Wednesday, 25 June 2014

PREVIEW: Sainsbury’s British Championships - Alexander Stadium, Birmingham

The nation’s best will battle it out for the coveted British title in Birmingham’s Alexander Stadium this weekend, as the Sainsbury’s British Championships take place between Friday the 27th and Sunday the 29th of June in the West-Midlands city.

Incorporating the official trial for August’s European Championships in Zurich, the event will see the top two finishers from each discipline - providing they have reached the qualification standard this season - make the Great Britain and Northern Ireland squad for the continental championships just less than seven weeks from now.

Here is a run-down on which athletes to watch out for over the three days of exhilarating action:

Men’s 100m –

Twenty-year-old Chijindu Ujah made waves in Hengelo earlier this month by storming to a swift 9.96 lifetime best and UK-lead.

The European junior champion from Enfield and Haringey has come on leaps and bounds since his previous 10.26 best from the 2012 season, and with close rivals Adam Gemili and James Dasaolu focusing on the 200m and missing the event entirely, Ujah could well be the man to beat despite his tender years.

Hoping to be hot on his heels, however will be 2013 runner-up, Harry Aikines-Aryeetey who has enjoyed a 10.08 personal best this summer in addition to world indoor 60m champion, Richard Kilty and 10.13 man, James Ellington.

Women’s 100m –

The women’s equivalent is likely to be an even closer affair with UK-leader, Bianca Williams taking on world indoor 60m fourth-placer, Asha Philip as well as Jodie Williams and Desiree Henry – all of whom are within 0.05 seconds of each other this season.

Enfield’s Williams sped to an impressive 11.17 lifetime best in Geneva earlier this month but the 20-year-old will be hard pushed by 23-year-old Philip – the 2013 gold medallist, who registered 11.19 in May.

Jodie Williams, meanwhile, has made a superb return to form this year following long-term injury with an 11.20 clocking, and 18-year-old Henry clocked an 11.23 personal best back in April.

Men’s 200m –

The men’s half-lap event will see world fifth placer, Adam Gemili make his seasonal debut over the distance.

The 20-year-old Blackheath and Bromley sprinter finished a fine third in both the Rome ad Oslo IAAF Diamond Leagues over 100m earlier this month, and has a 200m best of 19.98 from last summer.

Keen to assert his authority over the distance will be UK-leader and European bronze medallist, Danny Talbot who recorded a 20.36 lifetime best in Prague earlier this month.

Others to watch out for include two-time winner, James Ellington, Chris Clarke and Delano Williams.

Women’s 200m –

Jodie and Bianca Williams will clash once again, and the pair are evenly matched with 22.76 and 22.79 personal bests this season, respectively.

Herts Phoenix’s 20-year-old J Williams will start as the favourite following her surprise second place finish in Oslo behind Olympic champion, Allyson Felix of the USA, whilst her namesake is set to impress on the back of an impressive breakthrough year in which she went under the 23-second barrier for the first time.

2013 winner, Anyika Onuora, Margaret Adeoye and Henry should also feature prominently.

Men’s 400m –

Martyn Rooney will be seeking his fifth British outdoor crown and the 2008 Olympic sixth placer has a 45.03 season’s best to his name.

Behind the 27-year-old from Croydon is likely to be European indoor fifth placer, Michael Bingham and last year’s victor, Nigel Levine – the European indoor silver medallist.

Women’s 400m –

Having been forced to settle for the silver medal on the past three occasions, 2014 may well be the year in which Shana Cox finally stands atop of the medals podium.

The 29-year-old Woodford Green with Essex Ladies sprinter has a 52.11 season’s best and she will face, 52.29 athlete, Kelly Massey and Emily Diamond who failed to finish the first round twelve months ago.

Men’s 800m –

World indoor bronze medallist, Andrew Osagie will be looking to add a fourth title to his collection, and the 27-year-old from Harlow AC’s 1:45.22 season’s best places him as the favourite for glory.

Following his eighth place finishes in both the Doha and Eugene IAAF Diamond Leagues, Osagie will come up against two-time runner up, Mukhtar Mohammed – the European indoor bronze medallist – and five-time champion, Michael Rimmer.

Women’s 800m –

One of the brightest starlets of British Athletics, Jessica Judd will be determined to make amends for her 2013 runner up position.

The 19-year-old world junior silver medallist from Chelmsford scorched to an eye-catching 1:59.77 lifetime best UK-lead en route to third in Oslo, and her closest
challenger may be Edinburgh’s Lynsey Sharp.

Four years her elder, 2012 winner Sharp is the European champion and ran a 2:00.09 personal best in Hengelo, whilst 33-year-old Jenny Meadows – the 2009 world bronze medallist and two-time champion – continues her return from long-term injury and should not be discounted to be in the medals mix.

Men’s 1500m –

Fifth in the European Team Championships in Braunschweig last weekend, 20-year-old Charlie Grice is the man to beat in the men’s metric mile.

The Bristol runner clocked a 3:36.31 lifetime best and UK-lead in May, and he will have Richard Peters and David Bishop for company.

Women’s 1500m –

In the battle of the Laura’s, Laura Weightman and Laura Muir will face-off in this highly-anticipated duel.

Twenty-two-year-old Weightman of Morpeth will seek to gain redemption following an unfortunate fall and subsequent injury in last year’s race, and after her 4:02.72 personal best and UK-lead with eighth place in May’s Eugene IAAF Diamond League, she will start as the marginal favourite.

Dundee’s 21-year-old Muir meanwhile, registered a 4:02.91 lifetime best in Hengelo and the European under 23 bronze medallist is a gutsy performer.
Other notable names expected to feature include three-time winner, Hannah England, Jemma Simpson and Melissa Courtney.

Men’s 5,000m –

European cross country bronze medallist, Andy Vernon will attempt to regain the title he last won in 2008 and following a strong 13:11.50 personal best and UK-lead last month, the 28-year-old Aldershot, Farnham and District runner lies in pole position going into the race.

Border Harrier’s Tom Farrell – with a 13:22.27 season’s best – is another to keep an eye out for.

Women’s 5,000m –

Having successfully return from having her second child, Exeter’s 40-year-old Jo Pavey continues to defy the age barrier and will start as the favourite for the women’s twelve and a half lap crown.

The 2004 Olympic fifth placer has won this event five times and recorded a fine 15:04.87 season’s best in Rome.

Twenty years her junior, Aldershot’s Emelia Gorecka - the European junior 3,000m champion – will look to consolidate her 15:07.45 lifetime best from May, whilst Julia Blesdale, Helen Clitheroe and Kate Avery also contest.

Men’s 3,000m Steeplechase –

A fortnight after his surprise 8:22.76 personal best and UK-lead in Spain, James Wilkinson will defend his steeplechase title.

The 23-year-old from Leeds will face four-time champion, Luke Gunn and Scotland’s Stephen Lisgo.

Women’s 3,000m Steeplechase –

2013 bronze medallist, Lennie Waite may well improve to the gold medal position on this occasion following her 9:48.17 lifetime best in April.

Following the 28-year-old Aldershot runner in the chase for the medals is likely to be newcomer, Racheal Bamford and two-time winner, Eilish McColgan who has been in below-par form of late.

Men’s 110m Hurdles –

Defending champion, William Sharman comes into the competition fresh off a 13.21 personal best when placing second in Braunschweig and the two-time champion looks more than capable of notching up title number three this weekend.

The 29-year-old Belgrave Harrier and world fifth placer goes up against 2011 winner, Lawrence Clarke – who is quickly returning to his 2012 form when he placed fourth in the London Olympics.

Three-time champion, Andy Turner continues his return from Achilles surgery and has a 13.47 season’s best to put himself in contention for another medal.

Women’s 110m Hurdles –

World indoor and outdoor bronze medallist, Tiffany Porter has finished fifth in both the Rome and New York IAAF Diamond Leagues this summer, and the 26-year-old Woodford Green with Essex Ladies athlete is a near-cert to retain her title.

2013 runner up, Serita Solomon looks set to replicate her finishing position from twelve months ago.

Men’s 400m Hurdles –

Another to enjoy a breakthrough campaign this year is Newham and Essex Beagles’ Niall Flannery.

The 23-year-old has improved by almost a second this summer, clocking a swift 48.80 in Ostrava last week.

Behind the European under 23 fourth placer, will be 2006 champion Rhys Williams as well as Richard Yates and Sebastian Rodger

Women’s 400m Hurdles –

Scotland’s Eilidh Child will be gunning for gold following second place finishes in the last two editions of this event, and the 27-year-old world fifth placer is almost certain to get her wish on the back of her third place finish in both Rome and Oslo.

Two-time bronze medallist, Meghan Beesley is another athlete eager for a medal upgrade, and the 2011 European under 23 bronze medallist should do well.

Men’s 5,000m Walk –

Seventeen-year-old Callum Wilkinson finished only eighth last year but the Enfield walker registered a 22:27.4 personal best in May to set himself apart in this field.

Guy Thomas and Luc Legon are other names to watch.

Women’s 5,000m Walk –

Leicester pair, Emma Achurch and Jasmine Nicholls look set to dominate the women’s walk, with 16-year-old Achurch the favourite for glory.

With a 25:03.2 lifetime best in May, she is over two minutes quicker than 18-year-old Nicholls this summer.

Men’s High Jump –

Equal fifth in Braunschweig, Sale’s Chris Baker should be the one to watch in the men’s high jump contest.

The 23-year-old leapt a 2.27m season’s best last month but will have to battle two-time winner, Tom Parsons and 2.25m jumper, David Smith.

Women’s High Jump –

Multi-events starlets, Katarina Johnson-Thompson and Morgan Lake are expected to put on an impressive show in the high jump and the competition may be set for an epic clash.

Liverpool’s 21-year-old Johnson-Thompson leapt a 1.96m personal best during the indoor season and a 1.90m lifetime best at the end of May, whilst 17-year-old Lake recorded a superb 1.93m British junior record last month.

The world heptathlon fifth placer versus the world under 18 heptathlon record holder is a tantalising prospect.

High jump specialist, Isobel Pooley will hope to cause an upset following her 1.91m equal personal best earlier this month.

Men’s Long Jump –

Olympic champion Greg Rutherford will be shooting for title number six and the 27-year-old from Milton Keynes should have no bother, following his eye-catching 8.51m British record in April.

Six-time champion, Chris Tomlinson has an 8.23m season’s best and another jumper who could spoil the proceedings is 2013 bronze medallist, JJ Jegede.

Women’s Long Jump –

Birchfield’s 25-year-old Shara Proctor will hope the home crowd support can cheer her on to her fourth consecutive title.

Second in Oslo, she has a 6.78m season’s best and will have her work cut out against Johnson-Thompson – the world indoor bronze medallist – who has leapt 6.70m this summer.

2011 runner up, Lorraine Ugen also contests.

Men’s Triple Jump –

Having emerged from semi-retirement this season, 2009 world champion Phillips Idowu will start as the favourite.

A six-time champion, the 35-year-old Belgrave Harrier registered 16.99m in May, and he will do battle against three-time winner, Nathan Douglas in addition to Julian Reid and Nathan Fox.

Women’s Triple Jump –

2012 world indoor champion, Yamile Aldama will be hoping her 41-years will not hold her back against four-time champion, Laura Samuel and Chioma Matthews.

Men’s Pole Vault –

Sheffield’s 2013 victor, Luke Cutts has only competed once this season but the 26-year-old cleared 5.83m during the winter, and he will have six-time champion, Steve Lewis to contend with.

The Olympic fifth placer recorded a 5.70m season’s best in April, whilst Glasgow’s Jax Thoirs should also be one to watch.

Women’s Pole Vault –

Having endured the misery of no-heighting in last year’s competition, Bristol’s 19-year-old Lucy Bryan will be out to seek revenge.

With a 4.35m season’s best, she will face Birchfield’s Sally Peake – a 4.31m vaulter so far this summer.

Men’s Javelin –

Three-time winner, Lee Doran has a season’s best almost two metres clear of the rest of the field at 76.61m and the 29-year-old’s nearest competition will come from Benji Pearson – who has set a 74.71m lifetime best this season.

Women’s Javelin –

Record-breaking ten-time winner, Goldie Sayers is back following her 2013 absence through shoulder surgery and the 31-year-old Belgrave Harrier has started her campaign well with a 62.03m season’s best in May.

The 2008 Olympic fourth placer should add title number eleven to her collection with ease ahead of North Devon’s Izzy Jeffs – who opened her summer with a big 58.53m personal best back in April.

Men’s Shot Put –

2012 champion, Zane Duquemin is the stand-out favourite in the men’s shot put, having thrown an 18.53m season’s best in Germany last month.

Behind the 22-year-old Shaftesbury Barnett Harrier is likely to be Ryan Spencer-Jones and Scott Rider.

Women’s Shot Put –

Home girl, Eden Francis will be aiming for title number five and the 25-year-old 2009 European under 23 champion should emerge victorious following her 17.07m season’s best.

Last year’s winner, Rachel Wallader set a 16.76m lifetime best earlier this month, whilst European junior runner up, Sophie McKinna took the England under 23 title with 16.47m in Bedford last weekend.

Men’s Discus –

With a 61.67m season’s best, Brett Morse looks set to retain his crown and the 25-year-old from Cardiff will face Duquemin, who has a 2014 best of 58.45m

Women’s Discus –

Three-time winner, Jade Lally has thrown 57.58m this season and the 27-year-old Shaftesbury athlete goes up against Kirsty Law, Francis and Shadine Duquemin.

Men’s Hammer –

Following his huge 74.38m lifetime best in May, Border’s 21-year-old Nick Miller will start as the favourite.

Alex Smith - the four-time champion and Commonwealth silver medallist – should put up a strong battle for the gold medal.

Women’s Hammer –

European under 23 champion, Sophie Hitchon has twice won this event before and the 22-year-old Blackburn Harrier boasts a 71.53m season’s best to outshine the rest of the field.

Having registered 66.85m and 66.30m personal bests this summer, respectively, Shaunagh Brown and Rachel Hunter will be in the hunt for the minor medals.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

PREVIEW: European Athletics Team Championships, Super League – Braunschweig, Germany

The athletics powerhouses of Europe gather to establish the continent’s number one nation in Braunschweig this Saturday and Sunday, as teams representing Russia, Germany, Great Britain and Northern Ireland, France, Ukraine, Poland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, the Czech Republic and Turkey do battle in the German city.

Competing on the track, spectators will be treated to performances from the likes of Jimmy Vicaut, Pascal Martinot-Lagarde and Abeba Aregawi, whilst some of the stars expected on the in-field include Renaud Lavillenie, Greg Rutherford, Barbora Spotakova, David Storl, Tomas Majewski, Christina Schwanitz, Piotr Malachowski, Robert Harting and Betty Heidler.

Here is a summary of which athletes to watch out for in each of the 40 events:

Men’s 100m –

The two main protagonists are likely to be France’s Jimmy Vicaut and Great Britain’s Danny Talbot.

Vicaut – the overwhelming favourite for this event - is the European indoor 60m champion and sped to an impressive 9.95 lifetime best earlier in the season.

The 22-year-old followed this performance with a third place finish at the Eugene IAAF Diamond League and the runner-up position at the IAAF Diamond League in Oslo last week to firmly establish himself as the European number one.

Talbot, meanwhile, has registered a 10.14 personal best this summer and the 2012 European 200m bronze medallist’s fine form should be enough to fend off the rest of the field.

Women’s 100m –

Germany’s Verena Sailer will be hoping to treat the home crowd to a local victory, following the 2010 European champion’s sixth place in the IAAF Diamond League in Doha last month.

Boasting an 11.02 best, 28-year-old Sailer will likely be pushed by France’s European indoor 60m silver medallist, Myriam Soumare, who recorded an 11.18 season’s best en route to victory in the non-Diamond League event in Oslo.

The Netherlands’ Jamile Samuel – the 2010 world junior 100m and 200m bronze medallist – has improved from 11.36 to 11.12 this summer and the 22-year-old is the fastest in the field.

Men’s 200m –

European 100m champion, Christophe Lemaitre of France skipped Oslo through injury but will still be hoping to recapture the sort of form which propelled him to second place in the Rome IAAF Diamond League in a 20.24 season’s best earlier this month.

With a 19.80 clocking to his name, the 24-year-old should comfortably take the honours ahead of his nearest rivals, Great Britain’s James Ellington and Germany’s Julian Reus.

The pair have both run 20.44 season’s best this summer, with Ellington nearing his 20.42 personal best time.

Women’s 200m –

World heptathlon bronze medallist, Dafne Schippers is an accomplished sprinter and the 22-year-old Dutchwoman starts as the favourite in this event following her 22.35 national record en route to third place in the heptathlon in Gotzis at the beginning of June.

Her challengers will be Ukraine’s Nataliya Pohrebnyak, who clocked a 22.89 lifetime best this summer and France’s Soumare, a 22.32 runner at her best.

Men’s 400m –

France’s Mame-Ibra Anne has made big strides so far this season, with a 45.44 personal best and he will be up against Russia’s European junior champion, Pavel Ivashko who ran a 45.46 lifetime best last week.

Women’s 400m –

Ukraine’s 4x400m relay gold medallist, Olha Zemlayak has registered a fine 51.10 personal bets this season and she will face France’s Floria Guei and Russia’s Alena Tamkova.

Men’s 800m –

Adam Kszczot is a 1:43.30 runner at his best and the 24-year-old world indoor runner-up recently finished fifth in both Eugene and the New York IAAF Diamond League.

The Polish European indoor champion will go head-to-head with France’s European bronze medallist, Pierre-Ambroise Bosse who was fourth in Eugene, and Spain’s Kevin Lopez, the European indoor runner-up who has a strong 1:43.93 season’s best.

Women’s 800m –

Russia’s Yekaterina Poistogova is the only woman in the field with a sub-two-minute clocking to their name in 2014, and the 23-year-old Olympic bronze medallist should
make light work of the competition.

With a 1:58.55 season’s best, Poistogova will be chased by Poland’s world indoor runner-up, Angelika Cichocka and Ukraine’s Olha Lyakhova – the European under23 silver medallist who has set a 2:00.15 personal best this season.

In addition, the Czech Republic’s Lenka Masna and Great Britain’s Jenny Meadows will be keen to feature prominently.

Men’s 1500m -

A week after his third place finish and a 3:49.86 lifetime best in Oslo’s tough Dream Mile, Germany’s Homiyu Tesfaye tackles the metric mile.

The 20-year-old world fifth placer already has a promising 3:31.98 personal best to his name this year but he will face some stiff opposition in the shape of Turkey’s Ilham Tanui Ozbilen.

Fourth back in March’s IAAF World Indoor Championships, Ozbilen holds a 3:32.09 season’s best, whilst Great Britain’s Charlie Grice – the European under23 runner-up – could cause a surprise.

Women’s 1500m –

With the world indoor and outdoor titles highlighting her athletic CV, Sweden’s Abeba Aregawi will be the woman to beat.

The 23-year-old European indoor champion took the honours at the Shanghai and New York IAAF Diamond Leagues and is the only athlete in the field to have run under four-minutes this summer, courtesy of her 3:57.57 season’s best.

Maureen Koster of the Netherlands and Great Britain’s 2011 world silver medallist, Hannah England will be in the battle for the second and third spot.

Men’s 3,000m –

2012 world indoor 800m runner-up, Jakub Holusa of the Czech Republic has registered a 7:52.82 personal best this year en route to claiming the 1500m non-Diamond League event in Oslo.

He will face Germany’s World University Games 5,000m bronze medallist, Richard Ringer and France’s Yohan Durand.

Women’s 3,000m –

Sifan Hassan of the Netherlands finished fifth in the world indoor final and the 21-year-old took the 1500m in Hengelo last month, also having recently recorded 800m, 1500m and 5,000m lifetime bests.

Poland’s world indoor 3,000m finalist, Renata Plis has set an 8:40.42 personal best this summer and will also contest, as will Germany’s Diana Sujew.

Men’s 5,000m –

Turkey’s European junior 5,000m and 10,000 champion, Ali Kaya is the favourite and the 20-year-old’s nearest challenger could be fifteen years his senior.

Spain’s 2006 European champion, Jesus Espana will hope to roll back the years, whilst Great Britain’s Luke Caldwell will be hoping to translate his 13:33.28 season’s best as the fastest in the field this year into a third-place finish.

Women’s 5,000m –

Sweden’s Meraf Bahta recorded an impressive 14:59.49 national record back in May but she will be challenged by Great Britain’s Olympic 5,000m and 10,000m eighth placer, Julia Bleasdale and the home nation’s Sabrina Mockenhaupt.

Men’s 3,000m Steeplechase –

Fifth in Rome, Poland’s Krystian Zalewski arrives from an 8:16.20 lifetime best this season and the European under23 bronze medallist faces the continent’s senior bronze medallist, Victor Garcia of Spain in the steeplechase contest.

Women’s 3,000m Steeplechase –

Sweden’s 29-year-old Charlotta Fougberg comes into the competition with a 9:34.61 national record under her belt, and of those to also contest, Russia’s Yekaterina Doseykina and Germany’s Antje Moldner-Schmidt – an Olympic and world finalist in the past two summers – should feature highly.

Men’s 110m Hurdles –

World indoor 60m hurdles runner-up, Pascal Martinot-Lagarde of France sped to a 13.12 world-lead and equal personal best in Oslo, and the 22-year-old will be hard to beat.

Leading the chase will be world bronze medallist, Sergey Shubenkov of Russia following his second and third positions in Doha and Oslo, respectively, and Great Britain’s world fifth placer, Will Sharman who is close to his best this summer with a 13.28 clocking.

Women’s 100m Hurdles –

France’s Cindy Billaud – with a 12.69 season’s best – is the stand-out performer in the field and the 28-year-old world indoor fourth placer has shown good form on the IAAF Diamond League circuit, with two fourth place finishes in Rome and New York.

Germany’s world indoor 60m hurdles finalist, Nadine Hildebrand also competes.

Men’s 400m Hurdles –

Russia’s 22-year-old Denis Kudryavtsev has recorded a 48.95 personal best this season and he will face Poland’s European junior runner-up, Patryk Dobek and Great Britain’s Richard Yates.

Women’s 400m Hurdles –

World fifth placer, Eilidh Child of Great Britain leads the way with the only sub-55-second time in the field this summer and the 27-year-old boasts three third place finishes in Doha, Rome and Oslo, respectively.

Ukraine’s Hanna Ryzhykova – sixth in last year’s global championships – and Russia’s 2012 European champion, Irina Davydova provide the opposition.

Men’s High Jump –

Following third place in New York, Ukraine’s Andriy Protsenko – the world indoor bronze medallist – enters the competition as the favourite for victory.

The 26-year-old has leapt a 2.35m lifetime best this summer and he will go up against France’s European bronze medallist, Mickael Hanany, who has cleared a 2.34m personal best this season.

Women’s High Jump –

A fierce battle is likely to commence between Spain’s Ruth Beitia and Russia’s Mariya Kuchina, with the pair having cleared 1.99m and 1.98m respectively this summer.

35-year-old Beitia – the world indoor and outdoor bronze medallist and Euro indoor and outdoor champion – placed third in both Shanghai and Eugene, whilst Kuchina – the
21-year-old world indoor champion – took the honours in Oslo.

Poland’s Kamila Licwinko – the joint world indoor champion with Kuchina – should not be overlooked in this contest.

Men’s Long Jump –

Olympic champion, Greg Rutherford opened his 2014 outdoor campaign with a startling 8.51m British record and world-lead, and the 27-year-old should be victorious here.

However, Germany’s Christian Reif – the European indoor bronze medallist – will be looking to spoil the party, following his 8.49m lifetime best mark last month.

Women’s Long Jump –

France’s world indoor champion, Eloyse Lesueur has a 6.87m season’s best and the 25-year-old finished third in Eugene.

Hoping to upstage her senior rival will be Germany’s European junior champion, Malaika Mihambo who has leapt a 6.88m lifetime best this summer.

Also hoping to be in the mix will be world fifth placer, Olga Kucherenko of Russia.

Men’s Triple Jump –

Great Britain’s 2009 world champion, Phillips Idowu has returned to competition with a 16.99m season’s best and the 35-year-old goes up against Italy’s Olympic bronze medallist, Fabrizio Donato.

The 37-year-old was fourth in Rome and this contest promises to be a battle of the experienced men.

Women’s Triple Jump –

This event will see a close match-up between Russia’s world indoor champion, Yekaterina Koneva and Olympic bronze medallist, Olha Saladukha of Ukraine.

Second in Rome, 25-year-old Koneva has registered a 14.83m personal best this year, whilst 31-year-old Saladukha finished two places behind her in the Italian capital but should not be discounted for the win bearing in mind her 14.99m best.

Men’s Pole Vault –

One of the biggest stars of the show will be France’s Olympic and world indoor champion, Renaud Lavillenie.

The 27-year-old world record holder is expected to make light work of the competition, following his 5.92m season’s best and victories in Shanghai, Eugene, Hengelo, Oslo and Ostrava.

Of his challengers, Poland’s Piotr Lisek has leapt a 5.82m personal best this summer and Germany’s Tobias Scherbarth has a 5.73m season’s best.

Women’s Pole Vault –

Russia’s world indoor runner-up, Anzhelika Sidorova has cleared 4.60m this season, placing the 22-year-old as the pre-event favourite but Poland’s Anna Rogowska should not be ignored.

The 33-year-old 2009 world champion finished fifth in both Rome and New York, whilst Germany’s Katharina Bauer could also feature.

Men’s Javelin –

The Czech Republic’s Petr Frydrych placed fourth in Eugene and has a season’s best of 85.07m, and he will facePoland’s Lukasz Grzeszczuk – who registered a 84.77m personal best earlier in the season - and Sweden’s Kim Amb.

Women’s Javelin –

The home nation will harbour high hopes for Linda Stahl, who was victorious in New York last weekend with a 67.32m world-lead and lifetime best to boot.

The 28-year-old Olympic bronze medallist and 2010 European champion will have to beat the Czech Republic’s Olympic champion, Barbora Spotakova however, to please the German crowd.

The 32-year-old continues her comeback from maternity leave and took the win in Rome.

Men’s Shot Put –

In another tense battle, Germany’s David Storl will compete against Poland’s Tomasz Majewski.
Storl, the 23-year-old world champion will face two-time Olympic champion, Majewski – who is nine years his senior.

Women’s Shot Put –

Yet another local athlete aiming to impress is world indoor and outdoor runner-up, Christina Schwanitz.

The 28-year-old was second in Rome and has a 20.22m season’s best ahead of going up against Ukraine’s European under23 champion, Olha Holodnaya and Russia’s Irina Tarasova – the European silver medallist.

Men’s Discus –

Two more giants of men’s throwing will go head-to-head in another highly-anticipated duel, as Germany’s Robert Harting and Poland’s Piotr Malachowski clash.

29-year-old Harting – the Olympic, world and European champion – has won in Rome, Hengelo and New York this season, whilst Malachowski – the world silver medallist finished behind his great rival in Rome and New York.

Women’s Discus –

Germany’s 28-year-old Nadine Muller – the European silver medallist and fourth in both the 2012 Olympics and 2013 World Championships – is the stand-out athlete in the field, following her fourth place position in Eugene.

The challenge is likely to come from Russia’s Yekaterina Strokova, who has thrown a 65.78m personal best this summer.

Men’s Hammer –

Poland’s world champion, Pawet Fajdek, 25, has the furthest season’s best of the field with a 79.65m effort, and Russia’s Sergey Litvinov should be another top contender.

Women’s Hammer –

Continuing Germany’s near-dominance in the throwing events, will be Olympic bronze medallist, Betty Heidler who has an impressive near-four meter advantage over the rest of the field in season’s bests with 78.00m.

The 30-year-old is followed by Poland’s Joanna Fiodorow – the 2011 European under23 runner-up – who has thrown a 74.39m lifetime best this year and Russia’s Anna Bulgakova, the European bronze medallist.

Men’s 4x100m Relay –

Great Britain and Northern Ireland have a strong chance of winning the short relay with the likes of world 200m fifth placer Adam Gemili, world indoor 60m champion Richard Kilty, Talbot and Harry Aikines-Aryeetey to call upon.

They will be challenged by the French squad who are bolstered by Vicaut and Lemaitre.

Women’s 4x100m Relay –

Again, the British are expected to lead the way as Jodie Williams, Bianca Williams, Anyika Onuora and Rachel Johncock team up.

The French quartet can rely on the speed of Soumare and Lesueur, whilst the Netherlands have Samuel and Schippers to assist.

Men’s 4x400m Relay –

Russia will field a typically strong outfit, featuring Pavel Ivashko, Vladimir Krasnov and Pavel Trenkikhin.

France will call upon middle-distance men, Pierre-Ambroise Bosse and Mame-Ibra Anne, and Great Britain will use Daniel Awde, Andrew Steele and Rabah Yousif.

Women’s 4x400m Relay –

The British team will use the skills of Child and Jodie Williams, in addition to Emily Diamond and Shana Cox.

Russia will be tough to beat with Davydova, Tamkova and Yekaterina Renzhina on their side, and Ukraine will field Lyakhova, Ryzhykova and Zemlyak.

Friday, 13 June 2014

PREVIEW: IAAF New York Diamond League & adidas Grand Prix

The sixth leg of the 2014 IAAF Diamond League travels to New York on Saturday as the finest track and field athletes from around the globe gather to compete in the adidas Grand Prix. Below is a summary of the headline acts to look out for in the US city…

BMW Women’s 100m -

America’s Tori Bowie starts as the favourite following her breakthrough performances on the IAAF Diamond League circuit in recent weeks.

The 23-year-old is yet to compete in a major international championship but caused a surprise from lane one of the 200m in Eugene with a 22.18 world lead, then consolidated her fine form with another victory – this time over 100m – in Rome last week, with a 10.5 lifetime best.

Her opposition will come in the form of Jamaican duo, Samantha Henry-Robinson and Kerron Stewart.

The former sped to a 11.00 clocking in Florida back in April, whilst Stewart – the 2008 Olympic silver medallist – placed third in Doha and was the runner-up in Rome.

adidas Men’s 200m –

2009 world silver medallist, Alsonso Edward leads the men’s half-lap field, courtesy of his 20.00 season’s best and win in Rome.

The 24-year-old from Panama will face global fourth placer, Nickel Ashmead of Jamaica who took the honours in Doha and his countryman, Warren Weir – the Olympic bronze medallist and world runner-up who took second place in Doha.

Women’s 400m –

Francena McCorory improved from fourth in Shanghai to second in Eugene, and the 25-year-old world indoor champion goes up against Stephenie Ann-McPherson of Jamaica.

The world fourth placer finished third in the same two meetings and the contest will additionally welcome the one-lap season debut of world champion, Christine Ohuruogu.

Great Britain’s 2008 Olympic champion has been in under-par form of late but should never be discounted.

adidas Men’s 800m –

Following a lengthy injury lay-off in 2013, Olympic champion and world record-holder, David Rudisha continues his return to competition.

The 25-year-old lead for much of the race in Eugene before languishing to seventh spot but the Kenyan has had a fortnight to work on his finishing speed.

Others expected to feature highly in the two-lap competition include America’s Olympic fourth placer, Duane Solomon who finished fourth in Rome and Polish pair, Adam Kszczot and Marcin Lewandowski – who were fifth and sixth in Eugene, as Lewandowski progressed to third in Rome.

Women’s 1500m –

Sweden’s world indoor and outdoor champion, Abebe Aregawi is expected to cross the line first in the metric mile.

The 23-year-old won in Shanghai and placed second in Eugene, and she faces Ethiopia’s 17-year-old Dawit Seyaum, who scorched to a 3:59.53 world junior lead and national junior record in Marrakech last weekend.

The world youth championships runner-up will be joined by the USA’s world silver medallist, Jenny Simpson who finished one and two places, respectively, behind Aregawi earlier in the season.

Women’s 3,000m –

World 5,000m runner-up, Mercy Cherono of Kenya should be the one to beat, following a two-mile victory in Eugene for the 23-year-old.

Also second in Doha and fourth in Rome, she will do battle against her team-mate, the Olympic 10,000m silver medallist, Sally Kipyego and Bahrain's 2010 world indoor 1500m champion, Kalkidan Gezahegne.

Women’s 3,000m Steeplechase –

Following a 9:11.39 world lead in Eugene, Olympic and world bronze medallist, Sofia Assefa of Ethiopia starts as the favourite over the barriers.

The 26-year-old will be joined by her countrywoman, Hiwot Ayalew who placed third in Shanghai and runner-up in Eugene, and Kenya’s Purity Kirui.

Women’s 100m Hurdles –

2008 Olympic champion and 2012 Olympic silver medallist, Dawn Harper-Nelson is the odds-on favourite following the 30-year-old American’s runner-up position in Rome.

Her team-mate, Queen Harrison – fifth in the world championships last summer – finished one place behind in the Italian capital, and Great Britain’s world indoor and outdoor bronze medallist, Tiffany Porter is another athlete to watch out for.

Men’s 400m Hurdles –

30-year-old Olympic runner-up, Michael Tinsley of the USA is the current world-leader with a swift 48.57 clocking and the Shanghai winner will be challenged by Puerto Rico’s Javier Culson and the USA’s Bershawn Jackson.

Culson – the Olympic bronze medallist – won in Hengelo, whilst 2005 world champion, Jackson placed third in Shanghai.

Men’s High Jump –

The top three from Rome will do battle once again in one of the most eagerly-anticipated events on the programme.

Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim and Bogdan Bondarenko of Ukraine will renew their rivalry after their thrilling clash, which result in Barshim narrowly capturing the win via a 2.41m world-leading leap.

The 22-year-old world indoor champion will be up against the threat of world champion, Bondarenko as well as the USA’s 2012 Olympic silver medallist, Erik Kynard – who placed second in Doha earlier on in the summer.

Men’s Long Jump –

Greece’s world indoor fourth placer, Louis Tsatoumas starts as the favourite in this event.

The 32-year-old arrives off the back of victory in Doha and Hengelo, and he will compete against China’s world indoor runner-up, Li Jinzhe and the USA’s Jeff Henderson.

Women’s Pole Vault –

Cuba’s Yarisley Silva holds the current world lead with a 4.70m mark en route to victory in Rome, and the 27-year-old world indoor champion will clash with Olympic champion, Jenn Suhr.

The American world silver medallist will be joined by Germany’s Lisa Ryzih was finished runner-up in Rome.

Women’s Triple Jump –

Kimberly Williams of Jamaica should have it her own way following third and second place in Doha and Hengelo, respectively.

The 25-year-old world indoor bronze medallist is joined in the field by Russia's world finalist, Anna Pyatykh and Australia’s Linda Leverton.

Women’s Shot Put –

After recent wins in Doha, Rome and Marrakech, shot put supremo, Valerie Adams will be seeking an outstanding fiftieth consecutive record.

The 29-year-old Olympic, world and world indoor champion from New Zealand looks set to grab another victory, and is the only woman on the start list who has thrown over
20-meters this season.

Adams’ nearest challenger may be Russia’s Olympic runner-up Yevgeniya Kolodko, who was fourth in Rome and Trinidad and Tobago’s Cleopatra Borel.

Men’s Discus Throw –

Two giants of the discus throwing world, Germany’s Robert Harting and Piotr Malachowski of Poland will once again face off in what is set to be a tense battle.

Harting - the 29-year-old Olympic, world and European champion – took the top spot in Rome and Hengelo from his fierce rival but Malachowski holds the world lead at

Women’s Javelin -

The only woman in the field who has thrown in excess of 64-meters this year is Australia’s Kathryn Mitchell, owner of a 66.10m effort this summer and therefore the a clear favourite.

The athlete most likely to halt the 32-year-old world fifth placer’s ambitions could be Germany’s Linda Stahl – the Olympic bronze medallist and world fourth placer who was fifth in Doha.

Non-Diamond League events:

BMW Men’s 100m –

Jamaica’s Olympic 100m and 200m silver medallist, Yohan Blake is matched up against his compatriot, Nesta Carter in what should be a tight race.

The pair share the same 10.02 season’s best and Carter – the world bronze medallist – could potentially cause an upset following his second place finishes in Shanghai and Rome.

Battling for the third spot is likely to be Zambia’s world indoor 60m fifth placer, Gerald Phiri, Zambia.

Women’s 200m –

World indoor 400m bronze medallist, Shaunae Miller goes up against 2009 world fifth placer, Anneisha McLaughlin of Jamaica, whilst the USA’s Shalonda Solomon also contests.

Men’s 400m –

LaShawn Merritt has notched up victories in Doha, Eugene and Rome and co-owns the current world-lead with an impressive 43.74.

The 27-year-old American world champion will face Olympic silver and world bronze medallist, Luguelin Santos of the Dominican Republic and Saudi Arabia’s Yousef Masrahi.

Women’s 800m –

US teen sensation, Mary Cain goes in the two-lap event and the 18-year-old world finalist’s opposition includes Canada’s Kate Van Buskirk and Jamaica’s Natoya Goule.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Four World Leads the Highlight in Oslo’s Bislett Stadium


The ExxonMobil Bislett Games on Wednesday evening enjoyed four world leads as the fifth stage of the 2014 IAAF Diamond League arrived in Oslo for the prestigious athletic event.

In mild, dry conditions, the Norwegian capital played host to a plethora of world-class athletes inside the Bislett Stadium – with Pascal Martinot-Lagarde, Yenew Alamirew, Jarius Kipchoge-Birech and Tianna Bartoletta providing the highlights.

World indoor silver medallist, Martinot-Lagarde added to his victory in the IAAF Eugene Diamond League in May with a swift 13.12 world-leading and lifetime best performance in the 110m hurdles.

The 22-year-old Frenchman strode clear ahead of Jamaica’s Andrew Riley, who caused a surprise in second place with a 13.36 clocking, in what is by far the world finalist’s best run of the season.

Martinot-Lagarde explained afterwards:

“I’m happy, personal best is always good. I still see improvements in my technique. I aim for sub-13 at the French Championships.”

Ehhiopia’s Alamirew exacted revenge on Kenya’s Caleb Ndiku, who beat him to the top spot in Eugene, with Alamirew storming to a fine 13:01.57 world lead in the 5,000m.

The 24-year-old grabbed his second IAAF Diamond League victory following first place in Shanghai, whilst 21-year-old Ndiku – the world indoor 3,000m champion – registered 13:02.15 in his wake.

Meanwhile, Olympic 10,000m silver medallist, Galen Rupp of the USA recorded a 13:03.35 season’s best in third.

Alamirew revealed:

“I won the Diamond League last year and I want to do the same this year. I think later in the season, I can be faster.”

Kenya’s Kipchoge-Birech continued his fine form following victory in the IAAF Rome Diamond League last week with another 3,000m steeplechase win – this time in a world-
leading 8:02.27.

The 21-year-old stormed clear in the final two laps from the USA’s Evan Jager.

The 25-year-old world fifth placer clocked 8:06.97 less than a fortnight after finishing third in the Bowerman mile in Eugene.

Birech said after his exertions:

“I was afraid to go for a fast pace as I was competing twice recently so I definitely was not fast enough.

“I think in Lausanne (at the IAAF Diamond League on July 3rd), I can go under eight minutes.”

On the in-field, the USA’s Tianna Bartoletta leapt a 7.02m world lead in the second round of the long jump before exiting the competition, and her furthest leap was enough to grab victory.

The 28-year-old 2006 world indoor champion finished comfortably ahead of Great Britain’s world indoor fourth placer, Shara Proctor who registered 6.78m in the fourth round.

World indoor record holder and Olympic champion, Renaud Lavillenie continued his pole vault dominance with a comfortable 5.77m victory.

The 27-year-old Frenchman’s win follows top place finishes in Shanghai, Eugene and Hengelo, and the world indoor champion finished clear of Germany’s world indoor silver medallist, Malte Mohr, who soared to a best of 5.70m in the runner-up position.

Lavillenie explained:

“The win was the most important for me today. The conditions were difficult, especially the changing wind – you cannot relax enough and that is important.

“I nearly jumped the 5.83m but I’m satisfied.”

Three-time world and 2012 Olympic 200m champion, Allyson Felix signalled her return to winning ways with victory over the half-lap in 22.73.

The 28-year-old American was only third in Eugene and managed to hold off Great Britain’s Jodie Williams, who flew to a shock second place.

The 20-year-old has been under the radar of late due to making her return from long-term injury, but the 2010 world junior 100m champion took the scalps of several big names to clock 22.97 in the runner-up position.

Russia’s world indoor champion, Mariya Kuchina made up for finishing fourth in Eugene by claiming the high jump honours with a 1.98m personal best.

The 21-year-old won on count-back from Croatia’s two-time world indoor and outdoor champion, Blanka Vlasic who opened her outdoor campaign in style and rekindled her fond memories of winning in Oslo on four previous occasions.

Kuchina admitted afterwards:

“That was hard, I have no more power – my legs were so tired.

“I wanted to clear two metres but this was not the day to do it.”

Trinidad and Tobago’s Richard Thompson stole the show in the 100m to close the evening’s proceedings, with a solid 10.02 clocking.

The 29-year-old 2008 Olympic silver medallist – who ran 9.95 in Hengelo last weekend – managed to hold off the fast-finishing Jimmy Vicaut, who was timed at 10.04 in
the runner-up position.

The 22-year-old Frenchman improved on his third place in Eugene, whilst Great Britain’s Adam Gemili – the world 200m fifth placer – finished third with 10.11.

Thompson revealed after the event:

“That was a step in the right direction. I am still missing something to beat the Jamaicans and US sprinters but I’m coming closer.

“I wanted to run sub-10 but we had the head-wind, but this win in credible for me.”

Djibouti’s Ayanleh Souleiman followed up his win in the Bowerman Mile in Eugene with another four-lap victory in the famous Dream Mile with 3:49.49.

The 21-year-old world indoor 1500m champion glided around the Bislett Stadion track where no less than ten of the world’s 30 fastest milers have registered their personal best times, whilst Nick Willis took a surprise second place.

The 31-year-old 2008 Olympic 1500m silver medallist from New Zealand recorded a fine 3:49.83 lifetime best to take his season up a gear.

Souleiman said:

“It was a perfect race for me. The pace was right and I am very happy to do my second win here.

“This season, I have a great dream to fill, I hope to 3:26 (over 1500m) in Monaco.”

Kicking off the proceedings was World and Olympic champion, Sandra Perkovic who claimed her third straight IAAF Diamond League victory in the discus with her usual ease, courtesy of a 67.17m throw in the second round.

The 23-year-old Croatian – who won in Shanghai and Eugene in recent weeks – was followed by the USA’s Gia Lewis-Smallwood (65.77m) in second place.

Perkovic explained afterwards:

“I’m not satisfied with my result – the circle did not allow me to use my technique, it was slow.

“But ok, let’s move to the next competition which will be the European Team Championships (in Braunschweig next weekend).

“The main goal is Zurich (at the European Championships in August) and throw over 71-meters.”

American duo, Will Claye and Christian Taylor put on a battle royale for the crowd, with the former snatching back the triple jump lead in the sixth and final round with a 17.41m leap.

The 22-year-old world indoor champion thus maintained his impressive winning streak following victories on the IAAF Diamond League circuit in Eugene and Rome lately, whilst Olympic champion, Taylor registered a best of 17.15m for his third-consecutive runner-up spot.

Claye explained:

“I’m blessed, I was a little surprised in Eugene as I was before kind of injured and competed there on faith but now I ended up winning the meetings so now I want to win the whole series.”

Another to extend their IAAF Diamond League winning ways this summer was Kenya’s Eunice Sum, who stormed to victory in the 800m in a swift 1:59.02 season’s best.

The 25-year-old world champion – who also finished first in Doha and Rome – came home clear of the USA’s Ajee Wilson, who registered a 1:59.68 season’s best, whilst

Great Britain’s 19-year-old Jessica Judd placed third in 1:59.77 lifetime best.

Sum said after her event:

“It looks like I’m confident with winning but it is not true I’m taking every competition as one and not feeling to confident.

“I would like faster times but need to be more fresh, maybe in Lausanne.”

Despite having admitted to getting next to no sleep in the past few days due to his wife giving birth to a baby boy on Monday, world silver medallist, Tero Pitkamaki threw a 84.18m season’s best to win the javelin.

The 31-year-old Fin and 2007 world champion improved from sixth place in Shanghai and finished ahead of Kenya’s Julius Yego, who threw just one centimetre less to seal the runner-up spot.

Pitkamaki revealed:

“I’m lucky to win by one centimetre.

“I had problems with my elbow and took antibiotics so I felt tired without any power, so in that sense, the win is great for me.

“I dedicate this win to my son.”

Novlene Williams-Mills took her third IAAF Diamond League win of the season with a comfortable 50.06 season’s best.

The 32-year-old Jamaican took the honours in Shanghai and Eugene, and the 2007 world champion and 2012 Olympic fifth placer finished clear of the USA’s Natasha

World indoor 4x400m gold medallist, Hastings, clocked a 50.60 season’s best in her best performance of the summer so far.

Williams-Mills said later on:

“After last year, my season was not great so I’m please to run that well this year.

“I admit it is time to go under 50-seconds now. The big goal is to win the Diamond Race.”

Following 400m hurdles wins in Eugene and Rome, World indoor 400m silver medallist, Kaliese Spencer added another victory to her 2014 campaign with first place 54.94.

The 27-year-old Jamaican - and Olympic fourth placer over the barriers – pipped Bahrain’s Kemi Adekoya in a tight finish, with the 21-year-old Doha IAAF Diamond League winner clocking 54.96.

Spencer explained:

“Today, it was only the victory that mattered. I did a bad race and it was a very hard home stretch.

“My goal is to compete well at the Commonwealth Games and to win the Diamond League.”

The USA’s Joe Kovacs caused an upset to capture the shot put.

The 24-year-old finally grabbed the top spot after second place finishes in Shanghai and Eugene with a 21.14m effort over Germany’s two-time World champion, David Storl.

The 23-year-old Olympic silver medallist threw 21.08m just one centimetre ahead of American, Reese Hoffa – the winner in Eugene.

Kovacs revealed afterwards:

“The win is very special for me but I did not think before the competition that 21.14m would be enough to win.

“My next goal is to compete well at the US Championships, I’m looking forward to it.”

Finally, in the men’s 400m non-IAAF Diamond League event, Olympic and world decathlon champion and world record holder, Ashton Eaton sped to a respectable 49.16 victory.

The 26-year-old American set a 49.07 lifetime best whilst winning in Hengelo last weekend as he uses the 2014 ‘off season’ as an opportunity to try a new event and revitalise his form before the world championship year.

Eaton said:

“I’m still learning the event but I won and the time is ok, so nothing to complain.

“Of course it could be smoother but that is what I am for – maybe in my next race in Ostrava (on Tuesday). Next time I want to break 49-seconds.”

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Sprinting Legend, Lewis Meets Current 100m Elite


Nine-time Olympic gold medallist, Carl Lewis met the world’s current crop of elite 100m sprinting at this evening’s official press conference at Oslo’s strawberry party in the City Hall, ahead of tomorrow’s ExxonMobil Bislett Games and IAAF Diamond League.

At the official curtain-raiser to the annual event, the gathering was staged in the same venue which holds the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize ceremony each December and the Norwegian capital welcomed the American sprints legend together with Jimmy Vicaut, Jaysuma Saidy Ndure, Adam Gemili and Richard Kilty.

Speaking to the assembled media, 52-year-old Lewis recalled his time spent competing at the Bislett stadium in the 1980’s and 1990’s:

“I remember when I first came back in 1980 – the event was so small, we had to stay with local people,” he said.

“I had great experiences here but the best was on my birthday in 1989.”

The four-time Olympic long jump champion, two-time Olympic 200m and 4x100m champion and 1984 Olympic 100m champion retired from the sport 17 years ago and keeps busy by running his own business and with coaching and United Nations duties.

The three-time world 100m and two-time world long jump champion can boast bests of 9.86m and 8.87m, respectively, and Lewis spoke openly about his career in Oslo:

“The best day of my career was the day I retired because I’d exceeded my expectations and had no regrets,” he revealed.

“I’d competed all around the world and did it all – I look back with fond memories.”

“Believe it or not, my Olympic and world medals are all in a safety deposit box in storage and I only looked at them once a year as I never thought medals would win me a race.”

Lewis also offered some advice to the present-day athletes, saying:

“The biggest thing is to set an ultimate goal – if you can understand that then every day is working towards it.”

Meanwhile, Jimmy Vicaut spoke of his intentions to improve the 9.92 French record.

The 22-year-old European indoor 60m champion and European 100m silver medallist equalled his 9.95 personal best last month and ran a windy 9.89 for third place in Eugene at the end of May.

“It’s the best beginning to my season and I hope to go quicker tomorrow,” Vicaut explained.

“My goal is to qualify for both events at the European Championships (in Zurich in August) and I hope to stay injury-free and beat record.”

Another athlete with a 9.95 clocking to his name in the field tomorrow night is Norway’s Jaysuma Saidy Ndure.

The 30-year-old European bronze medallist registered the national record mark last weekend and placed fourth in the Doha leg of the IAAF Diamond League at the beginning of May.

The 2011 world fourth placer said:

“I feel I’m in good shape so it’s going to be a good race.

“I still have time to improve – I’ve been focusing on my start this year and working hard so my goal is to run sub-10.

“I’ve been working hard on my 200m so I’ll compete in both events in the European’s.”

Great Britain’s Adam Gemili appears on the verge of his first sub-10 second clocking, following a 10.07 season’s best in Rome whilst finishing third in the IAAF Diamond League event last week.

The 20-year-old world 200m fifth placer has a best of 10.05 stretching back to the 2012 season when he took the world junior 100m title and said:

“It’s a long season ahead so I’m taking my time and getting quicker.

“I’m prioritising the 100m at the moment and then I’ll move on to some 200m’s.

“British sprinting has been given a boost and I hope I can go sub-10 soon.”

The 2013 European under23 100m champion continued:

“I hope to do both the Commonwealth Games (in Glasgow next month) and the European Championships but I’m still deciding on what to do where.”

His compatriot, Richard Kilty should also feature highly tomorrow evening.

The 24-year-old world indoor 60m champion has a best of 10.10 from last summer and is confident of a strong display despite his 10.26 performance in Rome:

“Usually it takes me a couple of races to get into the swing of things so I hope I’ll be ready by the time of the British championships (at the end of June),” Kilty explained.

“The 200m was my favourite event last year but I missed so much speed-endurance work because of the long indoor season so I’m focusing on the 100m this year.”

Ahoure Looking for Home Support Whilst Felix Continues Her Comeback


World 100m silver medallist, Murielle Ahoure and the returning Olympic 200m champion, Allyson Felix spoke to the assemble media at this evening’s official press conference at Oslo’s strawberry party in the City Hall, ahead of tomorrow’s ExxonMobil Bislett Games and IAAF Diamond League.

Staged in the same venue which holds the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize ceremony each December, the Norwegian capital welcomed the sprinting duo who were both in positive frames of mind ahead of their 200m contest.

Ahoure – also the world silver medallist over the half-lap distance – lives in Oslo for part of the year with her Norwegian fiancé and so spoke of her excitement about enjoying the home crowd support:

“Oslo feels like home – I know the track very well as I train there three times a week so tomorrow will feel like practice but with lots of people watching!” she explained.

The 26-year-old from the Ivory Coast is a two-time world indoor 60m champion but has good speed-endurance - most recently witnessed during her fourth place over 200m at the Eugene IAAF Diamond League with 22.61 at the end of last month.

An Olympic finalist over both distances, Ahoure has a best of 22.24 from last summer and revealed:

“It’s been a rocky time in my life in the past couple of months, what with moving and changing coach, and it was amazing to go back to the Ivory Coast recently – the people are great there and it gives me goose-bumps just thinking about it.

“My favourite event is definitely the 100m but I’m getting used to the 200m and I’m learning it more so the plan is to definitely run them both this year.”

Next competing in the Lausanne IAAF Diamond League on the third of July, Ahoure continued:

“Tomorrow’s all about going out there, focusing on myself and putting on a great show.

Felix meanwhile, is on the comeback trail from injury and the 28-year-old American executed a promising 22.44 for third place in Eugene.

Boasting a 21.69 lifetime best from the 2012 season in which she also collected Olympic gold in the 4x100m and 4x400m relays in London, Felix is content to be patient in her return to competition:

“My return’s been good so far, it’s been a rocky road but I’m blessed and lucky to be back and healthy,” she explained.

“The races were decent, I felt a little rough but I’m excited for my third race and hope it keeps getting better.

“I’m running the 200m and 400m this year and will then just see which direction for the future.”

A three-time world 200m champion, Felix will compete in Oslo for the very first time ahead of her next race in Ostrava on Tuesday:

“I hope it will be a great race with a great time,” she continued, “I’m excited to compete in front of the fans for the first time.”

Lavillenie Looking to Maintain Momentum


World pole vault record holder, Renaud Lavillenie joined Raphael Holzdeppe, the world champion at the annual traditional curtain-raiser to the Bislett Games and IAAF Oslo Diamond League at the famous strawberry party at Oslo’s City Hall this evening.

Staged in the same venue which holds the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize ceremony each December, the Norwegian capital welcomed the pole vaulting duo in front of the assembled world’s media and the pair spoke positively ahead of tomorrow night’s event.

Lavillenie - the Olympic and world indoor champion – has successfully returned from the foot injury he sustained whilst setting his remarkable 6.16m world indoor record-breaking mark in February, and he arrives in Oslo following recent wins in Shanghai, Eugene and Hengelo.

The 27-year-old Frenchman revealed his plan for tomorrow:

“I’ve tried to break the meeting record (of 6.00m held by Tim Lobinger from the 1999 event) before but it’s always been windy so I hope to get a chance tomorrow.

“Hopefully I can jump 5.90m/6.00m and it will be a good performance. If there’s no wind, we’re up for it.”

With an outdoor best of 6.02m from last summer, the world silver medallist leads Holzdeppe 27-7 in career head-to-heads and Lavillenie is confident of maintaining his fine form:

“I’ve been first place for me every time (this season) so it’s good going and I’ve had a couple of good jumps so it’s a good opening season,” he explained.

The two-time European outdoor and three-time European indoor champion is keen to add another continental gold medal to his collection in Zurich in August:

“My focus is on the gold medal at the European Championships so I need to be as consistent as possible around the 5.80m-6m marks,” he said.

“It’s still early in the season and I’m pretty sure all of the best pole vaulters will be close to 5.80m soon. I just focus on myself and do my stuff.”

When asked about the possibility of extending his world mark even higher back in the winter, Lavillenie continued:

“When I jumped 6.16m, everything was perfect and I used the biggest pole which pushed me further.

“You can’t compare what I’m doing now to what Sergey Bubka did all those years ago – he went up one centimetre at a time but I thought I’d lose time as it’s not easy to find the right conditions for it and so I’d found the best opportunity of my life to do it so I had to try my very best.”

Holzdeppe meanwhile, is determined to get his season going at an improved level following a lacklustre start to his 2014 campaign.

The 24-year-old German – who beat his fierce rival to the world crown in the Russian capital last summer – missed the indoor season through injury but is hopeful for a promising return to form:

“It’s been difficult for me as I missed the indoor season and thought I could come straight back to the big heights so it’s been a really bad time for me,” he revealed.

“I think I found my rhythm in Eugene (where he placed fourth with 5.53m at the end of May) finally so I hope to jump well tomorrow.

“The win in Moscow was a good day for me but I was pushed back a bit, but now I’m in really good shape.”

The Olympic bronze medallist and 2008 world junior champion has a best of 5.91m from the 2012 season and is also targeting the European Championships – in addition to the European Team Championships in Braunschweig next weekend:

“We have two Germans already qualified for the European’s (with the 5.70m mark) but I feel really confident of qualifying,” Holzdeppe explained.

“If I jump 5.70m, I will compete in the European Team Championships – my goal is 5.75m tomorrow then I hope to be competing on home turf.”

Changing of the Guard Helping to Promote the Javelin


Four of the world’s finest javelin throwers gathered at the official press conference ahead of tomorrow’s ExxonMobil Bislett Games and IAAF Diamond League at Oslo’s Thon Hotel Opera in front of the assembled international media this afternoon, and much of the talk was about the surprising world-leader.

Egypt’s Ihab Abdelrahan threw an incredible 89.21m lifetime best and Area Record to win May’s Shanghai IAAF Diamond League, and his eye-catching six-metre improvement this season is understandably the current hot topic in men’s javelin.

The 25-year-old 2008 world junior silver medallist explained:

“I’m not surprised as my coach told me I could throw over 87m so I’m happy.

“I used to train alone in Egypt but now I train with my coach in Finland, he has changed my technique.”
Seventh in last summer’s IAAF World Championships in Moscow, Abdelrahan – with possibly even more from him to come as he learns the event - continued:

“I had an ankle injury in Shanghai and it twisted again in Beijing but it’s better now.

“I feel happy and good - I’ve been watching YouTube videos (of the javelin greats) to learn.”

World champion, Vitezslav Vesely of the Czech Republic is returning from a long-term knee injury but the 31-year-old is in positive mood:

“I had a big problem with my knee but it’s getting better. It was a problem in 2013 but it’s better than expected now so I’m waiting for a better result, hopefully tomorrow,” he revealed.

Fourth in the 2012 London Olympics, Vesely is a 88.34m thrower at his best and he boasts a season’s best of 83.80m from his third place finish in Shanghai.

The winner of May’s Prefontaine Classic and Eugene IAAF Diamond League, he continued:

“In January, I couldn’t run 100m without pain – the muscles around my knee were like a baby’s muscles. I started walking and running barefoot so now it’s ok.

“I’m not in my best shape as I missed a lot of training but I still think I can throw well.

“I’m taking care of my legs – this season is not as important as the next three and everything is dictated by my knee.”

On his fierce rival’s startling performance, Vesely offered:

“When I saw Ihab’s throw, I thought it is still possible in my career, I still believe there is space to get better.

“His throw is good for javelin, it makes it more attractive.”

Another former champion hoping to regain his form here in Oslo is 2007 world champion, Tero Pitkamaki of Finland.

The 31-year-old world silver medallist was only sixth in Shanghai and he admitted that sleep has eluded him recent days but for a positive reason:

“I had a baby boy yesterday - baby and mother are well. I’m super happy and tired, and haven’t slept for the past three nights.”

The 2008 Olympic bronze medallist who has an impressive 91.53m lifetime best from the 2005 season, continued:

“I had some problems in South Africa in February and March and then had an elbow operation on the first of April so I’ve not done much throwing since but I’m getting better.

“My biggest goal was yesterday but I want the gold medal from Zurich (at the European Championships in August) and to throw 90m is my aim.”

On the current world-leader, the Olympic fifth placer admitted:

“I knew he could throw over 85m but it was a good surprise – I need to improve my throwing to beat him.”
2004 and 2008 Olympic champion, Andreas Thorkildsen agreed that Abdelrahan will be the man to beat tomorrow:

“Ihab’s a serious competitor – he’s come up through the ranks but it was a big surprise, he’s a big guy who can throw far.

“It was a good throw with nice flight and he has a bright future,” he said.

The 32-year-old Norwegian finished runner-up in Eugene with 80.52m and has fine memories of Oslo’s Bislett Stadium, having registered his superb 91.59m lifetime best there in 2006.

The 2009 world champion and two-time European champion explained his hopes ahead of competing in front of his home crowd:

“I’m healthy – Eugene was difficult so I have higher expectations tomorrow, I hope to be a lot more comfortable on the run-way and I hope we have nice weather, competition and results.

“I can't promise 89m but I’m able to. It’s still early (in the season) but it’s interesting that new countries are coming up.”

Change of Event Keeping Eaton ‘Sharp’


The first official press conference ahead of tomorrow’s ExxonMobil Bislett Games and IAAF Diamond League welcomed decathlon superstar, Ashton Eaton and local hurdler, Oyvind Strommen Kjerpeset at Oslo’s Thon Hotel Opera in front of the assembled international media this morning.

Eaton - the Olympic and world decathlon champion and world record-holder – is enjoying remarkable success in his new event, the 400m hurdles this season and will tackle his fifth race in the Norwegian capital tomorrow evening against Norway’s seven-time national champion, Strommen Kjerpeset who is seeking to improve his 49.95 national record in front of the home crowd support.

Having recorded an impressive 49.07 personal best in Hengelo on Sunday behind Olympic bronze and world silver medallist, Javier Culson at the FBK Games, Eaton now lays in ninth position on the IAAF world ranking list for the 2014 campaign and explained:

“I was good at it (the 400m hurdles) and was always curious so tried it and I needed a break from the past few years especially ahead of the 2015, 2016 and 2017 seasons.

“The 400m is my base training so we just took a step further with the hurdles and that’s why I chose that event.

“The 110m hurdles was fun (when he ran a 13.3 personal best for sixth place at the Prefontaine Classic and Eugene Diamond League last month) and I’d love to do the long jump and the pole vault at a meet.

“When it’s something new, you can stay sharp as you focus on getting better - not fall into bad habits and routines. It’s now about new approaches, staying athletic and learning something new.”

The 26-year-old American’s form has evidently been given a new lease of life following a few high-pressured years where he has captured every major championship title on offer, with the two-time world indoor heptathlon champion improving his time over the 400m barriers by almost a full second this summer.

“When 2013 finished, I was very tired mentally as I’d put a lot of pressure on myself to perform, it’s a lot of stress on the mind, I felt tired and needed a change and now I’ve done that, I’ll have no problem competing until 2020 when I’m 32,” Eaton revealed.

“It’s impossible to say what will happen - I didn’t know two years ago that I’d break the world record.

“Who knows if I’ll do the decathlon until 2020, I’ve taken the event as far as I could and so I now want to do that in other events but I’ll do the decathlon until 2016
at least.”

On his recent change of discipline, he continued:

“I’ve been watching videos of other athletes who are of the same height and speed as me to watch their stride pattern, and I was watching a video of my last race at breakfast this morning to get excited for tomorrow’s race.”

Eaton - who will next compete in the IAAF World Challenge in Ostrava on Tuesday the 17th – insisted that his multi-event form will not be affected despite focusing on just the one event this summer:

“I don’t think I’m losing my edge in the other events, even though I’m not competing in them, I still practise them in training – I’m just learning to be an athlete,” he said.

“My (training) times in intervals have actually got faster I think because I’m forced to be more aggressive as you have to focus on the number of steps (between the hurdles) and training for it is the same pain I feel in the 400m, it’s always in my hamstrings.”

Often described as the ‘Superman of athletics’, Eaton continued:

“My goal is always to set a personal best – it’s easy for me as I know it’s only temporary as I don’t see myself doing this (event) in the Olympics or World’s so I have an advantage over my competitors.

“My only plan is to race well and to finish each race as number one.”

“There was a big difference in the smoothness of my race (in Hengelo) – I’m learning to be more fluid.”

Arguably one of the star attractions on show in Oslo, Eaton however was his usual modest self:

“I don’t feel like a big star, I just feel like me. I’m just a normal person who’s happened to found what they’re good at and who loves doing it, but I don’t do it to be the biggest star.”

Meanwhile, Strommen Kjerpeset spoke of his hopes for tomorrow evening’s race.

The 22-year-old Norwegian record-holder with a 49.95 clocking last summer has recorded 50.78 this season and explained:

“I’ve been practising since February but my last competition didn’t quite work out as I wanted so I’m hoping to fix that tomorrow.

“I’m hoping for a personal best – a Norwegian record would make me happy.

“My goal is the European Championships in Zurich (in August) – I want to do well there, I’m hoping to make the final but I’ve been struggling with a foot injury which has held me back, but there’s a long time to go.”

Eaton was happy to offer his rival some advice ahead of their clash:

“It’s very important to keep changing - if you fail in your plan, learn from it.

“Change is key - always adapt to be successful and don’t be afraid – to do the same thing and expect different results doesn’t make sense.”

Monday, 2 June 2014

PREVIEW: IAAF Rome Diamond League/Golden Gala – Rome, Italy

The fourth leg of the 2014 IAAF Diamond League arrives in Rome’s Stadio Olimpico on Thursday evening, where the crème de la crème of world athletics will gather to compete in the Golden Gala Pietro Mennea.

Below is a summary of the headline acts to look out for in the Italian capital…

Men’s 100m -

2004 Olympic champion, Justin Gatlin contests the 100m following victory in last weekend’s Eugene Diamond League with a wind-aided 9.76.

The 32-year-old world silver medalist currently leads the world list with a swift 9.87 from Beijing last month and the American looks set to add a sixth straight win over the distance to his season resume.

His main challenger will come in the form of world bronze medalist, Nesta Carter.

The Olympic and world 4x100m relay champion from Jamaica clocked 9.89w for fourth place in Eugene, whilst France’s Jimmy Vicaut – fresh off a 9.89w third place finish in Eugene – should also provide stiff opposition.

British duo, Adam Gemili and Richard Kilty – the Olympic semi-finalist and world indoor 60m champion, respectively – start in a field which also boasts evergreen St Kitts and Nevis sprinter, Kim Collins – the 2003 world champion – and Jamaica’s Kemar Bailey-Cole.

Women’s 100m -

Olympic and world champion, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce suffered a major blip over 200m in Eugene, finishing last whilst carrying a hamstring injury but if the 27-year-old Jamaican has recovered in time, she should easily add Rome to her victory in Doha last month.

World 100m and 200m runner-up, Murielle Ahoure of the Ivory Coast won this event in the 2012 meeting ahead of Fraser-Pryce and will be keen to take advantage of her rival’s vulnerability.

Third in Doha, Jamaica’s Kerron Stewart also contests as does Olympic 4x100m relay champion, Tianna Bartoletta Madison and her US team-mates, Barbara Pierre, Octavius Freeman, Janeba Tarmoh and Alexandria Anderson. 

Men’s 200m – 

Panama’s 24-year-old 2009 global silver medalist, Alonso Edwards has made a recent return to form with a 20.00 clocking last month and he will face Olympic sixth placer, Christophe Lemaitre of France.

22-year-old American, Dedric Dukes is the only man to dip under 20-seconds so far this season with 19.97 in Florida in April, and other notable names include World bronze medallist, Curtis Mitchell of the USA and European champion and Olympic fifth placer, Churandy Martina of the Netherlands.

Men’s 400m – 

World champion and 2008 Olympic champion, LaShawn Merritt will be looking to repeat his 2013 victory and arrives in Rome following a thrilling battle against fierce rival, Kirani James in Eugene – with the pair sharing the same world-leading 43.97 as Merritt had to settle for the runner-up spot.

The American will match up against the Dominican Republic’s 20-year-old Olympic silver-medalist, Luguelin Santos and world indoor champion, Pavel Maslak of the Czech Republic.

Other stand-out names include 2010 European champion, Kevin Borlée and Saudi Arabia’s Yousef Ahmed Masrahi.

Men’s 800m

Just five days since their nail-biting battle in Eugene, Botswana’s Nijel Amos and Mohammed Aman of Ethiopia will clash once again.

Amos, the 20-year-old Olympic runner-up, stormed to a 1:43.63 world-lead in holding off Aman, the world indoor and outdoor champion in thrilling fashion last weekend and their rematch will make for fascinating viewing.

Women’s 800m – 

Cuba’s 18-year-old Sahily Diago is enjoying a breakthrough campaign with a recent 1:58.14 world junior record and world-lead, and she will be making her international debut in Rome.

Her toughest challengers will arrive in the form of Kenya’s world champion, Eunice Sum – who was victorious in Doha – and Janeth Jepkosgei, the 2007 world champion.

South Africa’s 2009 global champion and Olympic silver medallist, Caster Semenya and US trio, Chanelle Price, the world indoor champion, Brenda Martinez, the global bronze medallist and world junior champion, Ajee Wilson also contest.

Men’s 1500m - 

Following his world-leading 3:29.18 metric mile in Doha, two-time world champion, Asbel Kiprop heads into this event as the favourite.

The 24-year-old Kenyan will face his countryman, Silas Kiplagat – the 2011 global runner-up – and Djibouti’s Ayanleh Souleiman, the world indoor champion and winner of the Bowerman Mile in Eugene.

World indoor runner-up, Aman Wote of Ethiopia also takes part, as does world indoor 3000m champion Caleb Ndiku - who set a 13:01.71 world-leading time over 5,000m with victory in Eugene.

Women’s 5000m -

Ethiopia’s world indoor 3000m champion, Genzebe Dibaba was the revelation of the indoor season with world record-breaking performances over 1500m, 3,000m and two-miles, and despite only finishing sixth over 3,000m in Doha, the 23-year-old should not be discounted against returning to top form.

She will be up against world silver medallist, Mercy Cherono of Kenya who placed second in Doha and won the two-mile event in Eugene and her team-mate, Almaz Ayana – the global bronze medallist

Men’s 3000m steeplechase -

Two-time Olympic and three-time world champion, Ezekiel Kemboi of Kenya heads a tight battle over the barriers.

The 32-year-old was victorious in Doha, one place ahead of 2008 Olympic champion, Brimin Kipruto - who in addition to the added presence of 2004 Olympic bronze medallist, Paul Kipsiele Koech in the field – will ensure a thrilling battle between the East African trio.

Women’s 100m Hurdles –

For the first time ever in an IAAF Diamond League meeting, Olympic champion Sally Pearson will go head-to-head with world champion, Brianna Rollins and the pair are evenly matched ahead of this mouth-watering duel.

Australia’s Pearson, the 27-year-old 2011 world champion – registered a swift 12.59 in the southern hemisphere season, whilst American, Rollins – five years her junior – scorched to a 12.58 world lead in Beijing last month.

Amongst those hoping to upset the proceedings are Olympic bronze medalist, Kellie Wells of the USA, Britain’s world indoor and outdoor bronze medalist, Tiffany Porter and the USA’s 2008 Olympic champion, Dawn Harper-Nelson. 

Women’s 400m hurdles – 

Jamaica’s world indoor champion, Kaliese Spencer recorded a fine 54.29 world-lead en route to winning in Eugene and the 27-year-old will take on the US pair, Lashinda Demus, Georganne Moline and Dalilah Muhammad.

Demus – the 2011 world champion and 2012 Olympic runner-up – should turn out to be the pick of the American pile ahead of world silver medalist, Muhammad and Olympic fifth placer, Moline.

Other names to watch include Britain’s Eilidh Child – the world fifth placer - and the Czech Republic’s 2012 European runner-up, Denisa Rosolova, who makes her seasonal debut in the event.

Men’s high jump - 

With three men having cleared the iconic 2.40m height this season, the men’s high jump is shaping up to be the most exciting discipline of the summer.

In arguably one of the most eagerly awaited clashes of the season, Russia’s Olympic champion Ivan Ukhov – who cleared 2.41m whilst winning in Doha – will battle with world champion, Bogdan Bondarenko of Ukraine, who leapt 2.40m on his season’s debut in Tokyo last month.

The 21-year-old 2.45m world record held by Cuba’s Javier Sotomayor could well be in threat this summer and any of the three aforementioned athletes could be the man to take it.

Additional names to look out for include Olympic bronze medallist, Derek Drouin of Canada who also has a 2.40m clearance to his name this season, Qatar’s world indoor champion Mutaz Essa Barshim and the USA’s Olympic runner-up, Erik Kynard.

The field in Rome will be the first time since 1992 that five athletes with personal bests of 2.40m or higher will be on the same start list.

Men’s triple jump –

2012 world indoor champion and Olympic runner-up Will Claye took the honours in Eugene over his American team-mate, Christian Taylor – the Olympic champion – and Russia’s world indoor champion, Lyukman Adams and same order may be replicated again in Rome.

22-year-old Claye leapt 17.66m albeit an illegal wind allowance and Taylor should benefit from his recent foray into one lap sprinting – having recorded a fine 45.17 of late.

Women’s triple jump - 

Colombia’s world champion, Caterine Ibarguen won in Doha and the 30-year-old finished one place ahead of Ukraine’s world indoor runner-up, Olga Saladukha of Russia.

The field also includes Russia’s world indoor champion, Ekaterina Koneva.

Women’s javelin -

Australia’s 29-year-old global silver medallist, Kim Mickle had to settle for the runner-up position in Doha behind surprise winner, Martina Ratej of Slovenia, but world record holder and twice Olympic champion, Barbora Spotakova makes her eagerly anticipated return to action following childbirth and may finish top of the pile.

The 32-year-old also faces Germany’s Olympic bronze medallist, Linda Stahl and 2011 world bronze medallist, Sunette Viljoen of South Africa.

Women’s shot put – 

Two-time Olympic and four-time world champion, Valerie Adams will be eager to maintain her impressive winning streak following her 47th straight victory in Doha last month and she arrives in Rome in imperious form.

The only woman who could possibly upset the 29-year-old from New Zealand is Germany’s world silver medallist, Christina Schwanitz.

Other entrants include China’s Gong Lijiao – the Olympic bronze medallist – Russia’s Olympic runner-up, Yevgeniya Kolodko and the USA’s world indoor bronze medallist, Michelle Carter.

Men’s discus -  

Germany’s Robert Harting and Poland’s Piotr Malachowski renew their rivalry, with 29-year-old Harting expected to gain the advantage.

The Olympic and world champion will battle the world runner-up in addition to world and Olympic bronze medallist, Gerd Kanter of Estonia and Olympic runner-up, Ehsan Hadadi from Iran.

*Full entry lists were not available at the time of writing.