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Seville Gran Premio sets stage for August’s World Championships

26 May 1999 - MONTE CARLO - Monaco - With less than three months to go now to Seville ‘99, the Gran Premio Diputacion which will take place on Friday, will serve as a general rehearsal for the IAAF World Championships in Athletics. Seville’s Grand Prix II will offer not only a chance to test the magnificent equipment provided by the newly inaugurated Olympic Stadium but also great duels on the track.

What was promising to be one of the most exciting events, the men's long jump, has lost a little of its lustre with the withdrawal, due to an attack of 'flu, of Ivan Pedroso. Spain’s Yago Lamela, European indoor record holder and World indoor silver medallist in Maebashi was keen on taking his revenge on the reigning the World outdoor champion: Pedroso defeated Lamela in Japan by just 6 centimetres in his final attempt. Lamela will now have to keep an eye on Jamaican James Beckford, this season’s current world leader with 8.40m.

The 200m should offer an interesting duel between such world class specialists as Australian champion Matt Shirvington, Briton Darren Campbell and Sebastien Keitel from Chile.

Kenyans will make the pace in the middle distance events with Japhet Kimutai, Benjamin Kipkurui and David Kiptoo heading the field in the 800m with American Mark Everett and local favourite Roberto Parra as outsiders.

Kenyan Paul Bitok’s task won’t be easy in the 3000m race, where 1992 Olympic champion Fermin Cacho, Enrique Molina and Reyes Estevez will have all the support of the local crowd.

In the field events, eyes will be set on the long awaited return to the centre stage of Czech Jan Zelezny in the javelin throw.

At the other side of the track the hammer contest will offer a world class battle among Hungarians Balazs Kiss and Tibor Gecsek and Belarussia’s Igor Astapovich.

In the women’s events, Olympic champion Deon Hemmings will face world record holder Kim Batten in the 400m hurdles; in the 800m, world indoor champion Ludmila Formanova will find strong opposition in Belarussia’s Natalya Dukhnova, Moroccan Hasna Benhassi and Portuguese Carla Sacramento.

The Grand Prix will also schedule three world class field events. It would be difficult to forecast the name of the winner in a pole vault contest that includes Anzela Balakhnova (UKR), Nicole Humbert (GER), Zsuzsa Szabo (HUN), Vala Flosadottir (ISL) and Melissa Mueller (USA).

In the triple jump, world indoor silver medallist Iva Prandzheva seems a likely favourite, with 1997 world indoor champion Inna Lasovskaya, Bulgaria’s Marina Marinova and Cuban champion Yamile Aladama ready to challenge her.

Finally, eyes will be set on world champion Astrid Kumbernuss in the shot put. The German will definitely be looking forward to her first international success, after skipping the whole 1998 season as she expected her first child.