Tue, May 29, 2012 - Page 18 News List

Ennis sets British record to win Hypo heptathlon

AP, GOETZIS, AUSTRIA

Britain’s Jessica Ennis celebrates winning the heptathlon title at the Hypo Meeting in Goetzis, Austria, on Sunday.

Photo: Reuters

Jessica Ennis boosted her hopes of success at the London Olympics by setting a British heptathlon record on Sunday at the Hypo Meeting, while Hans van Alphen of Belgium won the men’s decathlon.

European and former world champion Ennis beat the 12-year-old record of former Olympic champion Denise Lewis by 75 points. Ennis finished with 6,906 points to win the IAAF World Challenge event for a third straight year.

“This has been a brilliant year so far,” Ennis said. “Both days went really well. I need to work on my high jump, but I am now where I wanted to be this time of the year.”

Ennis expected she would have to break the 6,900-point barrier again for gold at the London Games.

“It will be tough with all the pressure, but I know I still have left something in the tank,” said Ennis, who won the 100m hurdles and the long jump disciplines.

World champion Tatyana Chernova of Russia took second with 6,774 points and Lyudmyla Yosypenko of Ukraine came third on 6,501.

In the decathlon, Van Alphen led the field after the first five events on Saturday, but lost his lead to Eelco Sintnicolaas of the Netherlands for most of the final day.

Van Alphen needed to make up about four seconds in the closing 1,500m to overtake Sintnicolaas again and he managed to beat the Dutchman by 6.11 seconds.

Van Alphen finished on 8,519 points to edge Sintnicolaas by 13 points. Pascal Behrenbruch of Germany was third with 8,433.

Carlos Chinin of Brazil was taken to hospital by helicopter with an elbow injury after he landed beside the mat in the pole vault discipline.

? IAAF WORLD CHALLENGE

AFP, HENGELO, Netherlands

Ethiopian athletics legend Haile Gebrselassie failed to qualify for the London Olympics in the Netherlands on Sunday as he could only finish seventh in the 10,000m.

The 39-year-old two-time Olympic 10,000m champion — who had already failed to post a qualifying time for the marathon — admitted his hopes had been dashed after his disappointing performance against 12 of his compatriots.

Ethiopia were using the race as a qualifier for the Olympics.

“The Games in London is over for me,” he said. “I ran a good race till the last lap. I felt good, but I manifestly didn’t have the speed to compete against my rivals.”

“That’s life. I am not disappointed,” added Gebrselassie, whose epic defeat of Kenyan great Paul Tergat at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, his second Olympic title, is one of the great finishes of all time.

Indeed, for the ever cheerful Ethiopian great it is to be his last track race.

“The ‘spikes,’ it is finished for me. I am 39. I have failed to qualify for the Olympics and there is a very strong younger generation in Ethiopia now,” he said. “I tried to qualify for my fifth Olympics and I don’t regret trying to do so. I simply came up against stronger rivals on Sunday.”

Tariku Bekele and Leleisa Desisa Benti finished first and second respectively — with the former posting the best time in the world this year of 27 minutes, 11.7 seconds — to book their tickets for London.

The third spot is being kept for Bekele’s older brother and world record holder Kenenisa Bekele, who has been struggling for several months with a calf-muscle problem.

Gebrselassie said that he felt he was handing over the baton of Ethiopian track running to a golden generation.

“I am leaving the track in a calm frame of mind because there is a super generation taking over,” he said. “I haven’t in any case run on the track since the Beijing Games [in 2008]. Ethiopia will be stronger in London.”

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