03 JUN 2008 General News

Greatest ever women’s Steeplechase line-up set for Oslo - ÅF Golden League

Yekaterina Volkova of Russia on her way to winning the Steeplechase final (Getty Images)Yekaterina Volkova of Russia on her way to winning the Steeplechase final (Getty Images) © Copyright

MonteCarloOutside a major global championship, and there haven’t been too many of those for this event, the line-up for the women’s 3000m Steeplechase at the ExxonMobil Bislett Games in Oslo, Norway, on Friday 6 June, is perhaps the greatest ever assembled.

The meeting in Oslo is the second leg of the ÅF Golden League, and what more fitting venue than the world famous Bislett stadium to host anther distance running treat?

The stadium both before and since its recent rebuild has seen some amazing distance running features. The warm, still, light nights of numerous Scandinavian summers have provided ideal conditions for events especially from 800m to 10,000m, and plenty of World records.

Olympic first

Oslo last saw a Steeplechase World record in 1975 when Sweden’s Anders Gärderud ran 8:10.4. The next year in Montreal he became Olympic champion.

In 1976, women were not yet steeplechasing, well at least not in formal competition. It became an official event for World record purposes only on 1 January 2000, and has been contested only at the last two editions of the World Championships (2005 and 2007). This summer’s games in Beijing will be the first time the 3000m Steeplechase for women has been held at the Olympic Games.

Marking its forthcoming arrival on the Olympic stage the ExxonMobil Bislett Games on Friday night has duly attracted a stunningly high class field of women for the discipline. Many will be there to gain qualification for the Olympics but at the top end of the field record breaking might be in their minds.

World recordholder, World champion, World Jnr Champion...

Russia is represented by the current World record holder Gulnara Samitova-Galkina (9:01.59), reigning World champion Yekaterina Volkova (9:06.51), and World silver medallist Tatyana Petrova (9:09.19).

Kenya will field the World Junior record holder Ruth Bisibori Nyangau (9:24.51) and African Area record holder Eunice Jepkorir (9:14.52), who was World bronze medallist in Osaka behind Volkova, and won at last year's World Athletics Final.

Bisibori was the bronze medallist at the recent African Championships, and the two Ethiopian women who beat her, gold medallist Zemzem Ahmed (9:32.53) and runner-up Mekdes Bekele (9:32.05) are also in the Oslo starting line-up.

Australia will also have a firm say in proceedings with the appearance of Oceania record holder Melissa Rollison (9:24.29) and current season world leader Donna MacFarlane (9:29.93).

The only notable names from the global elite who are missing are the 2005 World champion Dorcus Inzikuru of Uganda, who since her last run in March 2007 (DNF at World XC) has become a mother and has also been sidelined by injury and illness, and Belarussia’s European champion Alesya Turova, who has not competed since not finishing her heat in the World Championships in Osaka.

With such an array of talent assembling in Bislett, and given a good night’s weather, then it is not being too ridiculous to predict a World record, after all the venue has witnessed over 50 in its history!

Chris Turner for the IAAF