Isinbayeva brings a smile back to China after Liu tragedy (Lead)August 18th, 2008 - 11:17 pm ICT by IANS
Beijing, Aug 18 (DPA) The golden world record glamour of Yelena Isinbayeva brought a smile back to China’s face when the Russian competed in the Olympic pole vault just hours after local icon Liu Xiang limped out of the Games with an Achilles tendon injury.Isinbayeva was the star on the night and thrilled the crowd when she claimed her 24th career world record .
Kenya retained its 3,000m steeplechase domination from world champion Brimin Kiprop Kiprutu and got a predicted 800 metres gold from teenage sensation Pamela Jelimo.
Stephanie Trafton Brown won a first women’s discus gold for the US in 76 years, the Americans also got a first 400m hurdles sweep in 48 years led by now two-time Olympic champion Angelo Taylor, while world champion Irving Saladino gave Panama a first gold in Olympic history, in the long jump.
But a stunned silence befell the 91,000 fans in the morning when Liu walked off following a false start, realizing that he could not run the 110m hurdles where the entire nation expected gold from him.
The withdrawal sent shockwaves through the stadium and the nation with spectators and volunteers crying and Liu’s personal coach Sun Haiping also in tears during the news conference telecast live across the country.
China’s athletics team coach Feng Shouyong told the news conference that the injury in Liu’s right leg appeared again Saturday and that Liu was in massive pain Monday ahead of the race.
“We saw the pain. But Liu was determined to run. Liu would not withdraw unless the pain was intolerable or there was no way out,” said Feng.
Feng said that the problem was eased Saturday but returned again on Monday morning: “We didn’t realize it was so serious. We couldn’t tell the people because no one knew he couldn’t compete today.”
Liu’s tragedy put a damper on the Games but China crowd was ready to rock the house again in the evening session.
Another sellout under threatening thunder clouds went ecstatic when Isinbayeva was introduced for the final. The Russian was visibly touched by the welcome as she held her red-nailed hands in front of her mouth in surprise before saluting the fans.
Having won every major event since 2004, Isinbayeva opened with a clearance and a first attempt over 4.85m assured her of gold. She did not immediately raise the bar to a world record 5.05m, but first had 4.95m for which she required three attempts.
Isinbayeva did then not let the fans down, flirted with the crowd and again needed three attempts to clear 5.05m, two weeks after her July 29 leap over 5.04m in Monaco.
Jennifer Stuczynski of the US got silver with 4.80m and former world champion Svetlana Feofanova of Russia took bronze with 4.75m.
Kenyan runners have won every steeplechase since 1968 when they competed (the nation boycotted in 1976 and 1980) and Monday was no exception despite a courageous effort from Frenchman Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad.
But Kipruto was unbeatable on the home stretch to get the gold with 8:10.34. Mekhissi-Benabbad got silver in a personal best 8:10.49 and Richard Kipkemboi Mateelong added bronze for Kenya in 8:11.01 minutes.
There was more joy for Kenya when the 18-year-old Jelimo ran away from all rivals at the bell to move into sixth place on the all-time 800m list with a junior world record 1:54.87 minutes.
Jelimo has dominated all season as she left only silver for compatriot world champion Janet Jepkosgei Busienei in 1:56.07. Hasna Benhassi of Morocco added bronze to 2004 silver in 1:56.73. Mozambique veteran Maria Mutola had to settle for fifth.
Trafton Brown gave the US a first women’s discus gold since Lillian Copeland won 1932 in Los Angeles when she was a surprise winner with 64.74m. Yerelys Barrios took silver for Cuba with 63.64m and the bronze went to Ukraine’s Olena Antonova.
The US then got the desired sweep in the 400m hurdles. Taylor added gold to that from Sydney 2000 with a personal best 47.25 seconds ahead of Kerron Clement (47.98) and Bershawn Jackson (48.06).
Saladino came nowhere near his season and personal best 8.73m but a leap of 8.34m on the fourth attempt was good enough for gold. Khotso Mokoena of South Africa took silver in 8.24m and Cuba’s Ibrahim Camejo took bronze in 8.20m.
The 100m gold medallist and world record holder Usain Bolt of Jamaica jogged on the track once again in the second round of the 200m, winning handily in 20.29 seconds and Lolo Jones of the US qualified for the 100m hurdles final with the fastest time in four years, 12.43 seconds.