Gold medalist Olga Kaniskina of Russia celebrates as she crosses the finish line during the women's 20km race walk during day five (Getty Images) © Copyright
Preview Moscow, Russia

Hot afternoon in store in Moscow's mid-winter chill - PREVIEW

Moscow, Russia - It’s very cold in Moscow: the temperature in some regions of this huge city is minus 20 degrees C. But no doubt on Sunday (5) the Vladimir Kutz Arena will be crammed with fans of athletics. since the 'Russian Winter', the second IAAF Indoor Permit Meeting of 2012, is always adored by the Moscow public.

The 21st edition of the traditional indoor competition will host approximately 200 athletes from 20 countries. And the level of the competitions is so high that as the President of All-Russian Federation of Athletics Valentin Balakhnichev said many winners of the “Russian Winter” will certainly reach the podium of the World Indoor Championships in Instanbul in March. Additionally, Moscow will host the 2013 World Championships providing a good opportunity for organisers to continue their preparations fort the major competition of the post-Olympic year.

Top Walkers to share the limelight

It is not by chance that we start the preview with two Race Walking events. They are not always included in the programe of the 'Russian Winter'. But this time Moscow fans will be able to see the biggest stars of the discipline. The Olympic, World and European champion Olga Kaniskina is by no doubts the main star of the Women’s 3000m Race Walk. She’ll be accompanied by the bronze medal winner of the last World Championships Anisya Kirdyapkina. But it is Claudia Stef from Romania who is the owner of the 11:40.33 World record at this distance. Maybe the rivalry of such an ambitious duo will help to improve the meeting record of 11:44.00 set by Alina Ivanova way back in 1992.

The men’s 5000m Walk will also be in the focus of everybody’s attention because the stars of the discipline will compete to crush the 18:07.08 meeting record set in 1995 by Russian Mikhail Scgennikov. Among them are some of the leading walkers in the world headed by the World and Olympic champion Valeriy Borchin, the World champion Sergey Bakulin, Vladimir Kanaykin and Sergey Nizhegorodov. The most experienced of the foreign guests is Juan Manuel Molina from Spain and the bronze medalist from the 2009 World Championships Eder Sanchez from Mexico.

Borzakovskiy tuning up in fast 600m

2004 Olympic 800m champion Yuriy Borzakovskiy is one of the most adored runners in Russia. This time Borzakovskiy will contest the 600m in the company of strong Kenyans headed by Boaz Lalang, the 2010 World indoor 800m silver medallist. 2009 World championships finalist Jackson Kivuva will also be in the field and don’t forget Poland's Adam Kszczot, the reigning European indoor champion.

The European indoor champion Denisa Rosolova from the Czech Republic is considered to be one of the favorites in the women’s 400m. But the double European champion Tatyana Firova, current world leader Vania Stambolova of Bulgaria, and Tatyana Veshkurova (RUS) who is making a comeback after her maternity leave will also be in the chase.

It looks like Russian runners are targeted to win Women’s 1000m. Yelena Arzhakova who won the distance last year is one of the contenders. She is accompanied by her compatriots Yekaterina Martinova, Yelena Kofanova, and Juliya Rusanova. Strong guests as Renata Plis from Poland and the Kenyan Helen Obiri will try to separate the Russian squad.  

Jones vs Carruthers in 60m Hurdles

In the women's 60m Hurdles, two-time defending World indoor champion Lolo Jones of the U.S. will challenge her compatriot, the Daegu silver medallist Danielle Carruthers, who won the 'Russian Winter' laurels last year. Russian leader Tatyana Dektyareva, who made the finals of the 2011 World Championships, is also in the field.

The men’s 60m Hurdles is shaping into a battle between World junior champion Konstantin Shabanov, last weekend's winner in Glasgow, and the experienced Yevgeniy Borisov who is back on the track after injury.

The 60m bronze medallist from the 2010 World Indoor Championships, Rudi Zang Milama from distant Gabon, is a regular participant in Moscow: last year won clocking 7.15. This year she’ll be opposed by the duo of European champions from Ukraine: Olesya Povh and Mariya Ryemyen along with 20008 World indoor champion Angela Williams of the U.S.

In the men's 60m, the top names are reigning World indoor champion Dwain Chambers of Great Britain and Kim Collins, former World 100m champion, from St. Kitts and Nevis.  Josh Norman and Rakieem Salaam, who have clocked 6.63 and 6.64 this season, will lead the U.S. forces. Norman’s history in this meeting is thrilling. Last year he was disqualified for a false start in the heats but was permitted to participate in the final as an exhibition runner and was then first across the line. Let’s hope that this year there’ll be no false starts.

Spotlight on Klishina in the Long Jump

The women’s Long Jump is attracting a lot of attention in Russia. One of the event's newest stars, Darya Klishina, will be among the favourites, and will face compatriot Irina (Simagina) Meleshina, the 2004 Olympic silver medallist, and Brianna Glenn of the U.S. among others.

The men’s Long Jump will focus on rising Russian stars Aleksandr Menkov and Pavel Shalin who will face some serious opposition from Ghanian Ignisious Gaisah, Godfrey Mokoena from South Africa, Loúis Tsátoumas of Greece and Morten Jenssen from Denmark.

The men’s High Jump features Olympic champion Andrei Silnov who cleared a world-leading 2.35m on Wednesday in Moscow, and Alexandr Shustov, the European champion Alexandr Shustov. And don’t forget Daegu bronze medallist Trevor Barry who parachuted to frozen Moscow from the Bahaman Islands.

Dmitriy Starodubtsev and Sergey Kucheryanu are the leaders of the Russian season in Men’s Pole vault. But the silver medallist from Daegu, Cuban Lazaro Borges, Ukraine's European outdoor silver medallist Maksym Mazuryk, experienced German Bjorn Otto,  from Germany as well as Poland's Lukasz Michalski won’t be easy to defeat.

Besides 12 international events there’ll be three so-called national ones: both men and women will compete in Shot Put, and  men will run the 1500m.

Nickolai Dolgopolov and Rostislav Orlov for the IAAF