Donovan Bailey, training in December 1997 (© Getty Images)
Still recovering from a bruised foot, Canada's Donovan Bailey showed some of his usual form as he won the men's 100m in today's Rio de Janeiro IAAF Grand Prix I.
Running in 32C° and humidity in the eighties, Bailey crossed the line in 10.19, despite a 1m/s headwind, three-hundredths ahead of fellow Canadian Bruny Surin. "I'm not happy with the result, but at least I won. I had a lot of support from the crowd and that certainly helped my performance. The Brazilians are really the greatest supporters."
Chile's Sebastian Keitel, who had beaten Bailey last week in another meeting in Brazil, dominated the 200m ahead of Nigerian Deji Aliu, confirming the excellent form shown in Sao Leopoldo.
Despite a mark of 20.65 in today's race being far from the 19.93 he ran in the 200m in Sao Leopoldo, the Sao Leopoldo time was marked with a following wind of 2.4m/s, compared to the 1.3m/s headwind of today.He said after the race that he had chosen to run only in the 200m today as he was sure that Bailey would have run close to 10 seconds and he wanted to savour his victory of last week for as long as possible.
Excellent performance by Italy's Fabrizio Mori in the 400m hurdles, where he finished ahead of Zambian specialist Samuel Matete in a time of 48.94. Matete, with 48.97, breasted the line ahead of American Eric Thomas with a mark of 48.99. True to form, Mori kicked strongly to break away from Matete in the final straight and take the tape.
Despite the early start, high temperatures and humidity, Noureddine Morceli (ALG) finished strongly in the 1500m to produce a time of 3:34.99 and demonstrate that the troubles of 1997 apppear to be behind him. After an excellent season in 1996, Morceli performed disappointingly in last year's IAAF World Championships in Athens, where he finished 4th in a 1500m totally dominated by Morocco's Hicham El Guerrouj.After the race, Morceli said that he was happy with the result: "I am surprised how fast the race was, it is very hot and I am not used to running so early in the morning."
Athens 97 silver medallist in the long jump, Erick Walder (USA) won the event with a massive 8.34m leap against a 0.5m headwind to beat Senegal's rising star Cheikh Touré (8.23; +0.8m/s) and Olympic silver medallist, Jamaica's James Beckford (8.21; +0.8).
The extremely high level of this event so early in the season does much to dispel fears that the disappearance from the competition circuit of Carl Lewis would leave an unfillable void. Although Cuban star Ivan Pedroso was not present at today's event, we can surely look forward to some extremely close and exciting competition in the meetings to come.
Fiona May (ITA), who had an excellent indoor season, culminating in the European Indoors in Valencia in February, where she took gold with the same distance indoors as her performance today in Rio.Today's 6.91m was her best ever performance for an outdoor season debut.
The fact that it was against a 1.7m/s headwind underlines still further the potential we can expect later in the season. "I didn't expect to jump this far. This is the best ever perfomance for me in the first meeting of the season." She said, delighted after her victory.