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Chirchir sets world junior 1500m mark on a night of records in Monaco

There was an abundance of world season’s bests throughout a packed night of entertaining Golden League action in Monaco’s Herculis meeting at the Stade Louis II, including a a world junior 1500m record.


By IAAF Staff / - real,- BERLIN-MARATHON thanks the IAAF for its support

Romania’s world 1500m and Olympic 5000m champion Gabriela Szabo improved on Sonia O’Sullivan’s European 3000m record of 8:21.64 (set in 1994) with a brilliantly sustained sprint attack over the last 300m of the women’s 3000m (the bell lap had sounded at 7:19), which finally took her past Britain’s world cross country champion Paula Radcliffe with 200m to go, bringing the Romanian home in 8:21.42 (2002 world lead). Radcliffe’s 8:22.20 was a British record for the London Marathon winner (contesting her first race since then) and Kenya’s Edith Masai’s 8:23.23 for third was an African record.

Gabriela Szabo (ROM)

Within minutes the men’s 1500m was underway and in a closer than expected battle down the home straight, Morocco’s world record holder Hicham El Guerrouj held off the closing challenge of Kenya’s Bernard Lagat, the second fastest man in the world. The Moroccan’s winning time of 3:27.34 was a meeting record and, like Szabo’s, the fastest time in the world in 2002. Lagat’s 3:27.91 was a season’s best and in their wake Portugal’s Rui Silva (3rd 3:30.07) and Driss Maazouzi (6th 3:31.45) were drawn to national records. Even Cornelius Chirchir, in fourth, set a world junior record of 3:30.24.

An important factor for El Guerrouj was that the victory kept him on the road for the IAAF Golden League Jackpot and, by the end of the evening, all five jackpot hunters would remain in the hunt for 50 kilos of gold at the next Golden League meeting in Zurich in August.

The men’s triple jump produced a Swedish record for Christian Olsson. He leapt to a 17.63 national record in round three which even Britain’s world record holder Jonathan Edwards could not surpass despite a 17.59m in the same round. The young Swede effectively knocked the stuffing out of, not just Edwards, but the whole field, as no-one jumped further than 16.83 in the final three rounds, with the two principal players fouling or passing all their last attempts.

In the men’s 800m World indoor and outdoor record holder, Denmark’s Wilson Kipketer swept aside all opposition in a race which included the two men - world champion Andre Bucher (returning from injury) and world indoor champion Yuriy Borzakovskiy - who in recent years had stolen his throne as the world’s best 800m runner.

With a sustained sprint finish over the last 200m, Kipketer killed off all opposition with a world season’s lead of 1:43.76. A typically late finishing Borzakovskiy (1:45.44) and an out of form Bucher (1:46.38) were left for dust in this race which threw up the much improved American David Krummenacker, second 1:43.95, as Kipketer’s only serious challenger. The Dane now resembles the three time world champion of old and there is no doubt that - in this one race - he has become the outstanding favourite for the European title in Munich next month, especially as Borzakovskiy has already elected to run 400m there.

Ana Guevara and Lorraine Fenton continue to get faster and faster this season in what is probably the closest balanced head to head struggle in the IAAF Golden League this summer.

Maurice Greene (USA)

At the start of this evening’s track programme Mexico’s Guevara, the world bronze medallist, was one of five athletes remaining in the hunt for the Golden League Jackpot of 50 kilos of gold.

Shoulder to shoulder for 350 metres of today’s race - running in lanes 3 and 4 - there was nothing to separate Guevara from Fenton, who is the world and Olympic silver medallist. But over the final desperate 50 metres the Mexican began to edge ahead and with a dive at the line won in 49.29, the fastest time in the world this year, a national and Central American record. Fenton’s 49.30 was also a Jamaican national record beating Grace Jackson’s 1988 mark of 49.57. Great racing with marvellously fast times as well.

World champion Felix Sanchez of the Dominican Republic was not going to let his dreams of a share of the Golden League Jackpot vanish into the warm humid Monaco night. After a wonderful first 300m, France’s 1997 world champion Stephane Diagana still retained a lead coming into the final hurdle but a late surging Sanchez flew off the last barrier to establish his own two metre advantage by the line.

The Dominican Republic athlete’s winning time was 47.86, second only to his own 47.73 on this season’s world list. Diagana’s 48.11 was a season’s best.

Marion Jones had predicted some fast running yesterday and that’s what we witnessed tonight with a 10.84 world lead for 2002. This win kept Jones on course for at least a share of the Golden League Jackpot.

Second was Jamaica’s Olympic bronze medallist Tayna Lawrence in a personal best of 10.95. Of course, this was not the old 10.65A/10.70 Jones of 1998/99 but her run was far more than just a good day in the office for the three time Olympic gold medallist. Lawrence’s continued improvement this season is pushing Jones back into the fast lane groove and under this sort of a challenge, the 10.75 form which Jones had predicted yesterday will soon return to the legs of American sprint queen.

The men’s 100m was a straight forward 9.97 win for USA’s world record holder Maurice Greene in lane four, even though he did have Bernard Williams shadowing his shoulder in lane three throughout, to finish second with 9.99.

Maria Mutola, after suffering a surprise defeat at the hands of USA’s Nicole Teter in Stockholm on Tuesday, was defeated once more today in just as surprising a turn over of the favourite from Mozambique. Mutola’s 1:56.09 for second place was a season’s best for the world and Olympic 800m champion but Cuba’s Zulia Calatayud’s 1:56.09 (personal best) ran just fast enough to separate the two after a powerful sprint by the Cuban overhauled Mutola by the finish.

It really wasn’t Mutola’s night as she also lost her world season’s best 4:01.50 mark for the 1500m too. Just like the women’s 400m and 800m, the 1500m resulted in an exciting tussle for the finish line with Belarus’ Alesya Turova running 4:01.01 to take the win over America’s Regina Jacobs who was also under the old mark with 4:01.02.

Just like Sanchez, Guevara, Jones, El Guerrouj, USA’s Gail Devers wasn’t going to be diverted off the Jackpot path and produced an inspired gun to tape win in 12.42 - a meeting record - which is only bettered by her own world lead of 12.40 so far this year. Devers, of all the winners tonight, looked the most dominant, the most reassured and the most likely to float over the remaining barriers in Zurich, Brussels and Berlin.

For the first time at the Herculis, there were two pole vault events, and both were excellent competitions. Among the women, Russia’s Svetlana Feofanova narrowly failed at a new world record of 4.82, after seeing off most of the world’s best vaulters to win the contest in 4.69. Second was Yvonne Buschbaum (GER) with 4.59, while world record holder Stacy Dragila finished equal third on 4.39 together with Yelena Isinbayeva. In the men’s event, Jeff Hartwig (USA) cleared 5.80, but had to share the victory with Germany’s Lars Borgeling.

Benjamin Limo, who had lost his battle for the Golden League jackpot in Rome proved he still possessed his awesome sprint finish in the men’s 3000m, engulfing Ukraine’s Sergey Lebed some 15 metres before the finish, just when the Ukrainian, who is a former European Cross Country champion, had looked a certain race winner. Limo’s winning time was 7:34.72 – world season’s lead - with Lebed home second in national record 7:35.06.

Cuba’s Olympic 110m hurdles champion Anier Garcia who had held on for a narrow win in Stockholm on Tuesday ahead of a clutch of Americans, was beaten in today’s sprint hurdles by one of them, Larry Wade – 13.19 to 13.22. In fact Garcia lunged so strongly for the line that it looked certain at one moment that he would lose his footing, amazingly he stayed on his feet but by that moment the victory was already gone.

The traditional firework finale was proceeded by real fireworks on the track in the men’s steeplechase where a fierce home straight sprint drove Morocco’s world record holder Brahim Boulami to a world leading 7:58.09 (meeting record) ahead of Kenya’s world junior record holder Stephen Cherono (second PB 7:58.10) and in third, a European record for Holland’s Simon Vroemen – 8:06.91.

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