Turkey makes history with 2 indoor medals
DAILY NEWS photos, Emrah GÜRELTurkey won its first medals in a World Indoor Athletics Championships after Aslı Çakır Alptekin and İlham Tanui Özbilen won track medals for the host country.
Alptekin won the bronze medal in the women’s 1500m finals a few hours before Özbilen claimed the silver medal in men’s 1500m on the second day of the World Indoor Championships held at the Ataköy Athletics Arena in Istanbul.
Alptekin overtook two opponents in the final lap of the race with the loud support of an electric crowd at the arena.
“The support of the crowd gave me extra strength in the final 200 meters,” Alptekin said after the race. “I am so happy to have won a medal.”
While Alptekin wrote her name into the history books as the first Turkish athlete to claim a medal at the World Indoor Championships, Ethiopian Genzebe Dibaba won the gold with 4:05.78 and Morocco’s Mariem Alaoui Selsouli came second with 4:07.78. Alptekin’s 4:08.74 finish set a new national women’s record for the indoor 1500m.
Competing for Turkey since June 9, 2011, Kenyan-born Özbilen, formerly William Biwott Tanui, lost a neck-and-neck battle with Morroco’s Abdalaati Iguider in the men’s 1500m final. Iguider clocked 3:45.21 for gold, with Özbilen claiming silver in 3:45.35 and Ethiopian Mekonnen Gebremedhin taking bronze with 3:45.90.
Özbilen had to wait two years to compete for Turkey in international events, but was given a green light by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) before the Istanbul event.
“How happy to say I am a Turk,” Özbilen said, echoing the Turkish Republic’s founder’s Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s famous dictum. Özbilen also tried to kiss the hands of Youth and Sports Minister Suat Kılıç while receiving his silver medal.
Another Turkish athlete, Karin Melis Mey, barely missed a chance to compete in the women’s long jump final. Mey, a South African-born athlete, jumped 6.62 meters, exactly the same as Belarus’ Nastassia Mironchyk Ivanova. However, Mey lost to Ivanova since she made two invalid jumps in her other two attempts, one more than the Belarusian.
Meanwhile, American Brittney Reese won the world indoor women’s long jump title here with a championships record 7.23 meters yesterday.
Meseret Defar failed in her quest to become the first woman to win five straight world indoor titles when Hellen Obiri of Kenya came from behind on the final lap to win the women’s 3,000 meters.
In the men’s race, Bernard Lagat won his third 3,000-meter world indoor title, pushing free with 100 meters to go to beat Kenyan rivals Augustine Choge and Edwin Soi.
Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie won the world indoor men’s pole vault title with 5.95 meters.
Costa Rica’s Nery Brenes won the world indoor men’s 400m title in a championship record of 45.11 seconds over Bahamian duo Demetrius Pinder and Chris Brown. Sanya Richards-Ross won the women’s 400m in 50.79 seconds. Australian Sally Pearson made her trip worthwhile with gold in the 60 hurdles in a world-leading time of 7.73, beating the likes of Tiffany Porter of Britain and Belarus’ Alina Talay.
Eaton, Dobrynska set new records in combined events
ISTANBUL – Agence France-Presse
American Ashton Eaton stormed to a new world record in the heptathlon after dominating the grueling two-day event at the World Indoor Championships on March 10. Eaton, 24, racked up 6,645 points from the seven disciplines at the Ataköy Athletics Arena to better his own previous record of 6,568 points set at the Tallinn international indoor event in February last year.
The 24-year-old had set his first world record of 6,499 points at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field
Championships in Arkansas in March 2010, shattering the previous best of 6,476 set by compatriot
Dan O’Brien at Toronto in 1993.
“It feels good,” said the Oregon based Eaton. “Coming into the competition, I knew I could break the world record. It’s a good beginning to the season and I will now be preparing for the Olympic trials, which are very competitive in the United States.”
Ukraine’s Oleksiy Kasyanov took silver with 6,071 points and Russian Artem Lukyanenko claimed bronze (5,969).
A day earlier, Ukraine’s Natallia Dobrynska ripped up the scripted pentathlon duel between Jessica
Ennis and Tatyana Chernova in world record style.
The Olympic heptathlon champion notched up a total of 5,013 points to beat the previous world record best of 4,991 points set in 1992 by Russian Irina Belova.
“I’m not surprised I broke the world record. I was confident I could do it here.”