Athletissima, a Super Grand Prix status meeting as part of the 25 strong fixture IAAF World Athletics Tour 2008 has a late season date in 2008, and Olympic Triple Jump champion Christian Olsson of Sweden was on hand last week at a press conference in Lausanne to begin the meet's promotion.
“The 2nd September seems to be a good date for us, the athletes will have 10 days to recover from the Games and the public will be eager to see the new Olympic champions up close and personal” declared meeting director Jacky Delapierre during the press conference. “Because of the forthcoming Euro 2008 organised in our country during the whole month of June and several trials for the Games, at the beginning of July, we could not do otherwise.”
A programme of seventeen events will be organised for this 33rd edition of Athletissima, 9 for the men and 8 for the women. The longest race will be the 1500m in order not to conflict with the meetings of Zurich and Brussels, which have a great tradition of middle and long races, and so just like the last couple of years, Athletissima will be focused on sprint and hurdles races in la Pontaise stadium.
Christian Olsson who will be one of the stars of the meeting on Tuesday 2 September was asked about the new date and if he would be able to perform well so soon after the Olympics?
“It is difficult to say. Sometimes we suffer from jetlag. It depends on the Olympic Games results. Anyhow, Athletissima would be a good opportunity for revenge. Great performances are generally accomplished during this meeting where the organisation is always impeccable.”
Olsson was next asked about his fitness considering his many injuries since he took his Olympic title four years ago.
“It is true, I was heavily injured because of my foot,” said Olsson who has not competed since 13 July 2007. “Now, I am almost back 100%. I am really on an ascending slope.”
“I have just returned from a training camp in Croatia. I can almost train normally, but I still remain careful with speed. I plan to compete in my first event in June during the European Cup in Istanbul. I think I will be in good shape.”
“If all goes well, I think that it is possible to defend my Olympic title. Of course, I will start my season rather late, but that should not be a problem. But I will only do the Triple Jump as it is quite demanding and I have decided to momentarily give up the High Jump.”
“What still motivates me? I would really like just once to jump 18m. Regarding the World record (18.29 m), it is still a little too far but that remains one of my goals with my trainer Yannick Tregaro. We have been collaborating for a very long time now and I trust we can go further and that I can improve. Besides I’m quite certain another coach would not have brought me where I am today.”
Pierre-André Pasche - Athletissima - for the IAAF