Asbel Kiprop on his way to 800m victory at the 2012 Sydney Track Classic (© Getty Images)
Sydney, AustraliaValerie Adams smashed the Shot out to 20.67 metres, Asbel Kiprop had his first victory on Australian soil, David Rudisha beat all but a resurgent John Steffensen in the 400 metres and Sally Pearson ran her fastest 100 metres Hurdles on Australian soil as the Australian Athletics Tour moved to Sydney for today's (18) Sydney Track Classic.
The four fixture Qantas Australian Athletics Tour concludes on 3 March 2012 in Lakeside Stadium, Melbourne with the Qantas Melbourne Track Classic which is the opening meeting of the global 2012 IAAF World Challenge series.
Adams produces a fine set of numbers
A frequent visitor to Australia, Adams made her first trip across the Tasman in the Olympic year a memorable one, with four efforts beyond the 20-metre mark balanced by two fouls.
The World and Olympic champion opened with a modest (for her) 20.09 and each of her three remaining legal attempts went further. She reached 20.38 in the third round, 20.61 in the fourth and closed out with a 20.67 in the final round.
Kiprop and Rudisha move down
World champions Asbel Kiprop and David Rudisha each dropped down one distance and each was pleased with the result.
The 1500 champ Kiprop went for the 800 metres, and Rudisha’s preferred pacemaker, Sammy Tangui, obligingly moved down with him. It was Tangui in a fairly relaxed 51.6 at the bell (Kiprop approximately 51.9) and then Kiprop held every bit of his five-metre advantage through the second lap to win in 1:45.91 from Jeff Riseley (1:46.55) and 2011 Universiade champion Lachlan Renshaw (1:46.98). Amazingly, it was Kiprop’s first win in Australia in three visits and he was very pleased to break his drought.
“I’m doing this for speed, for when I run the 1500,” Kiprop said. “I really want to defend my gold medal in London. My first priority is to win the Olympic Games.”
Rudisha briefly looked as if he might catch Steffensen as they entered the final straight of the 400 metres, but the Helsinki 2005 World championships finalist is in his best domestic shape for some years and held him off, 45.61 to 45.82.
“I’m happy to go under 46 seconds. That was my main aim,” said the World 800 champion.
Rudisha has expressed an interest in running the Kenyan Olympic 4x400 relay team and he certainly did his cause no harm here. He ran his best of 45.50 in Sydney two years ago, but that was after a warm-up race over the distance a week earlier. His father was an Olympic minor medallist in the long relay.
Pearson doubles hurdles and 200
Pearson was again in irresistible form as she won the hurdles in her fastest time on home soil and then doubled back to win the 200. Well, maybe not quite irresistible – the 23 second barrier continued to defy her in the longer sprint.
Pearson again had more than half a second to spare over top-10 ranked Nia Ali of the US, 12.66 to 13.37, despite knocking down the last hurdle. But she sank to her knees in despair after seeing the clock show 23.06 (-1.8) in the 200.
“Twelve-66 is world-class,” said Pearson. “I ran it for my second-last race in Europe last year and now I’m running it for my second race this year.”
“That 200”, as she described it, was another matter. “I know I’m capable of 22.50,” Pearson continued, “but I’m not a 200 runner, I’m a 100-metre hurdler.”
Pearson said she was not concerned about her hurdling form (she hit the sixth hurdle in Perth last week and knocked over the last one in Sydney).
“It’s just my second race. If you get it perfect now, You’ve got nothing to work on,” she said.
Trafton-Brown and Winger win again
Beijing Olympic champion Stephanie Brown-Trafton and Russ Winger continued to dominate in the Discus Throw.
Brown-Trafton produced a 63.23m effort to defeat 2009 World champion Dani Samuels, 60.68, and Aretha Thurmond, 60.12, as all three passed the 60-metre line for the second week in succession.
Winger won the men’s Discus with 62.98 metres (Daegu sixth placegetter Benn Harradine did not compete due to a minor knee injury) and then maintained his unbeaten record in Australia with a 20.51 win in the shot put over Dale Stevenson’s 19.83.
There was another American win in the 1500 metres as David Torrence just squeezed past Collis Birmingham in the final 50 metres to win, 3:35.66 to 3:35.74. Craig Mottram was sixth in 3:40.04.
Henry Frayne, ninth in the Triple Jump at the World championships, produced a surprising 8.27 metres to win the Long Jump ahead of 2010 World Indoor champion Fabrice Lapierre’s 8.04.
Alana Boyd was over 4.60m for the third time in succession, taking the women’s Pole Vault with a third-time clearance at that height. She then had three unsuccessful attempts at 4.70.
And in the women’s 400 metres Hurdles Lauren Boden produced her first Olympic A-qualifying performance, taking the win in 55.45.
It’s tough to make a mark in Steeplechase in Kenya, but perhaps you can note down Jairus Kipchoge as one who might. The 20-year-old went out at 3000 metres flat speed – 63 seconds for the first lap with an outside water jump – before winning here in 8:19.01. He has a personal best of 8:11.31, improving from 8:50 in 2010). In second place, Beijing 2008 sixth placegetter Youcef Abdi ran 8:22.01.
Len Johnson for the IAAF
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