Brian Gregan winning at the 2013 Gent Indoor meeting (© Jean-Pierre Durand)
Italian high jumper Alessia Trost won a highly awaited High Jump competition against Belgium’s 2008 Olympic Games champion Tia Hellebaut while Czech Republic’s Pavel Maslak and Ireland’s Brian Gregan were just two of the other overseas stars who shone at the Flanders Indoor meeting, an IAAF Indoor Permit Meeting, in Gent on Sunday (10).
Fourth triumph for Trost
At 1.91m, local heroine Tia Hellebaut went into the lead in the Belgian city when she got over that height at her first attempt, while Trost and Ukraine’s Olena Holosha both recorded their first failures of the day and needed two attempts to go clear.
However, Trost responded by clearing 1.95m at her first attempt while neither of the other two remaining jumpers could negotiate that height.
Trost, who remains undefeated after four competitions this year, then had the bar moved up to a personal best and world-leading 2.01m and had two respectable attempts at the height.
“What this means to me is that it confirms that we are doing things right in training and in competition”, said the 2012 IAAF World Junior Championships gold medallist, who is still only 19.
“Even when I felt a bit tired after consecutive competitions I had a rather good feeling today. It was very special for me to compete against Tia Hellebaut whom I consider as a queen of the High Jump. I have always looked at her as a role model. I do not feel like being the top favourite going in to the European Championships in Göteborg in three weeks’ time.
“The pressure will be a key factor, but I hope I will be able to handle that in the right manner. Do not forget that one year ago I only jumped 1.92m. I never expected that I would be jumping 2.00m at this stage of my development.
“It is not possible to describe my feelings about that, even not in my own language. Next, I will be focusing on the national championships and this coming summer my main goal is the European Under 23 Championships in Tampere (Finland). The World Championships in Moscow are not on my mind right now,” added Trost.
“My legs felt very bad today. I didn’t have the height at 1.95m and there are no excuses for that,” reflected Hellebaut.
“After competing in Arnstadt and in Eaubonne over the past seven days I guess I must be tired. I feel sad that I could not offer to my home crowd what they are hoping and expecting from me to do,” she added.
Magic for Maslak
Maslak, the 2012 European Athletics Championships 400m gold medallist, clocked 32.58 for the rarely-run 300m, the second best time by a European on record and his Belgian predecessor as continental champion, Kevin Borlee, had to settle for second in a national record of 32.72.
“Gent is a magical track for me. Last year, I set a national record at 400m here,” commented Maslak.
Gregan, the fastest European over 400m this year, clocked 46.73 over two laps of the track. Jonathan Borlee finished second in 46.83 while Dominican Republic’s London 2012 Olympic Games 400m silver medallist Luguelin Santos was a surprising third in 47.11.
Hurdler Eline Berings went close to salvaging Belgian pride and ran 8.04 for second place in the 60m Hurdles but the 2009 European Athletics Indoor Championships gold medallist was just edged out by her American rival Yvette Lewis, who clocked 8.03.
In a close finish, Belarus’s 2012 IAAF World Indoor Championships bronze medallist Alina Talay finished third in 8.05.
In the men’s 60m, Spanish record holder Angel David Rodriguez, fresh from his recent run of 6.55 in Dusseldorf on Friday, impressed with a run of 6.57 to win from Nigeria’s Egwero Ogho-Eghene, who was second with 6.62.
Germany’s Julian Reus and France’s former European 100m champion Christophe Lemaitre were both timed at 6.64, with the former getting the verdict for third place after Lemaitre gave away too much ground after a poor start. Jamaica’s slight pre-race favourite Lerone Clarke of Jamaica cramped in his heat and did not make the final.
Rop and Rotich race to wins
Kenya’s Albert Rop, switching surfaces after some good cross country performances, took an exciting 3000m in 7:39.59 with his compatriot Paul Kipsiele Koech second in 7:39.75.
The pair, along with their compatriot Daniel Kipchirchir Komen worked together to keep the pace high and to spread the field before the first two finishers fought a close battle for victory over the final lap.
“This is a real boost”, said Rop. “I’m preparing for the World Cross Country Championships on 24 March and this gives me confidence about my speed.”
Behind the Kenyan duo, Djibouti’s Ayanleh Suleiman chased them home and clocked a national record of 7:39.81 in third place.
It was hoped that the 800m duel between the Kenyan pair of Abraham Rotich and Anthony Chemut would result in a world-leading performance but only the former followed the pace set by fellow his Kenyan Reuben Bett and his struggle against the clock proved just a little bit too difficult.
Rotich just missed out on the target by 0.03 but still finished in a personal best of 1:46.75 while Chemut finished strongly to come home in 1:47.06.
Morocco’s Rabib Arrafi unleashed a quick last lap to win the women’s 1500m in 4:10.69, after hearing the bell in third place, with Spain’s Isabel Macias second in 4:10.94.
In two remaining field events, Germany’s Hendrik Gruber was the only man over 5.60m in the Pole Vault and Slovakia’s Dana Veldakova won the women’s Triple Jump with 14.04m.
Ivo Hendrix for the IAAF