Bolt back to winning ways in Oslo

Usain Bolt clocks world-leading 19.79 over 200m to break meeting record at Bislett Games as Meseret Defar also sets world lead in 5000m

BOLT-OSLO 2013 (Mark Shearman)

Usain Bolt had said he was in sub-20 shape and on Thursday night at the ExxonMobil Bislett Games – the sixth leg of the 2013 IAAF Diamond League – he proved it.

It wasn’t ludicrously fast, 19.79 being only his 16th-fastest ever time, but Bolt did what he said he’d do and broke the meeting record in the process.

With the field, which contained three Brits as well as local Norwegian favourite Jaysuma Saidy Ndure, left standing in the chilly night air while European 200m champion Churandy Martina tried to protest a false start, it wasn’t the best preparation for an athlete who doesn’t like the cold.

But the conditions soon seemed forgotten as Jamaica’s six-time Olympic champion burst out of the blocks before turning on the gas to pull away in the final 50m and win what was his first 200m race of the year and continue his unbeaten streak at the Bislett Stadium.

Competing in Oslo for the third consecutive year, Bolt, who ran the 200m in 19.87 in 2011 before setting a new stadium best of 9.79 in the 100m in 2012, took 0.03 off the stadium record set by Namibia’s former world 200m champion Frank Fredericks in 1996 and proved he is back to his winning ways after suffering a rare defeat to Olympic bronze medallist Justin Gatlin over 100m in Rome last week.

Next over the line in 20.36 was Ndure, having been with Bolt at the turn but left behind by his kick, with James Ellington leading the Brits home – his 20.55 enough for third ahead of David Bolarinwa’s 20.62 for fifth and Daniel Talbot’s 20.72 for sixth.

Tactical Defar takes 5000m victory

The only other world lead of the evening came in the 5000m where a tactical race from Meseret Defar saw the Olympic champion clock her fastest time outdoors since 2008 and the fastest time in the world since 2011, crossing in 14:26.90.

A last lap of 61.77 sealed the deal for the Ethiopian, who also won Olympic gold over the distance in 2004, as she saw off Kenya’s Viola Jelagat Kibiwot and compatriot Genzebe Dibaba, who defeated Defar in their last clash over 5000m in a slow race in Shanghai.

Speaking afterwards, Defar admitted she feels the world record is within reach, but tonight wasn’t the night to try and claim it. “I felt very comfortable throughout the race,” she commented. “I think I’m in world record shape, but was not confident to try it.”

Great Shakes in 400m hurdles

In the first Diamond League race on the track, double European indoor champion Perri Shakes-Drayton clocked her fourth-fastest time ever over the 400m hurdles to claim second with 54.03 behind Olympic bronze medallist Zuzana Hejnova, who is so far unbeaten this season.

A strong start put the Brit in a good position early on and although she faded slightly towards the end she crossed just behind Hejnova who secured victory with 53.60. USA’s Dalilah Muhammad was third with 54.33.

The result will provide a boost to Shakes-Drayton, who had been named captain of GB’s squad for the European Team Championships in Gateshead the day before, and made up for her seventh-place finish in Eugene at the beginning of the month.

Speaking afterwards, she told the BBC: “I’m very pleased with that, considering my last performance in Eugene wasn’t the best. To me you can only get better.”

Discussing the balance between the barriers and 400m flat, the event she is contesting in Gateshead, she added: “I’m going to juggle both of them, see how it goes.”

Porter and Proctor on point

Among those joining Shakes-Drayton on the GB team in Gateshead are world indoor silver medallist Tiffany Porter and world indoor bronze medallist Shara Proctor and both will go into the competition buoyed by their clear victories in Oslo.

A strong performance from Porter in the 100m hurdles saw her cross clear in 12.76 ahead of Belgian Sara Aerts and Beate Schrott of Austria.

“I’m being optimistic and I’m being patient this season,” commented Porter in a BBC interview after the race, with her sights firmly set on the Moscow World Championships.

One jump was all it took for Proctor to secure herself the top spot in the long jump, her first-round leap of 6.89m enough to place her ahead of France’s European champion Éloyse Lesueur whose first jump of 6.68m was also her best.

Masrahi given green flag

After avoiding disqualification for a false-start, Yousef Masrahi demonstrated a strong finish to take victory over 400m.

With lots of noise in the stadium, the Saudi Arabian jumped the gun but the field were given a green flag. Crossing in 45.33, Masrahi had the push where the rest of the field, including Olympic silver medallist Luguelin Santos of the Dominican Republic, didn’t.

Bahamian sprinter Ramon Miller clung on for second with 45.58 ahead of GB’s Nigel Levine, who, although finishing third with his 45.63 clocking, later admitted he was disappointed with his time. Compatriot Martyn Rooney, who had a strong first half to the race, seemed happier with his sixth-place finish, commenting after the race that he’s “a couple of hard weeks away”.

The 100m saw Bulgaria’s Ivet Lalova pip world indoor silver medallist Murielle Ahoure, fresh from securing 200m victory over Allyson Felix in Rome, into second in the shorter sprint, her 11.04 a seasons best. In the 800m Russia’s Olympic bronze medallist Yekaterina Poistogova took victory in 1:59.39 ahead of Nataliia Lupu of the Ukraine and Kenya’s Janeth Jepkosgei.

Mirroring the result of Eugene, except not ending in disqualification for Kenya’s two-time Olympic and world champion Ezekiel Kemboi, was the 3000m steeplechase. Kemboi was again out-sprinted by his young compatriot Conseslus Kipruto and although he couldn’t quite manage a sub-eight-minute clocking his 8:04.48 was enough for the win ahead of Kemboi’s 8:07.00.

A permanent Bislett Games fixture, the prestigious Dream Mile boasts British middle-distance legends Seb Coe, Steve Ovett and Steve Cram among its former winners, with the trio having taken it in turns to break the world record at the famous Bislett Stadium.

The 2013 edition of the race saw Djiboutian runner Ayanleh Souleiman take victory in 3:50.53 from Kenya’s Nixon Chepseba in the penultimate event of the evening, while Brit David Bishop finished just outside the four-minute mark with 4:00.43.

Three no-throws for Harting’s conqueror

The first big shock of the evening came in the discus as Piotr Malachowski, fresh from throwing a Polish record of 71.84m at Hengelo to beat Germany’s world and Olympic champion Robert Harting last week, exited without a valid throw.

Having gone into the competition as favourite after being boosted up to fifth on the world all-time list, the way was cleared for Estonia’s 2008 Olympic champion Gerd Kanter to take victory with 65.52m ahead of Iran’s 2012 Olympic silver medallist Ehsan Hadadi whose first-round throw of 64.63m was enough for second.

Speaking afterwards, Malachowski advised back problems were to blame. “I had some minor issues in the past also,” he commented, “but not like today. Hopefully nothing major.”

In the shot competition Germany’s Christina Schwanitz picked up from where she left off in Shanghai, throwing an impressive 19.83m on her first attempt. It would have been enough to win the competition, but the European indoor champion, unbeaten so far this season, followed it up with 20.10m on her third throw to secure victory ahead of compatriot Nadine Kleinert who threw 18.17 for second.

Billed as one of the meet highlights was the clash between Russia’s Olympic and world champion Anna Chicherova and Croatia’s returning two-time world champion Blanka Vlasic in the high jump. But it was Chicherova’s compatriot Svetlana Shkolina who eventually took victory with her 1.97m clearance, ahead of Sweden’s Emma Green Tregaro with 1.95m. Chicherova also managed 1.95m for third while Vlasic finished fifth with 1.85m.

In the absence of Jenn Suhr and Yelena Isinbaeva, points were there for the claiming in the pole vault and it was Germany’s Silke Spiegelburg who took her fair share. Clearing 4.65m put her top of the field, with Greek vaulter Nikoleta Kyriakopoulou second, while Brazil’s world champion Fabiana Murer failed to clear 4.50m.

Czech Republic’s European champion Vitezslav Vesely saw off the likes of 2007 world champion Tero Pitkamaki of Finland and Norway’s two-time former Olympic champion Andreas Thorkildsen in the javelin competition, his best-throw of 85.96m putting him ahead in the second round. Pitkamaki’s 84.74 secured him second while Thorkildsen threw 80.99 for sixth.

Colombia’s Olympic silver medallist Caterine Ibarguen won the triple jump with 14.81m as Britain’s Yamilé Aldama took eighth with 13.82m.

Onuora dominates on debut

There were a number of Brits competing in the pre-programme non-Diamond League events and getting proceedings off to an exciting start was 100m and 200m specialist Anyika Onuora who dominated to win the 400m in 52.11 on what was her debut over the distance.

James Brewer finished second with 3:43.61 in a 1500m national event won by Norway’s Filip Ingebrigtsen that also saw Chris Warburton eighth and Kris Gauson 11th, while Sweden’s Meraf Bahta took the women’s race in 4:11.69, with Britain’s Claire Gibson sixth with 4:20.80. Joe Thomas finished behind Sweden’s Johan Rogestedt with 1:47.73 for second in heat one of the 800m national event.

» You can find full results here. See the June 20 issue of AW for further pictures and results from Oslo.

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