Jamaican trio wins in Rieti
Leighton Levy, Gleaner Writer
Asafa Powell won his heat, but Justin Gatlin stole his thunder at the IAAF World Challenge meeting in Rieti, Italy, yesterday.
There were also wins for MVP athletes Carrie Russell in the women's 100m and Stephenie McPherson, as Jamaica claimed a one-two finish in the women's 400 metres.
Rieti has always been a favoured hunting ground for Powell, the former 100-metre world record holder. During his time at the MVP Track Club under the guidance of Stephen Francis, Powell ran 9.74 seconds and 9.78 seconds within an hour at the meet back in 2007.
Yesterday, he delivered an impressive-looking 9.90 seconds to win his heat well clear of Qatar's Femi Ogunode, 10.05, and Ryan Bailey, 10.14.
Powell's mark was just three-hundredths of a second outside his season-best 9.87 seconds in Texas a couple weeks ago, and is the second fastest time by a Jamaican this season.
However, this has been Justin Gatlin's year, and he once again outshone everyone. Running in the second of the two 100-metre heats, the American, now unbeaten in 18 races this season, blitzed the field in 9.83 seconds, a time only he and Trinidad's Richard Thompson have exceeded this season.
Nesta Carter was a distant second in 10.07, with France's Christophe LeMaitre third in 10.15. Jacques Harvey was fourth in a season-best 10.17, while Rasheed Dwyer was sixth in 10.21.
While Powell was upstaged by Gatlin, there would be no one to upstage Carrie Russell.
The Jamaican delivered a season-best 11.10 seconds to take the women's sprint ahead of Jessica Young of the United States, 11.13, and Bulgaria's Ivet Lalova, 11.29.
Russell's MVP teammate, McPherson, was even more dominant in the 400m. She ran a commanding race to win in 50.38 over clubmate Christine Day, 51.08, and Olha Zemlyak, 51.26.
High jump world leader Essa Mutaz Barshim was not in Rieti, perhaps recovering from his epic battle against the Ukraine's Bohdan Bondarenko on Friday, when it required him to deliver the second-highest jump in history, 2.43 metres, to defeat the Ukranian and claim the diamond race for 2014.
In his absence, there was no match for Bondarenko, who pulled out a relatively easy 2.36-metre win over countryman Andriy Protsenko, 2.25m, and Barshim's younger sibling, Muamer, 2.25m.
Algeria's Taoufik Makhloufi was the class of the men's 800m, with the fastest time of 1:43.83, while Kenya's Agatha Jeruto Kimaswai claimed the women's equivalent in 1:59.51.
Kenya claimed the trifecta in the 1,500m that was won by Silas Kiplagat in 3:31.44. Vincent Kibet, 3:31.96, and Collin Cheboi, 3:32.00, completed the treble.