to look out for on Day 9
11 August 2001 - Edmonton -Having been so dominant for so long, will Edmonton signal the end of an era for Ivan Pedroso in this afternoon’s long jump final?
Cuba’s Olympic champion has won every world title since 1995, but his form this season has been inconsistent and he looked particularly despondent after his qualifying performance. Pedroso jumped a mere 8.00 in the first round, then 7.92 and concluded with a foul. By contrast the US champion Savante Stringfellow seems to grow in confidence with each meeting. He was particularly impressive on Thursday, soaring out to 8.33, just five centimetres short of his personal best, to beat James Beckford, the talented Jamaican who qualified with 8.19 and has cleared 8.41 this season. But there is nothing that inspires Pedroso more than a tough rival, so it would be unwise to write off his chances. Grzegorz Marciniszyn of Poland could be a surprise medal contender as he has improved to 8.28 this season.
In the women’s 100m hurdles final, the clear favourite will be Gail Devers, the defending champion, who looked snappy in qualifying, setting a world leading time of 12.56 to win her semi, and beat Olympic champion Olga Shishigina. The breakthrough star of the season, Jenny Adams, improved her personal best to 12.67, to finish just behind the former European champion Svetla Dimitrova, and both could be medal contenders. Linda Ferga brought hope to aching French hearts with a great performance, setting a personal best of 12.67, to finish just behind Devers in the first semi-final.
Despite all the controversy swirling around the event, the women’s 5000m has all the makings of a classic race. Gabriela Szabo seems to have raced her way out of the rut she was in early season, and her confidence will have been boosted by her impressive victory in the 1500m final. But it won’t be easy, particularly since Olga Yegorova is resentful at comments Szabo made recently. The Russian, who made stunning improvements to her personal bests in early season meeting, was then publicly exposed as having tested positive for EPO in Paris, even though the IAAF has refused to accept the validity of the test. On paper, Yegorova’s main rival is her countrywoman Yelena Zadorozhnaya, who qualified easily and has run the year’s fastest time of 14:40.67, but another team-mate, Tatyana Tomashova has been running extremely fast, and could ensure a Russian 1-2-3. One athlete who may take advantage of the fuss surrounding Szabo and the Russians is Edith Masai, the Kenyan national champion who outkicked Szabo so emphatically in Oslo, and her team mate Rose Cheruiyot will try and set a fast pace. China’s Dong Yanmei and Britain’s Joanne Pavey both qualified with season’s bests and Germany’s Irina Mikitenko could be dangerous if the race becomes tactical.
In the 50km walk, Robert Korzeniowski, the charismatic Pole who won a memorable 20k/50k double in Sydney, will be aiming to add a new title to his impressive CV. Apart from a disqualification in Seville (and the judging is likely to be tougher here) he has won six out of seven of his last races. Another highly experienced walker is Jesus Angel Garcia, the Spaniard who won this title back in 1993 but has also finished fifth and second. Still one of the toughest competitors around, Garcia’s best this season is 3:44:26 and only one man has gone quicker, 23 year-old Aussie Nathan Deakes. He set a personal best of 3:43:43 in April, and is being coached by Ron Weigel, himself a world champion in 1983. Nikolay Matyukhin will be hoping he can uphold Russia’s 100% win record in Edmonton walking events, and Mexico’s Miguel Rodriguez will also be a contender.
In the women’s Discus, Olympic champion Ellina Zvereva, who turned 40 last year, qualified with her first throw of 65.78. The Belarussian will be hoping to repeat her success of 1995, when she won the world title with her first throw. Her main challengers will be the Romanian Nicoleta Grasu, who threw a world leading 68.31, and has lost only once in 13 competitions, the defending world champion Franka Dietzsch, who will be competing in her sixth World Championships and Russia’s Natalya Sadova, who was fourth at Sydney and Seville.