Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Four World Leads the Highlight in Oslo’s Bislett Stadium


The ExxonMobil Bislett Games on Wednesday evening enjoyed four world leads as the fifth stage of the 2014 IAAF Diamond League arrived in Oslo for the prestigious athletic event.

In mild, dry conditions, the Norwegian capital played host to a plethora of world-class athletes inside the Bislett Stadium – with Pascal Martinot-Lagarde, Yenew Alamirew, Jarius Kipchoge-Birech and Tianna Bartoletta providing the highlights.

World indoor silver medallist, Martinot-Lagarde added to his victory in the IAAF Eugene Diamond League in May with a swift 13.12 world-leading and lifetime best performance in the 110m hurdles.

The 22-year-old Frenchman strode clear ahead of Jamaica’s Andrew Riley, who caused a surprise in second place with a 13.36 clocking, in what is by far the world finalist’s best run of the season.

Martinot-Lagarde explained afterwards:

“I’m happy, personal best is always good. I still see improvements in my technique. I aim for sub-13 at the French Championships.”

Ehhiopia’s Alamirew exacted revenge on Kenya’s Caleb Ndiku, who beat him to the top spot in Eugene, with Alamirew storming to a fine 13:01.57 world lead in the 5,000m.

The 24-year-old grabbed his second IAAF Diamond League victory following first place in Shanghai, whilst 21-year-old Ndiku – the world indoor 3,000m champion – registered 13:02.15 in his wake.

Meanwhile, Olympic 10,000m silver medallist, Galen Rupp of the USA recorded a 13:03.35 season’s best in third.

Alamirew revealed:

“I won the Diamond League last year and I want to do the same this year. I think later in the season, I can be faster.”

Kenya’s Kipchoge-Birech continued his fine form following victory in the IAAF Rome Diamond League last week with another 3,000m steeplechase win – this time in a world-
leading 8:02.27.

The 21-year-old stormed clear in the final two laps from the USA’s Evan Jager.

The 25-year-old world fifth placer clocked 8:06.97 less than a fortnight after finishing third in the Bowerman mile in Eugene.

Birech said after his exertions:

“I was afraid to go for a fast pace as I was competing twice recently so I definitely was not fast enough.

“I think in Lausanne (at the IAAF Diamond League on July 3rd), I can go under eight minutes.”

On the in-field, the USA’s Tianna Bartoletta leapt a 7.02m world lead in the second round of the long jump before exiting the competition, and her furthest leap was enough to grab victory.

The 28-year-old 2006 world indoor champion finished comfortably ahead of Great Britain’s world indoor fourth placer, Shara Proctor who registered 6.78m in the fourth round.

World indoor record holder and Olympic champion, Renaud Lavillenie continued his pole vault dominance with a comfortable 5.77m victory.

The 27-year-old Frenchman’s win follows top place finishes in Shanghai, Eugene and Hengelo, and the world indoor champion finished clear of Germany’s world indoor silver medallist, Malte Mohr, who soared to a best of 5.70m in the runner-up position.

Lavillenie explained:

“The win was the most important for me today. The conditions were difficult, especially the changing wind – you cannot relax enough and that is important.

“I nearly jumped the 5.83m but I’m satisfied.”

Three-time world and 2012 Olympic 200m champion, Allyson Felix signalled her return to winning ways with victory over the half-lap in 22.73.

The 28-year-old American was only third in Eugene and managed to hold off Great Britain’s Jodie Williams, who flew to a shock second place.

The 20-year-old has been under the radar of late due to making her return from long-term injury, but the 2010 world junior 100m champion took the scalps of several big names to clock 22.97 in the runner-up position.

Russia’s world indoor champion, Mariya Kuchina made up for finishing fourth in Eugene by claiming the high jump honours with a 1.98m personal best.

The 21-year-old won on count-back from Croatia’s two-time world indoor and outdoor champion, Blanka Vlasic who opened her outdoor campaign in style and rekindled her fond memories of winning in Oslo on four previous occasions.

Kuchina admitted afterwards:

“That was hard, I have no more power – my legs were so tired.

“I wanted to clear two metres but this was not the day to do it.”

Trinidad and Tobago’s Richard Thompson stole the show in the 100m to close the evening’s proceedings, with a solid 10.02 clocking.

The 29-year-old 2008 Olympic silver medallist – who ran 9.95 in Hengelo last weekend – managed to hold off the fast-finishing Jimmy Vicaut, who was timed at 10.04 in
the runner-up position.

The 22-year-old Frenchman improved on his third place in Eugene, whilst Great Britain’s Adam Gemili – the world 200m fifth placer – finished third with 10.11.

Thompson revealed after the event:

“That was a step in the right direction. I am still missing something to beat the Jamaicans and US sprinters but I’m coming closer.

“I wanted to run sub-10 but we had the head-wind, but this win in credible for me.”

Djibouti’s Ayanleh Souleiman followed up his win in the Bowerman Mile in Eugene with another four-lap victory in the famous Dream Mile with 3:49.49.

The 21-year-old world indoor 1500m champion glided around the Bislett Stadion track where no less than ten of the world’s 30 fastest milers have registered their personal best times, whilst Nick Willis took a surprise second place.

The 31-year-old 2008 Olympic 1500m silver medallist from New Zealand recorded a fine 3:49.83 lifetime best to take his season up a gear.

Souleiman said:

“It was a perfect race for me. The pace was right and I am very happy to do my second win here.

“This season, I have a great dream to fill, I hope to 3:26 (over 1500m) in Monaco.”

Kicking off the proceedings was World and Olympic champion, Sandra Perkovic who claimed her third straight IAAF Diamond League victory in the discus with her usual ease, courtesy of a 67.17m throw in the second round.

The 23-year-old Croatian – who won in Shanghai and Eugene in recent weeks – was followed by the USA’s Gia Lewis-Smallwood (65.77m) in second place.

Perkovic explained afterwards:

“I’m not satisfied with my result – the circle did not allow me to use my technique, it was slow.

“But ok, let’s move to the next competition which will be the European Team Championships (in Braunschweig next weekend).

“The main goal is Zurich (at the European Championships in August) and throw over 71-meters.”

American duo, Will Claye and Christian Taylor put on a battle royale for the crowd, with the former snatching back the triple jump lead in the sixth and final round with a 17.41m leap.

The 22-year-old world indoor champion thus maintained his impressive winning streak following victories on the IAAF Diamond League circuit in Eugene and Rome lately, whilst Olympic champion, Taylor registered a best of 17.15m for his third-consecutive runner-up spot.

Claye explained:

“I’m blessed, I was a little surprised in Eugene as I was before kind of injured and competed there on faith but now I ended up winning the meetings so now I want to win the whole series.”

Another to extend their IAAF Diamond League winning ways this summer was Kenya’s Eunice Sum, who stormed to victory in the 800m in a swift 1:59.02 season’s best.

The 25-year-old world champion – who also finished first in Doha and Rome – came home clear of the USA’s Ajee Wilson, who registered a 1:59.68 season’s best, whilst

Great Britain’s 19-year-old Jessica Judd placed third in 1:59.77 lifetime best.

Sum said after her event:

“It looks like I’m confident with winning but it is not true I’m taking every competition as one and not feeling to confident.

“I would like faster times but need to be more fresh, maybe in Lausanne.”

Despite having admitted to getting next to no sleep in the past few days due to his wife giving birth to a baby boy on Monday, world silver medallist, Tero Pitkamaki threw a 84.18m season’s best to win the javelin.

The 31-year-old Fin and 2007 world champion improved from sixth place in Shanghai and finished ahead of Kenya’s Julius Yego, who threw just one centimetre less to seal the runner-up spot.

Pitkamaki revealed:

“I’m lucky to win by one centimetre.

“I had problems with my elbow and took antibiotics so I felt tired without any power, so in that sense, the win is great for me.

“I dedicate this win to my son.”

Novlene Williams-Mills took her third IAAF Diamond League win of the season with a comfortable 50.06 season’s best.

The 32-year-old Jamaican took the honours in Shanghai and Eugene, and the 2007 world champion and 2012 Olympic fifth placer finished clear of the USA’s Natasha

World indoor 4x400m gold medallist, Hastings, clocked a 50.60 season’s best in her best performance of the summer so far.

Williams-Mills said later on:

“After last year, my season was not great so I’m please to run that well this year.

“I admit it is time to go under 50-seconds now. The big goal is to win the Diamond Race.”

Following 400m hurdles wins in Eugene and Rome, World indoor 400m silver medallist, Kaliese Spencer added another victory to her 2014 campaign with first place 54.94.

The 27-year-old Jamaican - and Olympic fourth placer over the barriers – pipped Bahrain’s Kemi Adekoya in a tight finish, with the 21-year-old Doha IAAF Diamond League winner clocking 54.96.

Spencer explained:

“Today, it was only the victory that mattered. I did a bad race and it was a very hard home stretch.

“My goal is to compete well at the Commonwealth Games and to win the Diamond League.”

The USA’s Joe Kovacs caused an upset to capture the shot put.

The 24-year-old finally grabbed the top spot after second place finishes in Shanghai and Eugene with a 21.14m effort over Germany’s two-time World champion, David Storl.

The 23-year-old Olympic silver medallist threw 21.08m just one centimetre ahead of American, Reese Hoffa – the winner in Eugene.

Kovacs revealed afterwards:

“The win is very special for me but I did not think before the competition that 21.14m would be enough to win.

“My next goal is to compete well at the US Championships, I’m looking forward to it.”

Finally, in the men’s 400m non-IAAF Diamond League event, Olympic and world decathlon champion and world record holder, Ashton Eaton sped to a respectable 49.16 victory.

The 26-year-old American set a 49.07 lifetime best whilst winning in Hengelo last weekend as he uses the 2014 ‘off season’ as an opportunity to try a new event and revitalise his form before the world championship year.

Eaton said:

“I’m still learning the event but I won and the time is ok, so nothing to complain.

“Of course it could be smoother but that is what I am for – maybe in my next race in Ostrava (on Tuesday). Next time I want to break 49-seconds.”

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