Saturday, July 18, 2009

Paris Provides Another Peak at Berlin

Athletics Areva Meeting - Saint-Denis

With most athlete's starting to wind up their preparations for Berlin, the meets here during the last part of July will give us our last peak at some of the sports main players.

Right off the bat yesterday we got a look at Jeremy Wariner. He won the 400 but only in a time of 45.28 and not with the type of run that we have come to associate with him. We didn't get the blistering third 100 that has been his past trade mark. And he wasn't as dominant in the final 50 as we've come to expect. He had company coming off the final turn, was able to create some separation right afterwards, but lacked that killer punch in the final stages of the race.

There was talk that the winds in the stadium may have hampered his race, but it didn't seem to pose a problem for Sanya Richards who crushed the women's field with a blistering 49.34, just off her season leading mark of 49.24. Sanya used a very solid race pattern to defeat second place Novalene Williams (JAM, 50.38) by over a second. Sanya has dominated her event this summer, and will enter Berlin a heavy favorite at this rate. Only her own nerves can keep her from gold at this point, which unfortunately they have done in the past.

Another heavy favorite for Berlin will be Kenenisa Bekele (ETH), yesterday's winner in the 3000 meters. Bekele's 7:28.64 victory looked fluid and easy as his closest competition came from Bernard Lagat, who in spite of running a PR 7:33.13 was no match for Bekele over the second half of the race. Lagat's run showed that he is in excellent shape and will be a factor in Berlin. It also showed that Bekele will be a favorite at whatever distance he runs.

Another who looks to be emerging as a favorite for Berlin is new vault find Renaud Lavillenie (FRA). His winning mark of 5.70m was not as impressive as the way he handled the competition. He won easily over second place Daniel Dovessi (FRA) 5.60, and his clearances were clear and easy.

Then there was the performances in the men's 100 meters contested in the rain as it began to rain late in the meet. The event was won by Usain Bolt in 9.79 giving him the #2 time in the world. But behind Bolt were PR performances by second and third place sprinters Daniel Bailey (ANT) 9.91 and Yohan Blake (JAM) 9.93. Outstanding sprinting for all three. Bolt's run answered the call of Gay's 9.77 in Rome. And with each race by these two it's clear that the men's sprints in Berlin will be a two man show. In spite of the personal bests by Bailey and Blake, Bolt, with an average start at best, simply blew by them mid race and won going away - in much the same fashion that Gay blew by Asafa Powell in Rome. With Bolt now at 9.79/19.59 and Gay at 9.77/19.58 Berlin could see the greatest sprint showdown in history!

For full results of Paris click here.

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