08 FEB 2008 Preview 8 February 2008 – Karlsruhe, Germany

Robles, Kallur, Vlasic: a parade of stars gathers in Karlsruhe - PREVIEW

Dayron Robles in action in Gothenburg (Hasse Sjögren)Dayron Robles in action in Gothenburg (Hasse Sjögren) © Copyright

Karlsruhe, GermanyWith Dayron Robles and Susanna Kallur making a return trip to southern Germany next weekend, the Karlsruhe BW Meeting on Sunday afternoon (10) suddenly looms as a potential venue for world records in either or both of the 60 metres Hurdles events.

These two athletes made strong showings in their respective events last Saturday in Stuttgart with near-record performances, and with the fast sprint apron of the Europahalle beckoning, this edition of the Karlsruhe fixture could well be a historic one.

World records in jeopardy

Both of the existing hurdles records are gathering dust, with the men’s record of 7.30 by Britain’s Colin Jackson dating from 1994 and the women’s mark of 7.69 going back to 1990 when Ludmila Engquist was competing for the former Soviet Union. 

Lining up with Robles in the men’s event will be the winner of eight Olympic or World indoor and outdoor Championships gold medals, Allen Johnson of the US, as well as current European champion Stanislav Olijar of Latvia. The runner-up to Olijar at the Europeans, Germany’s Thomas Blaschek, will also be in the field after a strong PB showing in Stuttgart, as will Osaka finalist Sergey Demidyuk of Ukraine. 

Kallur’s competition in the women’s event will come from Osaka finalist Lolo Jones of the US, who finished behind the Swede last weekend in a PB. Three-time World Championships finalist Vonette Dixon of Jamaica, former World junior champion Anay Tejeda of Cuba, and a pair of Moscow World indoor finalists from the US, Danielle Carruthers and Damu Cherry will also be in the field. 

Vlasic for another season’s best

With so many speciality high jump competitions filling up the indoor schedule nowadays, it is rare to have the event in a full programme. But Karlsruhe will see Osaka champion Blanka Vlasic competing on the same Europahalle surface that yielded Heike Henkel’s World record 2.07, a mark which survived for fourteen seasons. Challenging the tall Croatian will be Moscow bronze winner Ruth Beitia from Spain, Czech indoor record holder Barbora Lalaková, and Osaka finalist Marina Aitova of Kazakhstan. 

Last year’s fastest indoor sprinter, Marcus Brunson, has chosen Karlsruhe for his season debut. Lining up against the American will be 2003 World 100 champion Kim Collins of St. Kitts and Nevis, Osaka finalist Matic Osovnikar from Slovenia, plus Brunson’s compatriots Greg Bolden and Josh Norman. Last year’s Pan Am 200m champion Brendan Christian, from Antigua and Barbuda, plus current German indoor champion Christian Blum, will provide additional competition.

Klüft and Sebrle line up in individual events

Karlsruhe will see the participation of multi event specialists Carolina Klüft of Sweden and Czech Roman Sebrle, both of whom currently hold four of the five major titles of international athletics. Coincidentally, only the current World indoor crown is missing for each of these stars, and both will be using the LBBW meeting as a warm up for the upcoming World Indoor Championships in Valencia next month.

Sebrle will compete in the 60 metres and the 60 metres Hurdles, while Klüft is entered in the Long Jump.

After a precautionary rest to care for a back condition last weekend, Klüft will return to action in Karlsruhe. The Swede will have all she can handle against Brazil’s Maureen Higa Maggi and Karin Mey of South Africa. Those two staged a high-level Long Jump battle last weekend which ended in national records for both at 6.87 and 6.84, respectively. Current World indoor champion Tatyana Kotova of Russia will try to rebound from her uncharacteristically weak showing in Stuttgart (6th with 6.63), while Latvia’s Ineta Radevica will go after an indoor PB she barely missed a week ago with 6.66. Osaka triple jump winner Yargelis Savigne of Cuba will again contest her secondary event

The men’s Triple Jump features current World champion Nelson Évora of Portugal, who bounded 17.32 last Sunday for a new national record. His main competition will come from Paris bronze winner Leevan Sands of Bahamas, Grenada’s Randy Lewis, and Helsinki fifth placer Karl Taillepierre of France. 

Germany vs USA in men’s Pole Vault

Germans dominate the field in the men’s Pole Vault, as Osaka bronze winner Danny Ecker leads a strong list, which also includes European indoor bronze medallist Björn Otto and two-time European indoor champion Tim Lobinger. Another German jumper, Moscow fourth placer Fabian Schulze, leads his country’s vaulting corps after a 5.76 performance last Sunday. Athens gold medallist Tim Mack, as well as fellow American Jeff Hartwig (who last Sunday set his second world master’s best with 5.70 in Stuttgart) will also battle the host athletes. 

The men’s 1500 metres sees a return matchup between the two Stuttgart frontrunners, Ethiopians Deresse Mekkonen and Mekkonen Gebremehdin. They will be challenged by reigning World indoor champion Ivan Heshko of Ukraine, former World indoor finalist Cornelius Chirchir of Kenya, and Osaka 1500 bronze winner Shadrack Korir. Two-time World junior medallist Abdelaati Iguider of Morocco will also be in the field.

Maria's final show

In her final appearance in Karlsruhe, 800 metres legend Maria Mutola will go to the line against the current European indoor silver medallist Tetiana Petlyuk of Ukraine, and Italy’s Elisa Cusma, an Osaka semifinalist. 

Former European indoor silver medallist Claudia Marx of Germany will go up against the versatile LaVerne Jones of the US Virgin Islands in the Women’s 400 metres. Also in the competition will be Marx’s compatriot, Claudia Hoffmann, and Americans Monique Hennagan and Moushaumi Robinson. 

The Women’s 1500 Metres features a mélange of competitors specializing in both that distance and longer events.  Athens 1500m fourth placer Natalya Yevdokimova of Russia brings the top credentials in the field, while Osaka 5000 fourth placer Silvia Kibet will attempt to garner a good performance in what is for her a short race.  Similarly, Meselech Melkamu of Ethiopia, a three-time World Cross medallist and the runner pushing Meseret Defar to a World indoor 3000m record last year, will drop down to a “sprint” race. 

Others in the event include former European cross silver medallist Sabrina Mockenhaupt of Germany, Gothenburg 1500 finalist Natalia Tobias of Ukraine, Canadian 1500 champion Hilary Stellingwerf, and Sonja Roman of Slovenia.

Ed Gordon for the IAAF

NB. At the time of writing the previews of both the Valencia and Karlsruhe meets they each had entry lists showing similar casts in two events, the women's Long Jump and 1500m, and of course who is running where will only become clear when the start lists for both meets are finalised and in the public domain.