25 in this race and Ali Abdosh, the winner in Hengelo last month, ran 13:29.
Men's 1,500 - Kiprop Dominates Then Makes It Interesting As Two White Boys Shine
The race in Rome was hyped as a clash between Kiprop, new world 1,500 junior mile record holder William Biwott Tanui, and 2009 world 1,500 leader Augstin Choge. Once Choge was a late scratch, we fully expected to see the Asbel Kiprop show.
And that's what we got but with an asterisk. The rabbiting wasn't as good as in most of the other races as they went out in 53.24 before running over 60 (60.22, 1:53.46) for the next 400. At 1k, Kiprop was antsy and he passed the one remaining rabbit well before the bell. At the bell, Kiprop had two seconds on the field. At 1,200 (2:49.01), Kiprop was 2.5 seconds up on the field.
But what looked like a coronation for the newly-named Olympic champ soon got interesting as his lead started to diminish greatly over the final 200. With 30 or 40 meters to go, Morocco's Amine Laalou was about to pull up next to Kiprop. Did Kiprop have anything left? He had been glancing at the video board but hadn't picked it up. Just when one thought Kiprop might be spent, he picked it up almost like an inexperienced high schooler sometimes does and got the victory in 3:31.20 to Laalou's 3:31.56. The new world junior mile record holder Tanui (WBT) was third in 3:32.03.
Kiprop waved his finger at the finish like he was disappointed with his run.
Farther back, there were two very notable performances. Australian 22-year-old Jeff Riseley's fine 2009 campaign continued as he had a huge new PR of 3:32.93 to finish 8th. Coming into the year, he was a 3:36 guy, although en route to a 3:51.25 mile in Bislett, he had passed 1,500 in 3:35.23.
NCAA 4th placer and USA 3rd placer, Dorian Ulrey of Arkansas, had a huge PR of 3:35.23 - giving him the Worlds A standard that he needed to punch his ticket to Berlin. Ulrey ran a very smart race, as early in the race, he ran in last on the rail. After passing 800 in 1:55-mid and 1,200 in 2:52-mid to high, Ulrey finished off the race of his life and gave himself a great 22nd birthday present a day early (he turns 22 tomorrow).
People who were somehow hoping that Alan Webb would wiggle his way on to the Berlin team given his A standard can officially give up on that now.
On the boards: dorian ulrey does it!
Men's 800 - Alfred Yego Coming Into Form
Yego had time to let up and enjoy this one as he was the best over the final 200.
Jamaica's Mardrea Hyman did her best to rabbit this thing out on world record pace, but she could only last a km at 2:59.38. The world record holder and 2008 Olympic champ Gulnara Galkina slowed from there but did hang on for a world-leading win of 9:11.58 as the 2007 world champ Yekaterina Vokova was 2nd in 9:17.40.
Women's 100m - Stewart Writes Her Name High On All-Time List
Men's 110 Hurdles - Robles Remains Unbeaten
American Dexter Faulk, who was dead last at the US Trials final, got off to a very good start and had the lead for the first half of the race, but Robles pulled ahead halfway into the race. However, he couldn't totally let up as coming up strong on the outside was Antwon Hicks. Hicks, the winner in Oslo earlier this year, was clearly looking to make amends for his DQ at the US champs with a big upset. However, in the end, Hicks had to settle for 2nd in 13.27 while Faulk was third in 13.30. US Champion David Payne was last among the finishers in 13.87.
Women's 100m Hurdles - Super Performance For Olympic Champion Dawn Harper
The top duo from Jamaica and Canada were in the race as was Ginny Powell, the third US representative for Berlin.
American Damu Cherry opted not to run Rome though she had won the first two Golden League competitions and was 4 wins away from a piece of the jackpot. Those wins would have been extremely difficult to string together, but it's a shame she could not continue her quest.
Women 400m - Richards Simply #1
In the final 100m, even a novice track observer could tell that Richards is head-and-shoulders above the rest of the world. Her lead widened as she powered down the final stretch well clear of the competition. Still in early July, Richards has soundly defeated every contender this year and her 49.47 is yet another well-below-50-second clocking for super-Sanya.
Men's 400h- Kerron Clement Edges Phillips
Men's 400 - Chris Brown Holds On
Coming off the final turn, about 6 guys were in contention but halfway down the final straight, Chris Brown was the clear leader in lane 4, but timing things perfectly and moving up in lane 7 was the Irishman David Gillick. At the finish, it was too close to call but it looked like Brown had held on and indeed he had with 44.81 to Gillick's 44.82. A 2nd-straight fine run for Gillick, who set the Irish National record of 44.77 in Madrid on July 4th. Three years in a row, Gillick has lowered the Irish NR. He ran 45.23 in 2007, 45.12 last year and now 44.77.
The 44.81 was Brown's 1st time under 45.00 flat this year. We think he's now the 13th guy to have done that in 2009. Coming in third, was Trinidad's Renny Quow in 45.02. The bronze medallist from 2008, American David Neville, continued his struggles in 2009 as he was just 7th in 45.71.
Women's 400h - How Do You Spell Upset? Jesien!
Men's Long Jump - Dwight Phillips' 8.61m Meet Record Crushes Saladino
Women's Pole Vault - Partial Return To Form For Yelena
Though she missed three times at 4.95, she was very close and couldn't complain.
Men's Javelin - Thorkildsen Comes Through To Sink Pitkamaki
Throw after throw for Thorkildsen fell to the earth in the 75m range as Pitkamaki was besting 80m regularly. But one throw is all it takes and Thorkildsen found his form on throw number 6.
Women's HJ - Vlašic Misses 2.00m!