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Daegu event shows readiness for world athletics

DAEGU ― Daegu has successfully hosted an international athletics competition, which was interpreted as a dress rehearsal for this summer’s IAAF Word Championships, producing some world record-breaking actions from world’s top athletes.

But the pre-championships event also showed that the level of Korean athletes still lags far behind other competitors.

The Colorful Daegu Pre Championships meeting was held Thursday at the newly renovated Daegu Stadium, with more than 220 athletes from across the world competing in 16 events.

Beijing Olympic bronze medalist David Oliver set a new world record in the men’s 110m hurdles, clocking a time of 13.14 seconds. The 29-year-old American was in the lead from the start to finish, followed by fellow countryman Aries Merritt in 13.40 sec. American Walter Dix won the prestigious men’s 100m title with 10.00, edging countryman Mike Rodgers (10.03 sec) and Norway’s Jaysuma Saidy Ndure (10.09 sec).

Americans dominated the sprint races with reigning world champions Carmelita Jeter, claiming the women’s 100m race for the third consecutive year with a time of 11.09. And Olympic champions Dawn Harper clocked 12.73 sec to win the women’s 100m hurdles. Fellow American, Allyson Felix also won the women’s 200m in 22.37. 
American David Oliver powers to victory in the men’s 110 meter hurdles at the Colorful Daegu Pre-Championships at Daegu Stadium on Thursday. (Yonhap News)
American David Oliver powers to victory in the men’s 110 meter hurdles at the Colorful Daegu Pre-Championships at Daegu Stadium on Thursday. (Yonhap News)

Korean athletes, however, failed to live up to expectations on Thursday, disappointing the home crowd and dulling anticipation of success in the upcoming championships.

Triple jumper Kim Deok-hyeon was the only home winner at the Pre-Championships. The 25-year-old Kim jumped 16.99m to claim the country’s only medal, beating 2008 Olympic medalist Leevan Sands, who was just 2cm behind with 16.97m.

Kim, however, revealed his disappointment after the competition, noting that he was aiming for 17.20m.

“I’m happy to win the title here, but I’m disappointed at my record today,” Kim said.

Kim’s record on Thursday was far from the world-record of 18.29m and even his national record of 17.10m.

In the women’s 100m hurdles, Lee Yeon-kyung, the 2010 Asian Games gold medalist, posted her season best with a time of 13.25 sec, only to finish seventh place among nine athletics.

National champions Yeo Ho-suah attempted to challenge with world-top sprinters, only to finish near last place with a rather disappointing time of 10.50 sec. Korean record holder Park Tae-kyong clocked 13.79 sec to finish sixth among nine competitors.

Even more worrying is the fact that all Korean athletes’ records ― excepting only Kim’s 16.99m ― failed to meet the qualifying criteria for the World Champions in August.

Despite the disappointing performance from Korean athletes here, Daegu has proved that it is now ready to host the world biggest athletics event.

The participants, in particular, showed satisfaction over the newly installed track field.

“It’s definitely great track, it’s built to help us break a world record,” said Dixon after the winning the 100m event.

“The crowd wasn’t as much as I expected, but it’s great atmosphere and I’m excited about August,” he added.

The 2011 IAAF World Championships, one of the world’s top three sporting events along with the Olympics and the FIFA World Cup, is scheduled from Aug. 27-Sept. 4 in Daegu, some 300 km southeast of Seoul.

More than 3,500 athletes and officials, including thee-time Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt, will be competing at Korea’s first ever world athletic competition.

By Oh Kyu-wook (596story@heraldcorp.com)
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