Two prominent athletic events were staged this week-end, where the 100m and 200m sprints did not make news. Instead, the less glamorous events of men’s shot-put, women’s 400m at the Jamaica International Invitational and 20-kilometer walk at the 2014 IAAF World Race Walking Cup at Taicang China were celebrated with gusto.
The one-day athletic event at Jamaica on May 3, 2014 was marked by a grand performance from US shot putter Christian Cantwell, whose attempt of 21.85 meters was way ahead of Jamaican Odain Richards, who managed 21.11 meters and the third-placed American Kurt Roberts, whose throw reached 21.07. The rest of the participants couldn’t cross 21m. The 33-year old Cantwell is a Beijing Olympic Silver medalist and three-time world indoor champion with a personal best throw of 22.54m that he reached almost 10 years ago. Incidentally, the world record in men’s shot-put is still in the name of American Randy Barnes, who succeeded in throwing the shot to a distance of 23.12m almost 24 years ago.
American Francena McCorory raced away to glory in the finals of the 400m dash for women. The holder of world indoor 400m title, McCorory broke away from the pack in the last 10 meters and breasted the tap in 50.24 seconds. Two Jamaicans were at her trail in final stages. One of them, Stephenie McPherson was second at 50.58 seconds, while third-placed Novlene Williams-Mills clocked 50.90. Also competing in this prestigious race was the reigning Olympic champion and 5 times Diamond League winner, Sanya Richards-Ross. But she was placed fifth with a poor timing of 51.62, on account of fitness issues. The gifted McCorory is no ordinary runner herself. Apart from two golds in London Olympics, she is also the winner of 4×400 relay at World Championships in Daegu, South Korea in 2012 and silver in the same event in 2011 at Moscow. In addition, she won the gold in 400m at the World Indoor Champioship at Sopot, Poland in 2012.
In men’s 100m event, top stars Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake and Asafa Powell of Jamaica abstained from participation for personal reasons. This cleared the field for the 32-year old Justin Gatlin of US, the 2004 Athens Olympic Gold medalist and two-time world indoor champion in 60-meter dash. Gatlin also won the bronze in 2012 London Olympics with the personal best timing of 9.79 seconds. On May 3, Gatlin won in 10.11 seconds, ahead of Jamaican Andrew Fisher, who surprised the field with a fast start but finished second in 10.21. Fisher’s compatriot Nesta Carter was placed third with a time of 10.20.
In women’s 100m, Nigerian Blessing Okagbare dominated the field, devoid of runners like Fraser-Pryce, Camelita Jeter and Veronica Campbell. She finished the sprint in 11.19 seconds, while the second and third spots were taken by the Jamaicans Kerron Stewart and Carrie Russell.
Women’s 200m gold was taken by Jamaica’s Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, winner of back-to-back gold medals in 100m at Beijing and London Olympics. In London, she also won silver medals in 200 meter and 4×100 relays, in addition to 5 gold medals in World championship events at Berlin in 2009 and Moscow in 2013. In yesterday’s victory, Fraser-Pryce clocked 22.53 seconds, while the second and third spots were claimed by American girls Kimberlyn Duncan and Jeneba Tarmoh with the timings of 22.61 and 22.69 respectively. Men’s 200m event saw a close finish with merely 0.02 seconds separating the top three. Jamaica’s Rasheed Dwyer won the race in 20.53 seconds with second-placed American Curtis Mitchell clocking 20.54 and Jamaican Jason Livermore taking the third place at 20.55.
In men’s 400m, world champion LaShawn Merritt of US was beaten by Olympic silver medallist Luguelin Santos of Dominican Republic with Saudi Arabia’s Asian champion Youssef Al-Masrahi coming third. Santos clocked 44.82 seconds to Meritts’ 44.86, while Youssef Al-Masrahi finished with 44.96 seconds. In men’s 400m hurdles, Dominican Republic’s double Olympic champion Felix Sanchez won in 49.21 seconds with world champion Jehue Gordon of Trinidad and Tobago taking the second spot. Jamaica’s Leford Green came third. The gold in women’s 400m hurdles was won by American Kori Carter in 54.94 seconds with two Jamaicans Ristananna Tracey and Nickiesha Wilson finishing second and third with 55.12 and 55.61 seconds. In women’s 100m hurdles, Tiffany Porter of Great Britain was first, while Ldlette, Lavonne of Dominican republic and Jamaican Williams, Shermaine took second and third places respectively.
On May 4, 2014, Ukrainian Ruslan Dmytrenko miraculously won the 20 km walk at the 2014 IAAF World Race Walking Cup in Taicang, China. Everyone believed the event to be a showdown between Russia’s reigning world champion Aleksandr Ivanov and China’s Olympic champion Chen Ding. But Dmytrenko wanted to prove that his victory, two months ago, in the Swiss city of Lugano, was no fluke. With 3 kilometers left in the walk, the Ukrainian finished with a national record of 1:18:37 to clinch the gold. It was one of the best performances from 28-year-old Dmytrenko, who had earlier taken only a silver medal at the 2013 World Championship. In 10-km walk for women, China’s Dandan Duan and Jiayu Yang were placed first and second with timings of 43.05 and 43.37 minutes while Anezka Drahotova of the Czech Republic was placed third at 43.40.