Athens, GreeceOn the afternoon of 29 August 2004, the Olympic flame was extinguished in the Olympic Stadium of Athens. But tomorrow, Tuesday 14 June, the ambiance of the Games is going to be revived for three hours, in the IAAF Super Grand Prix “Tsiklitireia 2005”.
Many of last summer’s Olympians will return to the Olympic arena as part of their build up to this summer’s 10th IAAF World Championships in Athletics, Helsinki, Finland (6 - 14 August)
Powell - “I want the record very much”
Jamaica’s Asafa Powell, IAAF World Ranked number one for the 100m, and already the world season’s leader with 9.84, has entered the meeting and seems set to demonstrate World record form in the stadium which on 16 June 1999 brought a 9.79 World record for Maurice Greene. This time still stands as the second fastest ever clocking in history.
Click here - Going to the top of the Overall IAAF World Ranking?
Powell who has been training in the Olympic Stadium since last week, asked by the journalists about his world record prospects, confirmed “I want it very much. The track is very fast and the weather wonderful. I will struggle to get it.”
Portugal’s Olympic silver medallist Francis Obikwelu, Britain’s best duo, World and European 60m indoor champion Jason Gardener and his compatriot Mark Lewis Francis, Ghana’s Aziz Zakari, Jamaican Patrick Jarrett and Deji Aliu of Nigeria are expected to exert the pressure on the Jamaican.
Lalova versus Block
Bulgaria’s Ivet Lalova, third fastest runner this year, is among the stars of the women’s 100m dash, and will take on Ukraine’s former World champion Zhanna Block.
Greece’s two European Indoor 60m medallists, Maria Karastamati (bronze) and Georgia Kokloni (silver), will also run. Karastamati has already won the national championships with a personal best of 11.27. Kokloni was disqualified in that event on the second false start, so losing the opportunity to verify her form ahead of the World Championships. She now has the chance to run faster than her season’s best of 11.35
Borzakovskiy returns to scene of triumph
The middle distances are bulging with talent. Olympic champion Yuri Borzakovskiy and women’s bronze medallist Jolanda Ceplak, go in their respective 800m races. Paul Korir, World Indoor champion, and Tatyana Tomashova, the women’s World outdoor champion and Olympic silver medallist will highlight the men’s and women’s 1500m races.
Russia’s Borzakovskiy scored his biggest career success in this stadium, when winning the men’s 800m gold medal in the Olympic Games last August. The 24-year-old Russian who opened his summer well in Eugene at the IAAF Grand Prix just over a week ago with a 1:44.91 second place, will face tough competition from his Olympic rival, South Africa’s Mbulaeni Mulaudzi, winner of the silver medal in the Olympics. The race will also feature Kenya’s Youssef Saad Kamel, William Chirchir and Michael Rotitch, as well as Russia’s European Indoor Champion last March in Madrid, Boris Bogdanov.
Two of the 2004 Olympics medallists return to Athens for the women’s 800m. Morocco’s Hasna Benhassi and Slovenia’s Jolanda Ceplak will compete once more at the Athens Olympic Stadium on 14 June. Russia’s Natalya Tsyganova, 800m bronze medallist in the last European Indoor Championships, Svetlana Cherkasova, Olga Raspopova and Irina Mistyukevich are also included in the start list, ensuring an exciting race. Greece’s Maria Papadopoulou runs for the national record and the standard for the World Championships.
Paul Korir, the Kenyan World Indoor champion at 1500m, who won the Athens Super Grand Prix last year, competes against the European Indoor champion, Ukraine’s Ivan Heshko. Also in the field are Kenya’s William Chirchir and Bahrain’s Asian recordholder Rashid Ramzi.
In the women’s metric mile, the reigning World 1500m champion and silver Olympic medallist Tatyana Tomashova is the most distinguished entry. She will be accompanied by the European Indoor Champion, Elena Iagar of Romania, Canadian Doume-Hussar, and the Greek national record holder Konstantina Efentaki.
Shaheen in the 3000m Steeplechase
The World champion and World record holder for the 3000m Steeplechase Qatar’s Saif Saaeed Shaheen, Morocco’s Brahim Boulami, and Kenya’s Boit Kipketer are the main entrants for the men’s Steeple. They will be challenged by Qatar’s Moussa Amer Obaid, who as a junior took fourth place in the Olympic final.
Among the brilliant entries for the women’s Steeplechase - the event in which we had a World record here last year - are Uganda’s Dorcus Inzikuru, America’s Brianna Shook, Kenya’s Salome Jerchumba, and Morocco’s Bouchra Chaabi.
Keita in the 400m Hurdles
France’s Naman Keita, the Olympic bronze medallist should be the star of the men's 400m Hurdles, along with the Greek champion Periklis Iakovakis who was third in the World Championships in 2003. Britain’s Christopher Rawlinson and Poland’s Marek Plawgo are also strong contenders for the win.
A second Greek runner, the 21-year-old Minas Alozidis has a chance to achieve a personal best. Alozidis ran 49.62 in the national championships and is already considered to be a significant prospect for the future of the Greek athletics.
Holm vs Rybakov vs Baba
In the men's High Jump, Sweden’s Stefan Holm, Olympic champion in Athens, triple World Indoor gold medallist, and European Indoor winner, competes again with Russia’s Yaroslav Rybakov, the European outdoor champion, in a revival of their unforgettable indoor battle in Madrid.
The presence of Olympic bronze medallist, Czech Jaroslav Baba also triggers expectations for very significant heights on Tuesday.
Olympic Triple Jump silver medallists on show
Some stars of the women’s Triple Jump, who played a leading role in last year’s Olympic Games of Athens, return to Olympic Stadium.
Greek Hrysopigi Devetzi jumped 14.59m in the national championships and is returning to her shape of last August, which took her to an Olympic silver medal. Devetzi also achieved a personal best of 6.56m in the Long Jump at the nationals, which has opened up the possibility of her participating in both events in the World Championships this year.
The Greek champion will have to compete with Sudan’s Yamile Aldama, the World Indoor Championship silver medallist and 5th placer in the Olympic Games. There is also Jamaica’s Trecia Smith, one of the most exiting revelations of the last year, who was 4th in the Olympics and currently holds the season’s best performance with 14.91m.
The silver medallist at the Olympic Games, Romania’s Maria Oprea, tops the men’s Triple Jump entry list. Last weekend, he won the Romanian national championships with 17.46m.
Ukraine’s Mykola Savolainen, second in the European Indoor Championships, Greece’s Konstantinos Zalagitis who has a season’s best at 17.29m are in the field. Watch out also for Christos Meletoglou who was sixth in the Olympics and is usually very confident in international meetings.
Filippidis on a fast rise to the top
The past indoor season revealed a new hero for Greek athletics fans, the junior pole vaulter Konstantinos Filippidis, who cleared 5.61m and threatened the indoor juniors all-time best. In early outdoor meetings, Filippidis has achieved three national juniors and senior records in five days. In the “Venizeleia 2005” meeting in Chania, he cleared 5.71m, beating some world stars of the event, and attempted unsuccessfully to break the World Junior record with 5.81m.
In the Athens Super Grand Prix, Filippidis has a brilliant chance to reach the height he desires. Not only the 2000 Olympic champion Nick Hysong, but four more athletes with personal bests over 6m guarantee a high level of competition: Germany’s Tim Lobinger and Danny Ecker, America’s Jeff Hartwig and Australia’s Igor Markov. The addition of the World and European Indoor champion, Russia’s Igor Pavlov, supports the forecast that the men’s Pole vault will be among the highlights of the meeting.
Menendez and Nerius in the Javelin Throw
Two career’s milestones are linked to Greece for Cuba’s Osleidys Menendez. She won the Javelin Throw at the Olympics last year in Athens and set the World Javelin record in 2001 in Rethymno.
Almost ten months after her win in the Olympic Games she returns to Athens in order to compete with Germany’s Steffi Nerius, who won the silver medal last August and holds the best world performance of the season with 66.49m.
Sonja Bisset from Cuba with a personal best of 66.54m and Nora Aida Bisset, also from Cuba with a personal best of 63.32m, who were present in the final of the Olympic Games, will also participate in Athens.
Sadova in the Discus Throw
In the women’s Discus Throw the competition between the Olympic champion Natalya Sadova of Russia and the World champion, Belarus’s Irina Yatchenko attracts the attention.
This time, the best Greeks won’t be there, as the Olympic silver medallist Anastasia Kelesidou, the European Champion Ekaterini Voggoli and the third Greek Olympic finalist Stella Tsikouna are all not competing this summer. However, Areti Ambatzi, who won the national championships last weekend will attempt to set the standard for the World Championships.
But, the entries of Czech champion Vera Pospisilova, who was 4th in the Olympic Games, Romania’s Nikoleta Grasu, and two former World champions, Belarus’ Elina Svereva and Germany’s Franka Dietsch, mean the competition will be at a very high level.
Michalis Nikitaridis for the IAAF