Preview 16 February 2004 – Moscow, Russia

Russian Indoor Championships – Preview

Marina Kuptsova of Russia wins silver in the high jump final (Getty Images)Marina Kuptsova of Russia wins silver in the high jump final (Getty Images) © Copyright

Moscow, RussiaThe national indoor championships take place in the Russian capital (17 - 19 Feb),  providing three days of intense competition from which most of the team for the 10th IAAF World Indoor Championships in Budapest, Hungary (5 – 7 March) will be chosen.

Leipzig success

The start of the national championships come just three days after the European Indoor Cup in Leipzig (14 Feb), at which the Russian women’s team retained the Cup some 18 points ahead of the second placed Germans, while in the men’s competition the Russians finished second, just two points adrift of the French team.

The team results were excellent for Russia, as from the very early part of the season the national coaches had known that many of their top stars would not be making themselves available for selection for the second edition of the European Indoor Cup, for the very reason that the team competition was too close to the national championships.

Mixture of youth and experience

Athletes and their coaches were afraid that this meeting would diminish their chances to achieve success in the battle for team places for Budapest.

“So we decided to include in the team for the Cup, new younger athletes together with a few experienced names,” confirmed Russian Head Coach Valeriy Kulichenko. “That is why in women’s High Jump we saw a new talented jumper Yelena Slesarenko, and in 400m our rising star Olesia Krasnomolets.”

”The relay was the most important final event of the programme and so we put a special accent on it, which resulted in a victory for our boys that gave the Russian men’s team a second place finish overall. Last year the men’s team was only 4th.”

It looks like this year’s national championships will be spectacular. The coach and father of reigning European Indoor High Jump champion Marina Kuptsova, Gennadiy Kuptsov says that the national championships will be a great challenge and that particularly this competition could be more difficult than at the World Championships themselves.

Of the top names only World outdoor 800m silver medallist Yuriy Borzakovskiy has confirmed that he has no any desire to participate in Budapest, but he will still run the 400m at the national championships.

Women's events to be the highlight in Moscow

Very heavy battles are expected in Moscow in the women’s events. The greatest intrigue is created in the 400m, where it is impossible to predict who will take the two individual places in the Budapest team. There are about six world level runners who are waiting for their start in Moscow. Among them Natalia Nazarova, Olga Kotlyarova, Olesya Zykina, and the winner of European Cup Olesia Krasnomolets who has surprised everybody with her very fast progress.

As Gennadiy Kuptsov predicted a top level struggle is expected in High Jump. Marina Kuptsova who was last summer's World silver medallist will be opposed by national indoor record holder Anna Chicherova and Yelena Slesarenko.

Then after last night’s events in Donetsk, Ukraine, the situation in the Pole Vault could well return to the World record level, even though the coaches have already selected reigning World champion Svetlana Feofanova, and World indoor and outdoor record holder Yelena Isinbayeva for the Budapest team.

Then in Triple Jump everybody will of course expect impressive jumps of double World outdoor champion Tatyana Lebedeva, perhaps even a World record. The women’s middle distance races should also offer some fascinating contests too.

In men’s High Jump Yaroslav Rybakov, the European champion will need to show his best to beat such rivals as Mikhail Tsvetkov and Olympic champion Sergey Klyugin.