The Shanghai IAAF Diamond League meeting on Sunday (17) was supposed to be about Bohdan Bondarenko and Mutaz Essa Barshim and their pursuit of the world record in the men’s high jump. If that was the script, nobody told Almaz Ayana, who stole the show with a runaway victory in the women’s 5000m, running the third-fastest time ever in the process. Just going faster and faster, Ayana smashed her rivals to win by about 150 metres in 14:14.32.
It was a personal best, a meeting record, an Asian all-comers’ record and an IAAF Diamond League record. Only world record-holder Tirunesh Dibaba (14:11.15) and Meseret Defar (14:12.88) have ever gone faster and Ayana might have topped those times too had she had more competition over the last half of the race.
It would be stretching credulity to call the 23-year-old Ayana an unknown. She took the bronze medal at the 2013 IAAF World Championships and last year won the IAAF Continental Cup in Marrakech. She has form.
Two years ago, Ayana clung resolutely to Dibaba’s heels as her more illustrious countrywoman ran 14:23.68 at the Paris IAAF Diamond League meeting. Ayana’s reward then was second place in 14:25.84, which remained her personal best coming into Shanghai.
On a cool Sunday night which inevitably suffered a little in contrast to Friday’s IAAF Diamond League opener in Doha, Ayana led after five laps and ran solo from just before the 3000m mark.
At that stage, Kenya’s Viola Kibiwot was still vaguely in contact, but in reality, her only hope of catching Ayana would have been to hail a taxi. Even then it would have been doubtful as the field was spread out all around the track.
It was never hard to spot Ayana, however; you just looked for the woman who was obviously running fast.
With Global Sports physiotherapist Joost Vollaard helping with translation, Ayana said she was not aware of how close she was to the world record.
“I was trying for 14:20, I didn’t think of the world record,” she explained. “I was surprised; it was much faster than I had in mind.”
Ayana comes from Benshangul, but is based in Addis Ababa, training just outside the city. She is coached by her husband, 1500m runner Soresa Fida
Ayana wants to run the 5000m only at the World Championships in Beijing later in the year. Ethiopian selection will be by time, so her performance in Shanghai should have clinched a place. She said she would like to attack the world record in Beijing, but winning was a higher priority. A more obvious possibility may be when she runs against Genzebe Dibaba at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Oslo.
It is an ill wind which blows nobody good, as the saying goes, and while the cooler conditions in Shanghai may not have been as favourable to the explosive events, three of the six world leads at the meeting came in the middle distances.
Besides Ayana’s stunner, Silas Kiplagat ran a world lead in the men’s 1500m, as did Jairus Birech in the 3000m steeplechase.
The other three world leads came from Gong Lijiao in the women’s shot put, Nikoleta Kiriakopolou in the women’s pole vault and Mutaz Essa Barshim in the high jump.
Kiplagat, who ran the fastest time in the world last year, produced a trademark stunning finish to take the 1500m in 3:35.29. Nixon Chepseba took over the lead after 800m and produced a 56.34 third lap. The leader’s split for the last 300m was 41.73, but Kiplagat would have been a tick or two quicker.
Less than a second covered the first eight finishers, but there was never any doubt about the winner.
Birech dominated the steeple after Haron Lagat and Bernard Nganga had taken him through 2000m in 5:38.22. By that stage, he was decisively clear of Paul Kipsiele Koech in second place.
At the bell, Birech was still nominally a chance for something near eight minutes, but he could not find the extra speed required. He won in 8:05.36 from Koech (8:11.39) and Conseslus Kipruto (8:14.59).
Amidst one of the finest early season displays of speed ever witnessed, Pedro Pablo Pichardo and Christian Taylor produced the best triple jump competition in history at the opening meeting of the 2015 IAAF Diamond League on Friday night. Pichardo leaped 18.06 metres, the best jump in the world in 19 years, to become history’s third farthest jumper. And the 21-year-old Cuban needed every centimetre to better Olympic champion Christian Taylor who responded with an 18.04 jump with his final effort. Only five men have now sailed beyond 18 metres and never have two done it the same competition.
“It was a fantastic competition for me,” said Pichardo, who set his previous best of 17.94 in Havana last weekend. “It is a special day for me,” said Taylor, who improved his personal record eight centimetres.
Pichardo’s performance was just one of 11 world season leading performances and five meeting records to fall at the Qatar Sports Club in what will remembered as one of the best Diamond League competitions in the series that kicked off its sixth season in Doha.
Gatlin, Stowers move up all-time lists
In the men’s 100m, Justin Gatlin continued his comeback with a dominant display as he powered to a 9.74 victory. Midway through the race there was little doubt that the 2004 Olympic champion, now 33, would extend his win streak in the event to sixteen.
Summarizing much of the evening’s action on the track, Gatlin said, “It was a magical night.”
His performance, a meeting record, elevated him to the No. Five position all-time and was also Diamond League record*.
Michael Rodgers of the U.S. was second in 9.96 with Keston Bledman of Trinidad and Tobago third in 10.01.
In the women’s 100m hurdles Jasmin Stowers continued her rapid rise through the ranks of the event with her dominating victory in 12.35, a sensational world-leading mark that moved the 23-year-old to the No. Seven position all-time. Notably, nobody has ever run so fast so early in the season.
“It’s been a sensational start to the season,” said Stowers, who entered the year as an unknown with a career best of 12.71. “It means a lot competing with such great women and athletes.” Her mark was also a meeting and Diamond League record.
Stowers’ power helped pull her U.S. compatriot Sharika Nelvis to a 12.54 personal best for second, with European champion Tiffany Porter of Great Britain third in 12.65.
Just a few minutes earlier Allyson Felix brought the crowd to their feet with a sterling run in the 200m, a 21.98 dash that was also a world lead and Doha meeting record.
The Olympic champion had already built a clear led midway through the bend before her trademark smooth, confident cadence down the homestretch carried her through the line.
“It’s a good start, I felt strong and my speed is good,” said Felix, who notched her 11th victory on the Doha stadium track. “It’s so good to be healthy.” Her performance was the fastest ever in the month of May.
Murielle Ahoure of Cote D’Ivoire was second in 22.29 with rising Bahamian star Anthonique Strachan (22.69) third.
400m hurdles meeting record for Jackson
The first world lead on the track came courtesy of Bershawn Jackson who just five hours earlier was complaining about how little sleep he’d gotten since arriving in the Qatari capital. That drowsiness showed early on in the race, but the veteran shook it off quickly.
“What was important today was to have a great race and not the time, but I am glad I broke the meeting record,” said Jackson, the 2005 world champion, whose 48.09 world lead was also a meeting record. “People doubted me last year but it was injury problems that pulled me back. I proved I can still run fast.”
After a decent start, Jackson faded to fifth 200 metres into the race, only to shift gears midway through the final turn. Powering down the homestraight, the only remaining battle was between him and the LJ van Zyl’s meeting record. Jackson won that one as well as he clipped .03 seconds from the South African’s mark as he crossed the line with his second Doha victory.
Javier Culson of Puerto Rico was a distant second in 48.96, just a scant 0.03 ahead of Irishman Thomas Barr. Further back, Jack Green (49.31) of Great Britain was fourth.
Minutes later, world leads would fall in the both the women’s 1500m and men’s 800 with pre-race favourites falling to upset upstarts.
Seyaum and Souleiman surprise
In the women’s race, it was 18-year-old Dawit Seyaum of Ethiopia, last year’s world junior champion, who spoiled the latest round of the Sifan Hassan-Abebe Aregawi rivalry.
With Aregawi well out of contention, the Dutchwoman Hassan seemed in control as she passed the bell about two strides ahead of Seyaum, and brought a steady metre-and-half-lead into the backstretch, one she padded as she made her way around the final bend. But the teenager wouldn’t relent.
On her heels from the top of the homestretch, Seyaum moved to the front with about 40 metres to go, allowed a smile onto her face about 15 metres from the finish, and fell to the track just beyond the line. But she was still smiling.
She clocked 4:00.96 with Hassan stopping the clock in 4:01.40. Another Ethiopian, Senbere Teferi (4:01.86), was third.
In the 800m, the men’s face-off between world champions Asbel Kiprop and Mohammed Aman never materialised. Instead, it became a strong platform for Ayanleh Souleiman, the world indoor champion in the 1500m, to shine over a shorter distance. The 22-year-old powered away down the homestretch to win in 1:43.78, nearly a second clear of Kenyans Ferguson Rotich (1:44.53) and Alfred Kipketer (1:44.59). Kiprop was a distant fifth and Aman, never a factor, was ninth.
Hagos outkicks Farah
In the men’s 3000m, meeting poster boy Mo Farah didn’t win, but the reigning double Olympic and world champion didn’t seem too bothered by his runner-up finish, either.
“My main focus is not the 3000,” said the Briton, who was out-kicked by Ethiopian Hagos Gebrhiwet 7:38.08 (world lead) to 7:38.22. “I started the season again with a loss, but it doesn’t matter that much to lose in an opening meeting of the Diamond League. I tried for a late kick in the final 200 metre but it just wasn’t there.”
It wasn’t for lack of trying. Farah held back for much of the race’s first half before moving to the front with three laps to go. But he fell back quickly as the pack switched gears at the bell. With a half lap to go, Farah was well back in fourth, but found his own closing gear down the homestretch when he ran down everyone but Hagos.
In the women’s steeplechase, Virginia Nyambura of Kenya decided that her pace-setting duties weren’t quite enough, so she continued running and went on to win the event in a thrilling sprint finish over Hiwot Ayelew 9:21.51 to 9:21.54, another world lead.
World leads for Bartoletta and Pitkamaki
Tianna Bartoletta won a classy long jump competition in which the top four competitors were separated by just seven centimetres. The 2005 world champion set the tone and the controlled the competition with a 6.96 leap in the first round, one she improved to 6.99 in the last, the first season’s world lead of the evening.
Shara Proctor took advantage of early evening’s steamy conditions to fly out to 6.95 to equal the British national record she set at the 2012 Olympic trials.
Canadian rising star Cristabel Nettey was third with a 6.93 best, just one centimetre better than another Briton, Lorraine Ugen.
Another world lead on the infield came courtesy of Tero Pitkamaki in the men’s javelin throw. The former world champion underscored his comeback with an 88.62 throw in the final round. His Finnish compatriot Anti Ruuskanen was second with 86.61.
Sandra Perkovic got her chase for a fourth successive Diamond Race title off to a strong start with a dominating win in the women’s discus throw. The 24-year-old Croat, the reigning Olympic and world champion, topped the leader board with a 68.10 best, although each of her four measured throws would have sufficed for the victory.
Germany’s Nadine Muller was a distant second with 65.13 with Australian Dani Samuels, a former world champion, third at 64.45.
Likewise in the men’s shot put, where two-time defending world champion David Storl made his season’s debut an auspicious one with his own convincing victory.
The 24-year-old German took control of the competition for good with a 21.51m put in the second round, an effort that held for the lead through the six rounds. At age 37, four-time Doha winner Reese Hoffa of the U.S. produced a solid 21.30 effort in the third round to finish second, comfortably ahead of meeting record holder Ryan Whiting, who reached 21.06.
World leader Joe Kovacs (20.86) never found his rhythm and was a distant fourth.
Meeting record holder Konstantinos Filippidis of Greece won the pole vault with a 5.75 season best, ahead of Germany’s Carlo Paech and Argentine German Chiaraviglio, who each topped 5.60.
Francena McCorory pulled off an upset in the women’s 400m defeating Olympic champion Sanya Richards-Ross decisively in 50.21. Richards-Ross, the world leader coming in to Doha, was a distant second in 50.79.
And finally, Abdalleleh Haroun impressed with a dominant win in the men’s Asian division 400m contest, producing a victory for Qatar early in the programme. The 18-year-old clocked 44.85 to win by more than a second.
There is just two days to go before the IAAF/BTC World Relays, Bahamas 2015, which will be held in Nassau on Saturday and Sunday 2-3 May. More than 600 athletes from around the world will compete in five relay disciplines in the Thomas A Robinson National Stadium: 4x100m, 4x200m, 4x400m, 4x800m and the distance medley relay for both men and women.
The star attraction will be, without doubt, the 100m and 200m world record holder Usain Bolt who has been entered as part of Jamaica’s 4x100m and 4x200m teams. In the latter event, and with Bolt missing through injury, Jamaica set a world record of 1:18.63 at the inaugural IAAF World Relays at the same venue in 2014, one of three world records to fall in a memorable first edition of the latest addition to the roster of IAAF Competition.
The Jamaica team is expected to include Veronica Campbell-Brown in the 4x100m and 2013 World Athlete of the Year Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce in the 4x200m. In addition to outstanding teams from all over the Caribbean, there are a host of star names who will be making longer journeys to get to the event.
USA to defend Golden Baton
The USA took the Golden Baton last year for amassing the most points within the scoring system and has sent a strong contingent to try to defend this accolade.
The US squad includes 25 athletes who have won medals at global senior championships, including three of the four members of the world record women’s 4x100m team in Tianna Bartoletta, four-time Olympic gold medallists Allyson Felix and three-time Olympic medallist Carmelita Jeter.
Four-time Olympic gold medallist Sanya Richards-Ross will team up with world indoor champion Francena McCorory and Olympic bronze medallist DeeDee Trotter in the women’s 4x400m. LaShawn Merritt is also entered in the men’s 4x400m.
Two-time world 1500m champion Asbel Kiprop will return to Nassau as the Kenyan team looks to replicate – or even better – their tally of three wins from the inaugural 2014 event.
Last year, Kenya won the men’s 4x800m, 4x1500m and women’s 4x1500m in the capital of The Bahamas, dominating both the men’s and women’s finals and setting world records in the longest event, which has this year been replaced by a distance medley relay but it’s sure that Kenya will be the favourite for this new event on the global stage.
Other star names have been entered include: Bahrain’s Maryam Yusuf Jamal, Dominican Republic’s Lugelin Santos, Great Britain’s Richard Kilty, Japan’s Yoshihide Kiryu, Nigeria’s Blessing Okagbare, Poland’s Adam Kszczot, Trinidad and Tobago’s Lalonde Gordon and Michelle-Lee Ahye.
The IAAF World Relays is the biggest sporting event to be held in The Bahamas in 2015 and it will serve as a qualifying competition for the 2016 Olympic Games.
The top eight teams in both the men’s and women’s 4x100m and 4x400m will automatically qualify for Rio.
In addition, the top eight teams in each event will be awarded prize money with the gold medallists taking home no less than USD $50,000.
In the event that a team breaks a world record in Nassau, an additional bonus of USD $50,000 will also be awarded.
The IAAF will be providing live results, news and event reports which will all be available here.
The events will be shown live on Supersport 7 on Saturday from 23H50 and Supersport 6 on Monday morning from 00H50
The 2015 SA senior track & field championships were held at Coetzenburg stadium in Stellenbosch on Friday & Saturday, 17/18 April. KZNA athletes managed to win 2 medals with Zelda Schultz finishing 3rd in the women 20km walk and Dominique Mann also finishing 3rd in the women polevault.
Being a world championship year competition were quite tough and although we only managed to win two medals a number of athletes made it into the finals of their respective events which is an achievement in itself. Zoe Engler (4th women 400m), Kelly Fletcher (5th women 800m), Jenet Dlamini (4th women 10 000m), Brittany Uys (4th women highjump) were the other standout performances from KZNA.
The 2015 SA senior track & field championships will be taking place on Friday and Saturday, 17/18 April 2015, at Coetzenburg stadium in Stellenbosch. We do wish our KZNA athletes all the best for the championship, and hopefully we can add to the 13 medals our juniors and U23 athletes won in Bloemfontein. The organizers have created a live link to follow the program and event results (www.saseniors.co.za).
The results of the 2015 ASA sub-youth, youth, junior & U23 championships are now available for download. KZNA athletes won 12 medals in total at the event.
The 2015 ASA sub-youth, youth, junior & U23 championship held in Bloemfontein, concluded on Saturday the 11th of April. KZN bagged another 7 medals on Saturday, including 2 gold medals. KZN won 12 medals in total, made up of 2 gold, 4 silver and 5 bronze. A KZN individual entry also won gold.
KZN had to wait till the last day for its two gold medals. Kelly Fletcher (women U23) ran a superb tactical 800m race to leave the opposition in her wake with a personal best time of 2:09.90. Brittany Uys took top honours in the girls 19 highjump with a winning height of 1.74m.
The full list of medal winners are:
Kelly Fletcher – Women U23 800m (gold)
Brittany Uys – Girls 19 Highjump (gold)
Shanice Marnce – Women U23 200m (silver) & 100m (bronze)
Sibusiso Hlope – Boys 19 5000m (silver)
Simphiwe Hadebe – Boys 15 5000m walk (silver)
Jenet Dlamini – Women U23 10 000m (silver)
Jessica Bompas – Girls 15 200m (bronze)
Zakhiti Nene – Boys 17 400m (bronze)
Caylee Ellero – Girls 19 3000m SC (bronze)
Anele Hadebe – Boys 19 3000m SC (bronze)
Luyanda Mngadi – Boys 17 Triple Jump (bronze)
Ndumiso Sokhela Men U23 10 000m (gold) – Entered as KZN individual
CLICK HERE to view the results from the ASA champs
Day 2 of the SA sub-youth, youth, junior & U23 championships yielded two more medals for the KZNA team. Jenet Dlamini bagged a silver in the women U23 10 000m and Shanice Marnce a well deserved bronze medal in the women U23 100m. Saturday will see the final day of competition with a number of KZN athletes competing in finals.
The 2015 ASA sub-youth, youth, junior and U23 championship got underway on Thursday the 9th of April in Bloemfontein. With athletes from all across the country the venue was set for some exciting athletics. Day 1 is usually catering for heats and semi-finals with not that many finals. KZN athletes did reasonably well on day 1 bagging 1 silver and 2 bronze medals. Simphiwe Hadebe got things underway with a silver medal in the boys 15 5000m walk. Later during the afternoon Caylee Ellero – Girls 19 3000m SC (bronze) and Anele Hadebe – Boys 19 3000m SC bronze) added to our medal count with some gutsy running in the heat of the day.
We will be following the following athletes that featured on day 1 and will either run finals or semi-finals in their respective events on day 2:
Jessica Bompas – Girls 15 100m final
Sharnce Marnce – Women U23 100m final
Rishen Archary- Boys 15 400m semi-final
Dwayne Trollip – Boys 17 400m final
Zakhiti Nene – Boys 17 400m final
Bongomusa Mdlala – Boys 19 400m semi-final
Nkululeko Ngubeni – Men U23 400m final
Lungelo Gumede – Girls 15 1500m final
Lindokuhle Mkhwanazi – Boys 19 1500m final
Mthokozisi Mazibuko – Boys 19 1500m final
You can follow the action with live results via www.jobaresults.co.za
KZN Athletics recently appointed a head coach, Mark Labuschagne. One of mark’s duties will be to head up a provincial development program focusing on the various KZN districts. Mark recently presented his development plan to the AGM and it outlined a 4 year cycle plan. For more information about the plan please contact the KZNA office at 031 312 9374