Lavillenie sets sites high, by Alfons Juck, note by Larry Eder

Renaud Lavillene, 2011 Euro Indoors, photo by

The European Indoor Champs, held in Paris-Bercy in early March, were a huge success, especially for the French national team. Tamgho, Lemaitre, among others, were hugely popular. Renaud Lavillenie, the Euro indoor champ at the pole vault, was a revelation. I had seen him jump before, but, seeing him in his own turf was a whole different experience.

Lavillenie has now set his sights on Sergei Bubka's pole vault Meet record at the Doha, Qatar Samsung meeting, to be held on May 6. That should be no issue for Monsieur Lavillenie, as he cleared 6.03 meters in March, making him the third best pole vault performer EVER.

One wonders if Renaud Lavillenie or Steve Hooker will challenge Sergei Bubka's now 1 and one half decade old world record? Bubka, still bigger than life, when asked, notes that World records are made to be broken. One also thinks that Mr. Bubka put that world record into a place that only one as competitive and focused as he was during his career. We shall have to wait and see....


KLADNO (CZE): Top European multi-eventers will headline the 5th edition of TNT-Fortuna meeting on June 15-16 in Kladno, Czech Republic. The event is for second year part of IAAF Combined Events Challenge. European champion from Barcelona Romain Barras is the top name along with fresh European indoor champion Andrey Kravchenko of Belarus. In the field also winners of last three editions, last year Oleksiy Kasyanov of Ukraine and in 2009 and 2008 Jamaican Maurice Smith. Strong Cuban trio Yunior Diaz, Yordani Garcia and Leonel Suarez (bronze winner from World Championships) is expected to come too. Silver winner from Bercy this winter French Nadir El Fassi confirmed also his participation. For women heptathlon top two from Euro Indoors 2011 are scheduled to come, French Antoinette Nana Djimou and Austra Skujyte of Lithuania. Also coming Russian Marina Goncharova and Poland´s Karolina Tyminska. Czech record holder Eliska Klucinova hopes to be in top shape to attack her national mark achieved last year in Kladno when winning with 6268 points.



LONDON (GBR): World Marathon record holder Paula Radcliffe will be joined by double European champion Mo Farah when competing at the Bupa London 10 km road race next month. The pair will experience many of the roads that make up the 2012 Olympic marathon course on May 30, an event that incorporates the first UK national 10km road championships. It will be Radcliffe's second competitive outing - she will take part in the Bupa Great Manchester Run on May 15 - since giving birth to her second child, Raphael, in September last year. She will her eyes on Mary Keitany's course record of 31:06. Farah aims to lower the national and course record of 27:44 he set 12 months ago when he defeated Kenya's former world 10km record holder Micah Kogo.



SESTO SAN GIOVANNI (ITA): All three reigning olympic champions Valeriy Borchin (20 km), Alex Schwazer (50 km) and Olga Kaniskina (20 km) will be in the spotlight at the 54th edition of the Coppa Città di Sesto San Giovanni, the fourth leg of the IAAF Race Walking Challenge, scheduled on Sunday 1st May, the Worker's Day Festivity. Schwazer will compete in his first 20 km of 2011 after being sidelined by a knee injury he sustained during a skiing accident in January. Schwazer only competed twice in the 10 km and in both occasions he was beaten by European Under 23 bronze medallist Matteo Giupponi, who was also the winner of the 20 km in Podebrady. Schwazer's only 50 km before Daegu will take place in Villa di Serio near Bergamo on 19 June. Schwazer and Giupponi will take on Russian olympic and world champion Valeriy Borchin who produced an impressive 1:18:55 in Rio Maior beating Mexican world bronze medallist Eder Sanchez, third in Portugal in 1:19:36. The other top names who will line up in Sesto will be Colombian Luis Lopes, second in the Chihuahua IAAF Walking Race leg behind Eder Sanchez, and Tunisia's Hassanine Sebei, who finished fourth at the Memorial Albisetti in Lugano with his PB of 1:20:20. Olympic,World and European champion Olga Kanishkina from Russia, winner this year in Rio Major, will clash against last year's Sesto winner Vera Santos from Portugal, who finished third this year in Rio Maior.



STOCKHOLM (SWE): informs about the revelations that Swedish Olympic high jumper Patrik Sjöberg faced years of sexual abuse by his late coach and stepfather Viljo Nousiainen have left the Swedish athletics establishment reeling. In the very frank autobiography 'What you didn't see' ('Det du inte såg'), Sjöberg, who won the World Championships in Rome in 1987 and holds three Olympic medals, tells of how Nousiainen soon became the father figure that the eleven-year-old Sjöberg had been lacking. Nousiainen, who died in 1999, gave the rising star his full attention and lots of praise when he did something well. When Sjöberg turned fifteen, he decided that the abuse had to stop. Nousiainen tried a few more times but Sjöberg made it clear that he would go to the police if it happened again. Another Swedish sports profile to come forward after Sjöberg's revelation is athletics coach Yannick Tregaro. "For me it started when I was about twelve or thirteen, when I was very young, a rookie," he said to Sveriges Radio (SR). Tregaro is pleased that Sjöberg has come forward with this information.



BOSTON (USA): In an effort to follow up immediately on the matter, the B.A.A. has now had the opportunity to review with the IAAF the performance of Geoffrey Mutai in the 2011 Boston Marathon, in which Mr. Mutai's time of 2:03:02 was the fastest ever recorded over the marathon distance. Mr. Mutai's performance is not eligible to be recognized as a world record under IAAF standards due to the point to point nature of the Boston course and the fact that there is a net loss in elevation over the Boston course that exceeds IAAF limits. IAAF standards in this regard were established in 1990. The IAAF official with whom the matter was reviewed expressed the IAAF's high regard for Mr. Mutai's performance. He also noted more broadly the spectacular nature of what occurred in the 2011 Boston Marathon, both from the men and in the women's Open Division, where the repeated surges and lead changes between Caroline Kilel and Desiree Davila produced one of the most exciting and competitive finishes in marathon history. John Hancock Financial Services, primary sponsor of the Boston Marathon, rewarded Geoffrey Mutai with a $50,000 bonus for running a world's best time at this year's race and said the company will meet this promise in the future as well. Going forward, the B.A.A. will engage members of Boston's scientific and medical communities to determine whether factors can now be identified that would support a further discussion as to whether the point to point nature and elevation drop in the Boston course may be mitigated by other factors that might permit the Boston course to be ratified for world record consideration. The organizers are saying in a release.



DAEGU (KOR): Also the technical events will have stellar quality at Colorful Pre-Championship Meet in Daegu (IAAF World Challenge). Two medalists from Berlin 2009 Cuban Guillermo Martinez and Japanese Yukifumi Murakami will fight with olympic silver winner from Beijing Latvian Ainars Kovals in men´s javelin throw. But still 86.95 meet record of Teemu Wirkkala of Finland will be not easy to achieve. In the men´s triple jump olympic medalist Leevan Sands from Bahamas will fight with Cuban Berlin bronze winner Alexis Copello, both will be ready to attack the meet best 17.50 of US Aarik Wilson since 2007. German record holder Silke Spiegelburg is the star of women pole vault, Russian 2004 Olympic winner Yelena Slesarenko of women high jump. US Funmi Jimoh who won here already two times is looking for third in a row, but 2005 world champion Tiana Madison hopes to come back to top shape. Women´s hammer will be part of IAAF Hammer Challenge with former world record holder Tatyana Lysenko of Russia and Asian Games winner Zhang Wenxiu from China. For the 100 m latest addition is Churandy Martina, the double olympic finalist from Netherland Antilles who is now going to represent Netherlands.



DOHA (QAT): French European Champion Renaud Lavillenie is another star confirmed for Samsung Diamond League opener in Doha on May 6. He should be succesfull in attacking Sergey Bubka´s old meeting record (580 from 1998). Other top names are olympic medalist Richard Thompson of Trinidad for the 100 m and Diamond Race winner Bershawn Jackson for the 400 m hurdles. In the men´s 3000 m five times winner here Eliud Kipchoge of Kenya leads the field. His tough opposition comes from Tariku Bekele, Edwin Cheuriyot Soi, Augustine Choge and Ugandan Moses Kipsiro.



BUDAPEST (HUN): Reigning 400 m world champion Sanya Richards-Ross is the first international name to be confirmed for the inaugural Istvan Gyulai Memorial Budapest Grand Prix on July 30. Informs Hungarian federation website. More names to come for this return of top one day meeting in Hungary which in the eighties of last century was one of the top fixtures on the circuit. The US runner competes next this weekend at Penn Relays in the 4x400 m and in Kingston on May 7 at the 400 m.







HENGELO (NED): German athletes confirmed for FBK Games in Hengelo on May 29 (part of IAAF World Challenge). European indoor champion at 60 m hurdles Carolin Nytra will open at the Dutch venue her outdoor season. Silver winner from Barcelona at 1500 m Carsten Schlangen plans to attack the 3:35 Daegu standard at FBK Games, then he will continue on June 1 in Dessau with the same aim.


LONDON (GBR): Sebastian Coe claimed London 2012 had been widely praised by Olympic fans as he revealed applications for more than 20 million tickets had been received by the time the process closed at 1am after it was extended by an hour. Some 1.8million people - 95 per cent of them from the UK - have submitted applications for the 6.6 million tickets with many sports already sold out including track cycling, rhythmic gymnastics, triathlon, modern pentathlon and equestrian cross country. The Opening and Closing Ceremonies are also sell-outs and will have a ballot to decide ticket allocations as will most of the sessions in swimming and tennis, and the high-profile athletics sessions. Informs insidethegames.


STANFORD (USA): European silver medallist British runner Chris Thompson lines up in the 10 000 m this weekend at the Payton Jordan Invitational. He will have one goal, to attack British record 27:18.14 by Jon Brown back in 1998 at Van Damme Memorial in Brussels. Last year at the same meet he achieved 27:29.61, currently fourth best ever for a British runner. The race will be paced by US record holder Chris Solinsky. More Europeans in the race include Finnish Half-Marathon record holder Jussi Utriainen and mainly French steeple European record holder Boubdallah Tahri who will debut at the distance. With help from Athletics Weekly.


COLORADO SPRINGS (USA): The United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and International Olympic Committee (IOC) have agreed to let the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) decide whether a controversial eligibility rule that is set to keep defending Olympic 400 meters champion LaShawn Merritt out of next year's Games in London should be upheld. Writes Insidethegames. The CAS has been asked to determine the validity of IOC Rule 45, which bars any athlete receiving a doping sanction of greater than six months from competing at the next Olympic Games. The IOC has maintained the rule is not a sanction but an issue of eligibility and that it has the right to put conditions on participation in the Olympic Games.


VIENNA (AUT): Pole Vault square jumping returns to Vienna also this year on July 5. Just close to Vienna´s well known Ferris wheel in the Prater Park 8 top male jumpers will compete. Already confirmed to jump is German veteran Tim Lobinger, best Austrian decathlete Roland Schwarzl will also jump. Briton Commonwealth Games medalist Max Eaves with US Mitch Greeley should also compete. The runway will be 55 meters long.


BIRMINGHAM (GBR): UK Athletics opened both 10 000 m races (men and women) during the Aviva World Trials and UK Championships in Birmingham to international runners. It will be a good possibility to attack Daegu and London standards at the distance. Men will run on Friday July 29 and women on Saturday July 30.


ALESSANDRIA (ITA): Italian walking stars Elisa Rigaudo and Giorgio Rubino will make their debut over the 10 000 meters distance on the track in Alessandria. Rubino, fourth at the World Championships in Berlin and fifth at the European Championships in Barcelona, will make his first appearance in 2011 seven months after his last race at the 2010 IAAF World Challenge Final where he finished a brilliant third. Rigaudo, olympic bronze medallist in Bejing, will come back after giving birth to her first daughter Elena last September.


ESSEN (GER): Top German female distance runner Sabrina Mockenhaupt plans now two 10 000 m races on the track. On May 7 in Essen what will be the National Championship race and early June at European Cup 10 000 m in Oslo. Her best is 31:14.21 from Olympic Games in Beijing (finished 13th).


RIO DE JANEIRO (BRA): World junior and youth champion Jamaican Dexter Lee will run two races at Brazilian Athletics Tour. On May 22 in Sao Paulo and on May 26 at IAAF World Challenge in Rio. In both races he will run against British reigning world indoor champion Dwain Chambers. For Belem on May 15 top 800 m is expected with olympic medalist Ahmed Ismail of Sudan, Kenyan world junior champion David Mutua and local elite Kleberson Davide with Fabiano Pecanha. US hurdles Ronnie Ash and Joel Brown are the favorites for the 110 m hurdles at the meet.







DES MOINES (USA, Apr 27): Last year NCAA Champion Kylie Hutson improved hugely at the third annual Drake Relays Pole Vault at the Mall indoor competition. At the Jordan Creek Town Center she cleared 460, 465 and 470. Her best coming into the competition was 451 from last May. Lacy Janson as second achieved 460 followed by Mary Saxer (449). In the men competition Derek Miles won with 562. Second Brad Walker and third Jeremy Scott both cleared 552 cm.


DRAZEVINA (MNE, Apr 24): Hungarian Paris European indoor finalist Anita Marton won the special shot put competition in Montenegro with her second best career mark 18.15 m. Male winner Serbian Milan Jotanovic got 20.16 over Bosnian Hamza Alic 19.50.

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