Impressive 1:44.25 from Ozbilen in Ninove

Impressive 1:44.25 from Ozbilen in Ninove

Provided by IAAF


7 August 2011 - Ninove, Belgium – Ilham Tanui Özbilen made it a cracking 800m race as he crossed the line in 1:44.25, a new national record for Turkey, to highlight the Flanders Cup meeting in Ninove on Saturday (6).

Formerly the Kenyan William Tanui Biwott, Özbilen began competing for Turkey on 20 June of this year. The 21- year-old smashed his personal best by more than 2 seconds and now ranks 10th on the 2011 world lists.

Özbilen was the only athlete in the field to follow the pace imposed by Matthias Rosseeuw. When he moved through the 600m mark in 1:17 Özbilen was already five metres ahead of the field and managed to finish strong, in spite of the pouring rain.

Özbilen developed as a 1500m runner with a PB of 3:31.70 in 2009, but he always kept believing in his potential on the shorter distance. Last week in Ankara he ran solo in 1:46.80 with splits of 54.2 and 52.6.

“I was very focused to make it a very fast race today, because I knew that the pace would be ideally set. I wanted to show something and I wanted to prove that I can be competitive at the highest level in the 800m as well.”

Özbilen will not be eligible to compete for his new country at the World Championships in Daegu.

The women’s 800m was equally attractive with Latavia Thomas from the USA lowering her PB from 2:01.40 to 1:59.67.

“I wanted to stay close to the pace and for the first time I went through at the bell as fast as 57.5 and that gave me wings. I still had something left at 600m and gave it everything. This was all new to me because I’m not a front runner and still I moved into unknown territory. To break the two minutes barrier has always been a goal, but to finally do it is very special indeed,” said Thomas.

The 1500m races were held in appalling conditions. Heavy rain and chilly temperatures made life on the track very difficult. Tugba Karakaya of Turkey accelerated over the last 300m to win the women’s race in 4:08.67. The men’s race was won by David Torrence of the U.S. in 3:37.10.

While her team mates were competing in London Nicola Sanders of Great Britain won the 400m in a seasonal best of 51.84. Erison Hurtault of Dominica won the 400m in 45.70 and Brendan Cole from Australia took the 400m Hurdles in a very close finish in 49.86.

Ivo Hendrix for the IAAF