Bolt-A-Mania Hits Penn Relays! Huge Weekend of Athletics: Drake, Penn, Virgin London, CMM, Hamburg, by Alfons Juck, deep thoughts by Larry Eder

Usain Bolt, Beijing 2008, photo by

It's Bolt-A-Mania time at the Penn Relays this weekend! USA versus the World, a series of
exciting relays that have become one of the highlights of the Relays will have Jamaican teams
this weekend!

Huge weekend in the world of Athletics! The 101rst Drake Relays started on Thursday,  the Penn Relays will have their USA vs the World on Saturday. We know that Asafa Powell is out of the Penn Relays due to slight injury. Usain Bolt will run for Jamaica on Saturday! LoLo Jones is running at Drake on Saturday. On Friday night in Berkely, CA, the Brutus Hamilton Invite has the NYRR Distance Carnival, featuring Galen Rupp in the 5,000 meters, Brett Gotcher in the 10,000 meters and Amy Begley in the women's 5,000 meters!

In Dakar, Yousou Ndour, a famous singer from Senegal will be performing in front of a crowd of 50,000 people , after the track festival on Saturday. Hamburg Marathon is hoping for good weather and a sub 2:10 marathon-they have 20,800 registered! In Nashville, Tennessee, over 35,000 runners will be running the Country Music Marathon & Halfmarathon, one of the fastest growing events in the country!

And on Sunday, the Virgin London marathon is expecting warm weather to greet defenders Sammy Wanjiru & Irena Mikitenko and 35,000 of their compatriots. The volcano in Iceland (actually the little one is causing all of the fuss in a land of volcanoes), stopped most of the elite field and many of the citizen runners from making it to London until Thursday. Mara Yamauchi, the British marathoner who placed second last year, spent five days trying to reach
London from New Mexico!

And to add insult to injury, LaShawn Merritt's reputed use of ExtenZe, a male enhancement product, is just not that funny. Mr. Merritt may be looking at a two year ban that will not allow him to defend his 400 meter title from 2008 in London 2012!


DAKAR (SEN): Nice weather is expected for Saturday´s second IAAF World Challenge meet in Dakar. Last year it was held in smaller Iba Mar Diop stadium this year after renovation the event is back at big Leopold Senghor stadium. More than 50 000 people are expected to see not only athletes from around the world headlined by two current world champions (Mulaudzi and Wlodarczyk) but also Senegalese singing star Youssou Ndour at the end of the evening. Youssou Ndour is known for IAAF family members as a performer from World Athletics Gala. The admission is free so huge turn-out is expected. The meet starts already on Friday evening with traditional shot put competitions at Goree Island.



DOHA (QAT):  The Doha Diamond League will get the new 14 meeting series off to a start and will be headlined by the participation of 6 of the IAAF Diamond League Ambassadors including 2009 World Athlete of the Year Sanya Richards-Ross, who is the World 400m champion and was married this winter.  Croatian Blanka Vlasic another of the six on show on 14 May also has fond recent memories of Doha. Vlasic, the two-time World outdoor High Jump champion, competing at those World Indoor Championships in Doha's impressive Aspire Dome, secured her second successive indoor title with a 2 metre clearance. The remaining four Ambassadors who will compete in the Doha Diamond League are Kenenisa Bekele at 5000 m, Allyson Felix at 200 or 400 m, Asafa Powell in the 100 m and Barbora Spotakova in javelin.



LONDON (GBR): Samuel Wanjiru's record in the marathon is short, but nearly impeccable: four victories in five starts, and every race faster than two hours and seven minutes. He's already won three of the World Marathon Majors (WMM) races at Chicago, London and the Olympic Games, was the WMM overall champion for the 2008/2009 season, and has already earned millions of dollars in appearance fees, prize money and endorsements. Speaking to reporters in London, Wanjiru maintained his usual cheery bearing. He seemed unperturbed by his extraordinary trip with other African athletes via private plane which took them from Nairobi via Djibouti, Asmara, Luxor, Madrid and finally to London, arriving on Thursday afternoon. „The travel was very good," Wanjiru said in a press conference today. „They did a good job to get from Kenya to here. They did a good job." Instead of training in one of the established Kenyan camps that his manager, Federico Rosa, has set up in Eldoret, Kaptagat or Kapsait, Wanjiru prefers to stay near his home in Nyahururu where he has a more informal training group. Sometimes training with former world 10,000m champion Charles Kamathi, Rosa said in an interview that Wanjiru developed unusual self-discipline from his six years in Japan where he attended high school in Sendai then moved to the Japanese corporate system with the Toyota Kyushu team. He takes training advice from Rosa's chief coach, Claudio Berardelli, but Wanjiru has developed his own training plan and workouts. For Sunday's race, Wanjiru said that he wasn't particularly concerned about the finish time, but that he expected the race to be fast, in the 2:04's, even though he rated the course as „very hard with a lot of curves." Race director Dave Bedford has stacked his field against Wanjiru (London is never a set-up race for one athlete). In addition to Kebede (2:05:18 PB) and Gharib (2:05:27), there are also Kenyans Duncan Kibet (2:04:27), Abel Kirui (2:05:04) and Emmanuel Mutai (2:06:15), and the world half-marathon record-holder Zersenay Tadese, who dropped out here last year in his marathon debut, weakened by an illness. German Irina Mikitenko has as goal the third win. „My aim is to win for third time in a row and so to equal the feat of Katrin Dorre-Heinig, another German marathon runner who won three times in a row in the nineties. For the win 55 000 USD and for world record 125 000 USD. Temperatures of 22C are forecast for Sunday and could even reach 25C in London, making it tough for marathon runners.



KINGSTON (JAM): The injury of 100 m hurdles world champion Brigitte Foster-Hylton is more serious than expected. She could be out of action for up to a year, after a recently done MRI scan revealed serious damage to the 35-year-old's left hamstring. Informs Jamaica Gleaner. The experienced hurdler injured while competing in the 100 m during last weekend rainy meet in Kingston. „The MRI showed that my left hamstring is off the tendon by three centimetres. (I'm) scheduled for surgery on Monday, (I) will be out for a year," said Foster-Hylton late last night per Gleaner. She was scheduled to run in Doha at Diamond League opener on May 14.



PHILADELPHIA (USA): confirms what was possibly to expect. Former 100 m world record holder Asafa Powell after cramping in Kingston last weekend will not compete at Penn Relays. His coach Stephen Francis said that. The line-ups will be announced after the technical meeting. Usain Bolt arrived on Friday morning to Philadelphia. The Jamaican teams were expected to be drawn from Marvin Anderson, Kenroy Anderson, Yohan Blake, Usain Bolt, Xavier Brown, Nesta Carter, Mario Forsythe, Michael Frater and Dwight Thomas.



BRATISLAVA (SVK): Meet organizers of IAAF World Challenge Series agreed to create own website, twitter and facebook. It should help bigger visibility of the series. Each meet has its special section, currently a preview for Dakar is posted. Website:  Twitter: IAAFchallenge. Facebook: IAAF World Challenge







HAMBURG (GER): The Hamburg marathon organizers, who celebrate the marathon's 25th edition this year, are relieved the airspace in Europe has opened and are convinced they will have all the athletes in time for the race on April 25th. 20 284 athletes are expected with Kenyan Wilfred Kigen leading the charge in his sixth appearance in Hamburg. The aim is to run under 2:10 in the men's race. The women are counting on going under 2:30 with Kenyan Elizabeth Chemweno as the main favorite writes


HAWASSA (ETH): Over 350 participants have been registered for the 2010 Hawassa race in Ethiopia. The race will take place on May 2nd on the shores of lake Hawassa with races over 21km, 7km and the childrens 2km. There will also be elite races with a total purse of 45,000 birr which is the second biggest purse for a race in Ethiopia behind the Great Ethiopian Run international 10km writes


BARCELONA (ESP): Barcelona 2010 has announced in a press release its new partner: Electromedicarin. The company is a Spanish manufacturer of physiotherapy equipment and will be an official supplier for the European championships. The Barcelona 2010 organisation will provide sufficient physiotherapy equipment to all teams and will set up rehabilitation zones in strategic areas of the event. Electromedicarin will also help with the training of volunteer physios involved in the organisation.


LOS ANGELES (USA): Addition to the LaShawn Merritt case is the fact that due to latest International Olympic Committee (IOC) rules any athlete who tests positive for banned drugs is automatically suspended from the next Games. That means if ban confirmed he will not be able to compete in London 2012 under any circumstances. His ban could start even from December 2009 that means he would be free to run in 2011. Also difficult with top meetings as they agreed, they will invite former drug cheats. The product that Merritt took is called „ExtenZe," a person familiar with the case said. It's a product that promises male sexual enhancement.


DEBNO (POL): New date for Polish Marathon Championships is October 24. The race originally scheduled for April 11 was cancelled after Smolensk tragedy.







CHULA VISTA (USA, Apr 22): Excellent discus throwing as usual here. Jason Young confirmed his top shape with 67.20 over Jarred Rome 65.89 and Dutch Eric Cadee who fulfilled the Barcelona standard with 62.47. Becky Breisch was the best in women discus (63.29) beating Monique Jansen (31) who for first time surpassed 60 meters with 60.07 m and also made the Barcelona standard.


DES MOINES (USA, Apr 22): Diana Pickler won the heptathlon at Drake Relays with new meet record 6040 points. It is 8th 6000+ plus score for the US indoor champion.


PHILADELPHIA (USA, Apr 22): Penn Relays started with usual huge programme of races. Texas AM clocked the fastest women university 4x100 m heat time 43.13. Jamaican UTech was the fastest in 4x400 m heats (3:32.61). Steve Slattery (a 8:15 runner) won the steeple in 8:41.15. Foreign wins in techical events. Georgian Meriam Kevkishvili in women shot put (18.17) and Slovenian Tina Sutej cleared 415 in pole vault.


YOUNGKWANG (KOR, Apr 20): Fast windy 100 m by Kim Kuk-Young with 10.17 (+4.9) at 14th Korean Club Championships.

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