News - 05/26/2013

Vlasic Triumphs in Comeback at Blustery adidas Grand Prix

The 2013 adidas Grand Prix couldn't have gotten off to a much better start than a pair of records in the first two events of the day.

On her first attempt, 2012 Olympic gold medalist Sandra Perković of Croatia set a meet mark with her toss of 64 meters/210 feet. On her third attempt, of 66.31m/217 feet, 6 inches, she broke it. And on her fifth, she threw a world-leading 68.48m/224 feet, 8 inches.

Meanwhile, the women’s long jump was getting under way nearby, with Janay DeLouch Soukup setting a meet record on her third attempt with a leap of 6.79m/22 feet, 3.50 inches.

As the wind picked up on what turned into an unseasonably cold, blustery day at Icahn Stadium for the third stop on the IAAF Diamond League circuit, fans huddled beneath blankets and the record tally slowed. But the great competition didn’t, by any means, as David Rudisha, Tyson Gay, Ryan Whiting, Michael Tinsley, Jenn Suhr, Amantle Montsho, Hagos Gebrhiwet and, above all, Blanka Vlašić led the way with performances made even-more impressive under the conditions.

For Vlašić, the win—in 1.94m/6 feet, 4.25 inches—felt like a sunny, 75-degree day after almost two years of darkness.

“I cannot explain to you how scared I was for this competition,” said the four-time World Champion afterward, about competing for the first time in 20 months after recovering from Achilles surgery and a lingering infection. “I came here and I didn’t know if I am ready or not. I was jumping around 1.90 in my training and still feeling a lot of pain.”

Vlašić cleared the high-jump bar in her first try on all six attempts, and each time the 29-year-old from Croatia rose from the pit, both literal and figurative, in spirits more buoyant. Midway through her afternoon, she broke out the new celebratory dance moves she had joked about practicing during her long hiatus.

“This is just a dream come true to come back and win under these circumstances,” she said.

Also winning was David Rudisha, who last year ran the fastest 800-meters ever on U.S. soil when the clock stopped at 1:41.74 on a clear, calm day. This time, the 2012 Olympic gold medalist and World Record-holder had to settle for a commanding victory in 1:45.14.

“It was tough,” he said of the conditions. “I was expecting of course to do something better than that. It was cold, and there was a little bit cold wind going down the backstretch.”

Setting a meet record was Botswana’s Amantle Montsho, who bested the 400-meter women’s field in 49.91 and now owns the three fastest times in the world this year. The 2011 IAAF World Champion triumphed over a field that lost Sanya Richards-Ross not long before the start.

The 2012 Olympic gold medalist was scheduled to make her season debut here after toe surgery last fall, but her foot was not feeling strong after yesterday’s practice.

“I love to race and enjoy the NY meet so much,” she said in a statement. “I hated [that] I wasn't able to race for the fans today, but had to make the right decision and will be back healthy and strong soon.”

Winning the 100 meters was Tyson Gay, competing here for the seventh time in the nine-year history of the event. His time was 10.02, running into a headwind.

“I felt it was important to leave here healthy, and not to try to push too hard through the conditions,” said Gay, amid preparations toward making his fourth IAAF World Championships team. “I felt pretty good.”

Shot putter Ryan Whiting’s toss of 21.27m/69 feet, 9.50 inches was good enough for his eighth win in nine competitions this year, and his second in the IAAF Diamond League after recording a world-leading throw in Doha. Michael Tinsley, the 2012 Olympic silver medalist, carried on where he left off in Doha, as well, winning in a season-best 48.43 seconds, as did Ethiopia’s Hago Gebrhiwet, who easily defeated a fine field in the men’s 5000 meters in 13:10.03, the fastest time in the world this year. He also owns the top time for 2013 at 3000 meters, thanks to that Doha victory.

Plans to showcase the deep women’s pole vault competition on a special runway along the homestretch were scrapped just before meet time to minimize the troublesome winds, but the day was still a challenge. Reigning Olympic gold medalist and new World Indoor Record-holder Jenn Suhr won on her only clearance of the day, at 4.63m/15-2.25.

As for the next generation, the adidas Girls’ Dream 100 was won by Ky Westbrook of Chandler, AZ, in 11.52, while the Girls’ Dream Mile belonged to Whitney Frazier of Raleigh, NC, in a personal best 4:39.17 and the Boys’ Dream Mile went to Ben Saarel of Park City, UT, in a personal best 4:02.72.

As for two generations, the Boys’ Dream 100 was won by Cameron Burrell of Houston, TX, in 10.40. Burrell is the son of Leroy Burrell, who set the 100-meter World Record here on Randall’s Island back in 1991.

For post-race video interviews with these and other athletes, click here.