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Report25 Jan 2014

Biryukova improves Lebedeva’s meeting record in Volgograd


Russian long jumper Svetlana Biryukova (© Getty Images)

At the Governor Cup in Volgograd on Saturday (25), Svetlana Biryukova matched her own world-leading mark in the long jump, leaping to 6.98m and improving the meeting record of 6.93m with the former record-holder Tatyana Lebedeva looking on.

It was one of several quality performances in the jumping events as 2011 world silver medallist Aleksey Dmitrik broke the meeting record in the high jump with 2.32m and Pavel Shalin surpassed eight metres in the men’s long jump.

Biryukova (nee Denyaeva), now 22, is currently enjoying her best season so far. After setting the world-leading mark with her 6.98m PB in Moscow two weeks ago, she once again confirmed her excellent form in Volgograd.

All three of her jumps – 6.77m, 6.79m, 6.98m – were better than 2011 world silver medallist Olga Kucherenko’s 6.69 m. World triple jump silver medallist Ekaterina Koneva was third with an indoor PB of 6.56m.

“It was unusual to witness someone taking away my record,” said Lebedeva, the 2004 Olympic champion. “Last year Kucherenko came very close to it, jumping 6.90m, so I had a feeling it would not stand for long.

“I liked the style of Biryukova’s jumps, and curiously she also combines long and triple jumps, the same as I did. She has a fast run up, and this gives her the potential to jump even farther. Hopefully the new record would bring her good luck at the World Indoors.”

Dmitrik, competing in his indoor season opener, had first-time clearances up to and including 2.28m. He passed at 2.30m, and then cleared 2.32m on his third attempt to equal his best ever seasonal debut.

He tried 2.35m, but stopped after two unsuccessful jumps. Dmitrik took victory ahead of up-and-coming 21-year-old Daniil Tsyplakov, who cleared 2.28m. 2010 European champion Aleksandr Shustov was only third with 2.20m.

Two-time Olympic champion and world record-holder Yelena Isinbayeva witnessed a quality duel in the men’s pole vault as Aleksandr Gripich beat 22-year-old Anton Ivakin on count-back, both clearing 5.50m. Ivakin, the European under-23 champion, currently trains under Isinbayeva’s former coach, Yevgeniy Trofimov.

Pavel Shalin – who, like Biryukova, is also a talented triple jumper – continued his strong form in the long jump, breaking eight meters for the second time in three days.

Fresh from the Moscow Indoor Championships, where he set an indoor PB of 8.08m, Shalin was just two centimetres shy of that mark in Volgograd, triumphing with 8.06m. The winning jump came on his third attempt, having found himself in a difficult situation after his first two jumps – 7.64m and a foul.

Vasiliy Kopeykin was second with 7.80m and Denis Bogdanov third with 7.78 m. Shalin now owns two of the three best jumps in the world this season, trailing Zimbabwean world leader Ngonidzashe Makusha by two centimetres.

There was also a world-leading performance in the men's 1500m as Aleksey Popov won in 3:40.81 from Valentin Smirnov (3:42.55).

In the sprints, world finalist Kseniya Ryzhova won the 400m in 52.85 to enter the top 10 on this year’s world indoor season list. Ryzhova, who was part of Russia’s victorious 4x400m team at last year’s World Championships, faced no real opposition as Olga Tovarnova finished almost a full second behind in 53.81. Ukrainian Natalya Pohrebnyak won the women’s 60m in 7.31.

Lebedeva, who last summer brought her superb career to an end at the age of 37, was one of the organisers of the event in her home city. This year’s Governor Cup meeting faced difficult times because of a terrorist attack on the city in December 2013.

“Some international athletes refused to come after they heard of the bombings,” said Lebedeva. “But I am happy that we still managed to host the event for 13th time running. The stands were full, it was amazing.

“Our goal is to make people in Volgograd interested in athletics, and step by step we are getting close. We don’t have ambitious plans like joining the Diamond League; we just want to host a small nice traditional event that all the athletes would love.”

Natalya Maryanchik for the IAAF