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Murer hoping for revenge in Rio, Maggi gunning for 7m – Preview

Fabiana Murer of Brazil celebrates victory in the women's pole vault final during day four  (Getty Images)Fabiana Murer of Brazil celebrates victory in the women's pole vault final during day four (Getty Images) © Copyright
Rio de Janeiro will host the 28th edition of the "Grande Prêmio Brasil/Caixa de Atletismo" on Sunday (20), a meet that's part of the IAAF World Challenge. The event will mark the ending of the "2012 Brazilian Athletics Tour", a series of five meets that took place around the South American nation in the past two weeks. 

Brazilians Maurren Maggi and Fabiana Murer appear to be the top names of the event that will take place at the venue of the 2016 Olympic Games: the "Estádio João Havelange", also known as "Engenhão". 

For the 35 year-old Maggi, the 2008 Olympic champion at Long Jump, the event will be a chance to extend her good momentum coming on the heels of her 6.85m season’s best at the São Paulo meet on 16 May. "I had a perfect jump under cold conditions. I'm hoping to do even better in Rio," said the South American record holder at 7.26m (1999). 

The veteran from São Carlos will face strong opposition in her compatriot Keila Costa (6.68m in São Paulo, as well) and in American Brianna Glenn (6.50m in 2012). Costa needs to jump 6.75m in order to qualify for the London Olympic Games. The 29-year-old Brazilian holds a personal best of 6.88m (2007), while Glenn's best is 6.87m (2011). 

Murer, the other star of Brazilian Athletics, is also looking forward to Rio, but in contrast to Maggi, Murer needs to erase the doubts created from her bad day at the São Paulo meet.

The 2011 World Pole Vault champion was defeated in her season's debut (16 May) by Cuban Yarisley Silva 4.65m to 4.50m.

Now it's time for Murer to amend her poor performance from Wednesday, and to send a strong message to her toughest competitors, such as the 2004 and 2008 Olympic Champion, Russia's Elena Isinbayeva.

Murer (31) is the South American record holder with 4.85m; Silva (24) is the Cuban record holder with 4.75m.

The men’s Triple jump competition also has great potential. Twenty-two year-old Cuban Osviel Hernández, the 2012 world list leader with 17.49m (Havana, 3 February), will face the number two in the lists, 20-year-old Brazilian Jonathan Henrique Silva. The latest exponent from the rich Brazilian Triple Jump school has jumped 17.39m (São Paulo, 31 March).

Both of them come from disappointing results on the Tour. Hernández was third in Uberlândia (16.34m) and second in São Paulo (16.31m), while Silva won in São Paulo (16.41m) and was fourth in Uberlândia (16.24m). Cuban Alexis Copello, the winner from Uberlândia (16.63m SB) and seventh at the 2012 World Indoor Championships, will also jump in Rio along with compatriot Yoandri Betanzos (two-times World Championships silver medalist in 2003-05) and Brazilian Jadel Gregório (World Championships silver medalist in 2007 and South American record holder with 17.90m from 2007).

Another highlight for Sunday will be both the Hammer Throw contests which are also part of the IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge.

In the men's event American Kibwe Johnson, the 2011 Pan-American Games Champion (and fifth in last year's world lists with 80.31m) will encounter Tajikistan's Dilshod Nazarov, tenth in Daegu 2011 and winner of the São Paulo GP with 76.61m. The women's field will be lead by German Kathrin Klaas, a finalist from the past two World Championships who has thrown 75.31m this season. She will be up against American Jessica Cosby (73.71m in 2012), Argentina's Jennifer Dahlgren (72.79m in 2012) and Moldova's Marina Marghieva (71.75m in 2012). 

The men's 100m will also bring an interesting battle. Trinidad and Tobago's Marc Burns won the distance in São Paulo and will face the winner from Uberlândia and Belém, his compatriot Emmanuel Callender. Burns has run 10.08 this season, and Callender 10.16. Both were members of Trinidad and Tobago's 4x100m Relay quartet that won the silver medal in Beijing 2008. 

The event will also represent a great opportunity for many Brazilian and South American athletes to reach qualifying standards for London 2012. 

Eduardo Biscayart for the IAAF