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UK Athletics

UK’s Osaka heroes at Weltklasse Zurich

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7 September 2007.


Lloyd Cowan, the former international hurdler who is now one of the UK’s most successful coaches, proved himself to be an equally astute fortune-teller at the fourth IAAF Golden League of summer, the Weltklasse, in the revamped Letzigrund Stadium, Zurich, on Friday night 7 September.


Setting the scene for the women’s 400m, in which Britain’s new World Champion Christine Ohuruogu (Newham and Essex Ladies) was to face the IAAF Athlete of 2006 Sanya Richards (USA) for the first time, Cowan said of the young east Londoner: “This is her schooling; how to handle the travel, the racing. She’s never done it before. The others have. It’s a learning experience.


“Should we protect her? Stop her from being beaten? No! She has to learn.”


He might have written the race script... Before the first bend had been run, Richards had caught Ohuruogu in the lane outside her and stormed on to win in the fastest time in the world this year, 49.36 seconds. It means the American stays on course for at least a half-share of the Golden League $1 million jackpot for athletes who remain unbeaten through the series. “I had a lot of motivation and a little chip on my shoulder tonight,” said Richards afterwards.


Ohuruogu finished fourth in 51.32 seconds, slower than any of the three rounds she ran so brilliantly in Osaka; but, by the end, much wiser about the difference between working through a championship in search of glory and finding the one-off formula that fills the bank balance. For the record, second place went to Novlene Williams (Jamaica) in 50.85 and third to Amy Mbacke Thiam (Senegal) in 50.95 – times that Ohuruogu beat in every round in Osaka, when she ran 50.46 in the first round, a lifetime best of 50.17 in the semi-finals and an even more breathtaking lifetime best of 49.61 for gold in the final.


Of other members of the Norwich Union Great Britain and Northern Ireland team defying jet lag to compete in Zurich…


Marlon Devonish (Coventry Godiva Harriers) continued his sprightly season by finishing third in the 100m (wind: +0.1) in 10.20 seconds, the same time as runner-up Ndure Jaysuma Saidy (Norway). They were edged out by fast-finishing European champion Francis Obikwelu (Portugal), who made up for his first round disqualification in Osaka by starting slowly but storming through in the final strides to snatch victory in 10.17. Of Devonish’s bronze medal winning 4x100m team mates in Osaka, Craig Pickering (Marshall Milton Keynes AC) finished eighth in 10.58 and Mark Lewis-Francis (Birchfield Harriers) ninth in 10.60.


Pickering, Devonish and Lewis-Francis then reunited with lead-off man Christian Malcolm (Cardiff AAC) for the final event of the meeting, a 4x100m featuring all of the Osaka medallists. The GB quartet finished fifth in 39.30 behind USA (38.40), Jamaica (38.82), Germany (39.12) and Switzerland (39.24).


In one of the early evening races, Tyrone Edgar (Newham and Essex Beagles), third in the Power of 10 rankings this season with his best of 10.13 seconds, finished second in 10.24, two-hundredths behind Darvis Patton (USA). The wind speed: +1.1.


Mo Farah (Newham and Essex Beagles), sixth in the World Championships 5000m final, was third at the bell of the Zurich 3000m and strove on to clock a season’s best of 7:41.86 for fifth place. The new World 1500m and 5000m champion Bernard Lagat (USA) strode away to win in 7:38.77.


Osaka semi-finalist Jemma Simpson (Newquay and Par AC) put in a spirited performance in the women’s 800m, and was running second to world champion Janeth Jepkosgei (Kenya) with 120 metres to go. But as Jepkosgei accelerated away to win in 1:59.03, Simpson had to battle with faster finishers and crossed the line seventh in 2:01.17, slower than in both her World Championships races.


Laura Turner (also Harrow AC) was eighth in the 100m (wind: -0.1) in 11.59 seconds, slower than any of her times on the way to the Osaka semi-finals. Christine Arron (France) zipped to the Zurich glory in 11.17.


Andy Baddeley (Harrow AC) was 11th in the 1500m in 3:40.75, almost five seconds slower than the time that earned him ninth place in the World Championships final. Baala Mehdi (France) was the Zurich winner in 3:38.62.


For the full results from Zurich, please click here