WORLD and Olympic champion Sigrun Wodars employed a similar race-plan to compatriot Christine Wachtel at the World Championships in 1987 to neutralise Ana Quirot’s sub-50 400m pace but despite the burden of a busy racing season, Quirot was impervious to Wodars’ fierce front-running.
Quirot sat in the slipstream of Wodars through 200m in 26.94, 400m in 55.07 and 600m in 1:24.48 before mounting her challenge off the final bend. With her effortlessly languid running gait, Quirot passed Wodars with 70m remaining and opened up eight metres on her East German rival to win in 1:54.44 to Wodars’ 1:55.70.
Quirot’s winning time still ranks inside the world’s all-time top-five and the Cuban, who helped the Americas to victory in the 4x400m on the opening day of competition, concluded her weekend with victory in the individual 400m. Only Marita Koch and Sanya Richards-Ross have also won three World Cup titles in the same year.
It also begged the question as to whether Quirot, who was unbeaten over 800m in 1988 and 1989, would have claimed the Olympic title in Seoul if the Cubans didn’t boycott.
6. 1985 DN Galan – Melinte outsprints Kratochvilova
WHILE lacking the stature of major championships races, this was a barnstormer of a race between Melinte and Kratochvilova, who had just anchored Czechoslovakia to victory in the 4x100m in an international against Great Britain and France in Portsmouth.
Described by Mel Watman in Athletics Weekly as the best race of the meeting, the leading protagonists were inseparable in the home straight but one would think Kratochvilova’s world-class basic speed would prevail. Melinte stubbornly kept even with Kratochvilova and the Romanian, who’d recently ducked under four-minutes for 1500m in Oslo, inched a gap in the dying stages for a unexpected victory in 1:59.94 to 1:59.99.
YOUTUBE can always be relied upon to produce some unexpected rare gems and this piece of footage shows Tatyana Kazankina coasting to victory on home-soil in the 1500m in a sub four-minute clocking at the 1980 Olympic Games. Even more impressive is the fact this performance came in the heats! However, Kazankina left behind a field which had the quality of an Olympic final. In what must be one of the strongest-ever preliminary races regardless of the event, Kazankina finished ahead of newly crowned Olympic 800m champion and world record-holder Nadezhda Olizarenko, eventual silver medallist Christiane Wartenberg and East German team-mate Ulrike Bruns who won bronze in 1976 as well as 3:57 performer Totka Petrova from Bulgaria and future Olympic 3000m champion Maricica Puica who inserted vicious pace into the heat after a 4:10-paced opening lap.
Women’s 1500m – heat one
1. Tatyana Kazankina (URS) 3:59.2 OR
2. Nadezhda Olizarenko (URS) 3:59.5
3. Christiane Wartenberg (GDR) 4:00.4
4. Ulrike Bruns (GDR) 4:01.6
5. Maricica Puica (ROU) 4:01.7
6. Vesela Yatsinska (BUL) 4:04.7
7. Cornelia Burki (SUI) 4:05.5
8. Totka Petrova (BUL) 4:13.8
Of course, Tatyana Kazankina’s performances have been brought into disrepute after she was banned for refusing to follow doping control procedures in 1984 but it’s still a fascinating watch. If anything, this race exemplifies how 1500m standards have curtailed since the introduction of stricter doping procedures. Puica, despite running 4:01.7, only qualified as a fastest loser and nobody has since run faster in a women’s 1500m heat or semi-final at a major championships. While current measures are by no means fully transparent, a 4:01.7 performance puts anyone in contention for a global title as opposed to an also-ran in a heat.
PHILLIPS IDOWU opens his 2012 account at the second leg of the Samsung Diamond League series in Shanghai on May 19 and the Londoner, who is gearing up for his fourth Olympic appearance, will renew his rivalry with world champion Christian Taylor from the USA.
Idowu decided to forego any indoor competitions this winter which means the 33-year-old will be taking to the runway in a competitive environment for the first time since September but the reigning Olympic silver medallist has a good knack of opening his outdoor season with a bang. The European champion, who has been training in Monte Gordo in Portugal, has opened his summer season with a 17.50m-plus jump in three of his past four seasons.
Idowu’s best season’s openers
17.60m (+2.4) 2009 – Turin, June 1
17.59m (-0.6) 2011 – Rome, May 27
17.55m (+2.0) 2008 – Hania, June 7
17.48m (-0.1) 2010 – Rio de Janeiro, May 23
Something in the 17.50m range is likely to be a necessity in order to overcome the calibre of competition in China’s second largest city on Saturday. Idowu takes on Taylor for the first time since the World Championships in Daegu where the 21-year-old built on the promise he showed at Crystal Palace just a few weeks earlier in beating the Brit on home-soil.
Taylor will also make his outdoor debut but a recent 100m PB of 10.61 shows the world champion should be sharp on the runway and the fact he scored a world indoor silver medallist proves further he’s enjoyed a good off-season.
The winner of the world indoor title was 20-year-old Will Claye who comprised the podium in Daegu last summer. Like Taylor, Claye has been focusing on speedwork this spring which he will be hoping to translate to his specialist event. Claye won a low-key competition in Guadeloupe with 17.05m but this will also be his first major test since clearing 17.70m at the World Indoor Championships.