American champions Trammell and Phillips to highlight Linz GP meeting

American champions Trammell and Phillips to highlight Linz GP meeting

Sunday 1 August 2004

With less than three weeks remaining before the Athletics program begins at the Olympic Games, a slew of Athens-bound stars will make their final preparations at Tuesday’s 17th Intersport Gugl-Meeting IAAF Grand Prix, in Linz, Austria. And with solid fields throughout, the final stop on the Grand Prix circuit prior to Athens promises compelling competition in every event.

US Trials winner Terrence Trammell leads a top notch high hurdles field that includes compatriots Ron Bramlett and Duane Ross, along with Jamaican Maurice Wignall, who ran to a 13.28 national record with his win here last year on a wet track. Latvian ace Stanislav Olijar and South American record holder Redelen Dos Santos (13.29) of Brazil fill out the solid field. This season’s second fastest, Liu Xiang was originally slated to compete, but was a late scratch when the Chinese Federation decided against allowing the Asian record holder to race so close to the Olympic Games.

Bernard Williams at the double

The men’s 100m includes Americans Coby Miller, fourth in the US trials, and a member of the US sprint relay pool for the Olympics, and Bernard Williams, who is headed to Athens to compete in the 200m. Western Africa is strongly represented, with Aziz Zakari of Ghana, the winner in Rome’s Golden Gala, and Nigerian Uchenna Emedolu competing as well.

Williams, along with 2003 World Championships silver medallist Darvis Patton, who finished just a slot behind Williams at the US trials, will double back in the 200m as well. Williams, a part-time stand up comic, raced to a season’s best 20.07 in Sacramento, and promised an attempt on Obadale Thompson’s meet record of 20.11. Rapidly improving Matic Osovnikar, the Slovenian sprint record holder, will look for a strong tune-up before his first Olympic appearance.

Sebrle polishing Athens preparation in 100 and LJ

Roman Sebrle, the reigning Olympic silver medallist and two-time World Indoor Heptathlon champion, will use Linz as a warm-up to Athens. Here, the world record holder and European champion will compete in the 100m and long jump. Austrian multi-event hope Roland Schwarl will make an appearance as well.

Double World Junior champion Howe seeking Long Jump Athens Olympic standard

But heading the long jump field is World champion Dwight Phillips. Undefeated in 2004, the 26-year-old Olympic favourite goes head-to-head with Saudi Hussein Al Sabee and Italy’s double World Junior champion, Andrew Howe. Jamaican James Beckford and Cayman Islander Kareem Streete-Thompson lead a strong Caribbean presence.

Tim Lobinger headlines the pole vault competition. A member of six-metre club, the popular German goes against Americans Tye Harvey and Jeff Hartwig along with Olympic-bound Czech Adam Ptacek and Illiyan Efremov of Bulgaria, the defending Linz champion. Harvey cleared 5.80 at the US trials, the highest non-top three clearance in the history of the meet. Hartwig, who also met with misfortune in Sacramento, has a 5.81 clearance to his credit this season.

A top field is also expected in the women’s javelin. World leader Osleidys Menendez of Cuba (68.23), Czech Nikola Brejchova (64.85) and Valeriya Zabrushkova of Russia (63.84) - numbers three and five on the world list, respectively - will have their sights set on the 66.03 meet record set by Australian Louise Currey-McPaul five years ago.

Hurtis takes on Mothersill and Richards in women’s 200

The women’s dash fields are solid as well. American Athens-bound teenager Allyson Felix, who won the 200 in Sacramento in 22.28, competes here in the shorter dash. On paper, compatriot Chryste Gaines looks to provide the most solid challenge.

The longer sprint will be fiercely contested, with Muriel Hurtis of France, Cydonie Mothersill of the Cayman Islands, and American Sanya Richards topping the field. Hurtis won the European Cup Super league title this summer; Mothersill arrives on the heels of a five-race win streak, while the 19-year-old Richards sped to a 49.89 area junior record at the US trials with her runner-up finish in the 400m.

Bettina Muller and Karin Mayr-Krifka will need a strong boost from the Austrian crowd to push them to a podium position.

Exciting line-up in women’s Triple Jump

The women’s triple jump is another hot-ticket item. Olympic medal contender Yamile Aldama (15.21) of Sudan, Jamaican national record holder Trecia Smith and Francoise Mbango-Etone of Cameroon all have jumps of at least 14.85 to their credit this season. Newly-minted US record holder and trials winner Tiombe Hurd competes for the first time since her 14.45 national record in Sacramento. Inna Lasovskaya’s meet record 14.81, set a decade ago, is clearly under assault.

The men’s distance events are pre-Athens showcases for Austrians Gunther Weidlinger in the 3000, and Martin Proll in the steeplechase.

Elsewhere, Ukrainian Nelya Neporadna and Anna Jauzbak of Poland lead the women’s 1500, Melissa Morrison of the US and Jamaican Lacena Golding-Clarke square off in the 100 Hurdles, and Pole Krystyna Zabawska, New Zealander Valerie Adams and Trinidad’s Cleopatra Borel do battle in the shot put.

With partly cloudy skies and ideal summer temperatures expected, a repeat of last year’s rainy and chilly conditions is not in the forecast.

Bob Ramsak for the IAAF

I’ll be there today…watching only…