Yelena Isinbayeva successfully scales the 5m summit indoors in Donetsk (Zepter) © Copyright
Preview Moscow, Russia

Isinbayeva’s return to steal the spotlight in Moscow - Russian Winter meeting - PREVIEW

The return of Russia’s Pole Vault Yelena Isinbayeva will take centre stage on when the Russian Winter Meeting, the third stop of the 2011 IAAF Indoor Permit Meeting series, celebrates its 20th anniversary in Moscow on Sunday (6).

Again this annual tournament will take place this Sunday 6 February at the Moscow athletic Indoor Arena called after the famous Soviet long-distance runner and the double Olympic champion of Melbourne Vladimir Kutz.

There are 13 events on the programme to held at the Kutz Arena, named after the 1956 Olympic 5000m/10,000m champion Vladimir Kutz: the 60m, 400m, 600m and 60m hurdles (men and women); women’s 1000m; men’s High Jump; women’s Pole Vault; and the men’s and women’s Long Jump. Additionally, both men and women will compete out of the main programme in the Shot Put.

The women’s Pole Vault will be without any doubt the centre of public attention. Even those who don’t include athletics among their primary interests know that the Queen of the Pole Vault will be staging her comeback at the Russian Winter. The questions to be answered are simple and at the same time extremely difficult. Has her motivation, after a competitive break of nearly a year, returned? Are her high profile sub-par performances a thing of the past? Will her numerous fans, not to say admirers, see the old Isinbayeva return? And more immediately, ,what will be the outcome in Moscow when she faces 2009 World champion Anna Rogowska and 2010 European champion Svetlana Feofanova?

Isinbayeva is taking in the situation calmly, insisting that time away has helped her, both physically and mentally and looking forward to taking part in the meeting for the second time in her career. She stresses that she enjoys competing in Moscow and the feeling that when cheered by the home crowd always gives her a thrill.

Champions gather for men’s High Jump summit meeting

To be honest, the scenario in the High Jump sector looks to be no less intriguing where four recent or reigning men’s champions will be competing. Andrei Silnov won the Olympic title in Beijing in 2008. Yaroslav Rybakov was the winner of the 2006 World indoor title and took 2009 outdoor gold. Alexander Shustov is the reigning European champion. And Ivan Ukhov is the reigning World and European indoor champion and currently the world leader at 2.38m. And there are some signs and indications that he could be considering an attack on the 2.43 World record set by the Xavier Sotomayor way back in 1989.

They’ll face American hopes Jessie Williams and Jamie Nieto. Victor Moya from Cuba, who has recovered from injury, is also in the field.

Nazarova vs Klishina in the Long Jump

The women’s Long Jump field is lead by Anna Nazarova, the European of U-23 champion, but she’ll likely face a stiff test from Darya Klishina, the former World youth champion, now 20, who won here last year. Two guests from the USA – Brianna Glenn and Funmi Jimoh – along with Brasil’s Keila Costa will do their utmost to overcome the “home team”.

Alexander Menkov is following in the footsteps of former World record holder Igor Ter-Ovanesyan in the men’s Long Jump. Recently he leaped 8.17m, a solid result for a man you turned 20 less than two months ago.

Lalang the man to beat in the 600m?

A year go, Yuriy Borzakovskiy set a national record over 600m at this meeting. Although he’s over his injury, the 2004 Olympic 800m champion didn’t have enough time to prepare for the early part of the indoor season, but the line-up organisers have pieced together still promises a fabulous race. Olympic silver medallist Ahmed Ismail from Sudan, and Kenyan World indoor medallist Boaz Lalang will led the field.

In the women’s race, World Indoor and European 800m champion Mariya Savinova will top the women’s 600m field.

The oldest record of the meeting belongs to Vitaliy Savin from Kazakhstan who clocked 6.53 in the 60m in the meeting’s first edition. Maybe it’s finally time for a new one? 2003 World 100m champion Kim Collins will be looking to improve during this jubilee edition. Mark Burns from Trinidad and Tobago can also challenge along with Josh Norman from the USA whose best result this season is 6.58.

The women’s 60m will turn out into a many-sided competition with no evident leader. The European indoor champion Yevgeniya Polyakova whose personal best is 7.09 will make her first start after injury. One of her principal opponents will be the Ruddy Zang Milama, the Gabonese who sped to surprise World indoor bronze last year. Miki Barber from the USA and Joice Maduaka from Great Britain will also have their respectful say in the race.

The women’s 60m Hurdles is another event whose meeting record, 7.92 set in 1992, is also likely to fall. Last year Tatyana Dektayreva fell just 0.02 shy. This year it’ll be 2006 World indoor champion Derval O’Rourke of Ireland and Danielle Carruthers of the USA, along with 2007 European indoor silver medallist Aleksandra Antonova who’ll be targeting the mark.
Nickolai Dolgopolov and Rostislav Orlov for the IAAF