One of the best High Jump competitions during this indoor season is expected to be take place on Saturday 14 February, when four out of the top seven men at the World Championships in Paris last summer will jump in Tampere's giant Pirkka Hall at the annual international Star Games meeting.
Freitag tackles Paris opponents
World champion Jacques Freitag of South Africa will face Canada’s bronze medallist Mark Boswell, Grezegorsz Sposob of Poland (6th) and Jamie Nieto of the USA (7th). The Finnish hope is Oskari Frösen, who set the Finnish indoor record of 2.30m in Tampere 4 years ago.
It goes without saying these are all very good jumpers, but there is something else special about the competition, too, as the High Jump will be a specially featured event. After the other Star Games events have been contested there will be a one-hour pause with a live rap-music concert before the High Jump starts and the concert will go on after the competition.
“This kind of concept is working well in many classic High Jump meetings in Europe, for example in Eberstadt,” confirmed Meeting Director Jukka Härkönen, “and I have no doubt about that in Finland, either. I’m positive that with this sort of promotion we will fill the hall with lots of youngsters, who wouldn’t usually come only to see the athletes. We must respect young people and their interests.”
Klüft will compete in the Long Jump
Sweden´s World Heptathlon champion Carolina Klüft does not need any extra show constructed around her, as she makes the show herself. Klüft competed in Tampere last year and found the atmosphere so nice that she promised immediately to come again.
This time Klüft will do only one event, the Long Jump. She has been training in Martinique doing a lot of heavy power exercises, and is reported to be in marvellous shape and so it’s likely that she can break the Nordic indoor record of 6.89m, which was jumped by another Swede, Erica Johansson in 2000.
Klüft is planning to compete only at the Long Jump this winter but at the Athens Olympics she will try to take the double in Heptathlon and Long Jump.
Hurtis and Herbert competing too
The third reigning World Champion in Pirkka Hall on 14 February will be France’s sprint relay gold medallist Muriel Hurtis, who will compete at 60m and 100m. Hurtis is the European Indoor and outdoor 200m Champion.
South Africa’s Olympic 400m Hurdles bronze medallist Llewellyn Herbert is the big draw in the men’s 300m Hurdles. Herbert set the unofficial World best of 34.92 for this event on Pirkka Hall´s 300-metre track in 1999.
The best Finnish names on the programme of the 9th Star Games are European silver medallist Heli Koivula-Kruger who will compete in the women´s Triple Jump, Johanna Manninen and Markus Pöyhönen in the sprints, Jukka Keskisalo at 3000m, and Wilson Kirwa at 800m.
“As the Helsinki GP (IAAF outdoor Grand Prix) is not on the competition calendar this season due to restoration works being carried out at the Olympic Stadium (in preparation for the 2005 IAAF World Championships), the Star Games will be the highest class international meeting this year in Finland,” confirmed Harkonen.