Berlin - Gerhard Janetzky (c) © Copyright
General News Berlin, Germany

Words from the Meeting Director - Berlin

A few days ahead of last year's DKB-ISTAF Berlin ÅF Golden League meeting, Gerhard Janetsky put a tiny bit of his reputation on the line by pronouncing that he thought Lashawn Merritt would beat the then seemingly invincible Jeremy Wariner over one lap of the historic Olympic stadium.

However, the Berlin meeting director proved himself a good judge of form when Merritt did exactly that, rocketing around the famous blue track in 44.03 as an aperitif before his feats in Beijing.

So what bold predictions can Janetsky extract from his crystal ball this year?

“Ha, ha. I'm going to play it safer this year, even though I'll try to gamble a little bit,” smiled Janetsky, taking just a nibble of the bait being offered rather than a huge bite.

“I think Ariane Friedrich will beat Blanka Vlašic in the women's High Jump and, much more modestly, that the German relay teams will beat the British 4x100m teams in the special events that we have added to give them some opportunities before the World Championships. The German teams are probably not as fast individually but they are practising well and I think that  they will be inspired in the electric atmosphere that will be provided by 65,000 people in the stadium.”

Friedrich has become one the main faces of German athletics after her win at the European Indoor Championships in March, and Janetsky is well aware of her pulling power as part of the renaissance of German athletics.

“Last year, Ariane had a great fight with Blanka, that's again one of the duels I and the crowd are looking forward to. Ariane has a good chance of beating the German record here, at least she might be go over 2.05m again. I can't say whether she is more physically talented than Blanka but she has good nerves, she showed that last year when she jumped well here and went over two metres outdoors for the first time.

Every German, including Janetsky, is hoping that Friedrich can stand on top of the podium when the 12th IAAF World Championships in Athletics are staged in Berlin in two months time (15 - 23 Aug).

The meeting forms a crucial part of the build up to this year's premier athletics  event.

“Now that the soccer season is over, the focus is switching to athletics here in Germany and a good meeting like ours tells the public about the fun and enjoyment that you can have with athletics and the athletes. We are telling the public, 'this is what it will look like and you can buy tickets for World Championships'. From a German perspective, I think we'll have about 25% of the eventual World Championships team on display here and so people will get to know their faces and make a connection with them that can carry on until August.

“Obviously, we are happy to play host again for the opening event of the six
Golden League meetings, we are looking forward to a good crowd of 65,000  spectators and hoping that the weather will be as pleasant as it was in 2008. Last year it was great, around 27 degrees, this year it might be just be a bit cooler at 23 degrees but it will still be sunny with almost no wind,” added Janetsky.

Janetsky's philosophy is to also build up the head-to-head battle in the various events being staged here, including the 10 Golden League disciplines.

“Along with the women's High Jump, the German spectators also like their javelin throwing and we've got Andreas Thorkildsen and Tero Pitkämäki  competing here again as the Javelin is a Golden League discipline. It's just a pity we don't have a German javelin thrower who can match them at the moment.

“I'll also be looking closely at the women's Pole Vault,” commented Janetsky, running the rule over some of his personal choices that catch the eye.

“Of course there is one women who is outstanding, I don't even need to say who she it, but Silke Spiegelburg finished the season well last year, she's another German athlete who is getting close to the very top rank of world stars, and I'd like to see her put a little bit of pressure on Yelena (Isinbayeva).

“Nevertheless, It will also be fascinating to see how Yelena jumps. Normally, she starts her outdoor season much later, she likes to start in early July when its warm and so this probably feels like early winter to her, although with 23 degrees she shouldn't feel too uncomfortable” he joked.

“She definitely a candidate for the Golden League jackpot, I don't see too many others who can do it, I'm thinking that at least once this season Pitkämäki will beat Thorkildsen

“I don't to talk about world records but what would make me happy from Yelena Isinbayeva at this meeting if is she does a double-zero-plus, by that I mean five metres or above.”

No doubt, the reigning women's World Athlete of the Year would be happy with that herself as it is, as Janetsky mentions, the earliest start to her outdoor season for six years.

Phil Minshull for the IAAF