There is excitement in store in the thirty-third edition of the DN Galan IAAF Grand Prix meeting, which will take place tomorrow evening in the Swedish capital’s Olympic Stadium.
Kenya’s Paul Tergat will be attempting to win back the world record in the 10,000m, which Ethiopia’s Haile Gebrselassie made his own last year with a time of 26:22.75. The thirty-year-old Kenyan Air Force sergeant, the only man ever to have won five consecutive World Cross Country titles, has focussed his training to peak in this last race before the forthcoming IAAF World Championships in Seville. Tergat’s excellent clocking in the 5000m in Rome three weeks ago (12:55.37, fifth best performance of the season) and the particularly favourable conditions for distance running in Stockholm’s Olympic Stadium, suggest that Tergat could have every possibility of realising this ambition. In addition to a strong Kenyan field, the race will also include Portugal’s Antonio Pinto, the reigning European champion, Domingos Castro, silver medallist over 5000m in Athens and the Spanish champion Fabian Roncero.
Tergat’s twenty-year-old compatriot Noah Ngeny, one of the great revelations of the season so far, will be making a world record attempt: this time on the 2000m mark of 4:47.88 set by Algeria’s Nourredine Morceli in Paris four years ago. After a great performance in the mile, in Rome three weeks ago (where he was beaten by just 27 hundredths of a second by Morocco’s El Guerrouj, who set a fantastic new world record in the race – with Ngeny also bettering the previous record mark), and beating Morceli himself in Paris over 1500m, the young African talent decided to make his attempt at Sebastian Coe’s record in the 1000m, missing the mark by just 48 hundredths in Nice two weeks ago. Now he has opted to double up and attempt the 2000m record, alongside his compatriots William Tanui and Paul Bitok and England’s John Mayock.
In the men’s 100m, the new world record holder and reigning World Champion, Maurice Greene, will be attempting to win himself another one-carat diamond (worth $10,000), put up by the meeting organisers as a prize for anyone beating a stadium record. To do so, he will have to improve on his 9.90 clocking of last year. Although Greene’s training partner and arch-rival Ato Boldon is not among the starters, the race includes six other competitors who have personal bests of under ten seconds, including Britons Dwain Chambers and Jason Gardener.
Michael Johnson – Olympic champion over 400m and 200m and world record holder in the 200m – will be after a diamond too. His target will be the meeting record of 44.67, set by his compatriot Anthuan Maybank three years ago – an exploit that should be well within the possibilities of Johnson.
Marion Jones sees diamonds at the end of her 200m race. She has been unbeaten over this distance since she returned to the track. In Stockholm she will line up against the evergreen Merlene Ottey and her fellow Jamaican Juliet Campbell, Australian Cathy Freeman, Chandra Sturrup from the Bahamas and Jones’ fellow American Inger Miller.
In the men’s 110m hurdles, World record holder Colin Jackson will face Americans Mark Crear, Larry Wade, Tony Dees and Duane Ross and Germany’s Florian Schwarthoff.
The javelin throw features three time European champion Steve Backley (GBR), his fellow Briton, Mick Hill, Finland’s Aki Parviainen – who currently heads the season’s rankings – and Germans Raymond Hecht and Peter Blank.
With Marion Jones and Fiona May (ITA) missing from the long jump, Heike Drechsler’s strongest challenger is likely to be America’s Dawn Burrell. Over 800m, Maria Mutola looks likely to have the race all to herself, with no serious threats in the field. The same will not be true in the women’s 5000m, where Fernanda Ribeiro (POR) could have her work cut out to stave off the challenge from Spain’s Julia Vaquero and Kenya’s marathon star Tegla Loroupe.
The crowd’s eyes will also be on the return to competition of Ludmila Engquist. The Swedish specialist of the 100m hurdles will compete despite still receiving chemotherapy for breast cancer.
The results from DN Galan will be available live on the IAAF web site: www.iaaf.org