Russian long jumper Svetlana Biryukova (© Getty Images)
The traditional Moscow Christmas Cup meeting on Sunday (12) saw two world-leading performances from a pair of Svetlanas: middle distance runner Svetlana Karamasheva and long jumper Svetlana Biryukova.
Both women may not be immediately recognisable to athletics fans outside of Russia but that is probably only because they recently got married and have changed their family names.
Both also put down early season markers that they could be among the challengers for medals at the IAAF World Indoor Championships in the Polish city of Sopot in just under two months’ time.
Biryukova (nee Denyaeva), now 22, improved her best by 22cm, leaping out to 6.98m to win at the Christmas Cup for the second year in a row, once again beating the 2011 and 2013 European indoor champion Darya Klishina.
A year ago, the two women’s best marks were 6.75m and 6.66m and although this time Klishina improved by two centimetres and cut the sand at 6.68m, Biryukova improved by much more.
Karamasheva (nee Podosyonova) produced a world-leading performance over 1000m in 2:39.16, the second world-lead in five days for the 25-year-old who won over 2000m in Yekaterinburg in 5:55.64 on 7 January.
The 2013 IAAF World Championships 1500m semifinalist, who has an outdoor best of 3:59.61, faced no real opposition in her race with Alena Balakshina being distant second in 2:42.06.
Another 1500m specialist, Kristina Khaleyeva, preferred to focus on 2000m this time, where she ran just fast enough to win in 6:04.42.
In the men’s high jump, in the absence of Olympic champion Ivan Ukhov who the day before in Novocheboksarsk had cleared a world-leading 2.38m, Ivan Ilyichev took the victory with a personal best of 2.30m.
For Ilyichev, the 2009 World University Games bronze medallist but a man who has often found his best performances under cover, it was a two-centimetre improvement on his personal best which he had previously achieved on no less than four separate occasions between 2007 and 2010, when he was considered one of Russia’s most promising prospects before his career hit a plateau.
Lev Missirov, 23, went over the same height of 2.30m for a four-centimetre improvement to his best but had to settle for second place on count back.
Representing the bright new generation of Russian male long jumpers, Aleksandr Petrov took the victory in this event with 7.87m.
In the shot put, Alexander Lesnoy won the men’s event with 19.90m and Irina Tarasova took the women’s title with a relatively modest 17.82m.
In the women’s 300m, the fastest was the 2013 World Championships 400m finalist Kseniya Ryzhova in 37.23. Worthy of a mention is the comeback after child birth of the 2008 Olympic Games 4x100m champion Alexandra Fedoriva-Shpaer. In her first run since 2012, she clocked 41.61.
European 400m hurdles champion Irina Davydova won over 500m in 1:10.12.
Natalia Maryanchik for the IAAF