BERLIN (Reuters) - Fittingly, athletics’ last active link with the days of the mighty DDR ended in the Berlin Olympic Stadium on Wednesday when three times world champion Franka Dietzsch failed to make the women’s discus final.
The 41-year-old, who won a world junior silver medal for the old East Germany before claiming the 1999, 2005 and 2007 senior titles for the united nation, fouled her first two attempts.
She managed only a lightweight 58.44 with her third effort and then announced her international retirement.
“I really wanted to compete in Berlin to bid farewell to the international stage,” Dietzsch told the crowd over the stadium microphone.
“I will take part in two or three events in Germany but internationally that’s it.”
East Germany was a major force in athletics in the 1970s and 80s but much of the success was based on state-sponsored doping.
The country’s name lives on, though, as the world records set more than 20 years ago in both discus events and the women’s 400 and 4 x100 metres relay still stand.
America’s surprise Olympic discus champion and 2009 world leader Stephanie Brown-Trafton was also below par but got through as the 11th of 12 qualifiers.
The men’s high jump world champion, Bahamian Donald Thomas, was another to make an early exit as he failed to reach the final after clearing only 2.27.
In the 110 metres hurdles, world record holder Dayron Robles, hampered by a hamstring strain, just about scraped through the first round by finishing third in his heat.
“I don’t feel good, I feel a little bit tired,” the Cuban told Reuters. Robles missed much of the indoor season with a hamstring problem and said he had suffered a recurrence two weeks ago.
“I have a bit of pain in the left leg. I want to compete tomorrow (in the semi-finals and final) but I’ll have to get some treatment and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to,” he added.
With that news and the absence of injured 2007 champion Liu Xiang of China, American Terrence Trammell, owner of four global silver medals, will fancy his chances of finally winning gold.
Hungary’s Daniel Kiss set a national record of 13.34 seconds to lead qualifying.
American duo Trey Hardee and Ashton Eaton were the early pacesetters after two rounds of the decathlon.
Hardee posted the fastest 100 metres time of 10.45, just ahead of his compatriot (10.53) then they swapped places in the long jump with Eaton leading the way on 7.85 to Hardee’s 7.83.
Roman Sebrle, the 34-year-old world record holder and defending champion, was handily placed in fifth with his best events to come.
Holder Meseret Defar of Ethiopia was the fastest qualifier in the women’s 5,000, eschewing any thoughts of saving energy for Saturday’s final by speeding round the final lap then raising her arms in celebration as if the gold was already hers.
“I pushed it because I’ve been a bit sick and I wanted to see how my body would respond and I feel OK,” Defar said.
There will be a Dibaba in the final although not Ethiopia’s world record holder and Olympic champion Tirunesh, who missed the race through injury, but her 18-year-old sister Genzebe.
Wednesday’s evening session sees the latest appearance of Jamaica’s Usain Bolt, in the men’s 200m semi-finals ahead of Thursday’s final, as well as the finals of the men’s 1,500m and discus and the women’s 800m and 100m hurdles.
Editing by Ken Ferris; To query or comment on this story email firstname.lastname@example.org