Close Finish at Alpha Bank Athens Marathon, by Alfons Juck, Note by Larry Eder

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EME NEWS (NOV 9, 2008)

Merga equalled world lead

NEW DELHI (IND, Nov 9): Incredible running at Airtel Delhi Half Marathon. Ethiopian Olympic fourth placer Deribe Merga equalled the world leading 59:15 (Haile Gebrselassie in March in Lisboa) after passing the 10 km in excellent 27:29. He will get first place bonus 25 000 USD. Kenyan Wilson Kipsang who was just half a metre behind the winner also achieved 59:15. Third Wilson Chebet got 59:34 in windless conditions, temperature 16 degrees at the start and slightly foggy so that for example the helicopters could not go up and TV coverage was restricted. Very close also women finish as World silver holder from Rio this year Aselefech Mergia of Ethiopia achieved third best mark of the year 1:08:17. Genet Geteneh behind her clocked 1:08:18 PB for Ethiopia and best Kenyan 10k track Olympian Peninah Arusei registered 1:08:20 PB.

Lekuraa in close finish over J. Kiprotich

ATHENS (GRE, Nov 9): The Alpha Bank Athens Classic Marathon is one of the toughest courses in the world, but Paul Lekuraa, a Kenyan from the Masai Mara (coached by Paul Tergat) shrugged of fatigue, a splitting headache, a late arrival prior to the race, and the close attentions of colleague Julius Kiprotich, to break the race record by two minutes this morning. In an enthralling finish in the Panathenaiko, the marble stadium built for the 1896 Olympics, as Pat Butcher writes Lekuraa, a 35 year old in only his second marathon, outsprinted his rival, to win in 2:12:42, with Kiprotich given the same time. They beat last year's race record time, by another Kenyan Kiprotich, Benjamin, by 1:58. Paul Kogo, another compatriot finished third in 2:12:49. "I only arrived yesterday (Saturday)," said Lekuraa, "because of a mix-up with my visa date, and I wasn't feeling well, I had a bad headache most of the race. I thought of dropping out at one point, but I just waited 'til I felt comfortable. In the end, I felt relaxed, and thought I could win with a sprint". The women's race was won by favourite, Mai Tagami, whose parents travelled from Japan just the day before, to watch her victory in her 20th marathon. Tagami, 28, ran with Russian Elena Tikhonova until halfway in just over 79 minutes, but like Lekuraa, she ran the second half faster, to win in 2:36:58. She is now targeting the Osaka Marathon in mid-January, one of the Japanese selection races for the IAAF World Championships in Berlin next summer. Tikhonova was second in 2:40:45. The Greek titles were won by Georgios Karavidas, in 2:22:18, and again by Georgia Ampatzidou, who finished third overall, in 2:40:53

Gong Lijiao 19.40 in Shot Put

ZHAOQING (CHN, Nov 8-9): During Chinese National Grand Prix Finals the Olympic bronze medalist in hammer throw Zhang Wenxiu achieved a clear win with 68.72 m. She is virtually unbeaten this season, lost only one competition the Olympic final. But it must be also said that she was competing only at home during the whole season and at Osaka Grand Prix meet in Japan. Second best career mark for Shot Put winner Gong Lijiao (19.40) who is fifth placer from Olympic final. Junior Xu Tingting got good quality 14.05 (-0.2) triple jump win. In the men events Yang Dinghong 5000 m improvement to 13:49.02 is worth to note. The event will end on Monday. Informs Tilastopaja.

Spotakova the clear winner

PRAGUE (CZE, Nov 8): Javelin Olympic winner and world record holder Barbora Spotakova is The Czech Athlete of the Year 2008. She successfully defended her last year position getting first place votes from all 136 participants in the inquiry. The results were officially announced during a traditional gala evening which was live broadcasted in prime time (9.40 pm) during Saturday evening by main Public TV channell. Last year Spotakova beat Roman Sebrle who was also world champion by 46 points, this time it was clear success for her. Also her coach Rudolf Cerny won the Coach of the Year award for third time in a row. "I m proud to be the winner, but on the other hand not too excited. Polls and ceremonies are nothing for me. We already started the preparation and I m looking forward to next season. I would need to prove on every occasion my position," she was quoted. Spotakova is also a clear favorite for the Czech Sports Personality of the 2008 and plans also the trip for World Athletics Gala in Monte Carlo later in the month. There she is in the top ten, currently in public voting at 8th place.

Second place for discus throwe Vera Cechlova who with her fifth place was the second best Czech Olympian in Athletics. 400 m Hurdles record holder and Olympic finalist Zuzana Hejnova was third ahead of decathlon all-time great Roman Sebrle who this year struggled with injuries and was only 6th in Beijing. Also sixth in Olympic final was High Jumper Jaroslav Baba who ended as fifth in vote. Sixth for another High Jumper Tomas Janku who was also 7th in Beijing. Newcomers of the season were next in order with 110mHurdles record holder Petr Svoboda seventh and Long Jump Olympic 8th placer Roman Novotny as eighth. Top ten was completed by other jumpers, both Olympic finalists, Pole Vaulter Jan Kudlicka and High Jumper Iva Strakova. The junior of the year was the only Czech medalist from World Junior Championships in Poland, the hammer thrower Katerina Safrankova (silver in Bydgoszcz). Newcomer of the year is the hurdler Petr Svoboda. All awarded athletes got golden prizes, top three 31.104 grams and the rest 20 grams during an evenining in one of the top Hotels Ambassador at famous Wenceslas Square in Prague center. Top ten points: 1. Spotakova 1360, 2. Cechlova 1075, 3. Hejnova 909, 4. Sebrle 877, 5. Baba 875, 6. Janku 729, 7. Svoboda 599, 8. Novotny 518, 9. Kudlicka 236, 10. Strakova 137

OTHER NEWS

RABAT (MAR): The Moroccan cross-country championships will be held on March 1st in Beni Mellal, "a city with the same geographical characteristics as Jordan's capital", Amman, where the World Championships will take place on March 28, announced Said Aouita, the technical director of the Moroccan federation during a visit in the province. Aouita also discussed with local officials about the construction of a training centre in Azilal, "the first of that kind in the world". The centre is to be built in Tamda area, at 2300 m altitude, 20km away from Azigal, MAP informs.

YAOUNDE (CMR): Triple jump double Olympic champion Françoise Mbango is in the middle of a nation wide tour to showcase her medal won during the Beijing 2008 Olympics. The event, which started on October 25 in Douala and will end in Yaounde on November 15, has been organised to inspire youths in the country follow her path.

PARIS (FRA): 1999 heptathlon and 2003 long jump world champion, Eunice Barber has secretly been trying bobsleigh the past few weeks. She could gauge her level in the two-crew event in competition this winter, Aujourd'hui Sport informs. She failed to qualify for Beijing, having insufficiently recovered from knee surgery.

VIENNA (AUT): IOC president Jacques Rogge expects at least 15 doping cases from the Beijing Olympics. "We had 39 positive cases in the run-up to the games, eight during the games, and seven more possibly coming up," Rogge said on Friday. He was at a gala celebration to mark the 100th anniversary of the Austrian Olympic Committee as agencies are reporting. Rogge said it will take perhaps six more weeks before all final results of the doping tests are available from the games in August. Specially the outcome in case of Belarus hammer throwers Vadim Devyatovskiy and Ivan Tikhon is still expected.

HEERENBERG (NED): The organizers of the Wincanton Montferland run contracted world champion Lornah Kiplagat for 13th edition ot the race on December 7. It will be first race for Kiplagat after winning the world half-marathon title early October in Rio de Janeiro. At the distance (15 km) the world record of Kayoko Fukushi (46:55 in 2006) could be in danger. Last year the biggest star was Haile Gebrselassie clocking 42:36 to win. Back in 2001 Kenenisa Bekele achieved 42:42 triumph.

HOLLYWOOD (USA): Focusing on mass participation over elite competition has left the United States with a dull and indistinctive offering of road races, putting competitive running out of the national media spotlight and relegating distance running to the style pages of daily newspapers. So said veteran running broadcaster Toni Reavis as he gave the keynote address to wrap up the Road Race Management Race Directors Meeting. Reavis also said that the influx of foreign athletes (mostly from Africa), combined with a stagnation in prize money (in inflation-adjusted terms) and a reluctance of race directors to "control their fields," had dramatically changed the look of USA road racing, rendering race fields almost completely homogeneous and stifling the creation and promotion of home country heroes. The room fell silent at the seriousness of Reavis's charges.

MARATHON (GRE): "Adding value to your marathon" was the topic of the 2nd Marathon Symposium of the Association of International Marathons and Road Races (AIMS) held in Marathon (Greece) on Saturday. The Symposium took place on the day before the 26th Athens Classic Marathon. Additionally at the starting point of the Athens Classic Marathon a stone was unveiled, which was found at the former starting point of the Olympic Marathon in 1896. It carries the figure 40, which marks the distance of 40 kilometres the marathon runners had to cover at the first Olympics.

MELBOURNE (AUS): The best quality road race ever staged in Australia outside of the Sydney Olympics, the men's field for the HBA Great Australian Run (Nov 15) will feature the world marathon record holder (Haile), the world marathon champion (Kibet) and now the reigning Commonwealth Games marathon champion, after it was announced that Tanzanian Samson Ramadhani will toe the start line on Sunday 30 November. Australia's number one road runner Craig Mottram will also not be missing in the field for the 15km classic on the streets of Melbourne. In a further boost, Kenyan star Patrick Makau, the two-time world half marathon silver medallist, has also confirmed his intention to run. Informs Athletics Australia.

ANTVERPEN (BEL): The planned special women High Jump Meeting for January 24 in Belgium will not be held. As Belgian media are informing it is because the full calendar of events and the fact that world´s best jumpers would not be available. In the first edition in 2007 in Brussels Olympic winner Tia Hellebaut achieved at that time new national record exactly two metres. The 2009 edition was also planned mainly for Hellebaut who on the other side thinks again about pentathlon for the top winter event the European Indoor Championships.

DUBLIN (IRL): A major row has errupted in Irish athletics after it emerged Patsy McGonagle, who heads up the country's high performance committee, was under investigation for gross misconduct. Informs insidethegames.com. In a short statement Athletics Ireland (AAI) confirmed that contact between McGonagle and their staff has been suspended while the investigation is ongoing. The statement comes in the wake of reports of a breakdown in the working relationship between McGonagle and AAI's chief executive Mary Coughlan. McGonagle has been a member of the board for 16 years, and was Olympic team manager for both the Sydney and Beijing Olympics. The row is believed to be linked to the proposed appointment of a high-profile director of coaching to replace Max Jones, the former performance director of UK Athletics. Several leading candidates have been approached and interviewed, including Paul Doyle, the agent of former world 100 metres record holder Asafa Powell, and Robert Korzeniowski, Poland's multi gold-medal winning walker. There are also two British candidates. Alan Storey, the former coach of 2000 Olympic 5,000m silver medallist Sonia O'Sullivan, who was recently voted on as a member of the ruling Executive Board of the Olympic Council of Ireland. The other British candidate is Chris Jones, the former head coach of Britain's triathlon team until his resignation last year.

TORONTO (CAN): Thestar.com informs that Les Gramantik is about to lose his job as head coach with Athletics Canada, but will retain a post within the organization. Gramantik has been told that the organization is restructuring its program and has decided to go in a different direction after having him at the helm for two years. An official decision is to be made at the Athletics Canada technical congress in Toronto in two weeks. With additional funding coming in based on a good performance by the track and field team in Beijing, it's expected that some new high performance centres will be set up in which Gramantik will play a role.

KINGSTON (JAM): 2004 and 2008 Olympic 200 metres champion Veronica Campbell-Brown and 1976 Olympic 400m and 800m champion Alberto Juantorena were the track & field award winners at Friday night's Caribbean Sports Icons function). Informs IAAF. The two stars were awarded for their outstanding contributions to track & field within the last 60 years but unfortunately were unable to be present to collect their awards, at the function held at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel in Kingston. Campbell-Brown beat fellow Jamaicans Merlene Ottey, a two-time World champion and many-time Olympic medallist, and Deon Hemmings, the 1996 Atlanta Olympics 400m hurdles champion to the award. Bahamians Debbie Ferguson-McKenzie and Chandra Sturrup, who both participated at this summer's Olympic, were also short-listed. Juantorena took the men's Sports Icon award on Friday ahead of a list that included Olympic champions Donald Quarrie of Jamaica and Hasley Crawford of Trinidad & Tobago. Meanwhile, the 'Spotlights on Beijing' special awards were given to Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser.

LONDON (GBR): As insidethegames.com reports, Adidas are set to become the first major company to help fund Sir Clive Woodward's ambitious GBP 15 million Olympic coaching academy. The company, who are a long-time backer of the British Olympic Association (BOA) and were among the first to sign up as a Tier-One London 2012 sponsor, have been in negotiations for several months about helping support the scheme. Under the plan drawn up by Sir Clive, who guided England's rugby team to World Cup victory in 2003 but is now the GBP 300,000 per year director of elite performance at the BOA, up to 15 coaches would be given intensive support and finance in an attempt to ensure more gold medals in 2012.

RESULTS

RAVENNA (ITA, Nov 9): Kenyan Elijah Kiplagat won the 10th Ravenna Marathon in 2:22:25.

LIVORNO (ITA, Nov 9): Joshua Kipchumba Rop achieved 2:20:10 to win the 28th Livorno Marathon. Home female win for Claudia Dardini (2:41:26).

BUSTO ARSIZIO (ITA, Nov 9): Isaac Kiplagat of Kenya dominated the 17th Busto Arsizio Half-Marathon in 1:04:16.

UNGHENI (MDA, Nov 8): Moldova´s national champions in road racing at 15 km were Ion Lucchianov (45:31) and Natalia Cerches (51:37).

PFORZHEIM (GER, Nov 8): Winners of first top cross-country races in Germany of the coming terrain season were Sebastian Hallmann and Simret Restle. Hallmann clocked at 10 km 33:22 ahead of Stephan Hohl (33:33). Second in women 7 km race was Julie Viellehner achieved 27:21 with Restle having 27:17. German Cross-Cup finals are planned for November 23 and after that the team for European Championships in Brussels will be known (Dec 14).

MACHAKOS (KEN, Nov 8): Kenya's long journey to the 37th IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Amman, Jordan (28 March) started on a high note in the Eastern Kenya town of Machakos with former World junior champion Pauline Korikwiang showing impressive form by winning the women's 8 km race in 28:11. Fast-rising policeman, Nicholas Kamakya (12 km, 37:33) blew apart the opposition on his home course in the men category and first timer Fridah Kaimuri (6 km, 21:12) taking the junior women's title and Patrick Mwaka the junior men's honours (8 km, 23:53). The opening meeting of the six-round Athletics Kenya national cross-country championships series was held against the backdrop of a strong directive by Athletics Kenya that for athletes to be considered for selection to the Kenyan team to Jordan next March - or to top cross country races outside Kenya - they must compete in at least four of the six national cross country meetings. Informs IAAF.

TARQUINIA (ITA, Nov 8): Italian Giorgio Calcaterra (36) won the 100 km World Cup in Tuscany (249 runners, 161 men and 88 women from 33 countries). He clocked world leading 6:37:41. Poland´s Jaroslaw Janicki who recently won the Samsung Supermarathon in Hungary was second in 6:40:04 and bronze for Spain´s Miguel Angel Jimenez (6:53:44). Also the team title went to Italy (20:35:26) before France (21:44:40) and Germany (21:59:53). Interesting that former walking Olympian Peter Tichy of Slovakia was 16th (7:21:14). Russian Tatyana Zhirkova was the best woman (7:23:33) beating Kami Semick (USA, 7:33:58) and home Monica Carlin (7:35:38) to next medals. Here the team title for Russia (22:58:51) ahead of USA (23:28:11) and Japan (23:42:11).

MARTIGNY (SUI, Nov 8): Eritrean Simon Tesfay who lives in Switzerland won the 33rd edition of the road race at 7.759 km after 22:43.71. Second Ethiopian Tolossa Chengere achieved 22:44.48 and third Abraham Tadesse (Eritrea, 22:47.79). Ethiopian Tsige Worku was the best woman at 5.035 km clocking 16:37.

BRISBANE (AUS, Nov 6): Olympian Lisa Carrigan won the Queensland 1500 m Classic with 4:19.61.

SYNEY (AUS, Nov 8): Jeremy Roff achieved new PB to win the New South Wales 3000 m championships 7:57.06. The other favorite, talented Ryan Gregson did not run due to injury. Bridey Delaney was the best woman clocking also PB 9:16.60.

Note

Russian Yelena Soboleva will lost her already ratified 1500 m world indoor records (3:58.05 and 3:57.71) during winter 2008 in any case. Not as EME NEWS reported in Nov 7 issue that it depends when her two years ban will start. As Lennart Julin points out, according to IAAF Rules you are ineligible for two years from the date you were first suspended (i.e. for Soboleva from 31 July 2008) and additionally all marks achieved between the illegal test (i.e. in her case April 2007) and the suspension are declared disqualified.

Used with permission of Alfons Juck, EME News.

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