Isinbayeva set to fly high in Lausanne - PREVIEW

Isinbayeva set to fly high in Lausanne - PREVIEW

Monday 4 July 2005

Lausanne, Switzerland – 2004 Athletes of the Year, Yelena Isinbayeva (RUS) and Kenenisa Bekele (ETH) are two of the brightest jewels of the Athletissima IAAF Super Grand Prix meeting at the Pontaise Stadium on Tuesday 5 July. In total the 30th edition of the Swiss meeting features an array of 19 Olympic champions and 16 World champions.

On the final approach to five metres

Isinbayeva, the reigning Olympic champion and World record holder (4.92m outdoors and 4.90m indoors) for the women’s Pole Vault, will kick-off her outdoor campaign in the Lausanne meeting which stages the women’s pole vault for the first time in its glorious history.

The former gymnast from Volgograd, the leader of the IAAF Overall World Ranking, set four World Indoor records in her four outings - Donetsk, Birmingham, Liévin and Madrid – last winter, crowned in the last meet with her first European Indoor title with the 4.90 world indoor record. She is set to continue her rise to the 5 metres barrier, which she claims to have already cleared in training.

Isinbayeva will face stiff opposition from Stacy Dragila (USA) who was Olympic champion in Sydney 2000 and World champion in 1999 and 2001. Polish girls Ana Rogowska, Olympic bronze and current world seasonal leader (4.76), and 2001 World bronze medallist Monika Pyrek will renew their battle for another national record.

Another Volgograd star on show

Another great athlete from Volgograd on show in Lausanne is Tatyana Lebedeva, the reigning Olympic women’s Long Jump champion and Triple Jump bronze medallist who will compete in Triple Jump here. The Russian of course is the double reigning World champion at the event and holds the World indoor record with 15.36 set in the 2004 when winning the World Indoor Championships in Budapest.

Lebedeva is in great shape after her first 2005 TDK Golden League win in Paris last Friday where she leapt three times over the 15 metres barrier with a best of 15.11 in her first attempt followed by 15.07 and 15.08.

She also produced a magnificent 15.33 leap to win in Lausanne in 2004. This year her main threat should come from Algeria’s Baya Rahouli (SB 14.98 at the Mediterranean Games in Almeria, and winner in the Athens SP Grand Prix), the Olympic silver medallist Hrisopiyi Devetzi from Greece, Sudan’s Yamilé Aldama (third in Paris on Friday with 14.44), Jamaica’s Trecia Smith (seasonal best 14.91), and Russia’s Anna Pyathik (second behind Lebedeva in Paris with 14.70).

3000m for Bekele

In the men’s 3000 metres, Kenenisa Bekele will take on his younger brother Tariku, who smashed the 13 minutes barrier with 12:59.03 in Paris, Gebre Gebremariam (third in Paris with 12:58.60). Bekele, eight-time individual world cross-country champion and World and Olympic 10,000m track champion, opened his outdoor campaign winning the 10,000 metres in the Hengelo IAAF Grand Prix with 26:28.72 (fastest time in the world this year) and ran the fourth best time in history in the 5000 metres with 12:40.18 in the Paris TDK Golden League meeting.

Johnson versus Xiang

The men’s 110 metres Hurdles is one the most exciting contests in the european circuit this summer, and fabulous results are also expected also in Lausanne which features the Olympic champion and joint holder of the World record Liu Xiang of China against four-time World champion Allen Johnson. The American is the world seasonal leader with 12.99 from the US Championships. Dominique Arnold, who qualified for Helsinki with an amazing 13.01 (second fastest time in the world this year) in Carson, and Stanislav Oljars from Latvia (SB 13.11 in Doha) are not to be written off.

Olympic sprint gold medallists fight it out at the dash

The Olympic 100m and 200m champions, respectively Justin Gatlin and training partner Shawn Crawford race it out over the shorter dash and will contend with Olympic silver medallist and European record holder Francis Obikwelu from Portugal, Ghana’s Abdul Aziz Zakari, first in the Paris TDK Golden League 100 metres race (10.04) on Friday, and European Indoor 60 metres record holder Ronald Pognon from France. Also in the 100m field are Paris GL third placer Dwight Thomas from Jamaica and the US Helsinki qualifier Leonard Scott.

Gatlin has been the only man able to beat World record holder Asafa Powell in 2005, prior to the Jamaicans record run (Athens 14 June) when the pair met in Eugene at the IAAF Grand Prix and both clocked a wind-assisted 9.84. Gatlin, also the Olympic 200m bronze medallist, scored a 100-200 metres double in the US Championships winning with 10.08 (with a strong head wind of -2.3 m/s) and 20.04. Crawford, who ran 9.89 in the olympic final in Athens to finish fourth in the best 100 metres final in olympic history, finished second in the 100m and third in the 200m at the US Champs.

European 200m indoor champion Tobias Unger from Germany will be running against reigning World champion John Capel and fellow American Joshua Johnson.

Wariner faces toung task

Jeremy Wariner, Olympic champion at the individual 400m and the 4x400, returns to race in Europe after winning the US national title in 44.20 (world seasonal best). The 400 metres sprinter coached by Clyde Hart and managed by his predecessor Michael Johnson, will face very tough opposition led by the 19-year-old sensation Lashawn Merritt, World Junior champion and third in the all-time world indoor list with 44.93, Derrick Brew the Olympic bronze medallist, and Grenada’s World Indoor champion Alleyne Francique (SB 44.60).

Richards takes on world number one Williams-Darling

Jeremy Wariner’s counterpart Sanya Richards, ran the world’s fastest time this summer at the US Championships in Carson with 49.28 and is set for a thrilling race against olympic champion and 2004 TDK Golden League winner Tonique Williams Darling from the Bahamas who won in Paris in 49.69. Australia’s World 400m Hurdles champion Jana Pittman also goes on the flat, and other 400m challengers are US Champs runner-up Dee Dee Trotter (49.88 in Carson) and Paris Golden League second placer Christine Amertil from Bahamas.

Hard to call – women’s 100m

Christine Arron won the 100m on Friday in Paris in 11.03 showing that she is back in top form and will line up against Chandra Sturrup who was just behind in Paris (11.05), US 200m Olympic silver and World Junior record holder Allyson Felix (winner over 200m at the US Champs with the world seasonal best of 22.13), Olympic 100m silver Lawryn Williams, the surprising 2005 US champion Melissa Barber (SB 11.05 in New York) and Sherone Simpson (second in the Jamaican Champs with 10.97) and Tayna Lawrence the 2000 Olympic bronze medallist.

Holm seems to have the measure of the opposition

Swedish high jumping star Stefan Holm, the Olympic champion (2.36m) and European Indoor gold medallist in 2005 (2.40m), is the favourite in Lausanne after his TDK Golden League win in Paris with 2.32m, a contest which featured everyone in the IAAF World Ranking top-10 for the event.

World seasonal leader Jadel Gregorio of Brazil, who holds the three best performances of the year (17.73; 17.71; 17.58) clashes with Romanian Olympic silver medallist Marian Oprea (17.52 this year in the Athens Grand Prix) in the men’s Triple Jump.

Alekna seeks 70m

Double Olympic champion and 2003 World Championship gold medallist Virgilius Alekna (69.57 in Hengelo in 2005) will seek his first throw 70 metres throw of the year in the men’s Discus contest. Not to be written off in the battle for first place are Estonia’s Greg Kanter (the only man to throw over 70 metres this season with 70.10), Olympic silver medallist Zsoltan Kovago from Hungary, and 2004 IAAF World Athletics Final winner Mario Pestano from Spain.

Plenty of Paris ‘return’ matches…

Lausanne will offer many re-match races following on from the results from the TDK Golden League meeting in Paris last Friday. One of these is the women’s 100, Hurdles with Olympic gold medallist Johanna Hayes, who was first in the French capital with 12.60, again racing Canadian World outdoor and indoor champion Perdita Felicien, who finished runner-up at the Stade de France in 12.66. World seasonal leader and 2005 US champion Michelle Perry (12.43 in Carson), who will run her first European race of the summer, European indoor champion Susanna Kallur from Sweden, and World silver medallist Brigitte Foster from Jamaica are also in the prestigious Lausanne line-up.

Danny McFarlane from Jamaica and Naman Keita from France (SB 48.27 in Paris), respectively Olympic silver and bronze medallists, South Africa’s Louis Van Zyl (first in the Athens Super GP with 48.16), World bronze medal Periklis Iakovakis of Greece who was third in Paris on Friday, James Carter (USA) the winner in Paris, Olympic finalist Bayano Kamani from Panama are the major contenders of a wide-open men’s 400 metres Hurdles battle.

The women’s 800 metres looks like it may be an affair again between Svetlana Cherkasova from Russia, world seasonal leader with 1:56.93 and winner in Paris with 1:57.52, and Cuba’s Zulya Calatayud (second in Paris with 1:58.37), and Olympic bronze Jolanda Ceplak from Slovenia.

In the men’s 800m, Kenya’s William Yampoiy who sneaked a 1:45.98 win in Paris will face Alfred Kirwa Yego (Ken), Amine Laalou from Morocco (1:44.22 this year in Seville), reigning World champion Djabir Said Guerni, and his 2001 predecessor the swiss André Bucher.

Olympic bronze medallist Rui Silva from Portugal and the US middle distance star Allan Webb are the strongest names in the 1500 metres men race.

‘Home girl’ from Bahrain

Mayam Jamal from Bahrain (the former Ethiopian Zebenesh Tola), who is based in Lausanne, has become a bright new name in women’s middle distance running this season with a world seasonal best of 3:59.13 for the 1500m (Athens, 14 June). Jamal will try to confirm her recent progress at her home track, the Pontaise Stadium, with another good result making her a possible medal contender for next month’s World Championships. Jamal’s main rivals in Lausanne will be Alesya Turava from Belarus and Olympic fourth placer Natalya Yevdokimova.

Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF