Irving Saladino leaps to 8.20m in Valencia permit meeting (Julio Fontán) © Copyright
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Savigne, Saladino and Thomas to compete in Athens Indoor Meeting - PREVIEW

11 February 2008The presence of reigning three World champions and a handful of World and Olympics medallists, as well as of Greek top athletes in the “Athina 2008” IAAF Permit Meeting increases the interest for the event scheduled for Wednesday 13 in the Peania Hall in Athens.

Savigne, Devetzi and Sestjak in the Triple Jump

The women’s Triple Jump is expected to be one of the most undecided competitions of the meeting, including the participation of athletes who have been at the top of the discipline during the last few years.

Cuba’s Yargelis Savigne is not only the reigning World champion of the event, but has already jumped 14.77m this year, a performance achieved in Dusseldorf last week.

Greece’s Chrysopigi Devetzi, bronze medallist in the Osaka World Championships never looses the chance to compete with the other top athletes of the event. As part of her build-up for the Beijing Olympics, which is her main objective this year, she participated in the long jump event at the Balkan Championships, where she improved her overall personal best with 6.85m.

Slovenia’s Marija Sestjak is one of the most rapidly improved triple jumpers in the last years. She was 5th at the World Championships last year, and is the season’s second best European jumper with 14.60m set also in Dusseldorf.

The potential entry of Romania’s Adelina Gavrila, who won the Balkan Championships with 14.70m, but also jumped 14.78 on 2 February, would add more complexity in this very open event. Other world class athletes appear on the entry list including Ukraine’s Olga Saladukha (7th in Osaka last year), the French national record holder Teresa Nzola Meso Ba who won bronze at the European Indoor Championships in 2006, and South American champion Keila Costa of Brazil.

Besides Devetzi, two more Greek triple jumpers are expected to participate. Athanassia Perra whose season’s best stands at 14.24m and the new name of the national scene Paraskevi Papahristou who recently improved the juniors’ national record with 13.86m.

Donald Thomas – Kyriakos Ioannou in High Jump rematch

Two of the athletes who were on the podium of the World Championships meet again in Athens, recalling Osaka’s unforgettable final where Bahamas’ Donald Thomas won the crown after a close competition with Russian Yaroslav Rybakov and Cypriot sensation Kyriakos Ioannou; all medals judged at 2.35m.

The reigning World champion Donald Thomas meets again the Cypriot in “Athina 2008”, while the surprising winner of the World Championships 2005, Ukraine’s Yuriy Krimarenko has also entered the meeting. Krimarenko opened the season last weekend in Valencia where he cleared 2.26m.

Along with them, the best Greek in the last two years, Konstantinos Baniotis who improved his indoor mark to 2.27m last week in Athens.

 Saladino in the Long Jump

Another reigning World champion, Panama’s Irving Saladino is among the entrants of the meeting. Saladino currently holds the top spot in the season’s list of the event with 8.20m, performance achieved in Valencia during last weekend. Greece’s Luis Tsatoumas is expected to be his main rival, although Tsatoumas has yet to make his indoor debut this season.

Last year the Greek champion impressed, setting a national record at 8.66m, the second all time European performance, but he didn’t compete at the World Championships as an injury obliged him to withdraw from any competition in the second half of the outdoor season.

The 2006 World Indoor Championships silver medallist, Kenya's Daniel Komen Chipchirchir is going to participate in the 1500m race, having to face mainly with Mansur Ali Bilal from Burundi, his compatriot Remi Limo and the Spanish duo of Sergio Gallardo and Juan Carlos Esteso.

Svetlana Feofanova enters the Pole Vault

In the women’s Pole Vault Russia’s Svetlana Feofanova returns to a meeting where four years ago she set a World record at 4.85m, a performance which is still a personal indoor best for the athlete.

This year Osaka’s bronze medal winner will face a strong competition mainly by two compatriots. The silver medallist of the European Indoor Championships last year, Yuliya Golubchnikova who stands on the second position of the season’s list with 4.65m she set in Moscow in January and Tatyana Polnova who has jumped only once this winter at 4.40m.

Germany’s Caroline Hingst with 4.60m this year and Czech Pavla Hamackova with personal best at 4.64m since last year are also going to compete for the win.

Five Russians enter women’s 400m

The women’s 400m race is expected to be of the highest level as five Russian runners are included in the entry list, all in top positions in the world season’s list.

The current world leader Olesya Zykina who won the Russian Championships with 51.09, competes with Olga Zaytseva who follows on the world list with 51.42. The other Russians are Anastasiya Kapachinskaya (52.17 this year), Natalya Antyukh (52.78 this year) and Tatyana Firova (51.96 this year)

Elsewhere…

American Angela Williams is among the big names in the 60m race. Williams has a season’s best of 7.17 and in Athens she has to face with Taheshia Harrigan (currently 3rd faster woman in the world) and Lavern Jones from Virgin Islands, British Jeanette Kwakye, who was 4th last year in the European Indoor Championships held in Birmingham. More entrants in this event are Nigerian Franca Idoko and Cuba’s Bergen Benavides.

In the women’s 60m Hurdles the reigning World indoor champion Ireland’s Derval O’ Rourke competes with American Damu Cherry, Russian Alexandra Antonova, silver medallist last year in Birmingham, Nigerian born Spain’s Josephine Onyia and Poland’s Aurelia Trywianska


Michalis Nikitaridis for the IAAF