48,500 spectators were more impressive than the weather ľ A great atmosphere and strong performances at the ISTAF
As expected, the Internationales Stadionfest Berlin (ISTAF) once again delivered a superlative athletics spectacle. Two wins by German athletes, a world record, seven personal bests, a teary farewell and a 48,500-strong crowd of impassioned fans in Berlin’s Olympic stadium – the summarised outcome of this latest episode in the ISTAF series.
The crowd put the autumnal weather to shame at the 74th edition of the ISTAF on 6th September 2015. Although the rain stopped shortly before the start of the event, the wet stadium, blustery conditions and temperatures as low as 15°C made things unpleasant for all concerned – especially the 148 contestants.
In the first of 15 disciplines javelin world champion Katharina Molitor took second place with a throw of 61.19m, 2.05m off the winning throw of Israeli Margarita Doroshon. Shot put world champion Christina Schwanitz and hammer thrower Kathrin Klaas went one better, holding off the competition and attracting thunderous applause for their two victories for Germany. The wet and chilly conditions caused problems for shot putter David Storl, who took the silver medal, as he did at the World Championships in Peking.
The wind caused havoc in the star-studded men’s pole vault. World record holder Renaud Lavillenie failed to achieve a valid vault and world champion Shawnacy Barber (Canada) came third with a vault of 5.64m. The runner-up in Peking, Raphael Holzdeppe managed only fifth place with 5.44m. Gold with a vault of 5.74m went to Piotr Lisek of Poland, the bronze medallist in Peking.
In the absence of his big brother Robert, local hero Christoph Harting took silver with an impressive throw of 65.15m. World champion Piotr Malachowski (Poland, 66.13m) beat the rest of the field. Of the five world champions from Peking who attended the ISTAF, only Christina Schwanitz and Malachowski repeated their victories of the World Championships.
The sensational bronze medallist over 3,000m steeplechase in Peking, Gesa Felicitas Krause, slashed over 11 seconds from her own national record over the shortened distance of 2,000m, setting a new German record of 6:04.20 minutes. Kenyan Virginia Nganga set a new world record of 6:02.16.
And then it was time for the hankies. Not because someone had caught a cold but to bid farewell to Germany’s best sprinter of recent years, Verena Sailer, who jogged a lap of honour to the tune of “Time To Say Goodbye”. The 29-year-old Mannheimer is retiring from competitive sport to concentrate on her studies and her professional future. In her last race at the ISTAF she had to settle for fifth place.
Meeting Director Martin Seeber: “Verena’s retirement was definitely the most moving moment of the event. We’ll certainly be seeing a lot of her in the future because we’ve given her an honorary lifetime admission ticket. On balance the ISTAF went off well. Unfortunately many ticket holders stayed away on the day because of the bad weather, which explains the empty seats. And most of the athletes were still weary after the World Championships in Peking just a week before. More important, though, was the enthusiasm of the crowd and the satisfaction of the sponsors. I’d like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to them, above all to the main sponsors Spielbank Berlin, Nike, DKB and Volkswagen.”