IAAF World Championships: Soboleva Crushes WR

Story written by Eric.

Russia's Yelena Soboleva established her second world record at 1.500m this indoor season, running 3 minutes 57,71 seconds to win her first World Indoor title at the IAAF Championships in Valencia.

Soboleva, who finished second two years ago to teammate Yuliya Fomenko, out-sprinted her rival with a powerful kick the final 100m over the 200m track, and won going-away, taking off 0,34 seconds from the record she set at the Russian Indoor National Championships two weeks ago.
Soboleva, 25, ran to the front of the race during the first 100m, and was followed by Bahrain's Maryam Jamal and Fomenko early in the race. Soboleva ran a controlled 30,95 split at the 200m mark and continued running what appeared to be content and effortless through at first-lap split of 63,26.

There was no change in the top-3 order until the 600m mark, reached in 1.35,66, with Fomenko taking over pacing duties.

Fomenko and and Soboleva towed the field through a very respectable 2.07,89 to drag Jamal and Ethiopian Geleta Burka with them in a front pack of four.

Fomenko reached the 1.000m mark just under 2.40, splitting 2.39,90 off of a 32,01 segment from the 800m mark. Soboleva continued to look content to bide her time in second as they passed the clock with 400m remaining in an incredible 2.55 on the clock.

Fomenko continued her excellent running and attempted to take the kick out of her teammate, hitting the 1.200m split in 3.11,53 (31,63), and then surged very hard to attempt to deflate Soboleva's 1.56 800m speed.

Soboleva didn't relent, however, and took the lead at 1.300m (3.27). Soboleva's move was a decisive one, and she took the field through a 3.42,27 for 1.400m (30,74 split).

Needing to run just under 16,00 to break the world record, Soboleva ran 15,44 over the final turn and straight to finish in world-record time.

Fomenko finished second in a new personal best time of 3.59,41, with Burka third in an African record time of 3.59,75. Jamal, the 2007 IAAF World Outdoor champion, finished without a medal, but could be content with setting a new personal best of 3.59,79.

Four women in all finished with new national records. Soboleva earned a bonus of $50.000 for setting a world record, and pocketed $40.000 for the victory.

Soboleva's was the only world record set at the championships, which concluded this evening.


IAAF World Indoor Championships

Women's 1.500m Final

1, Yelena Soboleva, RUS, 3.57,71 (WR); 2, Yuliya Fomenka, RUS, 3.59,41 (PB); 3, Gelete Burka, ETH, 3.59,75 (AR); 4, Maryam Yusuf Jamal, BRN, 3.59,79 (AR); 5, Daniela Yordanova , BUL, 4.04,19 (NR); 6, Liliana Popescu, ROM, 4.07,61; 7, Bouchra Ghézielle, FRA, 4.08,66; 8, Siham Hilali MAR 4.15,54; Sonja Roman, SLO, DNF



Abubaker Kaki entered the 2008 IAAF World Indoor Championships with exactly three races under his belt: an 800m in Leipzig which netted him the second-fastest time of the year (1.46,06), and two 1.000m races - the first which nabbed the 18-year-old the world junior record in Stockholm (2.15,77).

Kaki tripled his lifetime total of indoor races in Valencia, and did not disappoint in his attack on a truly stellar field, winning a stunning race against South African Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, 1.44,81 to 1.44,91.

Mulaudzi was the 2004 world indoor champion and Olympic silver medallist behind Yuriy Borzakovskiy in Athens, and had possessed the most experience and the highest credentials of the contestants in the final.

Though Mulaudzi was only able to equal his standing set two years ago in Moscow, he did set a new national record tonight in the process.

Bronze medallist Yusuf Saad Kamal of Burundi (1.45,26) and fourth-placer Dmitrijs Milkevics (1.45,72), who had the third-fastest time in the world entering the final (1.46,09), also set national records in a race won with the third-fastest time ever run in the World Indoor Championships.

The field was so deep that fifth-placer, Russian Dmitry Bogdanov (1.45,76) and American Nick Symmonds (1.46,48), who had looked very strong in his heat and semi-final races, set personal records in what was truly one of the highlights of the evening behind Soboleva's world record run mentioned above.

Symmonds' time was only 0,01 of a second from equalling the best mark for sixth place in the championships.

Kaki stated prior to the opening race that he wouldn't underestimate his competitors, but the strong Sudanese took the lead from the gun and split 24,92 - 51,26 the first two laps before Mulaudzi gave chase.

Entering the final lap, Kaki split 1.18,28 at the 600m mark, and all eyes in the stadium were on the fast-kicking Mulaudzi as he prepared to overtake his junior runner. Mulaudzi pushed Kaki hard down the backstretch, and it appeared that Kaki would not find the strength to hold off Mulaudzi, who has a 1.42,89 outdoor best.

Kaki came off the final turn with his arms pumping hard, his neck strained and his eyes on the finish line as Mulaudzi, running to his right in lane two, came up even with him, and attempted to overtake him with the remaining metres to the finish line in sight.

Malaudzi was unable to negotiate a better finishing spurt than Kaki, however, and the 18-year-old claimed his sixth victory in as many races this indoor season, running the second-fastest world junior time in history behind Borzakovskiy's 1.44,35 -- and the fastest time in the world since 2004.

Kaki's superlative mixture of strength and speed will make it very challenging for anyone to match strides with him as he takes a break, rests and prepares to translate his new-found talents to the outdoor oval.

Kaki shouldn't have too difficult a time with that, however, as he ran a solo 1.43 800m in November to fly under the radar nearly two months following the conclusion to the normal Grand Prix season.


IAAF World Indoor Championships

Men's 800m Final

1, Abubaker Kaki, SUD, 1.44,81 (WL); 2, Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, RSA, 1.44,91 (NR); 3, Yusuf Saad Kamel, BRN, 1.45,26 (AR); 4 Dmitrijs Milkevics, LAT, 1.45,72 (NR); 5 Dmitriy Bogdanov, RUS, 1.45,76 (PB); 6 Nick Symmonds, USA, 1.46,48 (PB)



The men's 3.000m featured a stunning field which included Australian Craig Mottram, Kenya's Paul Koech and Ethiopians Tariku Bekele -- the 2008 world indoor leader at this distance, and teammate Abreham Cherkos, who holds the world youth best for the outdoor 3.000m (7.32,37), and the 5.000m (12.54,19), and who also set the World Junior record at this distance (7.38,03) in Stuttgart on 2-February.

Mottram, who holds a 3.48 mile best and set a national record in the 3.000m last month with a 7.34,50, and Koech, the 2007 World Outdoor Champion in the steeplechase, were expected to be Bekele's biggest challengers.

All seemed to play into the kickers' race the first kilometre, covered in 2.48,58 - a pace which Ethiopian women's winner, Meseret Defar, could have managed without difficulty.

Koech, who ran 8.06,48 over two miles in finishing second to Bekele's older brother, Kenenisa, in Birmingham on 16-February, took over the pacing charge to lead the field through a sub-par 5.25,71 (2.42,88 pace) - but one which surprisingly begun stringing out the field a bit as Bekele began to position himself for a long drive home to the finish.

Bekele made a terrific move with three laps remaining, and inflicted a great deal of hurt on the kickers in the race, covering his final 1.000m in 2.22,5 and finishing off his final 1.500m in 3.40 - a pace which would have kept him in contention in the open 1.500m race contested the prior evening!

Bekele's winning time of 7.48,23 wasn't the fastest winning time in history, but his closing 1.500m segment was six seconds faster than was Saïd Aouita's 3.46,4 in his 1989 victory (7.47,94) in Budapest.

Koech, who fought valiantly to hold off Cherkos, finished with the silver medal, running 7.49,05, with Cherkos nabbing the bronze (7.49,96).


IAAF World Indoor Championships

Men's 3.000m Final

1, Tariku Bekele, ETH, 7.48,23; 2, Paul Koech, KEN, 7.49,05; 3, Abrehem Cherkos, ETH, 7.49,96; 4, Edwin Soi, KEN, 7.51,60; 5, Craig Mottram, AUS, 7.52,42; 6, Mohammed Farah, GB, 7.55,08; 7, Ali Maatoui, MAR, 7.58,93; 8, Sergio Sanchez, ESP, 7.59,74 (PB); 9, James C'Kurui, QAT, 8.00,44; 10, Kamal Boulahfane, ALG, 8.04,73; 11, Jonathan Riley, USA, 8.05,59; 12, Arne Gabius, GER, 8.11,21.


In other developments, Russia's Evgeniy Lukyanenko raised his world-lead up to 5,90m in winning the pole vault, holding back American Brad Walker (5,85 PB), the reigning world indoor and outdoor champion.

Phillips Idowu finally lived up to his promise in the triple jump, setting the Spanish crowd ablaze with astonishment with a second-round leap of 17,75m - the 2008 world lead, and only eight centimetres behind Christian Olsson's world record.

Canadian sprinter Tyler Christopher ran an excellent final 50m to take the victory from Sweden's Johan Wissman, who led at the gun in 21,10 seconds. Christopher made a big move down the stretch to run the fastest time in the world this season, 45,67. Wissman finished with the silver in an indoor personal best of 46,04 .

Maria Mutola was denied an eighth world indoor title when Australia's Tamsyn Lewis sprinted past the field and surprised leader Tetiana Petlyuk to win in 2.02,57 - the slowest winning time in meet history. Mutola won her first indoor title in 1993, running 1.57,55 in Toronto, and defeating Russian Svetlana Masterkova and American Joetta Clark in the process.

Mutola is retiring at the end of the outdoor season.

(The women's high jump will be featured in a separate report on Monday).

Foto Credits: IAAF.org

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