CONTINENTAL CHAMPIONS WARM UP FOR OSTRAVA WITH CONVINCING WINS IN ZAGREB

Just four days ahead of the IAAF Continental Cup Ostrava 2018, many of the athletes set to compete in the Czech city showed strong form at the Hanzekovic Memorial, part of the IAAF World Challenge, in Zagreb on Tuesday (4).

Home star Sandra Perkovic was naturally the meeting’s biggest attraction and the Croatian was keen to impress the spectators after finishing an uncustomary third at the IAAF Diamond League final in Brussels last week.

Up against the two women who finished ahead of her in the Belgian capital – Yaime Perez and Brazil’s Andressa de Morais – multiple world, Olympic and European champion Perkovic took a convincing lead in the second round with 66.10m. She improved to 67.60m in round three which remained the best mark of the day and rounded out her series with throws of 65.80m and 64.43m.

Perez finished a distant second with a best of 64.78m with De Morais finishing fourth on this occasion.

“Of course I wasn’t happy with the defeat in Brussels, but I was sick there,” said Perkovic, who will represent Europe at this weekend’s Continental Cup. “I’m happy to win here and I always enjoy throwing at home.”

MEETING RECORDS TUMBLE

Jamaica’s Fedrick Dacres was a similarly convincing winner of the men’s discus, one of five events in which a meeting record was set on Tuesday.

The Commonwealth and NACAC champion opened his series with 64.33m and was briefly overtaken towards the end of the third round by Austria’s Lukas Weisshaidinger, who threw 64.50m, but Dacres responded instantly with 65.11m to regain pole position.

Dacres improved to 65.21m with his next throw but saved his best for last, sending his discus out to 68.17m with the final attempt of the competition to break Lawrence Okoye’s meeting record from 2012. Like fellow discus winner Perkovic, Dacres is also Ostrava-bound later this week.

After finishing second to fellow South African Ruswahl Samaai at the African Championships earlier in the season, world long jump champion Luvo Manyonga won’t be competing at the Continental Cup, so the Hanzekovic Memorial was his final competition of the year.

Luvo Manyonga in the long jump at the IAAF World Challenge meeting in Zagreb (Organisers)Luvo Manyonga in the long jump at the IAAF World Challenge meeting in Zagreb (Organisers) © Copyright
 

The IAAF Diamond League champion was determined to end his season on a high and he duly delivered. In the first round he sailed out to 8.46m, adding one centimetre to Irving Saladino’s meeting record from 2007, and then followed it with leaps of 8.25m, 8.45m and 8.30m. No one else in the field surpassed eight metres.

Timur Morgunov, another recently crowned IAAF Diamond League champion, achieved an equally comfortably victory in the men’s pole vault.

The European silver medallist had just one other athlete for company as the bar reached 5.56m, which Morgunov cleared on his first attempt. His opponent, Norway’s Sondre Guttormsen, bowed out at 5.71m, while Morgunov went on to clear 5.76m on his second attempt before retiring from the competition following a failure at 5.86m.

Nijel Amos hadn’t raced since winning the African 800m title one month ago in Asaba, but the middle-distance runner from Botswana showed no loss of form when winning in Zagreb. In a race where the top five men finished well inside the previous meeting record of 1:45.37, Amos was a comfortable winner in 1:44.08 from Poland’s Marcin Lewandowski (1:44.43).

Both men will be in action in Ostrava, but Lewandowski will be contesting the 1500m there.

The fifth meeting record of the night came in the women’s 3000m, where Kenya’s world cross-country bronze medallist Lilian Rengeruk won in 8:33.37 in a close finish from steeplechase specialist Norah Jeruto (8:33.61) and Ethiopia’s Gudaf Tsegay (8:33.78).

The finish in the men’s 1500m was even closer as world champion Elijah Manangoi defeated two-time world indoor 3000m champion Yomif Kejelcha, 3:32.52 to 3:32.59.

NELVIS OVER MCNEAL

The closest finish of the night, though, came in the women’s 100m hurdles. Olympic champion Brianna McNeal got off to a slow start and was trying to make up lost ground throughout the race. US compatriot Sharika Nelvis, however, managed to hold off McNeal’s challenge and won by 0.01 in 12.65.

Much to the delight of the home crowd, Croatia’s Andrea Ivancevic set a national record of 12.85 in fourth place.

Panama’s 2009 world silver medallist Alonso Edward, who is due to compete in the 200m in Ostrava this weekend, won his specialist event in 20.17 with Canada’s Aaron Brown finishing a close second in 20.23.

World silver medallists Marie-Josee Ta Lou and Salwa Eid Naser won their events with ease. Ta Lou stopped the clock at 11.05 to win the 100m, while Naser ran 50.54 for one lap of the track.

Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF

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Thiam's mental strength clinches the triple crown of heptathlon golds

Belgium’s Nafissatou Thiam will celebrate her 24th birthday this coming Sunday and what better present can she have than her European gold medal.

It arrived after arguably the gutsiest performance of her career amid the fanfare and glory of the sensational drama of the Berlin 2018 heptathlon.

In terms of points, her victory in the heptathlon was not achieved with a personal best, that remains 7013 from Gotzis last year. In terms of strength, determination and self belief, she has never been better.

What Thiam achieved in the famous Olympic Stadium was a personal triumph in knowing that remains when things are not going her way, she will not panic, she will not fret. She will just put her mind in the right place and be confident that everything will come together.

The story began on the second morning with the long jump waiting.

Thiam, already the reigning Olympic and world champion, n athlete who has tasted only gold over the previous two summers, was in second position with 3930, 87 points behind Great Britain’s Katarina Johnson-Thompson.

“I just started the day thinking it is not going to be easy, but you can do it,” said Thiam as she chatted with European Athletics in the aftermath of her glory.

“You have to give your all, so whatever happens you can walk off the stage and have no regrets.”

By the evening of Friday night, the fourth day of the Championships, she certainly had no regrets.

Thiam was the champion with a world-leading score of 6816, and victory over Johnson-Thompson by 57 points.

“In the heptathlon, the physical is very important, but it is a very long event over the two days and there is the occasion to miss your chance and if it goes good, or if it goes bad, you have to forget about it and focus on the next one and never give up,” she reflected.

“In this kind of competition when it is tight like that, when everything is not going how you want it to be, you manage to pull yourself through, you prove to yourself that whatever happens, you are able to give your best and even if your first one is not good, then the second one can be amazing.”

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Here she is talking about the moment which changed everything, the javelin, the penultimate discipline.

Thiam had finished second in the long jump with 6.60m for 1040 points as Johnson-Thompson won with 6.68m for 1066 to extend her advantage but the Belgian knew she had a big advantage over her rival in what was to follow.

Johnson-Thompson opened with a personal best of 42.16m as Thiam started well with 46.36m to provisionally take pole position.

But for a woman with a personal best of 59.32m from Gotzis 2017 – and aware that the Briton was the better 800m runner – she knew she had to do more. Now the mind really went to work.

In the second round that she later called “amazing” she reached 53.55m to show how she can deliver and then extended her distance to 57.91m, a championship best performance for this individual discipline.

In one instant, it was all over as Thiam now led by a virtually uncatchable 192 points.

“Competition after competition, I learn a lot about myself,” commented Thiam. “At the Olympics, it was maybe about confidence; in the worlds, it was about the pressure in London because I had a hard time. And here, with the performance not coming together, it was a lot of feeling in the head.

“I managed to comeback with a strong performance in the second day and the javelin throw put me in a good position for gold. I had 100 points difference before the last throw and I knew it was going to be tight. I knew I was going to have give a very big throw and I knew I was able to do it after Gotzis.”

Thiam might have achieved only one personal best in Berlin, with 15.35m in the shot put on the first day, but her belief in her own abilities was worth its own weight in gold.

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KENYA TAKES SIX MORE TITLES AS AFRICAN CHAMPIONSHIPS CONCLUDE IN ASABA

Kenya captured six more titles on Sunday (5) to claim bragging rights as the winningest squad in Africa as the 21st edition of the continent's championships concluded in Asaba, Nigeria.

Competing before another raucous near-capacity crowd at the Stephen Keshi Memorial Stadium, Kenya took home titles on the track and on the field on the final day of competition to up their gold medal haul to 11.

Many of those were delivered in most impressive fashion, beginning with the women’s steeplechase where freshly-minted world record holder Beatrice Chepkoech, clearly in the rarest of forms, led a medal sweep for the east African powerhouse. The 27-year-old dominated the race en route to an 8:59.88 run, near the top of the short list of fastest un-paced performances in history.

As the field, led by three Kenyans, approached the end of the opening lap, Chepkoech said she had to make a choice: to decide with medal was hers. As she broke away and turned the race into a solo exhibition, her decision became obvious.

"After the world record and now the African title, this will open many doors for me," she said. Behind the first door is a spot on Team Africa for next month's IAAF Continental Cup Ostrava 2018.

Celliphine Chespol was a distant second nearly 10 seconds back, clocking 9:09.61, with Fancy Cherono taking bronze.

AFTER TAMPERE TRIUMPH, ZAKAYO CONQUERS ASABA

Next came the men’s 5000m where it was Edward Zakayo, the 16-year-old who emerged prominently on the scene after winning the world U20 title over the distance last month, to take centre stage.

Third at the bell behind Yemane Haileselassie of Eritrea and Ethiopian Getaneh Molla, Zakayo bolted off the final turn to finish unchallenged, crossing the line with his tongue wagging and arms spread wide, in 13:48.58.

Molla was second in 13:49.06 with Haileselassie an exuberant third in 13:49.58 to capture one of Eritrea's two medals at these championships.

Kenya's victorious 4x400m relay squad at the African Championships in Asaba (AFP/Getty Images)Kenya's victorious 4x400m relay squad at the African Championships in Asaba (AFP/Getty Images) © Copyright

“I used the strategy to run with my competitors and maintain the pace, which I did, and then to pull away.” Next on the teenager’s agenda? “To win the world championship. But I must work even harder first.”

About 20 minutes after Zakayo crossed the line, the gun sounded the start of the men’s 1500m, a tactical affair largely driven by Kenyan aces Elijah Manangoi, the world champion, and his training partner Timothy Cheruiyot, this year's world leader who's chiseled together an unbeaten season on the IAAF Diamond League circuit.

Manangoi made his move with about 300 metres to go, unleashing a long, sustained kick that Cheruiyot couldn't meet or beat. Manangoi clocked 3:35.20 to take his first continental title, Cheruiyot 3:35.93. Uganda's Ronald Musagala closed strong to take bronze in 3:36.41.

Meanwhile on the infield, 2015 world javelin throw champion Julius Yego won his specialty with a second round 77.34m effort, defeating South African Philmar Van Rensburg (76.57m) with Kure Adams of Nigeria taking bronze with 75.69m.

 CHAMPIONSHIPS RECORD IN THE 4X400 RELAY

Then, an inspired Kenyan quartet of Aron Koech, Alphas Kishoyian, Jared Momanyi and Emmanuel Korir brought the curtain down on Asaba 2018 with victory in the 4x400m relay in 3:00.92, a championships record. South Africa was second in 3:03.50 followed by host Nigeria in 3:04.88.

Kenya's medal haul began in the early morning hours with when Samuel Gathimba prevailed in the 20km race walk, clocking 1:25:14 to beat South African Lebogang Shange by 11 seconds. The battle for second was close, with Shange just holding off Hassanina Sebei of Tunisia. Both were credited with the same time of 1:25:25.

SEMENYA TAKES THE DOUBLE

South Africa ended a strong week with three more titles to up their total medal tally to 30, an impressive 11 more than Kenya and hosts Nigeria who each collected 19 in all.

Caster Semenya and Francine Niyonsaba congratulate each other after the 800m final at the African Championships in Asaba (AFP/Getty Images)Caster Semenya and Francine Niyonsaba congratulate each other after the 800m final at the African Championships in Asaba (AFP/Getty Images) © Copyright

As expected, Caster Semenya successfully defended her 800m title with a dominating gun-to-tape front-running performance. Starting in lane 1, the world and Olympic champion made up the stagger on the field about 150 metres into the race, and extended her lead over the next 450 metres. The challengers, led by Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi, made up some ground over the final half lap, but by then the race had already been decided. Semenya clocked 1:56.06 to clip 0.20 from the championships record set by Maria Mutola in 1993.

"Today was just to see how we could run after a hard 400 metres,” she said, competing two days after her 49.96 victory and national record over one lap. “Which wasn't a bad thing to do - to test my limits after running 49. And 1:56.06, that's a beautiful time. I couldn't have asked for more."

Semenya confirmed that she'll contest both distances at the Continental Cup and was pleased to learn that the 400 would be run first. "Perfect," she said.

Niyonsaba was second in 1:57.97 with Ethiopian Habitam Alemu taking the bronze in 1:58.86.

Ncincihli Titi took a convincing victory in the men's 200m in 20.46 with Nigeria's Oduduru Ejowvokoghene edging Luxolo Adams to prevent a South African 1-2. Both clocked 20.60.

On the infield, Ischke Senekal took top honours in the shot put reaching 17.24m to win by nearly half a metre to add to her discus bronze.

THREE MORE WINS FOR NIGERIA 

Nigeria's gold medal total was bolstered by the aptly named Glory Nathaniel who won the host's first title of the day, taking the 400m hurdles by more than a second in 55.43. Lamiae Lhabz of Morocco was second, clocking 56.66 with South African Wanda Nel (57.04) taking bronze. 

Grace Anigbata won the triple jump with a 14.02m leap in the second round, before Nigeria also claimed the penultimate event, the women’s 4x400m relay, prompting the day’s loudest roar from the nearly-packed house. The Nigerian quartet dominated the race winning in 3:31.17, more than four seconds ahead of runners-up Kenya who clocked 3:35.45. Zambia claimed the bronze in 3:38.18.

Marie Josee Ta Lou after her double dash victory at the African Championships in Asaba (AFP/Getty Images)Marie Josee Ta Lou after her double dash victory at the African Championships in Asaba (AFP/Getty Images) © Copyright

TA LOU COMPLETES DASH DOUBLE

Marie Josee Talou of Ivory Coast, the 100m winner on Thursday, also took home an expected double after dominating the 200m in 22.50. She was nearly as fast afterwards when changing her shoes and socks before rushing off to catch her ride to the airport. “I can’t wait until the Continental Cup,” the year’s 100m world leader said.

Bevia Abessolo of Cameroun was second in 23.36, just 0.02 ahead of Ghanaian Janet Amponsah.

Elsewhere, Odile Ahouanwanou of Benin scored an upset victory in the heptathlon, tallying 5999 points to beat defending champion Marthe Yasmine Koala of Burkina Faso by 32 points. Erika Nonhlanhla Seyama of Swaziland took the women's high jump at 1.83m.

Yamjaleye Beletew Mitiku opened the day with a surprise victory in the women’s 20km race walk, defeating favourite Grace Wanjiru of Kenya by more than four minutes in 1:31:46. Chahimez Nasri of Tunisia took the bronze in 1:37.20.

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Cuban Jumper Vidal to the Final of the IAAF World U-20 Championships

Cuban Maykel Vidal qualified here today for the final of the men's long jump corresponding to the IAAF World U-20 Championships.

Vidal, the U-18 world champion last year in Nairobi, Kenya, recorded a jump of 7.42 meters in his third attempt to be included among the 12 athletes who will go tomorrow Wednesday in search of a medal.

The Cuban was below his usual performance, he was the last among all the classified despite showing an 8.12m jump as a personal best, the best among all competitors.

His compatriot Lester Lescay, second of the U-18 orb in Nairobi 2017, was not on his best day either and the 7.36m reached in the second jump was not enough for him to be included in the finalist squad.

The classification was dominated by the Japanese Yuki Hashioka with 7.92 m and the Jamaican Wayne Pinnock with 7.76m.

On this first day of the IAAF World U-20 Championships, the medals in the 5000 meters for women, the shot put for men and 10,000 meters for men will be discussed.

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HIGH POWERED CLASHES ON TAP IN LAUSANNE

The IAAF Diamond League bandwagon has arrived in Lausanne for Thursday’s eighth meeting of the series – and the summer melodies are sweet indeed. By the time what promises to be another pulverising night of track and field action is over at the Stade de la Pontaise, the headlines may have been written by any one of a number of athletes.

Statistically, Abderrahman Samba is likely to be among the star performers – after all, he has won all five Diamond League 400m hurdles races so far in a staggering sequence which reached a high point – so far – in Paris last Saturday.

On a muggy night in the Stade Charlety, this 22-year-old became only the second man to beat 47 seconds for the event, his 46.98 clocking being just 0.20 away from the world record set by Kevin Young of the United States in winning the 1992 Barcelona Olympic title.

With Norway’s world champion Karsten Warholm biting the bullet after four successive defeats, desperate to make further inroads, and defending Diamond League champion Kyron McMaster of the British Virgin Islands – scarcely noticed as he followed Samba home in Paris in a personal best of 47.54 – also in the field, who knows what might happen?

The Samba beat appears unstoppable – and having announced in Paris that he wants to become the fastest man in the world, who is to say, if the weather holds on a track famed for its speedy performances down the years, that the Qatari might not achieve that ambition on Thursday evening?

BENJAMIN - NORMAN - LYLES 200M SHOWDOWN

Meanwhile the 20-year-old American who is already aspiring towards the same goal in the 400m hurdles, Rai Benjamin, will be running in the final event of the programme, the 200m, and seeking to improve on the breakthrough personal best of 19.99 he achieved in Paris.

Benjamin, who equalled Ed Moses’ second best ever 400m hurdles time of 47.02 at last month’s NCAA finals, followed home his University of Southern California training partner and contemporary Michael Norman, who won in a personal best of 19.84, in what was a Diamond League debut for both and a first professional outing as far as he was concerned.

Benjamin, coming towards the end of a busy collegiate and international season, will not be meeting Samba until next season, but he is looking to hone his speed now in preparation for what could be an epic match-up next season.

And Norman – whose NCAA 400m victory in 43.61 put him sixth in the all-time lists - declared, in the aftermath of his win, that his target while in Europe this season was to run a sub-19.8 200m.

Both have the ideal opportunity to achieve their aims given the presence in the field of the man who heads this year’s world listings at 100m and 200m, with 9.88 and 19.69 respectively – yet another hugely talented 20-year-old American, Noah Lyles.

Lyles – who won the IAAF Diamond League 200m title last year and has yet to be beaten in the competition after races – is an athlete of dizzying potential, with a special ability to remain relaxed in stressful situations. What might he do, pushed by his two hotshot US contemporaries?

RED HOT SHUBENKOV BACK IN ACTION

There could be fireworks too in the 110m hurdles, where Authorise Neutral Athlete Sergey Shubenkov – world champion in 2015 and silver medallist last year – is in the form of his life. Having sauntered to a 13.05 clocking in the heats at the Paris Diamond League, Shubenkov, who is studying to be a lawyer, made out a lengthy case for himself after being disqualified for a false start in the final before ultimately accepting the decision with customary good grace.

Two days later a field in at the Gyulai Memorial in Székesfehérvár, Hungary which included Jamaica’s world and Olympic champion Omar McLeod paid the price for the Russian’s frustration as he won in a personal best of 12.92, moving up to an all-time place of eighth which he now shares with former US greats Roger Kingdom and Allen Johnson.

Shubenkov looks in the mood to achieve even loftier feats against a field that includes McLeod, US world record holder Aries Merritt and the Jamaican who took advantage of his absence to win in Paris, Ronald Levy.

World and Olympic 800m champion Caster Semenya, who led from gun to tape in Paris to lower her African and Diamond League record to 1:54.25, will compete over 1500m here against a field that includes seven athletes with personal bests of under four minutes – a distinction the South African will surely be seeking for herself.

But victory is far from certain for this serial winner over 800m given the presence of athletes such as Sifan Hassan of the The Netherlands, who has a best of 3:56.05, Ethiopia’s Dawit Seyaum, who has run 3:58.09, and Britain’s world indoor silver medallist Laura Muir, who has run 3:55.22.

TA LOU, THOMPSON AND SCHIPPERS FACE-OFF IN THE 100M

The women’s 100m brings together the Ivorian athlete who has begun the season with a raft of victories, world 100m and 200m silver medallist Marie-Josee Ta Lou, and the two women who have taken the major honours in recent years – Rio 2016 100 and 200m champion Elaine Thompson, and double world 200m champion Dafne Schippers of The Netherlands, who will seek to earn a third consecutive European 100m title in Berlin next month.

Ta Lou, who leads this year’s world 100m rankings with a personal best of 10.85sec, had a rare off day in Paris, finishing third in the 200m in 22.50. Lausanne offers her an opportunity to state her credentials as a future champion.

For Thompson and Schippers, meanwhile, this will be a perfect opportunity to get under 11 seconds this season.

ETHIOPIAN PRIDE ON THE 5000M START LINE

Norway’s Henrik Ingebrigtsen looks highly likely to improve his 5000m personal best of 13:16.97 in a race that looks highly likely to become a tear-up between supremely talented Ethiopians.

World champion Muktar Edris – he of the mocking “Mobot” in defeating Britain’s Mo Farah in London last year – will be the senior partner, but his personal best of 12:54.83 has been bettered by his 20-year-old compatriot Yomif Kejelcha, who has run 12:53.98. Meanwhile the 18-year-old whom Kejelcha beat to the world indoor title in March, Selemon Barega, is also likely to be a significant player, having already run 12:55.58 and having won the last Diamond League 5000m in Stockholm in 13:04.05.

On Monday, Qatar’s world high jump champion Mutaz Essa Barshim cleared 2.40m to earn victory in the Gyulai Memorial in Székesfehérvár, Hungary before going on to achieve what was perhaps his best ever effort as he narrowly missed his first attempt at a world record of 2.46m. On his third attempt at that height, however, the Qatari injured his ankle, which has sadly put his participation in Lausanne in doubt.

If Barshim has to pull out, a high class field including the Authorised Neutral Athlete who beat him to this year’s world indoor title, Danil Lysenko, and the mercurially talented Italian Gianmarco Tamberi, still looking to re-establish himself firmly in the top rank following his traumatic foot injury on the eve of the Rio Olympics, will be seeking to take full advantage. [Note: Barshim no longer appears on the start list so has apparently withdrawn.]

TAYLOR V PICHARDO, THE NEXT CHAPTER

Meanwhile another hugely productive field event rivalry will be replayed in the men’s triple jump between world and Olympic champion Christian Taylor and the Cuban who has previously challenged him in the territory beyond 18 metres, Pedro Pablo Pichardo.

Dalilah Muhammad, the US Olympic 400m hurdles champion, will have her credentials tested to the full by a field that includes her compatriots Shamier Little, one place ahead of her and second in this year’s world list with 53.60, Cassandra Tate and Georganne Moline, who has run 53.97 this year, along with Jamaica’s Commonwealth champion Janieve Russell, who has a 53.78 timing this season.

While Semenya may be absent from the women’s 800m, all the usual suspects remain, and the race is likely to see the runners who took silver and gold behind the South African at the Rio 2016 Games, respectively Francine Niyonsaba of Burundi and Margaret Wambui of Kenya, figuring significantly, along with other challengers such as Habitam Alemu of Ethiopia, home runner Selina Buchel, Britain’s Lynsey Sharp and in-form US athlete Ajee Wilson.

SPANOVIC, UGEN AND BARTOLETTA IN THE LONG JUMP

The women’s long jump could turn into a memorable contest given the presence of the US Olympic champion Tianna Bartoletta, seeking to gain new impetus to her career after some traumatic personal changes of circumstances, Serbia’s Olympic bronze medallist and European indoor champion Ivana Spanovic, third in this year’s world lists with 6.99m, Britons Shara Proctor and Lorraine Ugen, the latter heading the 2018 list with the 7.05m she achieved at last weekend’s British Championships, and – intriguingly – Colombia’s 34-year-old Olympic triple jump champion Caterine Ibarguen, who has cleared a best of 6.87m this season.

The women’s pole vault will feature world indoor champion Sandi Morris of the United States, who has cleared 4.88m this season, against Greece’s Olympic and world champion Katerina Stefanidi, who has yet to find top form this season, and her predecessor as Olympic champion, USA’s 36-year-old Jenn Suhr, who heads the season’s listings with 4.93m.

In the women’s 400m, Bahrain’s 20-year-old Salwa Nasser, who has a best of 49.55 this year, will take on a field that includes the American who jointly leads this year’s world standings with 49.52, Shakima Wimbley.

New Zealand’s world shot put champion Tom Walsh, who leads this year’s world rankings with 22.67m, will seek to defend his pre-eminence against a field that includes the defending Diamond League champion Darrell Hill of the US.

Tatsiana Khaladovich of Belarus, European javelin champion, faces a strong contest with China’s Shiying Liu, who has thrown a personal best of 67.12m this season.

A men’s pole vault that is not in the Diamond League programme, but which is jammed full of the world’s best – including world champion Sam Kendricks, Olympic champion Thiago Braz, world record holder Renaud Lavillenie and up-and-coming star Armand “Mondo” Duplantis – will take place by the side of Lake Leman, at FAN ZONE d’Ouchy, on the evening before the main run of events.

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Physics Explains How a Long Jumper Leaped So Far He Almost Cleared the Pit

What were you doing when you were 19? Chances are, you weren’t breaking a 23-year-old world long jump record like Juan Miguel Echevarria. At the international Diamond League competition in Stockholm on Sunday, the Cuban long jumper leaped so far he almost cleared the sand pit, showcasing not only incredible athleticism but an uncanny ability to manipulate physics.

It was hardly important that a slight tailwind — at 2.1 meters per second, just 0.1 meters per second faster than official rules permit — disqualified his jump distance from record purposes. By completing a jump of 29 feet, 11.5 inches (8.83 meters), Echevarria blew away Jeff Henderson of the United States, who came in second place with a jump of 27 feet and 6 inches (8.39 meters). It’s clear from the video below that the lanky Echevarria approached the board — the piece of wood marking the point where a jumper should take off — with immense speed, but as sports scientists have pointed out previously, speed is just one component of a perfect long jump.

The late Melvin Ramey, Ph.D., a biochemist and engineer working with USA Track and Field, explained the physics of the perfect long jump in a video for the National Science Foundation in 2012. “The human body becomes a projectile,” he explained.

For a human (or any projectile) to reach its maximum trajectory, it must maximize its projectile motion, which in turn can be broken down into its horizontal velocity (the speed at which it’s moving along the runway) and its vertical velocity (its speed at liftoff). But the distance that it travels is ultimately decided by its launch angle — the angle that, in this case, Echevarria jumps when he hits the board.

It might at first make sense that a 45° angle — halfway between jumping perfectly straight into the air (90°) and not jumping at all (0°) — would make for the farthest trajectory, but this isn’t the case because gravity acts on vertical velocity, pulling the jumper downward. According to Ramey, world-class jumps have a launch angle of 18° to 22°. The trick, he explains, is jumping in a way that allows the athlete to maintain velocity once leaving the board.

There are, of course, other forces to consider. Wind speed can give a jumper’s horizontal or vertical velocity a boost, depending on its direction. Air drag can also make a big difference, which is why long jumps in high-altitude regions, like the Alps, are judged differently than jumps closer to sea level, where the air is denser.

Haters could argue that Echevarria was helped out by the relatively thin air in Stockholm and the 2.1 meter per second backwind, but there’s no doubting his pure athleticism. The amount of strength and speed it requires to launch yourself into the air — even if you get the launch angle just right — and ability to absorb all the stress of jumping and landing is impressive indeed. In a video for the Wall Street Journal in 2017, Phil Cheetham, a senior sport technician for the U.S. Olympic Committee, explained that long jumpers usually reach a speed of 10 to 12 meters per second when coming down the runway, and at liftoff, they feel a force equivalent to 15 times their body weight.

Echevarria may not have set an official record with this jump, but he broke his own personal best outdoor record, which he set in Rome earlier this year with a jump of 27.76 feet (8.46 meters).

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ECHEVARRIA SAILS WINDY 8.83M IN STOCKHOLM

The long jump world may have just discovered its future king, and he’s just 19 years old, Cuban and called Juan Miguel Echevarria.

At the BAUHAUS-galan meeting in Stockholm on Sunday (10), the sixth stop of the 2018 IAAF Diamond League, the teenager sent a shockwave through the sport in the final round of the men’s long jump, soaring out to an astonishing 8.83m, a jump that is unfortunately ineligible for record purposes due to a marginally illegal tailwind of 2.1m/s.

But when he hit the sand and the mark flashed up on the screen, few cared about such minor details as gasps rippled through the crowd in the Olympic Stadium.

The event had been billed as a duel between Echevarria and world champion Luvo Manyonga, and most in the crowd would have picked the latter after he’d leapt 8.58m to beat Echevarria in Rome 10 days ago.

But in truth, Manyonga never showed up here in Stockholm, at least not as the jumper we know, the South African’s only valid jump coming in the second round with 8.25m. Instead it was USA’s Jeff Henderson who mounted the strongest challenge, finishing second with his leap of 8.39m (+3.4m/s).

Echevarria seized command with his 8.50m (+0.2m/s) in the fourth round, then fouled his fifth before shaking up Stockholm in the final round with 8.83m, the longest jump in the world for 23 years.

“Today I wanted over 8.50m but I didn’t think I could jump so far,” he said. “The pressure on me was good today and it was good competing against the top guys. I want to jump at this level for a long time, but it’s early season so I will take it all step by step.”

DUPLANTIS NOTCHES FIRST DIAMOND LEAGUE WIN

The men’s pole vault also saw a world champion defeated by a precocious teenager, the contest drawing the biggest cheer of the day from a sizeable Swedish crowd when 18-year-old Armand ‘Mondo’ Duplantis soared up and over 5.86m at the first attempt.

Armand Duplantis in Stockholm (Giancarlo Colombo)Armand Duplantis in Stockholm (Giancarlo Colombo) © Copyright

Up until then, Sam Kendricks led Duplantis on countback and looked firmly in command, but the world champion’s first-time failure put him on the back foot and rather than try a second time, he moved the bar up to 5.91m, at which he failed twice to bow out in second. Poland’s Piotr Lisek took third on countback ahead of compatriot Pawel Wojciechowski, both clearing a best of 5.76m.

Duplantis failed once at 5.91m before moving the bar up to a meeting record height of 5.96m, but neither of his two attempts looked likely to succeed, not that he was anything less than delighted after rising to the occasion to record his first victory over Kendricks.

“I finally beat Sam, which is a great big relief off my shoulders,” he said. “I couldn’t have written this whole competition any better. It was the perfect day, the perfect place and the way I was jumping I felt really smooth. I know higher heights will come. It was a great victory but I can’t stop there, now I have to go and win a couple more.”

DACRES OUT-DUELS GUDZIUS

The men’s discus produced the best contest in that discipline this year as Fedrick Dacres of Jamaica and Andrius Gudzius of Lithuania traded blows and pushed each other to lifetime bests.

Fedrick Dacres unleashes a national record in Stockholm (Giancarlo Colombo)Fedrick Dacres unleashes a national record in Stockholm (Giancarlo Colombo) © Copyright

The key round was the second one, where Gudzius seized command with a PB of 69.59m, a heave that would almost always prove good enough to win a Diamond League.

But not today, not when he was immediately followed by Dacres, who walked into the cage with a heavily strapped left knee after struggling with injury midweek and then fired a whopping 69.67m throw – a world lead, meeting record and Jamaican record.

“I felt strong today,” said Dacres, who could only manage 63.85m for eighth place in Oslo on Thursday. “It was good to bounce back, but actually I think I could have done even better today.”

Ehsan Hadadi of Iran took third with a best of 67.68m.

Britain’s Lorraine Ugen took maximum points in the women’s long jump by the smallest of margins, zero centimetres, winning on countback by jumping 6.85m on two occasions, a mark equalled by Germany’s Malaika Mihambo, whose second best jump was 6.67m. In a competition of impressive depth, Canada’s Christabel Nettey took third with 6.83m while Ivana Spanovic was fourth with 6.81m.

Lorraine Ugen sails to victory in Stockholm (Giancarlo Colombo)Lorraine Ugen sails to victory in Stockholm (Giancarlo Colombo) © Copyright

“Because I was injured during the indoor season, I’ve been struggling to find my rhythm – until today,” said Ugen. “I’ve been injury-free for a while now so I’m feeling better on the runway.”

LASITSKENE EXTENDS UNBEATEN STREAK TO 42

Mariya Lasitskene continued her winning streak in the women’s high jump, but the world champion faced a stiff challenge from Mirela Demireva, who soared higher than ever before when clearing 2.00m. However, when the pressure came on Lasitskene was once again peerless, clearing 2.00m at the first attempt to seal victory before three failures at 2.02m ended her competition.

Another victory for Mariya Lasitskene (Giancarlo Colombo)Another victory for Mariya Lasitskene (Giancarlo Colombo) © Copyright

Sandi Morris was a dominant winner of the women’s pole vault, a non-scoring event here. The US vaulter cleared her opening three heights – 4.55m, 4.65m and 4.75m – at the first attempt to seal victory, then moved the bar up to 4.86m, a meeting record, which she cleared at the third attempt to win herself a diamond. Sweden’s Angelica Bengtsson took second with a season’s best of 4.65m.

“My goal was to get that meeting record,” she said. “It can be really hard to come overseas and perform, it’s exhausting with flight delays so being able to perform to that calibre is a big deal.”

  • Published in Sports

Diaz extends world U18 triple jump best to 17.41m

World U18 champion Jordan Diaz bettered his own world U18 best in the triple jump when sailing out to 17.41m in Havana on Friday (8).

The 17-year-old first broke the world U18 best when winning at the IAAF World U18 Championships Nairobi 2017 with 17.30m. He added two centimetres to that mark earlier this year when winning at a jumps-only meeting in Havana in February.

With just one month to go until the IAAF World U20 Championships Tampere 2018, Diaz showed he is timing his peak right by leaping a lifetime best of 17.41m.

Not only was it an improvement on his own world U18 best, it also broke the North and Central American U20 record that had been held by Pedro Perez Duenas since 1971.

Although he’ll have two full seasons left as an U20 athlete, Diaz now sits third on the world U20 all-time list, just nine centimetres shy of Volker Mai’s world U20 record that was set in 1985.

Cristian Napoles, who preceded Diaz as the world U18 champion, finished second in Havana with a PB of 17.28m. Although he is still 19 years old, Napoles will turn 20 later this year and so won’t be eligible to compete in Tampere.

Other teenage jumpers showed fine form in the Cuban capital on Friday ahead of the World U20 Championships. World U18 champion Maikel Vidal won the long jump with 8.12m, finishing five centimetres ahead of world U18 silver medallist Lester Lescay. The duo now occupies the top two spots on the 2018 world U20 list.

  • Published in Sports
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