Stuttgart has world record assaults by Defar and Kaki , by Bob Ramsak


Our roving reporter, Bob Ramsak, writes on Stuttgart, while preparations are in their final stages for the Reebok Boston Indoor in Boston, also on Saturday, February 7, 2009...



By Bob Ramsak
(c) 2009 TRACK PROFILE Report, all rights reserved
STUTTGART – World record attempts by Meseret Defar and Abubaker Kaki will hope to attract the headlines at Saturday’s 23rd edition of the Sparkassen Cup in Stuttgart. But with solid line-ups spread throughout the three-hour long program, in recent years the finest all-around indoor meet annually, other surprises may well emerge.

Seven world records have been set in the middle and long distance events at the Hanns-Martin-Schleyer-Halle over the past quarter century, most recently Defar’s sensational 8:23.72 in the 3000m in 2007 where she was surprisingly chased to the finish by compatriot Meselech Melkamu who finished just a scant 0.02 seconds behind. An assault on that record here last year came up short, but her 8:27.93 run was nonetheless the fourth fastest in history.

Much like last year, when she won by nearly 12 seconds, Defar isn’t expected to face any substantial opposition from the eight-woman field. On paper, the closest is Zakia Mrisho from Tanzania, the only other runner in the field who has dipped below 8:40 over the distance indoors or outdoors.

Another race billed as a record assault will come in the men’s 1000m, with Kaki, the 800m world indoor champion, chasing Wilson Kipketer’s nine-year-old 2:14.96 mark in his 2009 indoor debut. Kaki, still 19, tore up the indoor circuit last winter, running 1:44.81 for 800m and 2:15.77 for 1000m, to become the fifth fastest ever over both distances in just his first indoor campaign. The Sudanese star continued his momentum outdoors when he broke the world junior record in Oslo with a dazzling 1:42.69 before running out steam later in the summer.

The field includes perennial French threat Mehdi Baala and Ugandan 800m star Abraham Chepkirwok.

- US 3000m Record Assault by Lagat?

Bernard Lagat, who last weekend won a record-equalling seventh Millrose Games mile title, will move up in distance this weekend where he’ll take on a solid field in the 3000m. Given solid pace-setting and if he’s “feeling good”, Lagat’s manager James Templeton said, Lagat may give chase to his 7:32.43 U.S. record set in 2007.

Lagat’s last race over the distance also came here in Stuttgart, a tactical victory outdoors at last September’s World Athletics Final. His chief rival, 15 years his junior, looks to be Abreham Cherkos, the Ethiopian teenager who ran to bronze at last year’s World Indoor Championships and finished a solid fifth in the Olympic 5000m final. Kenyan Shedrack Korir, who defeated Lagat over the mile in London last year, could also be a factor.

- Vlasic the Key Attraction on the Infield

One of the star attractions is in the women’s high jump where Blanka Vlasic arrives in Stuttgart after her 2.01m clearance in Malmo, Sweden, three days ago. The popular Croatian star, the reigning world indoor and outdoor champion, began the season with a 2.03m leap in Rijeka, Croatia nearly two weeks ago, her highest opener ever, but missed a scheduled appearance in Gothenburg last week with a slight ankle ailment.

Vlasic won’t be facing Germany’s top jumper Ariane Friedrich, who will be competing at the jumps meet in Arnstadt on the same day. The Stuttgart field does include Russian newcomer Irina Gordeyeva, who improved to 2.01m [6-7] in Cottbus, Germany, late last month.

- Bungei v. Borza in 800m

Olympic 800m champion Wilfred Bungei will make his first appearance of the winter, again tangling with the man he succeeded as Olympic gold medallist, Yuriy Borzakovskiy of Russia. A year ago at this meet the Russian ran away from Bungei with a comfortable victory and again arrives in solid form. Last Sunday he set a national record in the 1000m in Moscow, running 2:17.10. Surprise Olympic silver medallist Ismail Ahmed Ismail of Sudan will also make his first start of the season.

- Oliver and Jones the Favorites in the Hurdles

Last year, Dayron Robles and Susanna Kallur nabbed the headlines with their superb displays of hurdling, but with both sidelined for the moment, the focuse will fall on Americans David Oliver and Lolo Jones.

With Olympic champion Robles still on the comeback from an early season injury --he's reportedly heading to Europe tomorrow-- it'll be Beijing silver medallist Oliver's chance to stake his position as the world's top hurdler. With a pair of solid victories over the past eight days --7.56 in Gothenburg and 7.60 in Malmo-- Oliver brings notable momentum to Stuttgart. A man to watch will be Dutchman Gregory Sedoc who produced a 7.56 run of his own on Sunday, a national record.

The women’s race features a reunion of the three medalists from last year’s world indoor championships: Americans Jones and Candice Davis and Anay Tejada of Cuba. Jones, known more for her dramatic crash out in the Olympic final last year, debuted a week ago with a 7.95 victory in Glasgow, equaling the world lead. Jones was nearly a tenth of a second faster here a year ago when she chased Suzanna Kallur to the finish.

- Local Eyes on Teenager Holzdeppe

In the men’s pole vault, Olympic silver medallist Yevgeniy Lukyanenko will face the entire battalion of Germany’s star vaulters, with most attention focused at the moment on Raphael Holzdeppe, the world junior champion. Last year, Holzdeppe, who is still 19, raised the world junior best indoors to 5.68m and equaled it outdoors at 5.80m.

Fabiana Murer of Brazil, who leads the women’s pole vault field, got her season off to a notable start with a 4.70m leap in Malmo, a South American record and just one centimeter shy of American Jenn Stuczynzki’s world lead. Germany’s Silke Spiegelburg (4.65m this season) and Pole Monica Pyrek (4.60m/4.76m PB) are also in the field.

In the 1500m, world indoor 1500m champion Deresse Mekonnen opened with a world-leading 3:39.12 victory in Leipzig last weekend, and will start as the favorite here. Kenyan Augustine Choge and Christian Obrist of Italy, both Beijing finalists, are in the line-up as well.

Yesterday's withdrawal of world indoor bronze medallist Gelete Burka has left the women’s 1500m wide open. The star name is Gulnara Galkina, the Olympic 3000m steeplechase champion, who’ll be looking to bounce back from a disappointing 1000m performance last week in Moscow.

Elsewhere, Briton Craig Pickering (6.57 last weekend) is the man to beat in the men’s 60m, and American Jamaal Torrence (46.47 in Vienna on Tuesday) in the 400m.


----- -----------------------------------------

For more on our sport, click

Leave a comment

Wake up to RunBlogRun's news in your inbox. Sign up for our newsletter and we'll keep you informed about the Sport you love.

Subscribe to RunBlogRun's Global News Feed

* indicates required