Ivana Spanovic at the 2013 IAAF World Championships (© Getty Images)
Team USA came out on top of the eight-nation DecaNation international meeting in the French city of Valence on Saturday (31) but arguably the top performances were posted by Bulgarian shot putter Georgi Ivanov and Serbian long jumper Ivana Spanovic, who were representing a Balkan select team.
Ivanov, the 2004 World junior champion and eighth at the recent World Championships, sent the Shot out 20.93m, the third best result of his career.
US putter Cory Martin, himself a Moscow finalist, was the only other man over 20 metres and finished second with 20.53m.
Spanovic was a surprise bronze medallist in Moscow, where she jumped a national record of 6.82m, and she reached the same distance in Valence, albeit this time assisted by a slight over-the-limit breeze.
However, she backed up that effort with a legal 6.77m which, like Ivanov, was the third best legal performance of her career.
In addition to Spanovic, there was a plethora of other Moscow medallists on display.
Local star and London 2012 Olympic Games champion Renaud Lavillenie cleared 5.70m at the first time of asking, and was the only man over that height to acquire a comfortable victory before bringing the bar down three times at 5.85m.
Another French hero from London and Moscow, steeplechaser Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad, contested the 1500m and won a race which boiled down to a sprint over the final 400m in 3:58.10.
USA’s Nick Symmonds, the World Championships 800m silver medallist, used his renowned turn of speed to win another tactical middle-distance affair, this time over two laps of the track, in 1:49.69.
His compatriot Ryan Wilson, another World Championships silver medallist, won a close 110m Hurdles in 13.38, just holding off France’s Thomas Martinot-Lagarde by 0.01. Russia’s World Championships bronze medallist Sergey Shubenkov was third again in 13.47.
McCorory and Montano get good wins
The best women’s performances on the track also came from US runners.
Francena McCorory, sixth in Moscow, won the 400m in a swift 50.53 while her team-mate Alysia Montano added maximum points in the 800m with a win in 2:00.59.
Barbara Pierre proved herself to be the fastest woman of the day when she clocked 11.18 for a victory in the 100m.
However, there was disappointment for Olympic Games and World Championships silver medallist Brigetta Barrett, who could go no higher than 1.92m and was beaten on count back by Russia’s Mariya Kuchina, who cleared the same height on her first attempt to Barrett’s third. Both women then failed at 1.92m.
Cindy Billaud provided the host nation’s only victory in the women’s events when she won the 100m Hurdles in 12.85.
Russian shot putter Yevgeniya Kolodko, after setting a 2013 best of 19.97m when finishing second behind Valerie Adams at the IAAF Diamond League final on Wednesday, continued her good late-season form, winning with a best mark of 19.57m. USA’s Michelle Carter, who finished one place in front of Kolodko in Moscow in fourth place, was this time a distant second with 18.81m.
USA won the match with a tally of 137 points, 16 ahead of Russia, with hosts France in third place with 118 points.
Phil Minshull for the IAAF