Another great Javelin duel between Finland’s Tero Pitkämäki and Norway’s Andreas Thorkildsen plus a Kenyan clash in the 3000m Steeplechase will probably be the highlights of men’s events on day two of the IAAF / VTB Bank World Athletics Final in Stuttgart on Sunday (23), while the Sanya Richards up against all the Osaka medallists in the 400m is the standout of the women’s events.
There are German hopes for a World Athletics Final win in two events – men’s Pole Vault and women’s Discus Throw – and there are two distance runners from Kenya going for the double today: Edwin Cheruiyot Soi, who has won the 3,000m, will now run the 5000 m while it is the other way around with Vivian Cheruiyot. But it is Tatyana Lebedeva who has the best chances to win twice in Stuttgart, after taking the Long Jump on day one she now turns to the Triple Jump. Yet World champion Yargelis Savigne will argue with that!
Edwin Cheruiyot Soi had already run both distances in last year’s World Athletics Final in Stuttgart, when he placed second in the 3000 and the 5000 m. Now he has already been improved in the shorter event. The 21-year-old ran 7:48.81 minutes for the 3000m on Saturday, which was probably not a too hard race, and will leave some energy for today’s 5000m. But when meeting the likes of Sileshi Sihine, Ethiopia’s silver medal winner from the 10,000 m final in Osaka, and Eliud Kipchoge (Kenya), who was second in the 5000 at the World Championships, it will get more difficult to win the second distance.
The 3000m Steeplechase promises a great clash between the top Kenyans. World champion Brimin Kipruto, who is the second fastest this year with 8:02.89 minutes, will meet Paul Koech, who is the only one to have broken eight minutes this year (7:58.80 in Brussels). Richard Mateelong, who had taken the bronze in a Kenyan sweep in Osaka, plus three more Kenyans will be in today’s race.
Despite the absence of Liu Xiang (China) the 110m Hurdles, the last event of the World Athletics Final today, will be a high-class affair. Dayron Robles showed superb late season form, when he clocked his season’s best of 13.05 in Linz (Austria) last week. Now the Cuban takes on five US hurdlers, among them Terrence Trammell, who is the second fastest this year behind Xiang with 12.95. 36-year-old Allen Johnson also produced a win at the Golden League finale in Berlin last Sunday.
In the Javelin Throw, Tero Pitkämäki and Andreas Thorkildsen have provided a series of fascinating duels this season. And they don’t seem to have tired as much as others towards the end of the programme this year.
The pole vault looks wide open. This is one of the events in which the Germans hope to do well. Three of them are in it: Danny Ecker and Björn Otto are in the better form while Tim Lobinger won the event four years ago. Ecker, the European Indoor champion and bronze medal winner from Osaka, took the Golden League meet win in Berlin last Sunday with 5.86m. World Champion Brad Walker (USA) and Steve Hooker (Australia) will be among the ones the Germans have to beat to take a win.
In the 100 metres it will probably be the US duo of Lauryn Williams and Carmelita Jeter, who took silver and bronze in that astonishing close race in Osaka, plus 200m World champion Allyson Felix who will battle it out. In contrast to Asafa Powell’s race in the men’s dash this could become a very close race.
Sanya Richards seems to get better and better the longer the season lasts. After improving her 400m world lead to 49.27 seconds last Sunday in Berlin she said: “I hope to further improve in Stuttgart.” Due to the warmer weather in the southwest of Germany today this could well be possible. A top performance will be required anyway since the top three from Osaka will be running again: British duo Christine Ohuruogu and Nicole Sanders plus Novlene Williams (Jamaica).
Meseret Defar (Ethiopia) decided on short notice to swap events in Stuttgart. That meant that she did not compete in yesterday’s 5000m. This opened the door for Vivian Cheruiyot. And the Kenyan took the advantage and won the race. Now the silver medallist from Osaka’s 5000m wants to go for a double, running the 3000 m as well. But with Meseret Defar, the World and Olympic 5000m champion in her way it looks an almost impossible task.
In contrast Tatyana Lebedeva (Russia) has the best of chances to make it a double. But again there is tough opposition. Yargelis Savigne (Cuba) has already beaten her into second place at the World Championships in this event. Now there will be a new duel – and may be Hrysopiyi Devetzi (Greece) can interfere with the two. As the other two she has as well broken 15 metres this season.
Franka Dietzsch carries German hopes for a win in the women’s events today. But it is not sure how fit the World Discus champion really is because of her recent Achilles tendon problems. Still, may be one great throw would be enough to take it.
The Shot Put is another event where the hosts look promising: Petra Lammert and Nadine Kleinert, the bronze medallist from Osaka, will meet World Champion Valerie Vili (New Zealand) plus Nadezhda Ostapchuk (Belarussia), who was surprisingly beaten by Vili in Osaka, and then again in Rovereto.
Jörg Wenig for the IAAF
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