Return for Lavillenie at Donetsk (23rd Pole Vault Stars), by Alfons Juck, note by Larry Eder

Sergey Bubka, Renaud Lavillenie, 2010 Euro Indoors, photo by

The 23rd Pole Vault Stars meeting, in Donetsk has been supported by WR holder Sergey Bubka. Vaulters have told me that the 30 hours it takes to get to Donetsk during the winter is worth it, as it highlights the event with most of the great active vaulters. Renaud Lavillenie, the #1 ranked male vaulter in the world, and 2010 Euro Indoor Champion, will be opening his 2012 season there.

RBR is in NYC for the Millrose Games. We will go live there at 4 pm EST and will also provide updates from Fayetteville, Arkansas and also reports on the USATF XC champs. More to come! A bit of snow in New York, but nothing on the ground, as of yet.


DONETSK (UKR): For 23rd time Pole Vault Stars meet will be held on Saturday in Druzhba Sports Hall of Donetsk. The EA Indoor permit event under the leadership of IAAF Vice President Sergey Bubka will again see two top clashes before full house of spectators despite freezing cold outside. Top names for men competition are all Daegu medalists Pawel Wojciechowski of Poland, Cuban Lazaro Borges and in his first competition after surgery French Renaud Lavillenie. The French European Champion was expected in Ukraine only on Friday as his travel was delayed by one day due to weather situation in France. Also in the field improved Russian Dmitriy Starodubtsev and top home jumpers Maksim Mazuryk with Dennis Yurchenko. Women competition is after long time without superstar Yelena Isinbaeva. Top favorite is 2009 World Champion Anna Rogowska of Poland, Russian Daegu medalist Svetlana Feofanova, Cuban sensation Yarisley Silva and in-shape Czech Jirina Ptacnikova. In the history of the event 11 world records have been set. Current world leading marks of the season are 590 by Starodubtsev and 488 by US Jenny Suhr (competes at Millrose Games).



AUCKLAND (NZL): World and Olympic shot put champion Valerie Adams collected the Sportswoman of the year award for the sixth straight time at the annual Halberg Awards. Informs NZ Athletics. Adams went unbeaten throughout 2011 and she won the award ahead of K1 200m world canoeing champion Lisa Carrington, world champion-of-champions bowls singles winner Jo Edwards and triathlete Andrea Hewitt. In her acceptance speech Adams acknowledged her Swiss coach Jean-Pierre Egger in French, thanking him for everything. World junior and youth shot put champion Jacko Gill won the emerging talent award receiving a cheque for $15,000 from the sponsor of the Awards Westpac. Adams plans to compete for second time this season in Hamilton on Saturday.



WEEKEND: Big athletics weekend starts on Friday in Dusseldorf, in Europe continues with Donetsk pole vault on Saturday and will climax with Karlsruhe on Sunday. US top indoor Saturday features Millrose Games at Armory and Tyson Invitational in Fayetteville. Jamaican sprinting stars Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake will run the 400 m on Saturday in Kingston as part of their preparation. UK Indoor Trials is another indoor highlights. Perth in Australia and Hamilton in New Zealand are top events Down Under on Saturday. Interesting to see international indoor match Norway-Sweden-Finland in Steinkjer.







MINSK (BLR): Double olympic medalist from Atlanta and Sydney in heptathlon Natalya Sazanovich gave birth to a son. With her husband Oleg they already have a daughter Yuliya.


LONDON (GBR): UK Athletics chairman Ed Warner has been appointed as head of the Organising Committee for the 2017 International Association of Athletics Federations Championships (IAAF) World Championshps in London by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Mayor of London's office. Warner, alongside London 2012 chairman Sebastian Coe played a major role in helping the city secure the World Championships when the Britain held off Doha in Qatar by 16 votes to 10 at the IAAF Council meeting in Monte Carlo last November.


LONDON (GBR): Mike MFcarlane one of the country's most successful and respected coaches will link up with fellow Londoner Lloyd Cowan in preparing the British women's 4x100 meters relay team fo this year's competitions. McFarlane's appointment as assistant relay coach will see him help towards guiding the women in a challenging year which includes what will be a rather low key European Championships followed by the London Olympic Games.


DIEKIRCH (LUX): Morocco's defending champion Elabassi El Hassan will be back for the ING Eurocross in Diekirch, Luxemburg, on Sunday, the ninth IAAF Cross Country Permit meeting of the season. In 2011 the three Moroccan runners dominated the Eurocross more or less from the start. Two of those three will compete again on the 10.2km course, which is more challenging due to the very cold weather. On women´s 5.35km course Alemensch Belete's toughest rival could be fellow countrywoman Etenesh Diro. While Morocco's Fatiha Benchatki features a strong 10km personal best of 31:25, a European challenge could come from Susanne Hahn of Germany who has done very well in a number of international Cross Country races in recent years. Informs IAAF.


MADRID (ESP): The Royal Spanish Athletics Federation (RFEA) has issued a statement that „publicly displays its indignation and rejection of the videos broadcast by Canal + France" which satirizes the successes of the Spanish athletes and announced that it prepares a legal action against Canal+.


LIEVIN (FRA): European Champion Christophe Lemaitre will have a strong rival at the 60 m in his season opener in Lievin next Tuesday. It will be Jamaican relay world champion and world record holder Michael Frater, his 60 m best is 6.64. Another top addition for Lievin is world leader Lolo Jones at 60 m hurdles.


KAZAN (RUS): Steeple world champion Yulia Zaripova confirmed her aim to win at Olympic Games in London. „My main rival will be myself. I know Africans are always very strong, Dominguez will be back and also my team-mate Galkina, but as said it is about me," said Zaripova. She is in full preparation for summer season. Currently training camp goes on in Kazan, in March another camp is planned for Kirgizstan.


ATHENS (GRE): Bad luck continues for world medalist and top Cyprean athlete high jumper Kyriakos Ioannou. He will miss the indoor season. He underwent surgery on the groin on the Christmas Eve in Germany. But when starting with training and jumping he felt again discomfort. In a month he will so undergo a second surgery.


RABAT (MAR): During a visit in Morocco on Thursday, former Olympic champion and London 2012 Olympic chairman Lord Sebastian Coe declared that he hopes to see an African country host the IAAF World Championships and the Olympic Games in the near future. Informs African Athletics facebook.


TOKYO (JPN): Brett Larner informs on his blog that having pulled out of last month's Osaka International Women's Marathon Olympic selection race with inflammation of the back of her left thigh, Mizuki Noguchi left Kansai Airport on Thursday for altitude training in Kunming, China ahead of her new target, the Mar. 11 Nagoya Women's Marathon. Noguchi has resumed interval workouts and is on the way to be ready again for a single, focused attack. „I want to concentrate completely on pulling everything together," she said.


PRAGUE (CZE): Czech Indoor Combined Events Championships in the Stromovka Hall of Prague this weekend will have another version of generations duel. All-time hero Roman Sebrle will go for his second heptathlon of the season against young and currently better Adam Sebastian Helcelet. Their aim is the current third best qualifiying mark for World Indoor Championships in Istanbul based on 2012 season (6237 Kasyanova, 6205 Kravchenko, 6071 Lukyanenko). Sebrle is a title defender, he scored last year 6117 at National Indoor Championships and started his way to Paris European Indoor bronze. Sebrle so far completed indoors 29 heptathlons. This weekend could be his jubilee 30th.

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