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Two weeks to Maebashi and records under threat

18 February 1999 – Monaco – In the upcoming IAAF World Indoor Championships, which will take place in Maebashi (JPN) from 5-7 March, Ivan Pedroso (CUB) and Anier Garcia will defend their respective titles from the last World Indoor Championships in Paris in 1997, in the long jump and 60m hurdles. Another Cuban superstar, Javier Sotomayor will be in Maebashi to assert his supremacy in the high jump.

Sotomayor, who owns the world record outdoors with 2.45m, has been at the top of the world rankings for 14 years and came second in the very first world indoor games, in Paris in 1985, behind Sweden’s Patrik Sjöberg. At the IAAF World Indoor Championships in Budapest in 1989, the then 21 year-old Cuban, won his first world title and set a new world indoor record of 2.43m. Ten years on, Sotomayor is once again on record-breaking form and could be capable of extraordinary feats.

The indoor season so far has produced some excellent results and in Liévin on Sunday, Pedroso and Garcia will be among the stars of a meeting that promises to be really exciting. Pedroso will once again be duelling with another exceptional long jumper: Jamaica’s James Beckford, whilst Anier Garcia – the rising star of world hurdling – will face up to athletes of the calibre of Courtney Hawkins, Anthony Dees and Latvia’s Igor Kazanov.

We can expect other duels that anticipate those of Maebashi in the sprints, especially the women’s events: Gail Devers (USA) against the ageless Merlene Ottey (JAM). But we shouldn’t underestimate, either, Irina Privalova (who will also compete in the 200m), Sevatheda Fynes (BAH) and Petya Pendareva (BUL).

In the 800m Maria Mutola (MOZ) will clash with Natalya Dukhnova (BLR), Letitia Vriesde (SUR) and Patricia Djate (FRA): the world record for the distance (1:56.60, set by East Germany’s Christine Wachtel in 1988) is more than ever at risk. Just as, in the 3000m, is the 1989 record of 8:33.82 set by Elly Van Hulst (NED).

Strengthened by her recent success in the 5000m and pushed by Morocco’s Zahra Ouaziz, Gabriela Szabo (ROM) is surely capable of making a serious assault on the mark.

Finally, there is Haile Gebrselassie. With the 5000m indoors record under his belt, the Ethiopian will make yet another attempt at the 3000m record of 7:24.90 set by Daniel Komen (KEN) on 6 February last year in Budapest.