Top stars have returned to the Czech City of Ostrava once again to celebrate tomorrow night (27) the 49th edition of the Ostrava Golden Spike which is the part of the IAAF World Challenge series and has a long term aim to join the prestigious IAAF Diamond League.
At time of writing the last 2000 tickets for standing positions only remain to be sold in the 20,000 capacity stadium.
Bolt takes training experience into competition
The fastest man in the world will run 300m for the first time in his career and will try to beat the World best for this distance. Usain Bolt arrived to Ostrava directly from Shanghai on Monday evening, had a good training on Tuesday and is excited about the race.
“I did lot of 300s in training, so I know the distance, but this will be my first in competition. I‘m looking forward to it, I hope for a good time,“ said the Jamaican star who will compete in Ostrava for fourth time and third time in a row. Michael Johnson's world best is 30.85 from 2000. It was achieved in the high altitude of Pretoria, South Africa.
Jamaican Asafa Powell, a former 100m World record holder, will return to Ostrava after five years, since his last performance, when he ran the meeting record 9.85 in rainy and cold weather with 8°C. He wants to attack the current mark set last year, Usain Bolt’s windy 9.77.
By special arrangement of the organisers, Powell should also be able to improve the world best for the 100 yards of 9.21sec by Charlie Greene in 1967 (or hand timed 9.0 of Ivory Crockett in 1974, last IAAF World record). All the 100m races (men and women) in Ostrava will have official 100 yard splits taken by Omega.
Another team member from Jamaica‘s golden relay squad at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Nesta Carter, together with Mark Lewis-Francis of Great Britain, will be Powell‘s biggest rivals at 100m.
Rudisha aims for meet record; Lagat takes on Ebuya
David Rudisha of Kenya would like to attack the meet record of Wilfried Bungei at 800m, which is 1:43.24 from 2003. “I‘m in a good shape. My season started well in Australia and after Doha I am ready for a nice race in Ostrava," Rudisha confirmed.
A dramatic encounter should be seen in the men’s 3000m, also known as the Emil Zatopek Memorial. The World 1500m and 5000m champion from Osaka, Bernard Lagat of the USA, will meet a World Cross Country champion Joseph Ebuya of Kenya. The Kenyan runner is well known in Ostrava, because of a special story from his 2006 performance. He started to celebrate his victory 200m before the finish line, but then he realised he had stopped too early but he still managed to finish second despite that error of judgement.
“I had the best cross country season of my life during the winter of 2009 and I hope I can continue with this form on the track during the summer. I want to run a fast time in Ostrava and improve my personal best. Despite of the fact that there will be a lot of strong runners in this race,“ Ebuya said. His personal best is 7:34.62 from 2008.
Robles and Clement provide the highest hurdling quality
Dayron Robles of Cuba, will return to the city, where he became World record holder at 110m Hurdles in 2008. He ran 12.87sec on that occasion, but also ran a good time last year with 13.04. Injury ruled him out for much of 2009 season, but he returned strongly to Ostrava to achieve another good result.
The current double World champion in 400m Hurdles, Kerron Clement of the USA, will run in Ostrava for the first time. The World champion from Osaka and Berlin has run ten races in his career which are faster than the current meeting record in Ostrava. Felix Sanchez of Dominican Republic holds the record of 48.10 from 2003.
First time in Ostrava for Fraser
Reigning World and Olympic 100m gold medallist, Shelly-Ann Fraser of Jamaica, started her season in Shanghai after she competed in the relay at Penn Relays. Her second stop will be the Czech IAAF World Challenge meet in Ostrava. Organisers are hoping she may attack the 11 seconds barrier and become the first in the meet history with a sub 11sec run. The current meet record is 11.03.
"I am looking forward to running in Ostrava as I have never been there before, seeing its my first time and I heard it is always wonderful there, great track and exciting fans. With those two ingredients I am looking forward to a exciting meeting,” she said. Also in the women 100m race, the meeting organizers want to achieve the best time in 100 yards, which is still held from 1970 by Chi Cheng with time 10.0 (10.10 auto).
Ohuruogu vs Williams over 400
In women 400m race, Christine Ohuruogu of Britain, will face Jamaican Shericka Williams. They were the best runners of the Beijing Olympics. The 2007 World champion, Ohuruogu, will return to Ostrava as a winner in 2008. Ostrava meeting will be her first European 400m race.
Williams, who has a better top ten marks average then Ohuruogu, said: "Ostrava is one of the last big meets on the circuit that I have not been to yet. I am looking forward to running fast this season and Ostrava is one of the meets I am most excited about."
The meet record goes back to 1983 when Tatiana Kocembova achieved 49.67. That is the only sub-50 time in the history of the meet, and organisers are hoping that may change.
Jones to benefit from great organisation
For the third time in her career, Lolo Jones of the USA, the 2008 World Indoor 60m Hurdles champion, will take part at Golden Spike meeting in Ostrava over 100m Hurdles.
"I consider this meeting really high, it is still one of my most ranked ones, thanks to great organisation, and the nicest trophy I hold in my collection so far. The track is really fast here. I usually start running fast between 5-8 races and Ostrava is my 5th stop of this season. I need a complete race, the beginning is what I need to be fast at and get to improve. If everything comes along I think it should be an excellent time," said the double winner from Ostrava.
Ethiopian World silver medallist from Berlin, Meselech Melkamu, is coming back to Ostrava for her sixth time, the fifth time in a row and will be the biggest star of the 10,000m. She is still second on the all-time list with her personal best at 10,000m of 29:53.80 set in 2009. In Ostrava 2007, she achieved her PB in 5000m and debuted at 10,000m in Ostrava 2008. Last year, she beat in exciting race both future World champions Linet Masai and Vivian Cheruiyot. Organisers are hoping she might attack at least the meet record of Tirunesh Dibaba from 2008 (31:03.37).
Home from home for Vlasic
The current double World High Jump champion, both indoors and outdoors, Blanka Vlasic of Croatia, feels at home in Ostrava. She has been here for six times and in 2008 she made the meeting record of 2.05m. There is no woman who has ever jumped higher in the Czech Republic as she did in 2008. The personal best of Vlasic is 2.08m. Chaunté Howard Lowe of US should be her biggest rival.
The Olympic champion in Beijing, and the World record holder in Javelin Throw (72.28m), Barbora Spotakova of the Czech Republic, has been in Ostrava four times, but has won just once. She wants to win again in front of the Czech fans and try to break the meeting record, which was set in 2008 by Christina Obergföll (67.72m). At the first meeting of Diamond League circuit, Spotakova improved her opening season best of her career with a 67.33m performance.
Men and Women: Hammer throws on the eve of the meeting
As usual the day before the main meeting, the Hammer Throw competitions will be held as part of IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge. The presence of all available Berlin medallists is confirmation of the high standard. Aleksey Zagorniy and Szymon Ziolkowski will face in-shape world leader Libor Charfreitag, Hungarian Krisztian Pars and some strong Germans. In the women‘s competition, another high quality clash will see the last two World champions Betty Heidler and Anita Wlodarczyk, take on Belarus' Darya Pchelnik who had high quality marks on her recent tour in Brazil.
Katarina Petrikova and Alfons Juck (organisers) for the IAAF
More at www.zlatatretra.cz