Preview

Isinbayeva and Arron turnout for final Moscow dress rehearsal – Liévin PREVIEW

Christine Arron of France in the 200m heats (Getty Images)Christine Arron of France in the 200m heats (Getty Images) © Copyright

Liévin, FranceThe women stars are expected to make the headlines on Friday night (3) in Liévin. Yelena Isinbayeva and Christine Arron have chosen the 19th edition of “Meeting Gaz de France du Pas-de-Calais” - IAAF indoor permit meeting - as their last stop before the 11th IAAF World Indoor Championships, Moscow, Russia, 10-12 March 2006.

Another World record bid by Isinbayeva

Russian Yelena Isinbayeva had a perfect indoor season in 2005, breaking the World records four times in four Pole Vault competitions. The third one occurred in Liévin with 4.89m, and this year, the World Athlete of the Year is expected to do the same by adding a centimetre to the 4.91m she jumped in Donetsk on 12 February 2006. But after stumbling at the same challenge in Birmingham (18 Feb), the record certainties of 2005 seem to have vanished for at least the present for the World and Olympic champion.

Poland’s Monika Pyrek (Isinbayeva’s runner up in Donetsk with 4.76m) and Anna Rogowska (who was just beaten by the Russian in Birmingham on countback at 4.79m by the Russian) will be here nearest challengers.

Arron and Pognon in search of more speed

Crowd favourite Christine Arron, as well as her third consecutive win in Liévin, will be eyeing records. Stronger than ever this indoor season, the French sprinter will try to duplicate the double national record breaking she did a week ago in Aubière (6.11 at 50m and 7.06 at 60m). Mariya Bolikova, co-world leader with 7.04,  will be her main opposition. Arron has also added the 200m into her Liévin’s programme, in order to “check (her) current shape in speed endurance.”

Her training partner Ronald Pognon isn’t in the same state of mind unfortunately. Brilliant in 2005 with a European record in 6.45, the 23-year-old sprinter has struggled to find the right sensations. “I’m sure I’m ready to run under 6.60, my races in Aubière confirmed it,” he says. “I just need to find the right race, but it is useless to go to Moscow if iIcan only reach semi-final”. Pognon will fight for victory against sharp starters Freddy Mayola (CUB, 6.55) and Morne Nagel (RSA, 6.61).

Holm continues comeback from illness

The High Jump offers the most impressive line-up for the men’s events. Olympic champion Stefan Holm has had a winter troubled by illness (bronchitis) but his recent 2.29m win at Swedish nationals is a sign that he will be a threat in this competition against no less than six men who have been over 2.30m in 2006 (Cuban Victor Moya, Russian Andrey Silnov, Czechs Svatoslav Ton and Tomas Janku, Italian twins Guilio and Nicola Ciotti).

Borzakovskiy unbeaten in 2006

The other Olympic champion present in Liévin is 800m runner Yuriy Borzakovskiy. Unbeaten in five races in 2006 including a world leading mark with 1:45.4, and more recently a 1500m win at the Russian nationals, Borzakovskiy will face the opposition from French 1500m specialists Mounir Yemmouni and Driss Maazouzi in search of speed work.

New talents emerge - women’s 60m Hurdle races

Women’s 60m Hurdles will be the occasion to watch two new talents: Joséphine Onyia, a 19-years-old Nigerian based in Spain has run under 8sec for each of her three races this year, with a best of 7.91. Unfortunately, she won’t compete in Moscow. The other revelation is Derval O’Rourke of Ireland, who ran 7.90 ten days ago. After several low-key participations at major Championships, the 24-years-old I has greatly improved her technique and now reaches world class level. However, the experienced talent of Glorie Alozie, Aurelia Trywianska and Nicole Ramalalanirina will more likely still be at the top of this competition.

Other events will see Leslie Djhone and Joseph Batangdon race at 300m, Alleyne Francique at 400m, Bouabdallah Tahri at 2000m, and Svetlana Cherkasova in the 1000m.

“Week-End Athlé” concept

During the three days of “Week-End Athlé” concept developed by French Federation (FFA), Liévin will host two events, the “Meeting Gaz de France” on Friday and the “European Indoor Cup” on Sunday, giving the opportunity to promote athletics to a large public.

P-J Vazel for the IAAF