After poor long jump, Jessica Ennis surrenders her world indoor crown to Olympic champion Natalia Dobrynska
Jessica Ennis had got her World Indoors campaign off to a solid start this morning in Istanbul and looked to have staved off the challenge from world champion Tatyana Chernova in the pentathlon. But by no means did that mean Ennis was out of the woods, because all along this had been a four-way battle, and Olympic champion Natlia Dobrynska was in top form.
After the three events this morning, Ennis was leading with 3064 from Austra Skujyte (3054) and Dobrynska (3035). Earlier in the week, Chernova had said that “the title will be won or lost in the sand pit” and she was right, although it wasn’t the Russian who came away in pole position.
Instead it was Dobrynska who changed everything. She opened with 6.41m, then improved in the final round to 6.57m – an indoor PB and her second-best mark ever after the 6.63m PB she set at the Olympics. Ennis, meanwhile, couldn’t respond. She jumped 6.19m in the first round, didn’t improve in the second, then fouled in the third. Her leap was 28 centimetres less than the PB she set in Birmingham last month.
The only solace Ennis could take from the event was that Chernova also under performed, jumping just 6.22m – half a metre down on her indoor best. But the tables had been well and truly turned and with one event to go, Dobrynska had snatched the lead with 4065 from Skujyte (3978) and Ennis (3972). It meant that Ennis would have to beat Dobrynska by 6.5 seconds in the 800m to hold on to her title – a tough task, given their difference in PBs is just a few seconds. But Dobrynska was not only on course for gold, she was in touching distance of the world record.
Ennis gave it her best shot in the 800m, running a well-paced race to smash her indoor PB by more than four seconds with 2:08.09. But Dobrynska clung to the Briton’s coattails as best she could and ran an outright PB of 2:11.15 to take gold with a world record of 5013, breaking the mark set 20 years ago by Irina Belova. Ennis’s bravery was rewarded with a national record of 4965, moving her up to No.3 on the world all-time list ahead of Swedish star Carolina Kluft.
In what was one of the highest-quality pentathlons of all-time with best marks-for-place for all three medallists, Skujyte took third with a national record of 4802. Chernova, one of the pre-event favourites, finished outside of the medals with 4725, equal fourth with Karolina Tyminska.
The only other final today was the men’s shot. The qualifying round earlier in the day gave a glimpse as to what could happen in the final as David Storl, Reese Hoffa and Tomasz Majewski impressed with big throws.
Young German Storl unleashed an almighty 21.88m in the first round, but it was followed by big marks from Ryan Whiting (21.59m) and Majewski (21.28m), whose putt was a national record. Majewski then improved on that with 21.65m to move into silver, while Hoffa tried to get in on the act with 21.55m, but it was only good enough for fourth.
The competition then came alive again in round five as Whiting snatched the lead with 22.00m – the third-best ever mark in World Indoor history. Majewski improved again with his third national record of the competition, but his 21.72m was not enough to better his bronze medal position.
Despite the two titles that were decided this afternoon in Istanbul, the overriding talking point centred around the starting equipment used in the sprinting events. Earlier today there were some notable slow reactions in the 400m heats – one of them being 0.975 – and heptathlon leader Ashton Eaton spoke about the unusual set-up. But the issue became more noticeable during the afternoon’s 60m hurdles and 60m heats.
In the second heat of the women’s 60m hurdles, world leader Kristi Castlin stood up in her blocks after a slow reaction to the gun (0.423), thinking there had been a false start. But as she looked up she simply saw the rest of the field running away from her and she was left bemused.
World champion Sally Pearson looked supreme in her heat, winning with an Oceanian record 7.85, but after her race she commented on the unusual-sounding start gun. Meanwhile, Britain’s Tiffany Porter made it safely through to the semis, winning her heat in 8.00.
Further problems came in the men’s 60m heats. Jamaican record-holder Lerone Clarke reacted slow (0.420), eased up as though there was a false start, noticed it wasn’t, then began sprinting. Although he finished fourth, his time of 7.05 was a long way short of the winner. But in a bizarre race, 7.00 was good enough for second place.
Nesta Carter had a sluggish start in the following heat, but progressed with 6.74 for second place. Two disqualifications followed in heat six – including one for former Brit Tim Abeyie, now representing Ghana – but world leader Trell Kimmons made it safely through with 6.70. The final two heats were won by Justin Gatlin (6.64) and defending champion Dwain Chambers (6.65) respectively.
World 5000m champion Mo Farah was drawn in a tough heat in the 3000m, made even more difficult by the fact it proved to be a tactical affair. Up against Augustine Choge, Dejen Gebremeskel, Hayle Ibrahimov and defending champion Bernard Lagat, Farah waited until the last few laps to make a move. But with a lap to go there were still five or six athletes in contention.
In a scrappy final lap, the Briton managed to find a clear path and an extra ounce of energy to squeak through into second place (7:57.59) behind Choge (7:57.49) and ahead of Lagat and Gebremeskel. The other heat was won by Kenya’s Edwin Soi, sprinting past a rejuvenated Craig Mottram and Moses Kipsiro in the final few metres.
Having seen a world record in the women’s pentathlon, Ashton Eaton is on course to do the same in the men’s heptathlon. This afternoon he set an indoor PB in the shot (14.56m) and a season’s best of 2.03m in the high jump. He ends day one with a score of 3654 and with a good day tomorrow he could break the 6600-point barrier. Ukraine’s Oleksiy Kasyanov is still holding on to second place (3489), while Andrey Kravchenko is on course for bronze.
All the main contenders in the men’s long jump made it through to the final, but the biggest surprise came in the form of a world-leading 8.28m from Brazil’s Mauro da Silva. Despite it just being the qualifying round, it was the best mark at the World Indoors since 2006. USA’s Will Claye, one of the pre-event favourites, snuck through as the seventh of the eight qualifiers with 7.91m.
Sanya Richards-Ross once again impressed in her 400m semi-final, dipping under 51 seconds to win her race by a significant margin from Russia’s Aleksandra Fedoriva. Britain’s Shana Cox won the second semi in 52.69 from European indoor champion Denisa Rosolova, while Natasha Hastings and Vania Stambolova progressed from the first semi. Medal favourite Patricia Hall of Jamaica was some way off the pace and did not make it through.
The first of the men’s 400m semis was won by Demetrius Pinder of the Bahamas (45.94) with Tabarie Henry of the US Virgin Islands taking the second qualifying spot for the final while US indoor champion Gil Roberts faded to a well-beaten fourth. Pinder’s team-mate made it a Bahamian double, taking the second semi in 46.37 from Pavel Maslak (46.49), as Britain’s Buck was run out of it in third with 46.68. Costa Rica’s Nery Brenes set a national record to win the third semi-final from world champion Kirani James, 46.01 to 46.04. Britain’s Nigel Levine had given his all on the first lap with 21.61, but faded to third in 46.46.
Elsewhere, Genzeba Dibaba and Mariem Alaoui-Selsouli won their respective heats of the women’s 1500m, setting up an exciting clash for the final. But Alaoui-Selsouli’s Moroccan team-mate Siham Hilali, one of the other medal contenders, missed out on a top-four spot in the first heat and will not be in the final.