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General News Milan

Bekele sets 13 minutes in his sights

Bekele sets 13 minutes in his sights
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF
31 May 2002 - Milan - The fifth edition of the IAAF Permit Meeting "La Notturna di Milano" on 5 June at the Arena Civica in Milan will feature 12 medallists and another ten finalists from the 2001 IAAF World Championships in Edmonton and six medallist from the Sydney Olympics.

Britain's Jonathan Edwards in the triple jump, Ukraine's women’s World 100m champion Zhanna Pintusevich-Block, USA’s sprinters Tim Montgomery, Bernard Williams and Shawn Crawford, and the rising star from Ethiopia,Kenenisa Bekele, the double World Cross Country Champion who will try to go under 13 minutes for the 5000m, are among the athletes who will provide a fabulous and high-quality meeting in this venue, which staged the 1996 IAAF Grand Prix final.

Shortly before the start of the meeting the Arena Civica stadium, which dates back to the period of Napoleon, will be officially re-named in honour of the famous sports journalist and writer Gianni Brera who died in a car accident in 1992.

"We have tried to bring to Milan American stars like Marion Jones and Stacy Dragila but our budget could not allow us to pay very expensive fees. Moreover, the Grand Prix meeting in Palo Alto in the USA is scheduled only three days after the Milan meeting ", said Gianni Demadonna, athletics managing director of the meeting and track and field manager, during an official press conference.

However, the high-quality fields of many events makes the Milan meeting the second Italian meeting after the Golden Gala in Rome.

The triple jump will be a competition to savour. It will feature World Record holder Jonathan Edwards, who will try to repeat last year's victory in Milan against the 2001 World indoor champion Paolo Camossi of Italy and Germany’s 1999 World champion Charles Friedek.

Camossi, is one of the major Italian medal hopes at the next European Championships in Munich and will no doubt be expecting home support from the Milan crowd.

Another Italian champion on show will be Fabrizio Mori, 1999 World 400m Hurdles champion. Mori, who is currently suffering from a slight tendon injury has elected on Milan as his only competition before the European Cup in Annecy. He will face his compatriot Laurent Ottoz, the US hurdler James Carter, Ruslan Maschenko of Russia and the Swiss Marcel Shelbert, who was third at the 1999 World Championships.

There is a fabulous line-up in the 100m with Tim Montgomery, Bernard Williams, Darren Campbell, Deji Aliu and the Italian Andrea Colombo.

"Even Coby Miller and Francis Obikwelu, who has recently become a Portuguese citizen, have recently asked to compete in Milan and are on a waiting list and could be added to the 100m start list," said Demadonna.

In the 200m, Britain’s World and Olympic finalist Christian Malcolm, America’s Shawn Crawford who leads the 2002 world list, and Marco Torrieri of Italy, a semi finalist in Edmonton, will race.

In the women’s sprints, Zhanna Pintusevich, who surprised many athletics enthusiasts last year in Edmonton by beating Marion Jones in the 100m final, will clash with Sevatheda Fynes of the Bahamas, who is a Olympic champion sprint relay gold medallist.

Jamaica’s 1996 Olympic champion Deon Hemmings and Debbie Ann Parris who was fourth in the Edmonton final will contest the one lap hurdles.

Middle distance races have always been one of the highlights of this meeting. This year Kenenisa Bekele, Ethiopia’s new rising star who is already popular in Italy after victories at legendary Italian cross-country races like "Campaccio" in San Giorgio su Legnano and "Five Mills" in San Vittore Olona, will compete in Addis Ababa at the Ethiopian Championships this weekend before flying to Italy on Monday. Bekele's main opponent should be Morocco’s Salah Hissou.

In the steeplechase, Kenya’s Stephen Cherono, who broke the World junior record record at the Memorial Van Damme in Brussels last year (7:58.66) will pursue Morocco’s Brahim Boulami’s senior World mark. 

The 800m race will feature four men who have broken 1:44. The 2002 European Indoor Champion Pavel Czapiewski of Poland, Kenyans Wilfried Bungei and William Yampoi and Algeria’s Sydney bronze medallist Said Guerni, who will return to competition after last season was ravaged by injuries.

Field events will also have a particular significance in Milan with the clash in the high jump between Charles Clinger of the US, who recently cleared 2.35 in Eugene against the Algerian Abderraham Hammad, one of the major sensations at the Sydney Olympics after winning a bronze medal.

Australia’s Tatiana Grigorieva and the German Christine Adams and Annika Becker will be the stars of the women’s Pole Vault.

The Italian indoor Shot record holder Assunta Legnante, second at the Vienna European Indoors this winter, will certainly receive strong local support and will throw against the gold medallist from those championships, Ukraine’s Vita Pavlish and Nadine Kleinert of Germany.