Friday, September 2, 2011

Worlds Day Seven – The Field Stars

There were a couple of great races on the track but the real action took place on the field today.

In the women’s javelin, Maria Abakumova (RUS) heaved a tremendous 71.25m/233’ 9” in the 2nd round to take a stranglehold on the competition. The mark took over the yearly lead, was a national record, and improved her #3 all time position. She passed her next throw and fouled her 4th as seemingly there would be no threat to her for gold. Then in round 5 WR holder Barboa Spotakova (CZE) sailed her spear out to 71.58m/234’ 10” to snatch the lead from Abukamova with the #3 mark of all time! But on this day the Russian was not going to be denied as she came right back with a booming 71.99m/236’ 2” throw of her own imageto retake the lead and threaten the WR with the #2 throw of all time! Both women were well off their marks in the final round and the Russian had gold in perhaps the greatest javelin competition of all time.

71.99m – Maria Abakumova (RUS)

71.58m – Baroboa Spotakova (CZE)

68.38m – Sunette Viljoen (RSA)


The men’s shot put proved to be just as exciting, but not with the expected players. Reese Hoffa (USA) lead the 1st round with 20.90m/68’ 7”. It was the last time during the competition that an American would lead as David Storl (GER) hit a huge 21.60M/70’ 10.5” in round two to take over the lead. In the 3rd round defending champ Christian Cantwell (USA) finally hit a decent throw with a 21.36m/70’ 1” to move into medal contention but had to watch as Andrei Mikhnevich (BLR) hit 21.40m/70’ 2” to move into 2nd place followed by Canada’s Dylan Armstrong’s 21.64m/71’ 0” that moved him into the gold medal position, pushing everyone down a spot. In the final round, however, Storl blasted a PR 21.78m/71’ 5.5” to retake the lead and win his first gold medal and end a very exciting competition. imageWith defending champion Cantwell just outside the medals in 4th and a slew of former champions unable to respond, this meet could represent a changing of the guard in this event as the sport’s youth movement continues.

21.78m – David Storl (GER)

21.64m – Dylan Armstrong (CAN)

21.40m – Andrei Mikhnevich (BLR)


There was no changing of the guard in the men’s long jump however, as defending champion Dwight Phillips (USA)repeated his 1st round heroics of the qualifying round to hit exactly 8.31m/27’ 3.25” to put pressure on the field. Ngoni Makusha (ZIM) took up the challenge with a leap of 8.29m/27’ 2.5”. But in round 2 Phillips spanned 8.45m/27’ 8.75” and early favorite Mitchell Watt hit 8.33m/27’ 4” and things were pretty well set as the rest of imagethe competition was filled with passes and scratches. I had given Phillips up for dead this season, but he proved to be a true champion as he showed up here ready to compete. Watt has been the man all season, and with his silver here proved to be a worthy competitor, but Phillips added yet another notch on his belt to go with titles in Berlin, Helsinki, Athens, and Paris and now moves into the conversation as one of the best all time in the event.

8.45m – Dwight Phillips (USA)

8.33m – Mitchell Watt (AUS)

8.29m – Ngoni Makusha (ZIM)


All of the action didn’t take place in the field as there were some running events taking place. The most exciting being the women’s 200 and men’s 4x4.

They lined up in the 200 meters with Allyson Felix (USA), Carmelita Jeter (USA), Veronica Campbell Brown (JAM) and Shalonda Solomon (USA) in lanes 3 through 6. Jeter, the winner of the 100 looking for a possible double while Felix (runner up in the 400) and Campbell Brown (runner up in the 100) looking for gold in Daegu – a classic matchup. I said from day one that with this group of women the turn would be crucial – and it was. At the gun Jeter and Campbell Brown were blazing – Jeter moving away from Felix and Campbell Brown running past Solomon to her outside. Off the bend Campbell Brown was off to the races, but Jeter hit what seemed to be another gear to move to her shoulder with 50 meters to go, VCB was NOT going to be denied however, as she made a move that looked like something out of “The Fast and the Furious: as she found one more gear to burst away from Jeter to run through the line clear of the field to gold. Jeter appeared spent but held off the closing rush of Felix on the inside to nip her for the silver. It was aimage great race, among three tremendous sprinters – Campbell Brown just clearly wanted this title today as she proved that she could win World gold just as she has Olympic gold.

22.22 – Veronica Campbell Brown (JAM)

22.37 – Carmelita Jeter (USA)

22.42 – Allyson Felix (USA)


The final event of the day showed why it should always be the final event of the meet, as the men’s 4x4 relay turned out to be as exciting as always. From the gun South African moved out quickly and held the lead after the first leg with Belgium close and the U.S. and Jamaica in pursuit. As they headed down the backstretch Bershawn Jackson (USA) made a move but it was Jamaica’s Jermaine Gonzalez who shifted gears 200 meters in and coming around the bend took control of the race giving Jamaica the lead over South Africa with the U.S. falling back to fourth position. It was then a game of catch up for Angelo Taylor who was able to move into third but was held off by Willem de Beer (RSA) and Ryker Hylton (JAM) as he handed the baton to LaShawn Merritt in the unusual position of being behind coming into the anchor. Leford Green (JAM) led the contingent of L.J. van Zyl (RSA) and Merritt through 230 meters when the other anchors began to make a move. Van Zyl went by Green coming off the bend as Taylor swung wide and took off after the South African – corralling him some 50 meters out as he ran to victoryimage for the U.S, with van Zyl coming home silver. The time was an almost pedestrian (for world class racing) 2:59.31 possibly showing the effects of having this race too close to the 400 hurdles (as several of the competitors were 400 hurdlers). But the excitement that this race generates demonstrated for me just why it should retain its position as THE closing event of the meet, as it certainly closed out the day in fine fashion.

2:59.31 – United States

2:59.87 – South Africa

3:00.10 – Jamaica


Tomorrow will be a day full of finals. The most anticipated being the men’s 200 which is shaping up as a three man race between Usain Bolt (JAM), Walter Dix (USA) and Christophe Lemaitre (FRA). All three won today’s semis, and are clearly the class of the field. As with the women’s race the turn will be again be key, especially for Dix and Lemaitre if they hold out any hope of challenging Bolt for the gold. I know many are looking at Bolt, Dix for gold and silver, but Lemaitre seems to grow with every race and he will challenge.

The other key semis that were held today were in the women’s 800 meters and I have to say after watching the ease with which Caster Semenya (RSA) ran 1:58.07 to win the final semi that perhaps a bit of sandbagging has been going on this summer. I had watched Semenya hanging in the back of races all summer only to ease up near the front by the finish. And I have to wonder if the goal has been not to appear superior – because that semi was just too easy. The rest of the field is going to have a hard time resting away that gold on Sunday.

Tomorrow will also feature the other 4x4 as the women will take to the track. With deep squads from the U.S., Russia, and Jamaica it too promises to be a real barn burner. And we get the women’s short hurdle semifinals and final. Keep an eye on Sally Pearson (AUS) who came out with guns blazing in the opening round! Two more final filled days of action left.

Tomorrow’s Finals:

  • Women’s High Jump
  • Men’s Javelin
  • Men’s 1500 meters
  • Women’s 4x4 relay
  • Women’s 100 hurdles
  • Men’s 200 meters

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