ÅF Golden League Recap: Paris Meeting Areva

Anna Willard does America proud in the women’s 800m.

The 2009 ÅF Golden League series continued today at Meeting Areva in Paris, France. Four contenders entered Paris with the hope of keeping alive their quest for a share of the $1 million ÅF Golden League Jackpot. Although Jackpot contenders are always in the spotlight, nobody can steal the spotlight like the greates show on two legs, Jamaican superstar Usain Bolt, who was also present.

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The world record holder stepped onto a cold, windy, rain soaked track ready to take on a world-class field in the men’s 100m. Although he looked ready to explode out of the blocks, Bolt stumbled out second to last. The tall Jamaican recovered over the final 50m to take the win and set a new meet record of 9.79.  Although the time is .10 behind his world record, if you keep in mind the weather, his start and the fact that he ran in to a  -.02m/s headwind, there is no doubt Bolt is primed to lower his 9.69 world record time later this year.

Ethiopian distance star Kenenisa Bekele went in to the men’s 3000m looking to make it four-for-four in Golden League races, keeping him in contention for the Jackpot.  Bekele didn’t have it easy, as he faced stiff competition in the form of American double world champion Bernard Lagat.  However, Bekele completely dominated the race, easily outdistancing Lagat, taking the win in 7:28.64.  Lagat finished a distant second in a personal best time of 7:33.15.

US champion Sanya Richards was equally dominant in her fourth Golden League 400m race, keeping herself in the running for the Jackpot. Richards ran an extremely impressive final 100m, her downfall at the Olympic Games last year, powering her way to a wind-hampered 49.34, finishing over a full second ahead of the field.

Kerron Sewart (women’s 100m) of Jamaica and Yelena Isinbayeva (women’s pole vault) of Russia both had little trouble winning their events.  Both women join Bekele and Richards in contention for the $1 million Jackpot.

In other action on the track American Jeremy Wariner took victory in the men’s 400m. Wariner defeated solid competition with a slow winning time of 45.28. Another big American victory came by way of Anna Willard in the women’s 800m, who proved that she isn’t just a steeplechaser anymore.  Willard clocked a personal best 1:58.80 in coming from way behind in the final 100m to edge out Italy’s Elisa Cusma, and in the process record the fourth-fastest time in the world this year.

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