BOLT FOR TORONTO? by Alfons Juck, Note by Larry Eder

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Usain Bolt is a hot ticket! He can light up any track meet and just the rumor of his appearance should sell tickets. Rumor or fact? Not sure, but we will surely find out.

We did hear today that one of the brands with the longest traditions in our sport, Reebok, let their entire team of running sales people go on Monday. These young men were some of the best in the business, and they were part of a reduction in work force of nearly three hundred people in Canton, MA. We are saddened by the current news and wish the sales team best wishes.

BOLT FOR TORONTO?

TORONTO (CAN): Negotiations are under way to have Olympic superstar Usain Bolt run in Toronto this summer. Organizers of a proposed international track and field meet planned for June 10 are negotiating with Bolt's agent to have the Jamaican phenom headline the event. A spokesperson for the University of Toronto confirmed that discussions have taken place, but declined further comment. The driving force behind the event is John Carson, who runs the „Classic Mile" in Cambridge, Ont., where for the past five summers a new Mercedes-Benz has been available to any runner who can break the four-minute barrier, the Toronto Star informs.


CANTWELL, HOFFA AND NELSON IN NY

NEW YORK (USA): Christian Cantwell, Reese Hoffa and Adam Nelson three of the world's top five shot putters will go head-to-head at the 102nd Millrose Games in New York on January 30. The last four years has seen one of the „big three" walked away with the title at the Madison Square Garden venue with firstly Hoffa in 2005 surprise winner, popping off an indoor personal-best, throw of 21.62 metres. Hoffa did it again the following year throwing 21.65m after which he was succeeded by Cantwell putting 21.88m then Nelson stealing the show last year with an effort of 22.07m. Hoffa and Cantwell will meet for first time this indoor one week earlier on January 23 in Nordhausen, Germany at a Special Shot Put meet. Cantwell will then return to Europe for Bydgoszcz Pedros Cup on Feb 11 and meet there the other Olympic medalists home star Tomasz Majewski and Andrey Mikhnevich of Belarus. Pole vaulter Derek Miles who was fourth in Beijing has been added to a field that includes gold medalist Steven Hooker of Australia.


GEBRE READY

DUBAI (UAE): Legendary Haile Gebrselassie is ready to put himself on the line in pursuit of a new world record in the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon on Friday morning. Admitting again that he went too fast (61min 27sec) in the first half of last year's race in Dubai, he said at Wednesday morning's press conference, "I'd like to do close to 62 minutes this time, not over 62, but around 61.45. maybe 61.40". On such fine distinctions are world records wrought. But he gave the usual caveats for Friday morning, "everything has to be perfect, the weather, the pacemakers, the wind. But it is possible we might get something good". Writes Pat Butcher. Accordingly the organisers have arranged a new course along the coastline, with just four turns– "as flat and as fast as anything I've laid out in 25 years of course planning," said British engineer, Paul Hodgson – and brought the start forward to 6.30am, to avoid the bright sun at the finish. Temperatures should rise from around 10 or 12C at the start, to between 15 and 18C at the finish.

KGOSIEMANG WINS

KOLN (GER, Jan 14): African Champion Kabelo Kgosiemang of Botswana won the 3rd International High Jump meeting organised by IAAF World High Jump Center. He beat on count-back Briton Martyn Bernard as both achieved before 800 spectators new meet record 222 cm. Another three jumpers followed with 218. Britons Robert Mitchell and Robert Grabarz as third and fourth and Belgian Stijn Stroobants as fifth. Last year winner Karim Lofty of Egypt no heighted at 210 cm.


WORRIES ABOUT WORLD CC CHAMPIONSHIPS

NAIROBI (KEN): World athletics chiefs are keeping a close eye on the situation in the Middle East with regards to the World Cross Country Championships to be held in Amman, Jordan, on March 28. Writes Kenyan East Standard. Nick Davies, Communications Director of International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) said they hope the situation will be better by the time the global event is held. „We are keeping a close eye on the situation and we hope that by March, the armed conflict will have been resolved peacefully," Davies said without mentioning if there was a Plan B. Kenyan officials also remained concerned but calm. David Okeyo, Athletics Kenya secretary general, said: „We are keeping our fingers crossed but since we have not received any word to the contrary, we are going on with our training." It is unlikely that many western countries would send athletes to Jordan if the war does not subside, writes East Standard. Kenya will hold its national trials on February 21 with the team moving to camp on February 27 at Kigari Teachers Training College in Embu.


UKHOV RETURNS IN CZECH REPUBLIC

BRNO (CZE): Final start-lists for fifth Moravia High Jump Tour series were today presented at a press conference. The first major HJ meetings in the 2009 indoor season are having as usual solid fields with together 12 men with bests 230 and more and 8 women with PB´s 195 or more. Including first 240 jumper at the tour (Russian Vyacheslav Voronin) and three two metres women jumpers (Ariane Friedrich, Vita Palamar and Vita Styopina). The top stars at first leg in Trinec on Jan 21 are Sweden´s Linus Thornblad and Ukrainian world indoor medallist Vita Palamar (she replaced formerly announced Anna Chicherova who decided not to compete indoors), at the second event in Hustopece on Jan 24 the top names will be the mentioned former world champion Voronin, German star Ariane Friedrich and Ukrainian Olympic heptathlon winner Natalya Dobrynska, also the French record holder Melanie Skotnik. This all will not fight for overall 1000 USD prize (men and women) as they will compete at only one meet. But there is a very solid group of jumpers competing at both events. In the men category Russians, World indoor medallist Andrey Tereshin, Ivan Ukhov in his first international competition since the unusual behaviour in Lausanne, up and coming Aleksandr Shustov, Italian record holder Alessandro Talotti and all three top Czechs Tomas Janku, Svatoslav Ton and Jaroslav Baba. In the women section home athletes Iva Strakova and Barbora Lalakova along with Ukrainian 2004 olympic medallist Vita Styopina and new Russian name Irina Gordeyeva (194 already this winter) and Canadian top name Nicole Forrester are the main favourites for the overall win. Special guest in Hustopece will be British old-timer Dalton Grant who wants to attack the world masters indoor record 212 cm.


LEBID AGAINST AFRICANS

SEVILLA (ESP): Reigning European cross-country champions Sergey Lebid of Ukraine and Hilda Kibet of the Netherlands have both confirmed their presence at the 27th Cross International de Italica, in Sevilla, next Sunday – an IAAF cross country permit race. Lebid will face a strong African squad made of Leonard Komon, 2nd at the 2008 XC world championships , Moses Mosop and Bernard Kipyego, silver and bronze medallists at the 2007 XC championships for Kenya, Moses Kipsiro for Uganda and last weekend winner from Elgoibar Ayele Abshiro for Ethiopia. Chema Martinez, the first Spanish athlete to have the standard for the 2009 Berlin World championships will lead the Spanish field while Olympic steeplechase silver medallist Mahiedine Mekhissi-Benabbad of France will make his debut after a training camp in Portugal. In the women's race, Hilda Kibet will face Florence Kiplagat, 5th at the cross-country world championships in 2007. Beatriz Ros, a recent winner in the Cross de Aragon and Judith Pla‚, Spanish cross-country vice-champion will be the best chances for the home country.


OTHER NEWS

LE MANS (FRA): French cross-country specialist Driss El Himer will look for a 4th victory at the 28th cross Ouest-France Pays de la Loire on Sunday, but the odds won't be in his favour, looking at the rich field gathered by the organisers. Top favourite is indeed Olympic 10,000m bronze medallist Micah Kogo of Kenya, a recent winner at the Houilles Corrida and Silvester Race in Trier. Other leading names in the field are Boniface Kiprop of Uganda, and Kenyans Mike Kigen, Thomas Longosiwa and Dennis Ndiso. In the women's race, last year's winner Linet Masai won't be coming back but the victory shouldn't get away from Kenya with the likes of Martha Komu (5th in the marathon at the Olympics) or Miriam Wangari (winner of the 2008 Paris 20km) Christelle Daunay will be leading the French field.

HOUSTON (USA): Slovak Athlete of the 2008 Year Libor Charfreitag will start his short indoor campaign this Friday at Houston Invitational. He plans to compete in the indoor event for hammer throwers which is the weight throw in 2-3 meetings. He is the holder of the second best ever mark in the event 25.68 from 2005 and plans to attack the world best of US Lance Deal who achieved 25.86 in 1995 at US Nationals in Atlanta.

PHOENIX (USA): US Marathon runner Josh Cox (33) will attempt to run the fastest-ever 50 kilometers on the road by continuing to run past the finish line at Sunday's P.F. Chang's Rock ‚n' Roll Arizona Marathon in Phoenix. Working with race organizers, Elite Racing, Cox will continue on a special USATF-certified route to a different finish line where his 50-K time will be recorded. Statisticians agree that the best-ever 50 km was run by South African Thompson Magawana en route to his second victory and course record at the 56 km Two Oceans Marathon in Cape Town in 1988. Magawana clocked 2:43:38, an impressive pace of 3:16/km (5:16/mi.). The official American record recognized by USA Track & Field is 2:51:48 set by Alex Tilson on the campus of Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., on Nov. 13, 2002. Informs Race Results Weekly. Cox needs to get to the standard marathon finish line in 2:17:50, then hold that pace for nearly 8 kilometers more to break Magawana's mark. To surpass Tilson's mark, he needs to be right around 2:25:00 through the standard marathon finish line. Cox has a marathon personal best of 2:13:55 set in Chicago in October, 2000. Sunday's P.F. Chang's Rock ‚n' Roll Arizona Marathon & ½ Marathon will be the sixth edition of the race in the popular musically-themed marathon and half-marathon series. Last year's event recorded 26,729 finishers for both events. The marathon course records are 2:10:33 by Kenya's Haron Toroitich in 2004, and 2:31:15 set by Ethiopia's Adanech Zekiros in 2007.

MOSCOW (RUS): Another interesting change in agent ranks. Russian Olympic winner and world record holder Gulnara Samitova-Galkina has a new agent. It is the Latvian former hurdler Ludmila Olijar who also serves as EA Council member. Samitova-Galkina has been in the past represented by Russian Pavel Voronkov. The first ever Olympic winner in women steeple-chase is running cross-country races this winter and plans world record attempts for summer.

EDINBURGH (GBR): IAAF writes that Ethiopia's Abebe Dinkesa hopes his surprising cross country victory in Saturday's Great Edinburgh International will help propel him towards marathon success this spring. Born in the rural Ambo area Dinkesa started running at the age of 15, inspired by the feats of his compatriot Haile Gebrselassie, and first made his mark internationally in 2004, landing victory in the Great Ethiopian Run and grabbing a silver medal in the 10,000m at the African Championships. On the road he ran a personal best of 60:03 when taking seventh place over the half marathon in Rotterdam and he finished in the same position behind Tadese at the World Half Marathon Championships in Rio. Further encouragement came when he landed a lucrative first prize of $50,000 for winning the 11.5km Obudu Ranch Mountain Race in Nigeria by 51 seconds in November. He admitted he needs to discuss with his federation about whether to target the 2009 World Cross Country Championships in Amman, Jordan in March but his goal is also to make his marathon debut in the spring.

STUTTGART (GER): The 23rd Sparkassen Cup Indoor Meet in Stuttgart (IAAF Permit) announced new top names. Double world champion Bernard Lagat of USA will compete on February 7 at 3000 m. His indoor best at the distance is US Indoor record 7:32.43 from Birmingham meet 2007. Also running 3000 m will be German top female runner Sabrina Mockenhaupt. The Frankfurt Marathon winner 2008 has an indoor best 8:45.77 while beeing fourth at European Indoor Championships 2007 in Birmingham. She has also indoor bronze from European Champs 2005 in Madrid. Her outdoor best is 8:44.65 from 2003. She will most probably face in the race one of the best in the world the Ethiopian world champion Meseret Defar.

PRAHA (CZE): Czech magazine Atletika celebrates a proud jubilee. First issue of this monthly magazine was published on January 15, 1949. The next issue which is due on January 21 will be the 720th. In Europe it is the oldest Athletics monthly magazine. Track and Field News started only one year earlier in 1948. Currently it is published by Czech Athletics Federation in solid couloured way.

DUSSELDORF (GER): 30-years old German Beijing Marathon Olympian Susanne Hahn plans her spring outing for Dusseldorf race on May 3. She hopes that will be her qualifiying race for World Championships in Berlin. Her best is 2:29:35 from winning the Guttenberg Mainz Marathon last May.

HOUSTON (USA): Two-time Olympian Dathan Ritzenhein will be competing in Sunday's USA Half-Marathon Championships hosted by the Aramco Houston Half-Marathon. He was ninth in the Beijing Olympic Marathon and plans another serious attack in London next April. Ritzenhein will be facing a strong field in Houston assembled by elite athlete coordinator Dave Chester, writes Race Results Weekly. Four Olympians—Ritzenhein, Brian Sell, Meb Keflezighi and Ian Dobson—lead the entry list of nearly 60 invited men. Other strong contenders include Jason Lehmkuhle, Andrew Carlson, Fasil Bizuneh, Fernando Cabada and Peter Gilmore.

BRUSSELS (BEL): After Tia Hellebaut and Kim Gevaert another top Belgian athlete announced the retirement. Distance runner Veerle Dejaeghere (35) will compete for last time indoors at IAAF Permit Meet in Gent on February 8. There she will attack the national indoor mile record 4:49.55. After that still two cross races are planned which are part of Belgian Lotto CrossCup. Dour on February 15 and Oostende on March 1. „I have no regrets, but when I look back on my athletic career, I find that I sometimes did not listened to my body. I will certainly miss the athletics. The daily training sessions were always something special," she was quoted by Belgian media.

BERN (SUI): One of the biggest Swiss road races, the Grand Prix of Bern will be organised this year earlier than usual on April 18. It is because of Ice-Hockey World Championships which are organised in the city at the traditional race date. As last year 20 000 participants are expected.

KINGSTON (JAM): Jamaica´s track athletes, including triple Olympic gold medallist Usain Bolt, could soon be training and competing locally on improved surfaces as Independence Park Limited (IPL) moves to refurbish both the Mondo tracks at the National Stadium Complex. Informs Jamaican Observer. The tracks are in need of repair, but the one at Stadium East is in an especially deplorable condition. General manager of IPL, Major Desmon Brown, told the Observer that he is awaiting an estimate from Mondo America as to how much it will cost to refurbish the tracks, which were laid in 2002 ahead of the IAAF World Junior Championships. However, work on the Stadium East track may need to go ahead even sooner than February with five Development meets slated to be staged there between this Saturday and February 24. The 2008 NACAC and JAAA's coach of the year, Glen Mills, who is among the many coaches who use the Stadium East track to condition their athletes, believes the current surface threatens injury to the nation's athletes. The meets set for the Stadium East track are: Douglas Forrest Invitational (January 17), the Queen's/Grace Jackson Track Meet (January 31), the Camperdown Classic (February 14), Hurdles Fest (February 20) and Eastern Championships (February 23-24).

MINSK (BLR): Belarus Athletics Federation BFLA informs on its website that both hammer throwers Vadim Devytovskiy and Ivan Tikhon forwarded their appeal to Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne as their reaction to the IOC disqualification from Beijing Olympic Games. In accordance with documents received from IAAF, BFLA said that the provisional disciplinary sanction will be valid until the CAS decision. In that time period both athletes cannot take part in any competitions.

LONDON (GBR): Commonwealth marathon bronze medallist and Paula Radcliffe's former training partner Liz Yelling is expecting her first baby in June this year. Writes David Martin. Yelling (34) and her husband Martin who is a world class ironman triathlete took the decision to start a family after she finished 26th in last summer's Olympic marathon. „I have no plans to retire from competitive marathon running although I'm very aware very that things will be different," said Yelling. „It's a good time to have a career break and start a family. Martin and myself are really excited about he new challenges ahead."

ZURICH (SUI): The organisers of one of the best one-day meetings in the world Weltklasse of Zurich announced that official start of ticket sales will be on May 5. The standing places will cost 35 Swiss Francs, seating ones for 65 Swiss Francs. Again family packages will be offered. Special category will be so called Weltklasse-Friends who will be able to buy their tickets already on April 28. The traditional action for young athletes "Youth trains with Weltklasse" will be held on August 26 two days before the main competition on August 29 and that will be just five days after the World Championships in Berlin will end.


Special thanks to Alfons Juck.

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