Saturday, March 8, 2008

Stars Shine Bright in Valencia:World Indoor Championships, Day 2 Blogging

United States' LoLo Jones celebrates as she wins the gold medal in 60m hurdles.

Team USA wins 5 medals.

Excellent athletes stood up tall delivering sizzling performances on Day 2 of the 2008 World Indoor Championships in Valencia, Spain.

Track and field is in a phase of worldwide growth that includes Saudi Arabia and British Virginia Islands winning their first ever world indoor championships medals.

American Lolo Jones gets "most ecstatic" award for celeberatory mood after winning the 60-meter hurdles in 7.80, ahead of American Candice Davis. This is her first world title. The hurdler had sound technique and explosive speed to run away from the field as the Americans went 1-2.

Red hot favorite, Ethiopia's Meseret Defar, sat behind leaders during the early laps, then hit the gas. She produced a devastating last-lap burst leaving bitter rival Meselech Melkamu in the dust. This is Defar’s third straight world 3,000-meter indoor title.

Defar, who set a world best time for two miles earlier this season, clocked a time of 8:38.79 seconds, nearly two seconds ahead of Melkamu. Morocco's Mariem Alaoui Selsouli crossed the line in third and Kenya's Sylvia Kibet was fourth.

American Allen Johnson became the oldest ever world indoor medalist as he took silver at the age of 37. He was just ahead of joint bronze medalists Russian Evgeniy Borisov and Latvia's Stanislavs Olijars. Before coming to Valencia, Chinese world record holder Liu Xiang had not run indoor races, but he showed off his training running to gold in 7.46.

American pole vault queen Jenn Stuczynski earned a silver and valuable experience in her first international competition that may very well pay off for her this summer. Both Jenn and Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia cleared 15 feet, 7 inches. Isinbayeva won because she had fewer misses and took her third world indoor pole vault title in a row.

The men’s 1500-meters was a thoroughly enjoyable epic battle and arguable the day’s most entertaining race. Ethiopian Deresse Mekkonen took the title in a fierce foot race over the last 300-meters of the races. The lead changed hands no less than half a dozen times during the race. At the final bell lap, at least six men were in solid contention.

But soon after the thoroughly entertaining contest was concluded, Mekkonen was disqualified for a lane violation, giving Komen gold and a 2-3 finish for Spain with Casado gaining the bronze.

But the switch was short-lived. An appeal lodged by the Ethiopian Federation was upheld, reversing the initial disqualification and giving Mekkonen the victory, with Komen Kipchirchir second followed by Higuero and Casado.

The surprise medal of the night came from Texan Andra Manson who tied for bronze in the men's high jump with a season best of 7 feet, 6.5 inches. This was the first international competition on the elite level for Manson.

Go to IAAF for reviews of the semifinal men’s heptathlon, 400, 800, and women’s 400, 800, high jump, and pentathlon.

In addition to the free, live webcast on, fans can watch the World Indoor Championships on television. The Versus cable network will air the meet twice on Saturday and once on Sunday. Broadcast times are 3-4 p.m. ET and 7-8 p.m. ET on Saturday; 6-8 p.m. ET on Sunday. Check local listings.

By Jay Hicks, a.k.a. Track Evangelist

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