World High Jump champion Blanka Vlasic of Croatia was in upbeat mood today as the star guest of a press conference at the Letzigrund Stadium held to promote the Weltklasse Zürich - ÅF Golden League - meeting which will take place on 29 August this year.
About the meeting in Zürich:
"I have very good memories of Zurich," said the World indoor and outdoor champion. "It was my dream to win in Zürich once, because it is one of the most important meetings in the world. And last year, just after the World Championships in Osaka I did it."
"Here in Zurich everything is so professional and well organised. And you see, that people like and enjoy athletics. The first time I was here, I was only 17-years-old, and the people already knew my name."
About her preparations for the season:
"This evening, I will fly to Doha where I will start my season this Friday (9 May at the IAAF Super Grand Prix meeting). Doha is a good opportunity to start, especially because the (weather) conditions are always very well."
"I am very happy with the training period I had over the last months. I had no injuries. It is the first time that I have had really no problems. So I am very exited and curious (about what I can achieve)."
About the World record:
"The World record (2.09m) is in my mind. But I am not thinking about it 24 hours a day. I know, that I can do it. But I don’t know when I will do it. I am very patient at this moment. I hope, that may be this year or next year the bar will stay up."
"2.10m can be a psychological barrier – maybe for the first two or three attempts. But since Brussels last year I know, that I can jump it."
"I don’t want to set a limit for myself. So I think, if you can jump 2.10m, it should also be possible to jump 2.11."
About her expectations for 2008:
"I had a very good season last year. I know everybody is again expecting such a season in 2008. But there are also other very strong girls. It will not be easy, but I like this pressure, because it pushes me and it makes me more focused," concluded the 24-year-old Croatian who has a 2.07m personal best.
Weltklasse Zürich - preparations in full swing
As well as Vlasic’s conformation, just four months prior to the 2008 edition of Weltklasse Zürich on 29 August, a large number of other top athletes have also confirmed their participation, and tomorrow morning the hunt for Weltklasse Zürich tickets will be on - www.weltklassezuerich.ch or +41 44 495 80 90
“Things are progressing according to plan. Compared to last year, we are even ahead of schedule in all areas,” Meeting Director Patrick K. Magyar informed the media representatives at the Letzigrund Stadium today.
Whereas the official ticket sale starts tomorrow all hospitality packages for sponsors are sold out already. Still, tickets in all categories will be on offer for everyone. “Last year, the tickets were sold out within a matter of a few hours. Therefore, those interested in following the action live at the stadium may want to secure tickets as quickly as possible,” confirmed Magyar.
Felix vs Richards with 500 grams of gold at stake
As usual, the Letzigrund audience will be treated with star-studded fields and athletics at its best. Only five days after the closing ceremony of the Olympic Games in Beijing, Weltklasse Zürich will offer an extraordinary get-together of high-calibre stars.
A very special treat will definitely be the double encounter of World 200m champion Allyson Felix and 400m star Sanya Richards. As the Olympic timetable does not allow for doubling in Beijing, it will be particularly interesting to witness the two US athletes competing against each other twice in one evening. An additional bonus of 500 grams of gold will be up for grabs for the athlete winning both races.
Highest class farewell for Mutola
After winning the 800m as many as twelve times at Weltklasse Zürich, Maria Mutola is on her farewell tour, this year. Two very challenging competitors are already confirmed for the race: World 800m champion Janeth Jepkosgei, who won the event last year, and Switzerland-based Maryam Yusuf Jamal, the 1500m World champion.
In addition, the men’s technical events will hold a lot of excitement and suspense: In the Javelin Throw, Finland’s 2007 World champion Tero Pitkämäki will compete against 2004 Olympic champion Andreas Thorkildsen of Norway, and Panama’s World Long Jump title holder Saladino will be challenged by the Italy’s European gold medallist Andrew Howe.
The men’s 400m will be another very special highlight of the evening: USA’s Olympic and World champion Jeremy Wariner will be facing tough competition. World championship silver medallist and current world season leader Lashawn Merritt, as well as European star Johan Wissman of Sweden have already been confirmed for the 400m.
Russia’s Olympic, World and European Pole Vault champion and World record holder Yelena Isinbayeva, World Indoor 60m Hurdles record holder Susanna Kallur of Sweden, Cuban high hurdler Dayron Robles, and Kenyan steeplechaser Paul Kipsiele Koech, all of whom like Vlasic were winners in Zürich last year have also been confirmed for 2008.
Roland Hirsbrunner - Weltklasse Zürich – for the IAAF