Russian long jumper Darya Klishina (© Getty Images)
With an impressive opening ceremony at the Kazan arena, the 27th World University Games began on July 6 in the presence of Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Athletics is one of 27 different sports being contested in Kazan with the Russian city playing host, just one month before the IAAF World Championships begin in Moscow, 800km away from Kazan. Many of the officials who will be in Moscow next month are also doing their jobs this week in Kazan.
Held over six days (7-12 July), the athletics programme will have the greatest number of participants in Kazan with 750 men and 650 women set to compete. The Decathlon and Heptathlon is part of the IAAF Combined Events Challenge.
Lesnoy and Suzuki take first golds
Fittingly, the first title of the championships went to the host country. Alexandr Lesnoy was the only athlete who passed the 20-meter mark in the men’s Shot Put final, throwing 20.30m on his second attempt.
In second, India’s Indrajit Singh improved his PB by 39 centimetres, throwing 19.80m. Lesnoy’s compatriot Valeriy Kokoyev had only one valid throw, but his 19.65m was enough to get the bronze medal.
The women’s 10,000m final was also held on the first day. Only two countries were in contention for medals, with the gold eventually going to Japan’s Ayuko Suzuki in 32:54.17. Russia’s Alina Prokopyeva prevented a Japanese 1-2-3, taking silver in 33:00.93, as Suzuki’s team-mates Mai Tsuda and Mai Sho Ji were third and fourth.
Home favourites make it through the first round
The first morning session of the championships began with the women’s 400m heats. Sub-50-second runner Ksenia Ustalova was the fastest of the four heats, clocking 52.98. Spain’s Aauri Lorena Bokesa was only marginally slower, winning her heat in 52.99. South Africa’s Justine Palframan, who finished fifth at the World Junior Championships last year in 51.87, made an early exit.
The women’s Long Jump qualification was dominated by two Russians, Olympic silver medallist Elena Sokolova (6.70m) and two-time European indoor champion Darya Klishina (6.48m).
Four men’s events were scheduled in the morning, starting with the 400m where all the heats were won by athletes who have this year broken 46 seconds. The fastest time was set by Brazil’s Andreson Henriques (46.63).
Meanwhile in the 100m, the fastest time recorded across the nine heats came from South Africa’s Akani Simbine in 10.36, but Ukraine’s Sergey Smelyk impressed in the second round, setting a PB of 10.25. Olympic semi-finalist Ryota Yamagata (10.27) and Olympic 200m finalist Anaso Jobodwana (10.28) also progressed.
In the women’s 100m, Romania’s Andreea Ograzeanu is the fastest so far with her 11.46. USA’s Aurieyall Scott, who broke 11 seconds at the recent US Championships, also advanced comfortably after running 11.48.
The most notable field event athletes to miss out on making finals were Canadian shot putter Timothy Nedow who recorded three fouls in qualifying, while Russian triple jumper Ruslan Samitov was eliminated with a best of 15.11m, more than two metres shy of his PB.
The fastest time in the women’s 800m heats came from Kazakhstan’s Margarita Mukasheva in 2:03.18, with the other heats won by New Zealand’s Angie Smith (2:04.68) and Russian duo Ekaterina Kupina (2:07.74) and Elena Kotulskaya (2:05.96).
Fourteen athletes qualified for the men’s High Jump final, including Olympic champion Ivan Ukhov and European indoor champion Sergey Mudrov.
Hans van Kuijen for the IAAF