David Oliver the winner of the 60m Hurdles at the 25th Sparkassen-Cup 2011 (organisers) © Copyright
Preview Karlsruhe, Germany

Liu challenges Oliver and Di Martino returns in Karlsruhe - PREVIEW

 In the recent history of the BW-Bank meeting, sprints have played an integral role, with a women’s 60 metres Hurdles World record plus a men’s 60 metres European record coming from the speedy sprint apron at Karlsruhe’s Europahalle in the last several years. And next Sunday (13), in the fixture’s 27th presentation, the short events will again be prominent. 

The BW-Bank meeting in Karlsruhe is an IAAF Indoor Permit fixture.

The men’s 60m Hurdles will move squarely under the spotlight as former outdoor World record holder Liu Xiang of China goes against Stuttgart winner and Beijing bronze winner David Oliver of the USA, who compiled an impressive undefeated outdoor season in 2010. Liu and Oliver have met only one previous time in their careers, at the Doha World Indoor Championships last season, where Oliver finished 3rd to Liu’s 7th. 

The Chinese star was most recently in the Europahalle four years ago when he established a still-standing Asian record of 7.42. But within a year, he began to be dogged by injuries that resulted in abbreviated seasons until late last year. Liu won his third Asian title last November with a splendid 13.09, signaling his full recovery and giving the ‘green light’ for the 2011 season.

Also in the field, and with a 7.57 from last week in Eaubonne, is the Barcelona fourth placer, Dimitri Bascou of France, along with compatriots Garfield Darien and current World junior champion Pascal Martinot Lagarde. Jamaica’s combination sprinter-hurdler Dwight Thomas, the holder of a relay gold from Beijing, will also be among the contenders as well as late entries Dayron Capetillo of Cuba and Sweden’s Philip Nossmy. A pair of medalled Europeans also signalled their interest late this week—former European 110 Hurdles champion Stanislav Olijar of Latvia and Spain’s Jackson Quiñonez, a former European indoor bronze winner.   

Rodgers vs Clarke - round 2

The winner of the Stuttgart 60 metres, Mike Rodgers of the US, will be out to avenge his narrow loss in Liévin earlier this week to Commonwealth 100 champion Lerone Clarke of Jamaica.  Italy’s Emanuele Di Gregorio, the bronze medallist two years ago in Torino and who showed good form with a 6.62 in the Stuttgart heats, could also be in the final mix, along with Italian record holder Simone Collio. Also in the competition will be France’s Ronald Pognon, whose 6.45 six years ago established a European indoor record, plus Nigeria’s Ogho-Oghene Egwero, a finalist in last season’s African Championships 100 metres. After his runner-up finish in Moscow last Sunday, former world 100 metres champion Kim Collins of St. Kitts has added the Karlsruhe meeting to his schedule. 

Withdrawing late from the competition was France’s Christophe Lemaitre, the European male athlete of the year for 2010. The 20-year-old sprinter felt his form was not sufficient after his first two season outings the past week, and he has returned to training in preparation for the French Championships. 

The women’s 60 metres has been dominated during the early part of the season by Ukraine’s Olesya Povh at 7.14, the top European at the moment with five of the top seven overall performances of the year thus far. She will be joined by countrywoman Mariya Ryemyen, who is currently in the number-two spot among Europeans with 7.20. 

The recent lower back problems plaguing European 100 metres champion Verena Sailer of Germany have finally abated, and her participation on Sunday has been confirmed, along with that of her Berlin relay bronze-medal team-mate, Cathleen Tschirch. 

Also in the women’s 60, French sprinters Myriam Soumaré and Véronique Mang, respectively the Barcelona 200 gold and 100 silver winners, will be joined by Russia’s Aleksandra Fedoriva, the Barcelona bronze medallist, and Ezinne Okparaebo of Norway, the runner-up two years ago in the Torino 60 metres. 

Deep women's hurdles field 

Upset winner last weekend in the Stuttgart women’s 60 metres hurdles, Carolin Nytra of Germany, will go against Norway’s Christina Vukicevic and American Kellie Wells, who scored a significant PB 7.85, the year’s fastest, in Liévin Tuesday night after a previous best of 7.98. 

Other notables in what appears to be the deepest field on the programme include Yvette Lewis of the US, Doha finalist Vonette Dixon of Jamaica, former World indoor and outdoor champion Perdita Felicien of Canada, and former World indoor champion Derval O’Rourke of Ireland, ensuring that gaining a place in the finals will require a superb performance. 

Di Martino returns after 2.04 national record

The Karlsruhe arena was the scene of a long-standing women’s High Jump world record as Heike Henkel’s 2.07 in the 1992 German Championships survived for 14 years. Germany’s current top high jumper, Ariane Friedrich, added her own stamp to the facility two years ago with a 2.05 leap. 

New world-leader Antonietta Di Martino of Italy, who had a spectacular evening reaching 2.04 earlier in the week in Banska Bystrica, will go into the competition with an edge over the jumper who pushed her to these new heights, Russia’s Svetlana Shkolina, the Berlin sixth placer two seasons ago. 

Also in the field is a second Russian, Torino bronze winner, Viktoriya Klyugina, plus a pair of Germans - Berlin finalist Meike Kröger (who jumped 2.00 here last year) and Universiade bronze medallist Julia Wanner, in addition to former European junior bronze winner Ebba Jungmark of Sweden. 

In an almost all-German women’s Pole Vault competition, Barcelona silver medallist and Berlin fourth placer Silke Spiegelburg will attempt to replicate her Stuttgart win against a group of outstanding compatriots including Beijing sixth placer Carolin Hingst, Berlin finalist Kristina Gadschiew, Torino bronze medallist Anna Battke, and former European outdoor finalist Martina Strutz. Yet another countrywoman, Viktoria von Eynatten, the World junior silver winner last year, will be in the field, as well as former European junior champion Minna Nikkanen of Finland, and Russia’s Aleksandra Kiryashova, like Gadschiew a Berlin finalist two years ago. 

The top two placers in the men’s Long Jump at the most recent European Indoor championships - winner Sebastian Bayer and runner-up Nils Winter, both of Germany - will do battle against the winner in Stuttgart last weekend, former European indoor silver medallist Louis Tsatoumas of Greece, plus ex-world indoor champion Ignisious Gaisah of Ghana and Barcelona silver medallist Kafetien Gomis of France. Also in the field are Ndiss Kaba Badji of Senegal, a finalist in Osaka, Bejing, and Doha, plus another world indoor finalist from last winter, Andriy Makarchev of Ukraine. 

The Long Jump event would ordinarily be an opportunity to showcase the leading long jumper in the world last season with 8.47, European Champion Christian Reif, who is also a student at Karlsruhe University.  However, the German’s recovery from an off-track accident has not been sufficiently complete for him to see action. 

And on the track...

After his PB 3:35.23 in Liévin this past week, which is tops in among the field in Karlsruhe, Kenyan William Biwott would appear to have the favourite’s role in the men’s 1500 metres, which will also include Beijing bronze and former European champion Mehdi Baala of France.   Other Kenyans on hand include Commonwealth 800 metres silver winner Richard Kiplagat and Gideon Gathimba. 

France’s Abdelkader Bakhtache, fourth placer at the Birmingham European indoor in 2007, will join Barcelona finalists Mateusz Demczyszak of Poland and Italy’s Christian Obrist.  Germany’s silver medallist in Barcelona, Carsten Schlangen, will also add his talent to Sunday’s competition. 

The long distance department will be filled by two 3000 metres races.  In the women’s contest will be the top two from Stuttgart last weekend, winner Mercy Njoroge of Kenya, the Commonwealth steeplechase silver winner, and runner-up Dolores Checa of Spain.  A pair of Osaka steeple finalists - Ireland’s Fionnuala Britton and Sophie Duarte of France - will also be on hand, as will 5000 metres runners Sara Moreira of Portugal and Romania’s Roxana Birca.  A pair of Polish 1500 specialists, Sylwia Ejdys and Renata Plis, will bring some finishing speed to the event, as will Beijing 1500 finalist Siham Hilali of Morocco.

The men’s 3000 metres would appear to be a wide-open race involving 21-year-old Hayle Ibrahimov of Azerbaijan, the Barcelona 5000 metres bronze medallist, plus Kenyans Bethwel Birgen and veteran Shedrack Korir, who was fifth in the Moscow world championships.   Barcelona 10,000 metres finalist Christian Glatting of Germany, plus French 1500 specialists Yoann Kowal and Otmane Belharbazi, will attempt to lower their respective personal bests in the 15-lap event, as will experienced German runner Sebastian Hallmann. 

The start list in the men’s 400 metres is led by Roman Smirnov, who Tuesday night in Liévin ran a Russian record of 32.75 in the 300 metres.  Barcelona 400 hurdles bronze medallist Stanislav Melnykov of Ukraine and 19-year-old Marcell Deak-Nagy of Hungary, the reigning world junior silver medallist will also be on hand.  Among the Germans taking part in the timed sections will be Marco Kaiser, a relay silver winner in the 2009 European junior championships, and 400 hurdler David Gollnow, a former world junior finalist in that event. 

Moving up to the 400 metres since last year, the Paris 200 metres world champion, Muriel Hurtis-Houairi of France, will attempt her second outing in the women’s two-lap event within the past week. Also competing will be Bejing 400 hurdles finalist Zuzana Hejnova of the Czech Republic, current World junior bronze medallist Bianca Razor of Romania, and European junior fourth placer Sorina Nwachukwu of Germany.  

Ed Gordon for the IAAF