Friday, August 5, 2011

London GP, Day One


I sure wish someone would tell me why we need two days to run a track meet with basically all finals. Because it really doesn’t add anything to the excitement – and this meet needs a bit more excitement! Perhaps it was better in the stadium, but even with a non American feed it still lacked oomph for me – and I love a good track meet.

Still, there were some very good performances. Perhaps the best on the day was the world leader by Kaliese Spencer in the women’s 400 hurdles. Previous world leader, Zuzana Hejnova (CZE) was in the race, but was never a factor as Spencer took control down the backstretch and never looked back. Her 52.79 was a PR that moved her to =8th all time. Not a bad way to go into the World Championships. No one else was close as teammate Melaine Walker was second back in the 53.90 zip code. The way Spencer is running right now I see only Lashinda Demus (USA) as a possible threat to her for gold.

I’m not sure anyone can threaten David Rudisha for the 800 meter gold medal come Daegu. Today he faced his toughest challenger, Abubaker Kaki (SUD) fresh off of a 1500 meter PR. With Rudisha following the rabbit through a 49.6 opening lap, Kaki tucked in behind him on the final backstretch. unfortunately that was as close as Rudisha would let him get. Kaki was more relaxed than in the past against the Kenyan, but Rudisha still controlled the race and held him at bay for a 1:42.91 to 1:43.13 victory over Kaki. Close, but still no cigar for Kaki who did make a game race of it. With a few more weeks there is still time to craft an upset – but it’s not looking very promising as Rudisha has this race down pat!

That’s how it’s starting to look in the men’s long jump too – like Mitchell Watt (AUS)has things down pat! He won again today with a second round leap of 27’ 8.5” that was well up on the 27’ 2.75” jump for Chris Tomlinson (GBR) in second. Watt is in a groove, while everyone else seems to be in search of one. And if no one else finds it within the next couple of weeks, Watt could be jumping off with a gold medal!

The gold medal hunt in the men’s 400 got another player today as Kirani James (GRN) finally stepped on the track after a long rest. Apparently the rest did him well as he set a new PR with his world leading win of 44.61. James, Jermaine Gonzales (JAM) and Kevin Borlee (BEL) went sailing down the backstretch and into the second turn. Coming into the homestretch James took over with Gonzales in pursuit. But the strong and smooth James flowed up the stretch while Gonzales seemed to tighten a bit and that was that – and James has to be considered a serious threat after today's win. I can’t wait to see him and Merritt square off, and perhaps McQuay whom we also haven’t seen in a bit.

Two other young men made serious noise for medal consideration today. In the 110 hurdles Jason Richardson (USA) followed up his upset over David Oliver (USA) with an oh so close loss to WR holder Dayron Robles (CUB). Robles and Richardson were best off the line with Robles a tad better over the first hurdle. Robles held that margin to the line as Richardson ran virtually even with him from that point to the line. Robles taking a 13.04 to 13.08 win over Richardson’s new PR. Oliver, two lanes out from this pair, was never in the race as he was never able to make up the deficit he lost to the first hurdle, and finished third in 13.19. Richardson has to be taken seriously now as a medal contender, as the only man he has yet to run close or beat is Liu Xiang (CHN). This event just got very competitive.

Just as the 100 meters is going to be come Daegu. Tyson Gay (USA) – out with injury. Usain Bolt (JAM) has yet to find form. And today world leader Asafa Powell (JAM) withdrew from the meet citing a groin injury! It seems the door to a win in this even keeps opening a little wider with each meet. And today, Yohan Blake (JAM) staked a claim as a serious contender with his 9.95 (-1.6) win. In a field with seven sub 10 performers in the race, Blake moved easily to the front of the pack around 50 meters and was never really challenged as he won over Nesta Carter (JAM, 10.01) and Mike Rodgers (USA, 10.04). Blake’s win moves him into the conversation in a race that is going to be loaded and close.

The American women had a very bright spot on the field as Jenn Suhr looked like she has found her old form with a nice 15’ 8.5” victory over Fabiana Murer (BRA) and Svetlana Feofanova (RUS). The mark was her second best of the season and comes within a week of her WL 16’ 1.25” leap in New York. Suddenly Suhr is starting to look really good heading into Korea.

More action tomorrow. Including a Walter Dix citing in the 200; Jesse Wiliams (USA) and Ivan Ukhov (RUS) squaring off in the high jump; and a hot women’s 100 featuring Carmelita Jeter (USA) and Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce (JAM).

Results here.



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