Yelena Isinbayeva is opening in Shanghai, by Alfons Juck, note by Larry Eder

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Yelana Isinbayeva, photo by

In the sport of athletics, the closest we have to a diva is Yelena Isinbayeva. If you think, for one moment, she took Jenn Suhr's gold medal in London in stride, then I have swamp land for you in Florida that can be developed.

Isinbayeva is one of the most talented athletes in our sport. She has been amazingly dominating for a decade. But, she is coming now to a point where, if Jenn Suhr can stay healthy, and Yelena can be healthy, the Moscow 2013 World Champs can be truly a battle. And never, ever forget about Silva or Bleasdale for that matter. 

Yelena Isinbayeva will open in Shanghai. Let's see which version of Yelena Isinbayeva shows up there, and for that matter, who shows up in Moscow from August 10-18, 2013. The women's pole vault could be a great competition! 

Andreas Behm and Aries Merritt, photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images/IAAF

I spent the last two days with Aries Merritt and coach, Andreas Behm. Fascinating team and watch for series of articles and tremendous photos on what makes Aries Merritt tick and the huge risk they took last year to learn the seven steps technique. 



SHANGHAI (CHN): Four Olympic champions and three world record holders are among the stars confirmed for the 2013 Shanghai Diamond League meeting on 18 May. Sprint hurdler Aries Merritt tops a list of headline names that includes world 100m champion and Olympic silver medallist Yohan Blake (entered into the 200 m), world and Olympic 400m champion Kirani James, world junior and Olympic javelin champion Keshorn Walcott, and the multi-world record breaking pole vaulter Yelena Isinbayeva. Women shot putter Gong Lijiao will be one of the hosts' main hopes of victory at this year's meeting. It is not yet known when Merritt is opening the season, Blake will run before Kingston and Doha, James starts this weekend in Nassau. Isinbayea returns to first competition since the bronze at the Olympic Games in London. Organizers are informing.



SHANGHAI (CHN): China's star hurdler and former world record holder and olympic gold medalist 2004 Liu Xiang, is likely to be out of action for the entire 2013 track and field season. mSun Haiping, the long-time coach of 30-year-old Liu, said on Tuesday the sprinter won't be back in China until he has fully recovered from the right Achilles tendon injury he sustained at the 2012 London Olympics. He has been receiving treatment in the United States. Writes China Daily.



BIRMINGHAM (GBR): Double Olympic champion Mo Farah heads a list of 11 Olympic medallists from London 2012, including six champions, competing at the British Athletics Birmingham Grand Prix at the Alexander Stadium on Sunday 30th June. Farah will run over 5000 m in the IAAF Diamond League meet, and will be joined by Olympic long jump champion Greg Rutherford, Olympic 400 m silver medallist Christine Ohuruogu and Olympic high jump bronze medallist Robbie Grabarz. US Carmelita Jeter, the second fastest woman ever over 100m, heads a list of international stars that also includes former World 100m champion Kim Collins of St. Kitts, Olympic 110m hurdles bronze medallist Hansle Parchment from Jamaica and Kemar Bailey-Cole, part of the Jamaica team that won 4x100m relay gold in London. Current World and Commonwealth champion Dai Greene will compete over 400m hurdles while recently crowned European Indoor 400m and 4x400m relay champion Perri Shakes-Drayton will contest the women's 400m hurdles. Holly Bleasdale also a gold medallist in Gothenburg, will take on Olympic champion Jenn Suhr of the USA and Olympic silver medallist Yarisley Silva of Cuba in the pole vault. 2009 World Championships bronze medallist Jenny Meadows, who recently returned to action after an 18 month absence through injury, will compete over 800m. In the men's 800m, Olympic finalist Andrew Osagie will go head to head with Mukhtar Mohammed, who won bronze at the European Indoor Championships last month, in a field that also includes two-time World Indoor Champion Abubaker Kaki of Sudan and Ethiopia's Mohammed Aman who was sixth in London. Olympic bronze medallist Kellie Wells will take on her American teammate and 2011 World Championships silver medallist Danielle Carruthers in the 100m hurdles. In the field, 2010 World Indoor champion Teddy Tamgho of France will compete in the triple jump and two-time Olympic champion Tomasz Majewski of Poland will go up against David Storl, silver medallist in London, and 2009 World Champion Christian Cantwell in the shot put. Writes British Athletics.



MOSCOW (RUS): Senior coach of Russian high jump team Yevgeniy Zagorulko told All Sport news agency about jumpers in his own group. About reigning world and Olympic champion Anna Chicherova: "Anna is OK. She will open her summer season on May 5 in Tokyo and then she'll continue to compete in training regime till the middle of July. As a reigning world champion Chicherova has wild card for Moscow championships but she will compete at National championships for sure". About European champion 2010 Aleksandr Shustov: "Last autumn Aleksandr started to coach himself. As for me this combination is far from successful and that was a cause of his disastrous winter season. Now Shustov focuses only on his practices. And I would like to see him representing Russia at European Team championships. He's a real team fighter." About Beijing Olympic champion Andrey Silnov who has recovered after surgery: "Silnov will start full-fledged preparation for summer season in May. By the way his wife should give birth for their child in about 10 days. I think that'll give him positive supply of energy." Zagorulko also informed that Athens Olympic champion Yelena Slesarenko made a great job after giving birth to her child last summer. At the end of April Slesarenko will be tested to see how could her summer 2013 look like.



LONDON (GBR): Kenyan Wilson Kipsang will defend his Virgin London Marathon men's title a week on Sunday against an elite men's field described as the greatest ever assembled for single race. Organizers are informing. The 2013 London Marathon men's line-up features 11 men who've completed the marathon distance quicker than two hours six minutes, including six of the 10 fastest men of all-time, and four of the five quickest ever over the London course. Among them are all three medallists from the London 2012 Olympic Games, two medallists from the last World Championships, three World Marathon Majors champions, and winners of 2012 marathons in Berlin, Chicago, Frankfurt and Dubai. Top of the tree are the two quickest men of all time - world record holder Patrick Makau, who dropped out last year, and defending champion Kipsang, who is also the Olympic bronze medallist. Kipsang will also face the two men who beat him in the final stages of the London 2012 Olympic race - Uganda's surprise champion, Stephen Kiprotich, and the double world champion, Abel Kirui, who is yet to make the London podium. Also to note Emmanuel Mutai, Geoffrey Mutai, Tsegaye Kebede, Ayele Abshero, Feyisa Lilesa, Deressa Chimsa, Adil Anani and Hafid Chani. European hopes rest with Poland's Marcin Chabowski, Ayad Lamdassem and the experienced Portuguese runner Rui Silva, who is making his marathon debut. There will be much for British fans to cheer too thanks to the presence of Mo Farah, the double Olympic champion who is running as a guest to half way with the elite field as part of his preparations for a full marathon debut in 2014.



LONDON (GBR): Eight months after winning Olympic gold in London last August, Tiki Gelana will be back in the British capital on Sunday 21 April seeking to become the first Ethiopian to win the women's London Marathon title since Derartu Tulu in 2001. Gelana heads a field that boasts four athletes who have run quicker than two hours 20 minutes, 10 who have gone under 2:25, and five of the 20 quickest runners of all time. World champion Edna Kiplagat hopes to step up a place after finishing third and second here in the last two years, while last year's number three, Priscah Jeptoo, will be looking to reach the top of the podium this time after chasing Gelana home to take silver at the Olympics. Also to note Florence Kiplagat, Atsede Baysa and Meselech Melkamu, Yoko Shibui, Yukiko Akaba and on the European side Jessica Augusto. Interesting debuts by Kenyan Joyce Chepkirui and Briton Helen Clitheroe. One of the favorites Lucy Kabuu of Kenya has withdrawn citing lack of shape. Writes Kenyan media.



DUSSELDORF (GER): Kenya's marathon star Duncan Kibet will make a return to the classic distance in Duesseldorf on 28th April. Organisers of the METRO GROUP Marathon Duesseldorf confirmed the start of the 34 year-old. Back in 2009 Duncan Kibet won the Rotterdam Marathon with a sensational time of 2:04:27. At that time it was a Commonwealth record. No runner has ever entered a German spring marathon with such a fast personal best. Four fellow-Kenyans are among his strongest rivals on 28th April. The most prominent one is David Barmasai. The 24 year-old sensationally won the Dubai Marathon in 2011 with a personal best of 2:07:18. He then was fifth in the World Championships marathon in Daegu in the same year. Paul Biwott (2:06:54), Duncan Koech (2:07:53) and Pius Ondoro (2:08:00) are the other three. Germany's André Pollmächer is the main national contender in Duesseldorf. He ran his personal best of 2:13:09 in this race in 2009. So far the fastest woman in the field is Melkam Gizaw from Ethiopia. She ran her personal best of 2:26:52 two years ago in Eindhoven. From the organizers.







GATESHEAD (GBR): Thousands of runners will get the chance to cross the same finish line as the stars competing at this summer's European Athletics Team Championships in Gateshead. The Bupa Great North 10k Gateshead--set for the morning of Sunday 23 June ahead of the final day of European Athletics' flagship team competition - will see participants taking in iconic landmarks on the quayside including The Sage Gateshead, Gateshead Millennium Bridge and the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art before crossing the finish line at Gateshead International Stadium European Athletics President Hansjörg Wirz said, „We believe this is an excellent initiative to bring the running community of the North East of England closer to our event and make them feel a part of it. European Athletics recognises the importance of engaging with local communities through large-scale runs such as these, and we hope to see many of the runners crossing the finish line and returning to the stadium later that day to watch some top-class athletics." Informs European Athletics.


GEORGETOWN (CAY): Jamaican Olympic 110 m hurdles medalist Hansle Parchment is set to make a return visit to the Cayman Islands, starring in the second annual Cayman Invitational track and field meet, scheduled to take place on 8th May at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex. One of the largest track and field meets of its kind in the Caribbean, Cayman Invitational has already attracted some of today's top names in athletics, including the world's fastest man, six times Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt and Olympic gold medalist Carmelita 'The Jet' Jeter. Now aged just 23, Parchment won a gold medal at the 2011 Summer Universiade, held in Shenzhen, Guangdong, China, running a personal best of 13.24s to win the 110m hurdles title for Jamaica. In June 2012 Parchment won the Jamaica Olympic trials in a new personal best of 13.18s to qualify for the Jamaican team for the 2012 Summer Olympics held in London and went on to win the bronze medal in the final of the 110m hurdles, achieving a new Jamaican record of 13.12. Local organizers are hoping the event will achieve IAAF World Challenge status in the future.


LONDON (GBR): Eight Members of Parliament will be running this year's Virgin London Marathon on Sunday 21 April. Five Conservative and three Labour members make up the MPs' field this year, with two shadow ministers and one assistant government whip among them.


ROTTERDAM (NED): Ehtiopian athlete Berhanu Shiferaw will not compete at the 33rd edition of the ABN AMRO Rotterdam marathon this weekend because of a knee injury. Shiferaw holds a personal best of 2:04.48 and was one of the favourites to win the race. Organizers however confirmed the field remains very strong with the presence of other Ethiopian runners Getu Feleke (2:04.50), Bazu Worku (2:05.25) Tilahun Regassa (2:05.27) and Assefa Bentayehu (2:06.22).


DOHA (QAT): During the GCC Athletics Championships the regional athletics chiefs met at Sheraton Doha for a meeting proposed and hosted by Qatar Athletics Federation. During the meeting headed by QAF President and IAAF Vice President Dahlan Al Hamad, proposed a 'kids festival' for young athletes from across the Middle East. QAF is also keen to stage a championships designed for female athletes, Al Hamad said and the proposal was also put forward in the meeting. "The leadership in Qatar is keen to bring nations together through sports," Al Hamad said. QAF is currently preparing for a series of activities with the Heir Apparent Athletics Cup and the Emir Athletics Cup events scheduled for later this month.


BUCURESTI (ROU): Ion Sandu is the new President of Romanian Athletics Federation. The businnesman from Arad won the elections with 113 votes over 5000 m olympic winner and EA Council member Gabriela Szabo who got 89. Sandu offered Szabo a cooperation to form a team to work for the good of Romanian athletics. He also promised to invest money into the sport. The third candidate Traian Badea withdrew before the election. Sandu also wants to set a goal to win medals at Rio Olympic Games.


STELLENBOSCH (RSA): Despite administration crisis (see item below) the South African Championships this weekend at Coetzenburg stadium on Friday and Saturday are promising some interesting competition. For example 100 m record holder Simon Magakwe, 400m hurdles star LJ van Zyl and even a surprise with the SA record holder in the high jump, Jacques Freitag. Lehann Fourie will line up in the 110m hurdles, Cornel Fredericks in the 400m hurdles, Chris Harmse in the hammer throw and athletes such as Juan van Deventer and Johan Cronje competing in various events from 800m to 5000m.


JOHANNESBURG (RSA): Six Athletics SA (ASA) board members and financial manager Terrence Magogodela were suspended on Wednesday, said ASA president James Evans. „Six board members have been suspended pending the outcome of disciplinary cases against them which have been referred to the disciplinary committee," Evans said in a statement. ASA vice-president Hendrick Ramaala, a former elite marathon runner, Shireen Noble, Esther Malema, Pieter Lourens, James Moloi and Qwadiso Ntathu would all face disciplinary hearings. Evans said Morgan Matholeni had been appointed as acting ASA general manager.


BERLIN (GER): German pole vault record holder Silke Spiegelburg is back in full training after taken some time off to focus on her studies and to let her body rest. Spiegelburg does not regret not competing during the indoor season even though she could have a won a medal at the European indoor championships. As the winner of last year's Diamond League competitions she is already qualified for the IAAF World championships which allows her to gradually build up her training. Spiegelburg will start her outdoor season at the IAAF Diamond League meeting of Shanghai on May 18th.


BERLIN (GER): German national long jump coach Ulli Knapp believes several of Germany's upcoming talented female long jumpers will do well at this year's world championships. Sosthene Moguenara is back in full training after taken some time off and has improved on several of her training personal bests. Former European U23 champion Melanie Bauschke as well as young Lena Markus also have potential to jump well as Markus herself is set to do well at this year's European U23 championships. Nadja Käther and Beatrice Marscheck are progressing well after injury had slowed them down last year.


SYDNEY (AUS): World leading discus thrower Australian Julian Wruck will compete this week at the national championships. He will return to Sydney from his base at the UCLA in Los Angeles as he hurls for the men's discus throw gold medal. Wruck will arrive Down Under in great form with two 66 meter plus throws already this season at the Texas Relays and the Joyner-Kersee Invitational. Informs Athletics Australia.


ROME (ITA): New General Secretary of Italian federation FIDAL is former 400 m hurdler Paolo Bellino (44, 49.39 in 1991). He is succeeding Renato Montabone. Bellino has a nice record of positions in the top sports administration in Italy. He worked on high level in the Torino 2006 Winter Olympic Games organization, journalist, commentator, meeting organizer (Torino Primo Nebiolo Memorial).


BOSTON (USA): Runnersworld informs that Nick Willis, New Zealand's 2008 Olympic 1500 m silver medalist, and Ethiopia's Kalkidan Gezahegne, the 2010 world indoor women's 1500 m winner headline the fields for the B.A.A. Invitational Mile on April 14, the day before the Boston Marathon. The road miles in Boston will have 3000 USD prizes each for the top man and woman.


PYONGYANG (PRK): The Mangyongdae marathon in North Korea will go ahead this Sunday despite the rising tensions on the Korean peninsula. As informs it is expected that in total 600 runners will participate. In the 26th edition of the race competitors from the Czech Republic, Ethiopia, Kenya and Ukraine should take part. Last year winners were Oleksandr Matviychuk of Ukraine 2:12:54 and home Kim Mi Gyong 2:30:41. Course records are 2:10:50 and 2:26:02.







DOHA (QAT, Apr 8-9): Qatari sprinter Samuel Francis won the 100 m at the 14th GCC Athletics Championships in 10.19 (in some reports 9.99 but looks to be not fully automatic timing info and could be considered 10.0 hand). Second Oman record holder Barakat Al-Harthi in 10.2. The three-day championships have attracted more than 200 athletes from the region. The hurdles were won by Kuweit record holder Abdulaziz Al-Mandeel in 13.5. Ismail Al-Sabani of Saudi Arabia won the 400 m in 46.09. Qatar's Ahmed Mohammed Deeb won the discus with 59.75 and Abdulrahman Musaeb Bala got another win for the home country in the 800 m in 1:48.18. Saudi Arabia's Sultan Al-Hebshi won the shot put with 19.26. Last day includes also the high jump with olympic medalist Mutaz Essa Barshim.







PORT OF SPAIN (TRI): There was no wind measurement at the meet where Michelle-Lee Ahye clocked fast 11.07 in the 100 m. Thus statisticians are suggesting all results from this meet should be considered as wind-assisted.


FAYETTEVILLE (USA): In the Makeba Alcide heptathlon (5882 points) the 100 m hurdles 13.81 aided by +6.9, 200 m 24.61 +3.8 and long jump 564 +2.9 so because the wind average is over +4.5 it cannot be considered as national record of St. Lucia.

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