Hestrie Cloete’s 2.06m High Jump win in Paris 2003 Saint-Denis was undoubtedly one of the highlights of the 9th IAAF World Championships in Athletics (23 – 31 August).
The South African retained her title in magnificent style and will once again be eyeing a 2.10m World record leap in Brussels’ Memorial Van Damme Golden League meeting on Friday (5 September).
In Paris, Cloete’s expected duel with Sweden’s Kajsa Bergqvist never properly materialised, and at the time of writing Bergqvist who was coming back from injury problems at the Worlds, misses a speedy chance to reverse her Paris fortunes.
However, swifter chances for Paris revenge come in Brussels in the men’s 800m, 3000m, 3000m Steeplechase, and women’s 5000m, battles which will also be repeated in Monaco a week later at the inaugural World Athletics Final in Monaco (13-14 September).
In Brussels’ Stade Roi Baudouin, Russia’s Yuriy Borzakovskiy who was dramatically out-dipped for 800m World gold in Paris by Algeria’s Djabir Said-Guerni, gets his chance to reverse fortunes when he tackles the Algerian once more.
Morocco’s Hicham El Guerrouj, who is now the quadruple World 1500m champion, contends with Kenyan Eliud Kipchoge over 3000m metres in Brussels. In Paris the Moroccan was surprisingly beaten to the World 5000m title by the Kenyan who is the World Junior record holder at the distance, in an epic race which denied El Guerrouj (silver) the chance of a middle distance double not seen at a global level since 1924.
The men’s 3000m Steeplechase this Friday throws up a repeat of the Paris 2003 ‘ex-Kenyan versus Kenyan’ grudge match, a battle between Qatar’s Saif Saaeed Shaheen, the World champion, and Kenyan runner-up Ezekiel Kemboi. Anything including a World record could emerge from this re-encounter as the Memorial Van Damme gives Kemboi the chance to restore some lost Kenyan honour.
In the women’s 5000m, there is another senior versus junior battle similar to the men’s 3000m, with Berhane Adere taking on Tirunesh Dibaba. Adere who won the World 10,000m title in Paris was, like El Guerrouj denied the possibility of a great double by a junior athlete, though much more emphatically as she ‘only’ finished 10th. Adere like everyone else in the 5000m in Paris was devastated by Dibaba magnificent last 100 metres which surprised all the favourites. Adere the fastest in the world this season at 5000m having had a few days to rest her legs will like so many others in Brussels be looking to set the Paris record straight.
In the field events, Australia’s 2001 World Pole Vault champion Dmitri Markov will be another one looking to turn the tables on a surprise Paris winner, in his case, Italy’s Giuseppe Gibilisco.
The list of mouth watering ‘head to head’ duels this Friday seems never ending, as is the depth of Brussels’ start list, which will conclude the IAAF Golden League 2003 on an exceptionally high note.