The 10th edition of the IAAF World Cup in Athletics takes place in Athens, Greece, on Saturday 16 and Sunday 17 September. Here is a preview of some of the action expected in the WOMEN'S EVENTS.
NB: This Preview story is based on the provisional ENTRY lists. START LISTS will not become available until after the Technical Meeting has taken place on the evening of Friday 15 September (meeting commences at 1800hrs local time – 1500hrs GMT).
Unbeaten in her last seven races, Jamaican Sherone Simpson is the odds on favourite to add another 100m victory to that streak. A consistent sub-11 performer and this year’s world leader at 10.82, the 22-year-old hasn’t lost since finishing second to two-time defending World Cup champion Marion Jones in Paris, who has declared today she will not run having ended her season. European champion Kim Gevaert has run 11.04 this season, but physically and emotionally drained from her triumph in Gothenburg, she’ll be pleased with a podium finish here.
After a personal best 22.17 for second at the World Athletics Final last week, American Sanya Richards comes to the Greek capital favourite as a strong bet to take home a 200 / 400m double. Her stiffest competition in the 200m looks to be Cydonie Mothersill of the Cayman Islands, while Gevaert will toe the line as well.
In the 400, Richards, a Golden League Jackpot winner and undefeated over the distance this season, will have one last rematch with the year’s No. 2, Bulgaria’s European champion Vanya Stambolova. The latter, whose season peaked in Gothenburg, is appearing to tire while the former, who followed her perfect six-for-six Golden League campaign with an impressive outing in Stuttgart, still appears quite energized even with autumn approaching. Jamaican Novlene Williams, a sub-50 runner this season, could be a factor as well, while Olympic 400m Hurdles champion Fani Halkia of Greece has decided to test herself over the flat.
Middle & long distances
Commonwealth and Africa Champion Janeth Jepkosgei of Kenya has produced the best all-around season, along with the year’s fastest performance, her 1:56.66 national record in Lausanne. In Athens, she’ll be looking to avenge her loss to Cuba’s World Champion Zulia Calatayud from Stuttgart. Russia will be solidly represented as well, with European champion and Zurich winner Olga Kotlyarova returning to action for the first time in nearly a month.
The 1500m is expected to be a thrilling clash between World and European champion Tatyana Tomashova and world leader and World Athletics Final winner Maryan Yusef Jamal of Bahrain. In a runaway victory in Stuttgart last weekend, Jamal handily dispensed with Tomashova’s usually strong finishing drive. Can Tomashova take revenge?
The 3000m and 5000m feature the Ethiopian duo of Tirunesh Dibaba and Meseret Defar, whose thrilling duels over the course of the summer were perhaps the highlights of the year in the distance events. This weekend though, they’re in different events, and both look very difficult to beat. Dibaba is in the 3000, in which she finished second behind Defar last weekend in Stuttgart, and Defar’s in the 5000, the event in which she set a World record 14:24.53 early this summer.
The 3000m Steeplechase has European champion and World Atletics Final winner Alesia Turava of Belarus representing Team Europe against African champion Jeruto Kiptum, and world leader Wioletta Janowska (9:17.15) of Poland.
The 100m Hurdles features a pair of women with 12.48 season’s bests to their credit – U.S. champion Ginnie Powell and Jamaica’s Commonwealth champion Brigitte Foster-Hylton. Despite her long and extremely busy season, Powell won her first race since the U.S. championships when she beat a solid field at Berlin’s ISTAF two weeks ago, so a bit of momentum could be on her side. European champion Susanna Kallur is also looking to end her season on a high note.
The 400m Hurdles features the second face-off between Russia’s World champion Yuliya (Pechonkina) Nosova, and U.S champion Lashinda Demus. Since finishing second to the Russian in Helsinki last year, the American has become the event’s dominant force. Nosova, the World record holder at 52.34, returned from injury in good form last month with a 53.14 performance, this year second only to Demus’s 53.02.
With one exception, the jumps are clearly Russian territory. World and Olympic champion and World record holder Yelena Isinbayeva tops the Pole Vault field as she sets out to collect yet another major title. World leader (7.11) Ludmila Kolchanova, the European champion, is the class of the field in the Long Jump, with Australian Bronwyn Thompson (6.97) the closest on paper this year. In the Triple Jump, Tatyana Lebedeva is undefeated in seven competitions this season, and won’t be to eager to end that streak on the same Athens track where she couldn’t finish higher than third in her strongest event. Hrysopiyi Devetzi of Greece, the Olympic silver medallist in the Triple Jump, will contest both leaps this weekend.
The lone exception to Russian dominance in the jumps this season in the High Jump, where Belgian Tia Hellebaut, the European champion, has been perhaps the most consistent jumper in a fiercely competition event. Carrying Russian hopes in Yelena Slesarenko, who won Olympic gold here two years ago.
Valerie Vili of New Zealand, has twice thrown 20.20m this season, and arrives in Athens as the Oceania squad’s best hope for a win, She’ll face stiff competition, however, from Natallia Khoroneko of Belarus and Cuban Yumileidi Cumba.
Similar to the men’s Discus Throw, Franka Dietzsch is the overwhelming favourite on the women’s side of the programme, but she’ll have to get by Russian Darya Pishchalnikova, who upset the German for top European honours in Gothenburg. In the Hammer Throw, Tatyana Lysenko, the World record holder, is a strong favourite, as is Germany’s Steffi Nerius in the Javelin Throw.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF