Bolt 9.76 thrilled an excited Olympic Stadium in Rome

Bolt 9.76 thrilled an excited Olympic Stadium in Rome

Usain Bolt thrilled the magic Olympic Stadium packed with enthusiastic Rome fans with a new world seasonal best time of 9.76 in the much-awaited 100 metres clash against Asafa Powell.

Powell, who ran in Rome for the ninth time, clocked 9.91, just 0.03 sec. off his SB set in Doha. Christophe Lemaitre finished third in 10.04 (a new SB) in a race which repeated the same order as last year. Kim Collins showed once again that he is a superb sprinter despite his long career and his 36 years by taking fourth place in 10.05, also a seasonal best. The sounds of pop, dancing and rock music contributed to make the Olympic Stadium even more electric before the start.

“Since I arrived in Rome I made sure to be in bed early. So I got a lot of rest and slept. In Ostrava I had not had enough sleep. The race was much better than in Ostrava. The execution of my race was not perfect but improved. I executed well. My drive was better abd I started well. The transition was also better. After Ostrava a lot of people questioned me, but I never questioned myself. I am just happy with myself. The public here in Rome was awesome, they have been brilliant, they gave me a lot of energy”, said Bolt.

The other highlights of a highly entertaining meeting held in front of  nearly 60000 spectators were set in the middle distance races which produced an incredible depth of results and exciting head-to head battles. Seven world seasonal best performances were set in Rome. Abeba Aregawi won the 1500 metres in a new world seasonal best of3:56.54. Paul Kipsiele Koech missed the world record but set a new meeting record and world seasonal best of 7:54.31. Vivian Cheruiyot won a very close 5000 metres race over Meseret Defar. Phenomenal performances were set in the throwing events by Valerie Adams in the shot put (21.03) and by Barbora Spotakova in the javelin (68.65).

The other highlights of the meeting:

Men’s competitions:

800 metres (non a DL race): Leonard Kirwa Kosencha, World Youth champion last year in Lille, is the new rising star of Kenyan middle distance running by taking his second win in the circuit after Shanghai. Kosencha, who set the world youth record with 1:44:08, clocked 1:43.60 in Rabat last weekend. Marcin Lewandowski from Poland, European champion in Barcelona 2010, dipped under 1:45 in second place in 1:44.64 ahead of World Indoor bronze medallist Andrew Osagie (1:44.71).

3000 metres steeplechase: The race was billed as a super fast race and it lived up to the expectations. Paul Kipsiele Koech set the third fastest time in history with a superb race in which he clocked 7:54.31, a new meeting record and a new world leading time. The meeting record was held by Qatar’s Saif Saeed Shaheen who ran in 7:56.34 in 2005 when he beat Paul Kipsiele Koech by 0.03 after an exciting race. Abel Kirui Mutai, born in 1988, produced a major upset by taking second place in 8:01.

“This timing was perfect for me. I was targeting the world record. During training I had training in mind. I hoped to achieve the WR in Rome but I am not disappointed because I achieved a new PB and now I am confident. At the Kenyan Trials I have to try my best. . Last year I missed the selection. I guess it is easier for me to run well in Europe than in Kenya because of the altitude in Kenya. I think I am capable of running the WR.”, said Kipsiele Koech.

400 metres Hurdles: Javier Culson, World silver medallist, in Berlin 2009 and Daegu 2011, prevailed in 48.14, the second fastest time in the world this year behind his own 48.00 set in Ponce. 2005 World champion Bershawn Jackson, second with 48.25, missed his seasonal best by 0.05.

Men’s Long jump: Greg Rutherford backed up his fresh British record by leaping 8.32 (which missed the fresh National record set at the beginning of May in San Diego). South African Godfrey Khotso Mokoena, former world indoor champion, finished runner-up with 8.20 ahead of Russian Aleksander Menkov (8.17).

Men’s High jump: Great Britain’s Robbie Grabarz set a new world seasonal best of 2.33 to win the competition by 2 centimetres over Bahamas Trevor Barry. Grabarz produced a clean sheet until 2.33.

Pole vault: Renaud Lavillenie, winner in the Diamond Race in 2010 and 2011, scored his first Diamond League win of the season with just two first-time clearances at 5.60 and 5.82 which was enough to take the first place ahead of his compatriot Romain Mesnil who vaulted 5.72 at the first time of asking. Mesnil prevailed on count-back for second place over German Malte Mohr.

Discus throw:  Iran’s Ehsan Hadadi, world bronze medallist, overtook 40-year-old Lithuanian legend Virgilius Alekna with a throw to 66.73 in the last attempt. Hadadi took the lead with 65.01 but Alekna overhauled him in the fourth round with 66.31. Hadadi responded in the final attempt with 66.73 and now leads the Diamond Race with 6 points.

4x100 relay: Canadian team repeated last year’s win in 38.63 beating Great Britain (38.82), Switzerland (39.08) and home team Italy (39.23).

4x400 relay: Great Britain took a easy win in 3:01.76 ahead of Botswana (3:03.89) and Spain (3:03.89). Home team Italy finished fourth in 3:05:04.

Women’s competitions:

100 metres: Ivory Coast’s Murielle Aohure, world indoor silver medallist in the 60 metres in Istanbul, edged Olympic champion Shelly Ann Fraser Pryce in 11.00 (new national record) to 11.08. Kerron Stewart finished third in 11.10. 

800 metres: Ethiopian Fantu Magiso stole the show by winning the two-lap race in 1:57.56, a new national record which improved her previous PB set in Doha where she finished in Doha in 1:57.90. Pamela Jelimo, winner in Doha in 1:56.94, had to settle with 1:58.33. Third was Russian World champion Mariya Savinova in 1:58.56. Cuban Yusneysi Santiusti, who runs for the Italian club Assindustria Sport Padova, continued her good season by finishing fourth in 1:59.23 ahead of 2007 World champion Janeth Jepkosgei (1:59.42). It was a race of the greatest level with seven women under the 2 minutes barrier.

“Another National record after Doha is a huge result for me. I expected I could run very fast today because my coach told me that today it is good chance for me. I was a bit tired in Ostrava as I missed my flight, so the time at the Golden Spike meet was bad. But today I feel relaxed. Thecrowd were great. The pace was pretty fast in the first 400 metres but it was not a problem for me as I am a former 400 metres runner”, said Magiso.

1500 metres: Ethiopian Abeba Aregawi was the other big surprise of a fantastic middle-distance night. The 21-year-old runner, who finished second in Shanghai in 3:59.23, smashed her PB to a sensational meeting record and new world seasonal best of 3:56.54. Kenyan Helen Obiri, World indoor champion in the 3000 metres, also set a new PB with 3.59.58. World Indoor champion Genzebe Dibaba, winner in Shanghai with with the previous seasonal best of 3:57.77, had to settle with third place with 4:00.85. US Morgan Uceny, winner of the Diamond Race in 2011, was the first non-African runner in fourth place in 4:01.59, a new seasonal best.

“It was a surprise for me to win but even bigger surprise is the time. I knew I was back on the scene already in Shanghai but the weather conditions were better here and I felt great. I had a bad year in 2011 as I suffered from a right knee injury. Now I am ready to run fast times and I hope to keep the shape till the Olympic Games”, said Aregawi. 

5000 metres: It was another dramatic clash between Kenyan Vivian Cheruiyot and Ethiopian Meseret Defar which came down to the wire. Just three hundredths of a second separated the two super stars of middle-distance running in an exciting race as three weeks ago in the Diamond League opener in Doha. Cheruiyot edged out Defar in a dramatic sprint in 14:35.62.

“The race was not too bad. The last 200 metres are getting more abd more important. Everybody is going for the last 200 m. I think that Meseret Defar is coming back. She is a top lady. In Doha we were running together with Meserte but today she came much closer !”, said Cheruiyot.

100 metres Hurdles: US Olympic champion Dawn Harper edged out of Kellie Wells by 0.01 in 12.66, a new seasonal best. Jamaican Brigitte Foster Hylton, winner in Doha,  keeps the lead in the Diamond Race after her third place in Rome in 12.78, the same time as US Michelle Perry. Italian Marzia Caravelli, fresh Italian record holder with 12.85, backed up her fresh achievement with 12.96, the fastest time ever achieved on Italian soil.

400 metres Hurdles:  Jamaican Kaliese Spencer, fourth in the last two editions of the World Championships and Diamond Race winner in 2010 and 2011, took the win in 54.38 in the first Diamond League running event of the evening. Reigning world champion Lashinda Demus bounced back from her below-par competition in Ostrava taking the second place in a new seasonal best of 54.80.

Triple jump:  Ukraine’s Olha Saladukha, reigning European and World champion, took a narrow win over World silver medallist Olga Rypakova from Kazakstan. Saladukha leapt to 14.75 (equalling her seasonal best set last weekend in Rabat) in the opening round but her leading position came under threat when Rypakova jumped 14.73 in the sixth attempt. Rypakova, winner in Doha with 14.33,  leads the Diamond Race with six points.

“It’s my third time in Rome and I always liked the atmosphere and the organization of the meeting. Olga was so close but I believe I can jump even over 15 metres. If the wind was not turning today, it could have been even further. My next stop will be in New York and I hope to add a few centimeters.

Shot put: New Zealand’s World and Olympic champion Valerie Adams set a superb PB and new meeting record by producing an outstanding 21.03 in the fourth attempt. It’s the third performance in her career after the 21.24 national record set in Daegu and 21.07 at the 2010 Continenatla Cup in Split. The Kiwi thrower backed up this result with three more attempts over the 20 metres (her complete series was the following: 19.61-19.85-20.04-21.03-20.14-20.89). She was the only athlete to propel the implement over the 20 metes barrier. Chinese Lijao Gong, world bronze medallist in Berlin 2009, came close to 20 metres with a last-attempt release of 19.79 to finish second ahead of 2010 European  and World Indoor champion Nadezhda Ostapchuk, who took third place with 19.58 but kept her lead in the Diamond Race with 5 points thanks to her win in the opening meeting of the Diamond League in Doha.

“This is a great start into the season for me. My training has been going very well. I am really surprised that I cracked 21 metres at the season opener. Since the World Indoor Championships in Istanbul I have been staying in Magglingen (Switzerland) with my Swiss coach Jean Pierre Egger”, said Adams.

Javelin throw: Olympic champion and World record holder Barbora Spotakova clinched the win in the  last-attempt by spearing the javelin to a stand-out 68.65, a new world seasonal best which improved her own best set last Friday in Ostrava where she won with 67.78. After the first three attempts Great Britain’s Goldie Sayers was leading with 64.73. The competition really hotted up in the last two rounds. First South African Sunette Villjoen, world bronze medallist in Daegu 2011, went to the lead in the fifth attempt with an outstanding seasonal best of 67.95 which overhauled Spotakova who speared the javelin to 65.54 a few minutes before . The Czech star responded quickly with 68.85. Thanks to her win today Spotakova, who was finished second behind Mariya Abakumova in Doha, now leads the Diamond Race with 6 points.

“I knew I am in very good shape and that I had to win but I wanted something more from the beginning. I made a little drama from this competition. For me it is not that usual to get the longest throw in the sixth attempt. Still, they were not technically the best attempts. I do not like nerves. This is maybe the most important season in my life as I am the defending Olympic champion. I enjoyed it here in Rome”, said Spotakova.

(Golden Gala Roma)

(Photo Samsung Diamond League)