Lukyanenko joins 6-metre club


Bydgoszcz, Poland - With multiple World champions in attendance, a brand new track and excellent weather conditions, the Tamex Cup European Athletics Festival in Bydgoszcz was bound to provide world-class performances. And the stars did not disappoint. Two results in jumping results stood out Yevgeniy Lukyanenko won the mens pole vault with a new personal best of 6.01 and Blanka Vlasic triumphed in the womens high jump with a clearance of 2.05.
The Tamex Cup is one of a select group of Area meetings at which points can be acquired by athletes to qualify for the IAAF / VTB Bank World Athletics Final, to be held on 13-14 September in Stuttgart, Germany.

Lukyanenko joins elite company

With three members of the 6-meter club in attendance, the mens Pole Vault competition promised to be one of the highlights of the meet, and so it turned out to be. As the bar was moved up to 5.81, five men were still in competition. Steve Hooker of Australia, Alhaji Jeng of Sweden, Steven Lewis of Britain and the German veteran Tim Lobinger all cleared 5.71, while the Russian World indoor champion Lukyanenko did not enter the competition until 5.61 and, after a first-time clearance, moved right up to 5.81. That height proved too much for Jeng, Lewis and Lobinger, but Hooker, competing in Europe for the first time this summer, cleared first time. Lukyanenko started with a failure, but made amends with an impressive second-time clearance. The two men left in competition went on to attack 5.91. Both failed first time, but on his second attempt the Russian cleared to go from second to first place in the contest. The Australian, after two failures, passed his remaining attempt to 5.96, but did not manage to go clear.

Lukyanenko might have had the competition won, but he was not yet finished. After having the bar moved up to 6.01, he cleared on his first attempt with a few centimetres to spare, improving his personal best by a full 10cm and moving him to seventh place on the world all-time list. It was also the first ever six-meter clearance on Polish soil. The Russian then took three more attempts at 6.05, and was close to succeeding the second time.

30th straight victory for Vlasic

For over a year now, Blanka Vlasics participation in any meet has been a virtual guarantee of a two-meter plus clearance. It was no different in Bydgoszcz. The young Croatian needed only three attempts to win the competition, clearing 1.85, 1.92 and 1.95 first time, as her strongest rival Yekaterina Savchenko of Russia could only manage 1.92. Vlasic, however, was only getting started.

She breezed through 1.98 and 2.02 with two more first-time clearances, and went on to attempt 2.05. This height finally proved more of a challenge, but after two failures, the Croatian went comfortably clear on her third. With that jump, she equalled the Polish all-comers record set by Kajsa Bergqvist six years ago in Poznan. Just like on multiple occasions in the past, Vlasic then attempted the World record height of 2.10. It once again proved elusive, although the second and third tries demonstrated the record may be within her reach this year.

Idowus momentum continues

The only other jumping event of the meet was mens Triple Jump, and that too was a high-quality contest. After two jumps, Dimitrios Tsiamis of Greece was the surprise leader with a wind-aided 17.05 ahead of the British World indoor champion Phillips Idowu. Idowu, however, found his rhythm eventually, reaching out to 17.36 in the third round and following it up with 17.34 and 17.24, despite his customary poor landings. Tsiamis held on for second place, with Dmitrij Valukevic of Slovakia third with 16.91.

Pars beyond 80m, Kanter dominates

The throwing events saw some impressive performances as well. In the mens hammer throw, the Hungarian Krisztian Pars went into the lead in the second round with 80.03, and Szymon Ziolkowski immediately following him in the throwing order, moved into second with 77.95. For most of the competition, it looked like that order might stand till the end, but in the fifth round the Hungarian nearly lost his lead, as Italys Marco Lingua improved his personal best to 79.97. Pars and Lingua thus finished first and second, with Ziolkowski third, and one of the pre-meet favourites, Libor Charfreitag of Slovakia, only managing fourth place with 77.57.

In the Discus Throw competition, the winner was never really in question. The current world champion Gerd Kanter went out of his opponents reach in the second round with a throw of 68.82, and followed it up with three consecutive throws above 67.50. Zoltan Kovago, reaching 65.17 in round one and 65.61 in round three, continued in second place for most of the competition, before Piotr Malachowski finally hit it right with his final throw, getting within 22cm of his own national record to take second place with 66.43.

In the womens Shot Put competition, held at the start of the meet, the 40-year old Krystyna Zabawska went out to 18.68, securing a place on the Olympic team for the fourth time.

Jesien spoils Rawlinsons return...

Some noteworthy performances were seen on Bydgoszczs blue track as well. In the womens 400m Hurdles, billed as one of the meets highlights, Polands World Championship medallist Anna Jesien scored a valuable victory over the reigning World champion Jana Rawlinson. The Australian, running her first race at any distance this year, struggled in the home straight and finished well down in second place with 55.94, as Jesien overtook her some 80 metres before the line and stretched away to win in 54.86. In the mens race over the same distance, Osaka medalist Marek Plawgo won with a late charge, reaching the finish in 49.51, just 0.09 ahead of Russias Aleksandr Derevyagin.

... while Borza cruises

In the mens 800 metre race, Olympic champion Yuri Borzakovskiy looked very impressive as he effortlessly moved away from a good field, including the Saudi Mohamed Al-Salhi, Dmitrijs Milkevics of Latvia and Dmitriy Bogdanov of Russia, and won by over a second in 1:45.56. In the womens race, the Briton Marilyn Okoro won almost as easily, dipping under 2 minutes for the first time this season with her 1:59.91 ahead of the German Monika Gradzki and the Pole Anna Rostkowska.

In the womens high hurdles race, Tatyana Dektyareva of Russia won in a wind-aided 12.81 (wind +2.2mps) holding off the fast-finishing Pole Aurelia Trywianska by just 0.01. Laverne Jones scored a double win in the womens sprints, first taking the 100m in 11.27 and then impressively winning the 200m with 22.62.

Pawel Jackowski for the IAAF
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