Cross Challenge on 24 October 2021

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Jones at the double in Brussels

A majestic sprint double for Marion Jones, a 1:42 800m for Wilson Kipketer and dominant 1500m for both Hicham El Guerrouj and Sureyya Ayhan were the most memorable moments of the 26th Memorial Van Damme in Brussels.


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

Four athletes, Hicham El Guerrouj (1500m), Felix Sanchez (400m hs), Marion Jones (womens 100m) and Ana Guevara (womens 400m) entered Brussels King Baudouin Stadium tonight in contention for the IAAF Golden League Jackpot of 50 kilos of gold. Three and half hours later all four had successfully clocked up their sixth consecutive win of the seven meet series, which concludes next week in Berlin.

Well, its becoming a closer and closer call for World 400m hurdles champion Felix Sanchez who was the first of the four gold prospectors to compete. In Zurich a fortnight ago and again tonight, the star from the Dominican Republic didn come off the final bend of the 400m hurdles with his previously customary lead. This evening it was Frances newly crowned European champion Stephane Diagana who held the advantage, and even as late as the last barrier it looked like Sanchezs Jackpot campaign was about to end prematurely.

However, 2002 seems to be Sanchezs year and as today was also his 25th birthday, nothing was going to stop him breasting the tape in front of Diagana. So the Frenchman was finally denied (2nd 48.05), and Sanchez (47.99) lives on to stake his golden claim in Berlin next Friday.

USAs Marion Jones was next of the Jackpot contenders to start but was decisively beaten out of the blocks by USA compatriot Chryste Gaines. The manner of her start seemed to shock Jones and with only 40m left in the sprint Jones remained headed by three of the women inside her 5th lane - Gaines, Tayna Lawrence and Ukraines World champion Zhanna Pintusevich-Block.

Jones pick up at this point was more than impressive and within a stride or two she was equal with the three and by the finish, was comfortably ahead of all challengers. Jones finished in 10.88, ahead of Pintusevich 10.90, Lawrence 10.93 (PB) and Gaines (a seasons best) 10.94, in what was a high class sprint (wind +1.0).

However, many of the women sprinters in particular Jones and Pintusevich, had not yet finished their evenings work and within an hour and ten minutes were back on the track for the 200m. The battle between American and the Ukrainian was neck and neck until 20 metres from the line, when Jones managed to first edge her vest and then her full chest in front, and securely took Pintusevich just before the finish. 22.11 and a World seasons best was Jones rich reward and Pintusevich can also go away happy, with a (seasons best) 22.24 clocking. Bahamas Debbie Ferguson was a well beaten third, 22.58.

Third of the Jackpot contenders to emerge on the track tonight, Mexican Ana Guevaras performance was again assured but she probably paid a little for a blisteringly quick first 300m. While comfortably ahead of both Lorraine Fenton (50.17)and USAs Jearl Miles-Clark (50.70), the Mexican usually so strong in the last 100m seemed to fade by comparison to her usually high standards but still finished first in 49.69. However, Guevaras job was done successfully and she can now move happily on to Berlin, still in the hunt for Jackpot gold.

Despite the Mexicans brilliance this summer, Hicham El Guerroujs win in the mens 1500m was the most predictable of all the Jackpot contenders. It thus came as a surprise that as the race entered the last 100 metres, the Moroccan World record holder still had Kenyas World silver medallist Bernard Lagat on his shoulder. Yet Guerrouj was only playing with his opponents, and with a smooth change of gear pulled away for another assured win in 3:29.95. Lagat was second (3:30.39) and Robert Rono was third in a personal best, 3:30.99.  In the world of the imperial and metric mileing, El Guerrouj remains peerless.

Denmarks Wilson Kipketer, recently crowned European 800m champion, tonight began to edge back into a top groove of racing which has eluded him since he contracted malaria five years ago. The World record holder for the distance produced a crushing last 400 metres to obliterate the opposition in a time of 1:42.74, a World seasons best.

In the womens 1000m, the World record bid of Mozambiques World and Olympic champion Maria Mutola fell short of both the Svetlana Masterkovas time of 2:28.98 set at this meeting in 1996, and of Mutolas own personal best (and former World record) of 2:29.34. Mutolas win was of course never in doubt and her finishing time was 2:30.12. National records of 2:34.14 and 2:34.19 fell to second placed Diane Cummins of USA and third placed Agnes Samaria of Namibia, respectively.

Swedens Kajsa Bergqvist took what is now becoming a comfortable win in the womens High Jump with a second attempt at 1.99m. With a personal best of 2.05m and having exceeded two metres in all her competitions since winning the European title in Munich, that barrier obviously holds little psychological weight for the Swede, so tonight she passed at 2.01 and went straight on to 2.03. However, at least physically the height was beyond her and she had to settle for her 1.99 clearance.

In the mens Triple Jump, USAs Walter Davis added to his increasing reputation with a 17.40m last round win. The same round had brought Davis a win in the London Grand Prix a week ago. European champion Christian Olsson was second with 17.33m and Cubas Alexander Martinez was third with 17.30. World and Olympic champion Jonathan Edwards was way back in 7th with a lowly 16.75 leap.

The mens 100m dash found another World Champion also in trouble. Maurice Greene, not for the first time this year, was also found wanting for speed. Unlike the occasional defeats Greene suffered in previous seasons, his poor run of form this summer seems to be more serious. Only time will see if Greene can stage a come back in 2003 but in terms of his present sprinting campaign, his fortunes reached a new low tonight. Sixth in 10.11 and never in contention.

In the tussle at the head of the race Tim Montgomery, the World silver medallist last summer, emerged as the clear winner in a seasons best of 9.91 (wind +0.3), exhibiting so much of the style which was previously only in Greenes domain to produce. Second was Portugals Francis Obikwelu (10.01 national record) and Kim Collins of St. Kitts and Nevis was third 10.01.

Unlike the women, the mens 200m was principally left to the specialists on the bend.  The exception to this was a third place run for Obikwelu (20.22). In front of the Portuguese were the Americans, Darvis Patton (20.12) and Coby Miller (20.07).

There was a brisk but equally fluent run of the 100m hurdles for Gail Devers who won in 12.49, well clear of World champion Anjanette Kirkland (12.62) and Jamaicas Brigitte Foster in third (12.65). Only Devers has run faster this season and her win tonight will go a long way to restoring some much needed confidence after a string of recent defeats.

With 3k passed in 8:01.79 and 5k in 13:23.58, a fast mens 10,000m boiled down to a group of five in the second half with Kenyas Commonwealth 5000m Champion Sammy Kipketer and John Korir pushing the pace in the last 3000 metres (8000m 21:29.85) to set up a lively last lap sprint.

It was Kipketer, on the shoulder of Korir until just before the bell, who stole a march on the rest of the leading pack and as much as the rest tried they could not match Kipketers burst. Kenyas Richard Limo the World 5000m champion (eventual third 26:50.20) came the nearest during the first 300m of the lap, until in the finishing straight, Ethiopias OIympic bronze Assefa Mezegebu started a drive to the line which took second place (26:49.90).

The final result brought sub 27 minutes clockings for the top five, all personal bests. 14 personal bests were recorded in the race as a whole. Kipketers winning time of 26:49.38 was a world seasons best. Back in 7th there was a Tanzanian record for John Yoda (27:06.17), with a Dutch record of 27:26.29 for Kamiel Masse.

The longest track race on the womens card was the 3000m and if the mens 10km had produced a good finish it was nothing to match the battle between the World 3000m record holder Gabriela Szabo of Romania and Ethiopias Berhane Adere who last winter had stolen Szabos World indoor mark for the same distance. Szabo after leading for the previous two laps was caught on the hop by Adere as the bell for the last lap sounded. It looked like a comfortable victory for the Ethiopian, even as late as when she entered the last 100m but then with an explosive burst of acceleration, Szabo began her charge and swallowed up the gap her opponent had opened. At the finish it was a dipping contest, with Adere (8:26.14) the winner over Szabo (8:26.15). The race was so close to call that Szabo was erroneously presented with the victors flowers and did a lap of honour. The result was eventually only decided on the photo-finish.

Turkeys surprise womens European 1500m champion Sureyya Ayhan set a new national record of 3:57.75, also a world seasons best, in the 1500m with a marvellous front run win in similar style to her continental title gold in Munich. No one else came close, in fact second (Aleysa Turova  4:00.76) and third (Regina Jacobs 4:01.06) were so far behind that the race was more like a time trial for Ayhan.

The mens 3000m was a quick affair (1000m 2:30.54; 2000m 5:04.43) but that didn prevent nine runners - eight Kenyans and one Moroccan - from contending the lead coming into the last 400m. For all the in-balance in national numbers, it was Moroccos Abderrahim Goumri who triumphed over the large Kenyan division with a time of 7:35.77. Abraham Chebii was second, 7:36.58 and Luke Kipkosgei, third, 7:37.05.

However, Kenya got their 3000m win in the steeplechase in 8:06.65 by Ezekiel Kemboi. Spains Luis Miguel Martin set a national record of 8:07.44 in second and there was a 8:13.45 national best for Qatars Khamis Saifeldon in 5th.

The mens Pole Vault was taken with a first time clearance at 5.80m by Israels European champion Aleksandr Averbukh, who followed with three failures at 5.92m. In second on the same height was USAs Jeff Hartwig but he had needed two attempts to clear 5.80.

A 63.25 metre release in the second round was enough to give Hungarys Nikolett Szabo the European U23 champion a surprise win in the womens Javelin over World champion and World Record holder Osleidys Menendez of Cuba. The Hungarians seasons best up until today had been 61.93m. The mens spear was won with a lowly 83.76m by Germanys Boris Henry.

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