Richards impresses at Berlin’s Golden League athletics tournament

America's Sanya Richards ran the fastest women's 400m of the season at Berlin's Golden League opener on Sunday to throw down the challenge to Olympic champion Christine Ohuruogu.

Richards impresses at Berlin's Golden League athletics tournament
Photo: DPA

With the world championships to be held here in August, Richards blitzed around Berlin’s Olympic Stadium track in 49.57secs to show Britain’s absent Beijing champion Ohuruogu what she will have to beat to claim world gold.

“I came here to run fast. I didn’t even go shopping before the race, so I saved all my energy for this race,” joked the American. “I am really looking forward to coming back in August and leaving Berlin with gold.”

Richards made no secret of the fact that she was disappointed to lose to the Brit in Beijing, but the 24-year-old has been world number one since 2005 and is eager to underline her consistent form by winning the world crown here later this summer.

A share of the million-dollar stake is up for grabs for any athlete in the 10 jackpot events who win all six Golden League meetings this year. Kenyan middle-distance runner Pamelo Jelimo was the outright millionaire winner last season, but one-lap specialist Richards is on track to become only the second woman to capture a piece of the jackpot for a third time.

World high-jump champion Blanka Vlasic is already out of the running after she was beaten by local hero Ariane Friedrich, the European indoor champion, but the Croatian jump queen admitted she was not concerned.

“At this stage of the season, I don’t have too many concerns,” she said. “I am not injured and I am going to improve throughout the season, I am not worried.”

To the crowd’s delight, Friedrich leapt 2.06m to set a new German record and claim victory in a bitter defeat for Vlasic who also lost out to the 25-year-old in Brussels’ Golden League meet last year to be denied her share of the jackpot.

Ethiopia’s Kenenisa Bekele, the Olympic champion and world record-holder at both the 5,000m and 10,000m, held off a strong Kenyan challenge to win the 5,000m here in a world leading time of 13min 00.76secs.

Russia’s pole-vault star Yelena Isinbayeva started the season where she left off, as the world’s best with a leap of 4.83m. The double Olympic and world champion again finished well clear of the field and has few rivals with two months to go before the world championships.

While triple Olympic champion Usain Bolt passed over his chance to claim a share of the million-dollar jackpot, instead running 10.00secs in Canada over the weekend, his training partner Daniel Bailey took the men’s 100m here.

“I came here to win this race, so I can’t be disappointed,” said Bailey after his win. “I came here sick and I am recovering from ‘flu, so my time is alright. The track feels fast and I am sure I can go faster at the world championships.”

The Antiguan ran 10.03secs in a field missing any names who ran the Olympic final, while Bolt will be back at Berlin’s Olympic Stadium in August to attempt to add world golds to his 100m, 200m and 4x100m relay golds from Beijing.

In the women’s 100m, Jamaica’s Kerron Stewart ran 11 seconds dead to claim victory despite a stumbling start.

“That feels so good, I didn’t expect to run that fast and I even stumbled out of the blocks, so I have no complaints,” said the 25-year-old, who won two gold medals in Beijing.

Olympic silver-medallist and world indoor champion Godfrey Mokoena of South Africa won the long jump with a leap of 8.33m, while Germany’s European indoor record-holder Sebastian Bayer finished back in seventh after jumping 7.95m.

Finland’s Tero Pitkamaki, the 2007 world javelin champion, came out on top in his titanic tussle with double Olympic champion Andreas Thorkildsen of Norway, who beat him in Beijing. The Finn threw a season’s best 86.53m while his Norwegian rival threw 85.48m to finish second.

Kenya’s Augustine Choge led a Kenyan clean sweep in the men’s 1500m when he ran the fastest time in the world since 2006 to claim victory in 3min 29.47secs from compatriots Haron Keitany and William Biwott in third.

It was Choge’s third 1500m win in Berlin after successes in 2006 and 2008. Beijing Olympic finalist Damu Cherry opened her Golden League season in style when the United States sprinter won the women’s 100m hurdles in 12.76seconds from Jamaica’s Lacena Golding-Clarke.

In the men’s 110m hurdles, the United States went one-two-three with Dexter Faulk winning in a time of 13.18secs from compatriots Ryan Wilson and David Payne.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.
For members


EXPLAINED: Berlin’s latest Covid rules

In response to rapidly rising Covid-19 infection rates, the Berlin Senate has introduced stricter rules, which came into force on Saturday, November 27th. Here's what you need to know.

A sign in front of a waxing studio in Berlin indicates the rule of the 2G system
A sign in front of a waxing studio indicates the rule of the 2G system with access only for fully vaccinated people and those who can show proof of recovery from Covid-19 as restrictions tighten in Berlin. STEFANIE LOOS / AFP

The Senate agreed on the tougher restrictions on Tuesday, November 23rd with the goal of reducing contacts and mobility, according to State Secretary of Health Martin Matz (SPD).

He explained after the meeting that these measures should slow the increase in Covid-19 infection rates, which was important as “the situation had, unfortunately, deteriorated over the past weeks”, according to media reports.

READ ALSO: Tougher Covid measures needed to stop 100,000 more deaths, warns top German virologist

Essentially, the new rules exclude from much of public life anyone who cannot show proof of vaccination or recovery from Covid-19. You’ll find more details of how different sectors are affected below.

If you haven’t been vaccinated or recovered (2G – geimpft (vaccinated) or genesen (recovered)) from Covid-19, then you can only go into shops for essential supplies, i.e. food shopping in supermarkets or to drugstores and pharmacies.

Many – but not all – of the rules for shopping are the same as those passed in the neighbouring state of Brandenburg in order to avoid promoting ‘shopping tourism’ with different restrictions in different states.

2G applies here, too, as well as the requirement to wear a mask with most places now no longer accepting a negative test for entry. Only minors are exempt from this requirement.

Sport, culture, clubs
Indoor sports halls will off-limits to anyone who hasn’t  been vaccinated or can’t show proof of recovery from Covid-19. 2G is also in force for cultural events, such as plays and concerts, where there’s also a requirement to wear a mask. 

In places where mask-wearing isn’t possible, such as dance clubs, then a negative test and social distancing are required (capacity is capped at 50 percent of the maximum).

Restaurants, bars, pubs (indoors)
You have to wear a mask in all of these places when you come in, leave or move around. You can only take your mask off while you’re sat down. 2G rules also apply here.

Hotels and other types of accommodation 
Restrictions are tougher here, too, with 2G now in force. This means that unvaccinated people can no longer get a room, even if they have a negative test.

For close-contact services, such as hairdressers and beauticians, it’s up to the service providers themselves to decide whether they require customers to wear masks or a negative test.

Football matches and other large-scale events
Rules have changed here, too. From December 1st, capacity will be limited to 5,000 people plus 50 percent of the total potential stadium or arena capacity. And only those who’ve been vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19 will be allowed in. Masks are also compulsory.

For the Olympic Stadium, this means capacity will be capped at 42,000 spectators and 16,000 for the Alte Försterei stadium. 

3G rules – ie vaccinated, recovered or a negative test – still apply on the U-Bahn, S-Bahn, trams and buses in Berlin. It was not possible to tighten restrictions, Matz said, as the regulations were issued at national level.

According to the German Act on the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases, people have to wear a surgical mask or an FFP2 mask  on public transport.

Christmas markets
The Senate currently has no plans to cancel the capital’s Christmas markets, some of which have been open since Monday. 

According to Matz, 2G rules apply and wearing a mask is compulsory.

Schools and day-care
Pupils will still have to take Covid tests three times a week and, in classes where there are at least two children who test positive in the rapid antigen tests, then tests should be carried out daily for a week.  

Unlike in Brandenburg, there are currently no plans to move away from face-to-face teaching. The child-friendly ‘lollipop’ Covid tests will be made compulsory in day-care centres and parents will be required to confirm that the tests have been carried out. Day-care staff have to document the results.

What about vaccination centres?
Berlin wants to expand these and set up new ones, according to Matz. A new vaccination centre should open in the Ring centre at the end of the week and 50 soldiers from the German army have been helping at the vaccination centre at the Exhibition Centre each day since last week.

The capacity in the new vaccination centre in the Lindencenter in Lichtenberg is expected to be doubled. There are also additional vaccination appointments so that people can get their jabs more quickly. Currently, all appointments are fully booked well into the new year.