The World Indoor Track and Field Championships had a dazzling day as four world indoor records were broken Saturday.
High jumper Javier Sotomayor of Cuba, 800-meter runner Paul Ereng of Kenya, women’s 3,000-meter runner Elly Van Hulst of the Netherlands and women’s 3,000-meter walker Kerry Saxby of Australia had record-setting performances.
Sotomayor, the world outdoor record-holder, matched his outdoor world record with a leap of 7 feet, 11 1/2 inches on his first attempt.
Ereng, the gold medal winner at the 1988 Seoul Olympics, surprised himself with a sizzling finish in overtaking Jose Luis Barbosa of Brazil and winning the 800 in 1 minute 44.84 seconds. Ereng, a University of Virginia sophomore, erased the record of 1:44.91 set by Britain’s Sebastian Coe in 1983.
Van Hulst trimmed nearly six seconds off the women’s 3,000 mark with a time of 8:33.82. The previous record of 8:39.79 was set in 1986 by Zola Budd.
Saxby won the women’s walk in 12:01.65.
Sotomayor cleared 7-11 1/2 outdoors last September in Spain, nine days before the start of the Olympics, but Cuba joined North Korea in boycotting the Games.
So, even though he was ranked No. 1 in the world for 1988, Saturday was his first opportunity since the Games to prove that he could beat the world’s best jumpers.
“I wanted this world record very much, just as much as I wanted to win,” Sotomayor said.
The world records were only part of Saturday’s outstanding performances.
Merlene Ottey of Jamaica ran the second-fastest women’s 200 with a time of 22.34. She might have surpassed the world record of 22.27 set by East German Heike Drechsler in the 1987 world championships had she been seriously challenged.
The expected showdown in the men’s shotput between Olympic champion Ulf Timmermann of East Germany and world record-holder Randy Barnes never materialized, although they finished in the same order as at Seoul.
Timmermann led all the way to win his second consecutive world indoor title at 71-4 1/4. Barnes had a poor series except for his final throw of 69-9 3/4 to finish second. Barnes set the world mark of 74-4 1/4 this season.
Soviets Rodion Gataullin and Yevgeny Egorov, the Olympic silver and bronze medalists in the pole vault, finished first and second. Gataullin clinched the gold medal with a vault of 19-2 1/4, matching the meet record set by world record-holder and Olympic champion Sergei Bubka, also of the Soviet Union. Gataullin then missed three times at a world-record 19-9 3/4.
In other finals, Romanian Doina Melinte repeated as women’s 800-meter champion in a meet-record 2:04.79; West German Helga Arendt won the women’s 400 in 51.52, also a meet record, as Diane Dixon finished second in 51.77, breaking her U.S. record, and outdoor world record-holder Galina Chistyakova of the Soviet Union won the women’s long jump at 22-10 3/4.
The meets ends today with 11 finals.