14 June, 2015

From Usain Bolt to an 11-Year Old Star, 2015 adidas Grand Prix Has It All

On a day that showcased the heart and soul of the sport, Usain Bolt saluted his legions of New York City fans, Ben True became the first American ever to win a Diamond League 5000-meter race, and an 11-year-old shattered a world record.

Bolt returned to compete at the adidas Grand Prix for the first time since breaking his first World Record (9.72) here in 2008, a night that catapulted him to six Olympic gold medals, other-worldly World Records at both 100 meters (9.58) and 200 meters (19.19), and a level of superstardom seldom seen in track and field.

This time, Bolt lined up for the 200 meters. He won, in 20.29, but it was not his best race. Matter of fact, he was sluggish out of the blocks and described the curve as the worst he has ever run. In the post-race news conference he appeared mystified as to what happened, saying that his training has been going well. But Bolt’s fans—many of whom were surely in Icahn Stadiumon the night seven years ago when he first made history—were nothing short of jubilant, greeting him like a hero as he high-fived them along the rail at the finish.

“This season is not going so smoothly,” Bolt said. “I’m trying to figure out what’s going on. I need to get on top of things, try to work my way back.” Bolt missed most of the 2014 season with an injury.

The season is definitely going well for Ben True, who in April broke the American Record for 5K on the roads and on Saturday became the first American, male or female, to win a Diamond League 5000-meter race since the 14-meet circuit began in 2010.

In third place coming around the last turn, the 29-year-old who lives and trains in Hanover, N.H., edged out New Zealand’s Nick Willis, the 2008 1500-meter Olympic silver medalist,meters, in the last 30 meters, 13:29.48 to 13:29.78.

“New York’s been good to me this month,” said True, who just two weeks ago won a world-class 10K in Central Park.

If temperatures in the 80s under a hot sun slowed the men’s 5000 meters and pesky headwinds hindered the sprints, the combination fazed neither Francena McCorory of the U.S., who won the 400 meters in a world-leading time of 49.86, nor Christabel Netty of Canada, who took the long jump in 6.92 meters/22 feet, 8.5 inches. Both were meet records, as was the winning mark of 1.97 meters/6 feet, 5.50 inches in the high jump by both Spain’s Ruth Beita and Croatia’s Blanka Vlašić. Beitawon the event by virtue of fewer misses, but Vlašić, coming back from injury, seemed pleased nonetheless with what she called her “New York PB.”

“1.90 (2011), 1.94 (2013), 1.97 … hopefully the next one will be 2.0 meters,” she said.

In the 110-meter hurdles, David Oliver continued his resurgent season with a win in 13.19, while Sharika Nelvis made it two Diamond League victories in a row at the 100-meter hurdles, in 12.65. Tori Bowie ran an impressive 22.23 into a -2.8 headwind to dominate the 200 meters, while Tyson Gay won the 100 meters in 10.12 into a -1.7 wind.

Cuba’s Pedro Pablo Pichardo, just 21, extended his undefeated season with a victory in the triple jump in 17.56 meters/57 feet, 7.5 inches, while David Wilson, the ex-New York Giant running back, fell short of his goal of making the standard to compete at the USATF Outdoor Championships next month, jumping 14.66 meters/48 feet, 1.25 inches, in his professional track debut. Wilson hadn’t competed in the triple jump since finishing sixth in the NCAA Championships in 2011.

In the 800 meters, David Rudisha won for the fourth consecutive year here, in 1:43.58, with local favorite Ajeé Wilson, who grew up in nearby Neptune, N.J., taking the women’s race in 1:58.83 for her sixth 800-meter win of the season.

Grant Fisher, who less than two weeks ago became only the seventh U.S. prep athlete in history to break four minutes for the mile, defended his adidas Boys’ Dream Mile title in 4:01.73.

And in the Boys’ Youth Mile, Jonah Gorevic of Northport, N.Y. and the Tailwind Track Club, helped by an enthusiastic crowd, broke the single-age World Record for 11-year-olds when he won in 4:51.85, shattering the previous mark of 4:55. Last year at this meet, he broke the World Record for 10-year-olds.

“My dad wanted me to go 4:52, so I went a little under that,” he said with a smile. He said that his next race will be an attempt at the world mark for 11-year-olds at 3000 meters.

Asked in a post-race interview to name his favorite athlete, he didn’t hesitate: “Usain Bolt.”