Mariya Savinova of Russia crosses the finish line to claim victory in the women's 800 metres final (Getty Images) © Copyright
The Moscow Challenge is a young meeting that was launched only in 2011. But now it’s status is more important. It is included in the series of IAAF World Challenge Meetings and is the second last in the series prior to the Olympics Games in London.
Besides the competition the meeting will be the important test not only for the athletes, but also for the organisers of Moscow’s 2013 World Championships that will take place at the same stadium. And finally it may play a role in the selection especially for the Russian national team.
More then 150 athletes from 42 countries are expected to take part. And naturally many Russian athletes are very much looking forward to achieve the standards set for Olympic participation.
A large group of judges from different Russian regions will join their colleagues from Moscow. More then 170 volunteers and interpreters will gain experience before the 2013 World Championships.
There are 16 official events on the programme. Men - 200m, 400m, 3000m, 110m and 400m Hurdles, 3000m Steeplechase, Pole Vault, Discus Throw and Shot Put.
Women - 800m, 10,000m, 3000m Steeplechase, High Jump, Triple Jump and Javelin Throw.
There are also so called national events that are not in the Moscow Challenge’s list. Men (as well as women in the official programme) will compete in the 10,000m struggling for the titles of Russian national champions. Women will compete at 400m which is one of the most successful of Russian relays at the Olympics. And the Men’s 50km Race Walk is the third unofficial event. The race walkers will test the distance that will be the same during next year’s World Championships.
The women’s High Jump is considered to be one of the most attractive events for the Russian fans. The participation of World champion Anna Chicherova isn’t excluded but not certain for the moment. Anyway Svetlana Shkolina will do her utmost to improve her personal best of 2.00m set recently. And the presence of the Olympic Champion Tia Hellebaut from Belgium will turn the competition in the Luzhniki’s jumping sector into the real Pre-Olympic conquest.
Savinova on show
The women’s 800m will be most likely one of the most breathtaking events of the meet. World champion Mariya Savinova won the distance last year in Korea and is preparing meticulously for the Olympic games.
"I’m so eager to run again here, in Luzhniki," Savinova said. "I’ll celebrate the tenth anniversary of running her since I ran on this track in 2002."
It will only be Savinova’s second start of the season and the number of opponents is immense. The European indoor champion Elena Arzhakova is also dreaming of showing her best in UK capital in August. Irina Maracheva clocked the best time of the outdoor European season. Svetlana Cherkasova, Yelena Kofanova and Yekaterina Martynova are well-experienced runners.
The Olympic champion and World record holder Gulnara Galkina-Samitova will run her favorite distance, the 3000m Steeplechase, for the first time this season. She’ll be opposed by Lubo Kharlamova, a medal winner at the European Championships, and other experienced Russian runners. Mekdes Bekele (ETH) is the one who may challenge them all.
Strong men’s Pole Vault field
The men’s Pole Vault is also one of the events that shouldn’t be ignored. Let’s hope for Moscow’s weather not to be too capricious. For the public in Luzhniki will have a chance to see the jumps of the world silver medal winner Bjorn Otto (GER) who is second on the outdoor world list of the outdoor season, the European Championships bronze medallist Przemyslaw Czerwinski from Poland, the silver medal winner of the Olympic games Yevgeniy Lukianenko and his Russian compatriot Igor Pavlov, a former World and European indoor champion.
The best Russian discus thrower Bogdan Pishchalnikov will be opposed by former World and European medallist Róbert Fazekas along with a group of experienced throwers, Przemyslaw Czajkowski of Poland and Ercüment Olgundeniz of Turkey among them.
Nickolai Dolgopolov and Rostislav Orlov for the IAAF