Weekend Previews, by Alfons Juck, Notes by Larry Eder

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Just arrived in New York late last night, meetings and interviews today, preceding the Reebok NY Grand Prix. Should be an amazing meet! I am looking forward to the Men's 100 meters, and seeing if Darvis Patton can take on Asafa Powell, the Men's 200 meters, with Tyson Gay showing his stuff over 200 meters, the womens' 100 meters, with Carmelita Jeter, the 5,000 meters and the women's pole vault, to name a few. Weather is rainy in NY, supposed to be clear and 78 tomorrow!

More updates this evening!

WEEKEND´S TOP ACTION

FRIDAY (EA Classic meet in Beograd, Innsbruck Golden Roof Challenge, Nijmegen Meet)


SATURDAY

NEW YORK (USA): Return of Asafa Powell at 100 m after injury, Tyson Gay in his opening 200 m competition of the year, without olympic winner Shelly-Ann Fraser who is not in the right shape yet after surgery. 400 m will see duel of two olympic winners LaShawn Merrit against hurdler Kerron Clement. Merritt´s main rival Jeremy Wariner runs the 200 m. Women 100 m will see world champion Veronica Campbell-Brown against world leader Carmelita Jeter and former world champion Lauryn Williams and Allyson Felix. Felix is also scheduled to run the 400 m against Jamaican global medalists Novlene Williams and Shericka Williams. Here Sanya Richards is the late cancellation. In distances double olympic winner Tirunesh Dibaba opens the season at 5000 m and men´s race should see the duel of world champion Bernard Lagat with World CC Champion Gebre Gebremariam.

CASTELLON (ESP): Russian Luch Moscow will be the favorites for A group of European Champion Clubs Cup in Spanish Castellon. Russian men won this trophy for nine times (inlcuding last two years) and women since 1997 in a row (last year Finpromko-UPI of Russia which could be consider as something similar) 12 times. They will have former olympic winner Natalya Sadova in discus, olympic relay winner Aleksandra Fedoriva, european indoor winner Anna Alminova and olympic silver winner in javelin Mariya Abakumova on the women side and current european indoor champion Ivan Ukhov in high jump in the men team. Italian Fiamme Gialle (winners in 2005 and 2006) are other strong men team (with 400 m Claudio Licciardello for example) also Sporting Club de Portugal (with double European champion Francis Obikwelu and middle distances star Rui Silva), Slovak Spartak Dubnica (hammer world medalist Libor Charfreitag, top triple jumper Dmitrij Valukevic) and home Playas de Castellon (long jumper Luis Felipe Meliz and discus thrower Frank Casanas). Czech AK Kromeriz will debut after many years of Dukla Praha and their top athlete is the olympic long jump finalist and current european leader Roman Novotny (816 this year). Promoted teams Newham and Essex Beagles from Great Britain and Sparta Copenhagen of Denmark will have it tough to remain in the top category. In women section (only seven teams) behind the Russians is spanish Valencia Terra y Mar with high jumper Ruth Beitia and hurdler Glory Alozie and guest from Morroco olympic medalist Hasna Benhassi at 800 m. Sporting Clube de Portugal has World indoor champion Naide Gomes in long jump, Turkish Enka Spor Kulubu has double olympic medalist Elvan Abeylegesse and Kazakh guest in jumps Olga Rypakova. Italian Esercito 800 m runner Elisa Cusma and Czech USK Praha the olympic finalist at 400 m hurdles Zuzana Hejnova. Only one team will be relegated, from last year promoted were Portugal´s team and Maccabi Reshon-Lezion of Israel.

GOTZIS (AUT): World´s top combined events meet, the Hypomeeting in Gotzis will see five athletes in decathlon and four in heptathlon from top ten of last olympic games in Beijing. Women competition is having olympic winner Natalya Dobrynska and bronze winner Tatyana Chernova of Russia (she is also title defender) added by 7th Karolina Tyminska of Poland and 8th Lilli Schwarzkopf of Germany. Unfortunately her team-mate Sonja Kesselschlaeger will not be able to compete due to an injury in her ankle. In men competition the olympic medalist competing is bronze holder Andrey Kravchenko of Belarus (also 2007 winner here) along with world medalist 2007 Maurice Smith of Jamaica and mainly the hero here already five time winner Czech Roman Sebrle (2001-2005) who is back in good shape. From olympic top ten (Sebrle was 6th and Smith 9th) also there Ukrainian Oleksiy Kasyanov (7th) and German Michael Schrader (10th). Also to watch both US decathletes Trey Hardee and Jake Arnold. World leading marks of the season (8415 and 6587) will be under threat.

KALAMATA (GRE): British sprinter Dwain Chambers is entered into Papaflessia European Athletics Classic meet on Saturday for 100 m. Scandinavian duel at 200 m Johan Wissman against Jaisuma Saidy Ndure. World indoor champion Khotso Mokoena in long jump, unfortunately home record holder Louis Tsatoumas is a late cancellation due to small injury. Return from doping ban by 400 m European Champion Vania Stambolova of Bulgaria.

NAIROBI (KEN): Two-time World marathon champion Catherine Ndereba will run despite swollen toe Kenya Prisons Athletics Championships at Nyayo National Stadium.Also competing at 10 000 m Former New York Marathon champion Margaret Okayo, reigning Boston Marathon champion Salina Kosgei, Singapore Marathon winner Edith Masai, Susan Chepkemei, and Caroline Kwambai. Another big name expected at the championship will be Luke Kibet, the World marathon champion, who after missing out on the automatic slot to defend his title in Berlin will be keen to secure his slot in the 10,000m race. He faces Thomas Longosiwa and Bernard Rotich the Prisons Champion.

KRAKOW (POL): In its third year as an IAAF Race Walking Challenge event, the ‘Na Rynek Marsz’ competition in Krakow is looking more exciting than ever and promising to be one of the highlights of the season. The men’s and women’s 20-kilometre races, which take place around the famed market square of Poland’s former capital, will feature all the three reigning Olympic race walking champions – Olga Kaniskina, Valeriy Borchin and Alex Schwazer. Many of the other greatest stars of the event also accepted the invitation from Robert Korzeniowski, including Francisco Javier Fernandez and Kjersti Plätzer and surprise entry from Ecuador´s walking great Jefferson Perez who retired after last year. Even European champion Yohan Diniz of France after last weekend heavy competition in Metz is entered. Olympic medalists list is added by Italian Elisa Rigaudo.

ALBANY (USA): At the 31st Freihofer‘s Run for Women, America‘s top all-women‘s 5 km road race the top entry is the three-time defending champion Benita Johnson of Australia, the 2004 world cross country champion. Johnson has run the second-fastest winning time ever on the course (15:22.0), and won last year‘s race over Amane Gobena of Ethiopia by a comfortable six-second margin in 15:46 (15:45.3). To get her fourth Freihofer‘s title, Johnson will have to get by past Russia‘s Mariya Konovalova, fifth at the 2008 Olympic 10,000m; Ethiopia‘s Teyba Erkesso, this year‘s Chevron Houston Marathon and ING Bay to Breakers 12-K champion; Kenya‘s Genoveva Jelagat Kigen, who has won five major North American road races this year; and Colordo‘s Elva Dryer, a two-time Olympian who won the Freihofer‘s race back in 1997.


SUNDAY

DUBNICA (SVK): The B group of European Champion Clubs Cup will be held as one day event on Sunday. All four teams which were last year relegated from A group are the main favorites for the top two places guaranteeing the top category in 2010. This are both men and women teams of French C.A. Montreuil with men of Fenerbahce Istanbul and women of local Spartak Dubnica. Top athletes are French world junior triple jump champion Teddy Tamgho (17.58 indoors), Turkish runners Selim Bayrak and Halil Akkas. On the women side Slovakia hammer world leader Martina Hrasnova (76.90) and jumping twins Jana (long jump) and Dana (triple jump) Veldakova where Dana is bronze winner from European indoor championships in Torino.


MONDAY

HENGELO (NED): First European IAAF Grand Prix meeting of the year the FBK Games in Hengelo will have as always very special fields in running events. World record attempt is announced in one hour where Haile Gebrselassie will try to improve his own 21 285 metres mark from Ostrava Golden Spike 2007. Kenenisa Bekele opens his year at 1500 m against Kenyan Asbel Kiprop who looks to be crowned olympic champion after disqualification of Rashid Ramzi. First sub 13 could be produced at 5000 m (Kipchoge, Choge), world leader Abubaker Kaki runs the 800 m, in steeple olympic champion Brimin Kipruto will compete against the other two olympic medalists Mahieddine Mekhisi-Benabbad and Richard Matelong. Maryam Jamal is the star of women 800 mand at 1500 m nearly all bests will compete with olympic winner Nancy Lagat, olympic medalist Iryna Lishchynska, Gelete Burka of Ethiopia and Anna Alminova of Russia. In sprints the highlights – emotional at 100 m Churandy Martina against Shawn Crawford and at 100 m hurdles world leader Priscilla Lopes-Schliep of Canada, olympic 400 m winner Christine Ohuruogu competes at 200 m. In jumps great long jump events. Olympic winner Irving Saladino in his season opener against world leader Dwight Phillips as Sebastian Bayer is the late cancellation due to ear infection and in women competition another olympic winner Maurren Higa Maggi against European indoor champion Ksenija Balta. Interesting to see the season opener of Svetlana Feofanova in pole vault after she was not jumping indoors. In shot put the duel of titans US Christian Cantwell and Reese Hoffa against olympic winner Tomasz Majewski of Poland. In total 8 individual Beijing winners (including Kiprop) what is very impressive summary.

REHLINGEN (GER): The 45th edition of Pfingst Meeting will have interesting running events. At men´s 800 m top Europeans Pawel Czapiewski of Poland and Luxemburg´s David Fiegen will clash with Kenyan Richard Kiplagat. Sweden´s steeple record holder Mustafa Mohamed runs the flat 3000 m and in women steeple German Antje Moldner will attack her german record against Africans. Interesting High jump entry is the Czech olympic medalist 2004 Jaroslav Baba and on women side best Canadian Nicole Forrester.


OTHER NEWS

NAIROBI (KEN): Agent Federico Rosa denies reports that olympic marathon winner Samuel Wanjiru will compete at Berlin Marathon in September. “It is true that he will not run the world championships marathon but also I can confirm he is not running the Berlin marathon. We are looking for one of the later fall top marathons in USA,” he said. Wanjiru won this year London marathon with 2:05:09 course record. The main star remains for Berlin Marathon Haile Gebrselassie who wants to attack his own world record.

LONDON (GBR): European indoor champion Mo Farah believes he can break British 5000 m record at Aviva Grand Prix meeting in Crystal Palace later in July. „I‘m racing over 5,000m in London, and I want to go out there and give it my best. If I can get another British record under my belt then I‘ll be happy. I know I‘ve got it in me to run under 13 minutes – I‘ve just got seven seconds to knock off my own time. I hope I can do that in front of the London crowd,“ he was quoted by telegraph.co.uk. He will open the track season on June 4 in Torino at Primo Nebiolo memorial running the 3000 m.

MONTE CARLO (MON): The IAAF announced that for the 2009 IAAF World Championships, agreements have been concluded that cover 212 territories, a record for this event. These figures have been achieved thanks to an agreement in the last region to remain unsold, namely the Indian Sub-Continent. The Asian Broadcasting Union (ABU) has agreed to extend its current deal in order to include this region. The ABU will now provide coverage of the event in 22 territories across the Asia Pacific region. Additional countries have also been added to the previously announced deal with the Organizacion de Telecomunicaciones Ibero Americanas (OTI) meaning this arrangement will cover 9 countries in the region. The IAAF is also happy to announce the conclusion of an agreement with Canal France International (CFI) to extend coverage in Sub Saharan Africa by granting its sister company, TV5, rights to broadcast highlights of the event on satellite. Whilst this further agreement will not affect the territorial reach, it is yet another proof of the improved coverage that the 2009 IAAF World Championships will deliver.

RIBEIRA BRAVA (POR): Italy announced its team - four men and one woman - for the 13th edition of the European 10K cup on June 6th in Riberia Brava in Portugal: Francesco Bona , Daniele Caimmi , Denis Curzi, Mattia Maccagnan and Giorgia Vasari.

ROMA (ITA): European indoors triple jump champion Fabrizio Donato from Italy has started training again. He had stopped 10 days completely after a muscle injury two weeks ago. He stills feels some pain, but the recovering progresses goes well. He said that the presence of his wife Patrizia and daughter Greta had helped him a lot. Donato does not know yet when he will be back competing. But his and his coach Roberto Pericoli‘s big aim for 2009 are still the Worlds in Berlin. He hopes to be back at least at the National championships in Milan.

ZURICH (SUI): Triple jumper Alexander Martinez is again injured. At the end of April he injured his left knee at a training camp in Formia, Italy. It is not yet know when the Swiss athlete will start competitions. The B-standard for world championships is 16.65 m.

GLASGOW (GBR): Australian Olympic 5000m representative Collis Birmingham, one of the top non-African finishers in this year’s IAAF World Cross Country Championships in Amman, will return to Scotland in a bid to make it three successive victories over 1500m at the Scottish National Championships, supported by McCain, at Pitreavie Athletics Centre, Dunfermline on Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st June.

SOWETO (RSA): Sowetan reports, that top runner Hendrick Ramaala has pulled out of the IAAF World Championships in Berlin due to alleged empty promises from the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee. The experienced Ramaala, 37, was included in Athletics South Africa’s team to the championships where he was to compete in the marathon. He was promised to get money lost in the preparations for the Beijing Olympics. But that was not the case and he has sent a letter to ASA informing them that he was not going to Germany.

EUGENE (USA): Another top class at Prefontaine Classic in Eugene will be the distance events. Women will run the 2000 m and can even try for world record which is 5:25.36 by Sonia O´Sullivan back in 1994. Kenyans Vivian Cheruiyot and Linet Masai are in shape, also a candidate for a fast time could be 1500 m world champion Maryam Jamal of Bahrain. Also running will be marathon specialist Kara Goucher. World champion Bernard Lagat is the star of flat 3000 m against Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge and Ethiopian Sileshi Sihine. The field is added also by steeple world record holder Saif Saeed Shaheen of Qatar. That leaves the room in his specialty for another duel between Paul Kipsiele Koech and olympic winner Brimin Kipruto. With 12 events announced, the number of Beijing medalists in the 2009 Prefontaine Classic now stands at 20, with the Sprints and Jumps still to be announced. In many events US all-comers records and meeting bests will be in danger.

MONTE CARLO (MON): IAAF announced three more names from world´s top athletes who signed for the whole series of AF Golden League. World champion and world leader Blanka Vlasic from Croatia will compete at all six meetings in high jump. This also cleares her status for Berlin opening. Best two javelin throwers will have their duels at six stadiums – olympic winner Andreas Thorkildsen against world champion Tero Pitkamäki. Interestingly as per Tilastopaja since their first duel at European junior championships in Grosseto 2001 (Thorkildsen silver, Pitkamäki fifth) their career head-to-head is 22:18 in favour of Pitkamäki. Last year they met seven times and Thorkildsen was slightly better 4:3. Already before announced were Yelena Isinbayeva and Kenenisa Bekele.


RESULTS

JOGEVA (EST, May 28): First leg of BIGBANK Kuldliiga (Estonian meetings series) saw home hero Gerd Kanter continuing in his winning streak with another solid display of shape worth of 67.68 m. His winning series is now at 15 meetings in a row. Second Russian Bogdan Pishchalnikov also good with 64.30. 2005 World champion in javelin Andrus Varnik qualified for Berlin with his best result since 2006 82.00 m, second Mihkel Kukk got 81.21. European indoor champion in long jump Ksenija Balta won the 100 m with 11.67 (0.0). Her first main jumping start is on Monday in Hengelo at FBK Games. Also to note that Sirka Lisa Kivine achieved 654 (-0.5) to win the long jump. Two results from guests, Latvian Stanislav Olijar won the hurdles (13.83, 0.0) and Belarus high jumper Artyom Zaytsev cleared 227 cm to win. Second meet of the series is scheduled for Tartu on June 3.

SOFIA (BUL, May 27): At 31st international meet “Novi Zvezdi – New Stars” triple jump star Momchil Karailiev started the season with twice 16.73, once with +2.7 and another one with +1.4. Long jumper Nikolai Atanasov produced in his season opening 768 (+1.1).


ADDITIONS

CLAREMONT (USA, May 23): Still to add from the Florida meet where Veronica-Campbell Brown started her season with windy 10.81 at 100 m. She also clocked in heats 11.09 (+2.3). Ronnie Ash improved his best to 13.34 (+1.1) at 110 m hurdles and Asian record holder at 100 m Samuel Francis of Qatar sprinted the 100 m in 10.01 (+2.2).

NAIROBI (KEN, May 24): David Tarus and Japan-based Philes Ongori won Sotokoto Safari Marathon as 2000 runners invaded the serenity of Nairobi National Park to contest in its first edition. They clocked at 21 km 1:02:29 and 1:11:11.

Special thanks to Alfons Juck, EME News.

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