Germany's Betty Heidler in the hammer (Getty Images) © Copyright
Preview Dakar, Senegal

Heidler heads high-quality hammer field in Dakar

Former world record-holder Betty Heidler will aim to challenge her own meeting record at the IAAF World Challenge meeting in Dakar, part of the IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge, on Wednesday (25).

The 2007 world champion threw 75.33m at this meeting back in 2011, one week after throwing what was then a world record distance of 79.42m.

The 32-year-old German may not currently be in world record form, but she is showing steady progress after opening her 2016 season with 69.83m and then more recently throwing 72.41m in Ostrava.

Heidler is currently 0.02 points ahead of Zalina Marghieva in the challenge standings and she will face the Moldovan in Dakar.

The 28-year-old has already broken her own national record with 74.21m this year and finished ahead of Heidler at the European Cup Winter Throwing in March.

World University Games champion Hanna Skydan has set an Azerbaijani record of 73.03m this year and could challenge for top honours on Wednesday, as could Heidler’s compatriot and long-time domestic rival Kathrin Klaas.

For the first time in the 13-year history of this meeting, there will be a men’s hammer competition.

Moldova’s Serghei Marghiev tops the entries based on season’s bests, but 2013 world bronze medallist Lukas Melich of the Czech Republic added three metres to his season’s best in Ostrava on Friday and could continue to improve in Dakar.

Eaton and Linkiewicz on a roll

Fresh from a 13.25 personal best in the 110m hurdles in Ostrava, USA’s Jarret Eaton will be looking to continue that momentum in Dakar.

His toughest opposition could come from compatriots Jeff Porter and Ronnie Ash, but South Africa’s Antonio Alkana and Greek record-holder Konstadinos Douvalidis could also get close to the American trio. David Oliver’s meeting record of 13.60 looks highly likely to be improved upon.

Polish 400m hurdler Joanna Linkiewicz surprised a quality field in Ostrava to take victory in a personal best of 55.40. European silver medallist Anna Titimets of Ukraine will be among her opponents, but on the evidence of last Friday’s race, it will take a big performance to stop Linkiewicz.

Ethiopia’s Haftamnesh Tesfay also enjoyed a breakthrough performance in Ostrava. Although she didn’t win, the 2013 African junior champion slashed 15 seconds from her 3000m PB to finish second in 8:40.80.

She will contest the shorter distance in Dakar, where she will face Ethiopian champion Dera Dida and Kenya’s Sandra Tuei, winner of the 5000m at the recent African Junior Trials. If the pace is right, Almaz Ayana’s meeting record of 8:44.30 could be under threat.

The women’s 100m hurdles is another event in which the meeting record could fall. Canada’s Olympic finalist Phylicia George has already clocked 12.74 this year – 0.2 quicker than the Dakar meeting record – and arrives fresh off of her victory in Hengelo.

She'll have USA’s Christina Manning and Colombia’s Brigitte Merlano as her main opponents.

Ivorian sprinters Wilfried Koffi, second at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Rabat on Sunday, and Ben Youssef Meite have exchanged national records in the 100m and 200m in recent years.

The pair will contest the longer event in Dakar, but appear to be evenly matched. Koffi has a 100m season’s best of 10.01 to Meite’s 10.05, but the latter is undefeated this year.

With a best of 3:30.34, Collins Cheboi is the fastest man in the 1500m field, but this will be the Kenyan’s first outdoor race of the season. Djibouti’s rising talent Abdi Waiss recently clocked a PB of 3:34.55, while Morocco’s Youness Essalhi has also shown promising form this year.

USA’s Jarvis Gotch looks to be the favourite in the men’s long jump. The 24-year-old set a PB of 8.24m in April and then followed it with a wind-assisted 8.35m three weeks later. But Brazil’s Mauro da Silva is also in the field and the two-time world indoor champion has shown that he can never be discounted.

In the women’s sprints, Zambia's African Games champion Kabange Mupopo will line up against Jamaica’s Patricia Hall and Brazil’s Geisa Coutinho in the 400m, while South African champion Alyssa Conley will race USA’s Alexandria Anderson in the 100m.

Jon Mulkeen for the IAAF