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Previews08 Sep 2012

8 London Olympic champions on show; Jumps in the spotlight in Rieti


Anna Chicherova of Russia celebrates being gold medalist of the Women's High Jump Final of the London 2012 Olympic Games on August 11, 2012 (© Getty Images)

Eight London Olympic gold medallists will take part in the Rieti IAAF World Challenge meeting at the Raul Guidobaldi Stadium on Sunday 9 September.

Jumping events will be in the spotlight in the Rieti with Russia’s reigning Olympic and World champion Anna Chicherova in the women’s High Jump, and Italy’s European champion and Olympic bronze medallist Fabrizio Donato in the men’s Triple Jump.

Chance to reverse Brussels defeat

Last night at the Samsung Diamond League final in Brussels Chicherova (2.00m) lost to her compatriot Svetlana Shkolina (2.03), the Olympic bronze medallist, and Rieti will give the Olympic champion an immediate opportunity for revenge as the two Russians will meet again.

Chicherova jumped 2.05 to take the Olympic gold medal in London in a competition where four women jumped 2 metres or more. The Olympic title was the latest addition to her trophy cabinet which features the World title in Daegu, two World outdoor silvers in Osaka 2007 and Berlin 2009, two World Indoor silvers (Budapest 2004 and Istanbul 2012) and one bronze (Birmingham 2003), and one European Indoor gold medal (Madrid 2005) and the World Youth title (Bydszgosz 1999).

The Russian, who set the national record of 2.07 at the 2011 National Championships in Cheboksary just one month before winning the World title in Daegu, will compete in Rieti for the third time in her career. In 2005 Chicherova made her debut at the Raul Guidobaldi Stadium, winning with 1.95. The following year she finished second with 1.91.

Donato - "Dad, you are my champion"

Italian fans will celebrate the season of 36-year-old Fabrizio Donato, who won the European title in a rainy Helsinki with a wind-assisted 17.63 (but with a legal 17.53), and the Olympic bronze medal in London with 17.48. Donato also took victory in the first of the two Samsung Diamond League finals in Zürich with 17.29 in rainy conditions.

This Sunday’s meeting will be special for Donato who hails from Frosinone, which is not far from Rieti. Donato’s wife comes from Passo Corese, a small town near Rieti and he will receive strong support from his family and friends. It will be the fourth appearance at the Rieti meeting for Donato who competed here in 1995, 2008 and 2010.

During the post-competition interviews in London Donato explained the secret for his success after a long career saying: "For me athletics has always been a passion and not a sacrifice. I still enjoy athletics and I love what I do every day. I take my six-year-old daughter Greta to school and then I begin my training. . If my competition in London had not gone well, I would have returned to training to pursue new dreams with the same passion and love for athletics as before. I owe much to my wife Patrizia and Greta. In London I wore a special T-shirt on which the following sentence was written: 'Dad, you are my champion’."

Adams takes on Kolodko

Valerie Adams from New Zealand will end her successful season in Rieti after winning her second consecutive Olympic gold medal and her second consecutive Samsung Diamond League Trophy in Zürich.

Swiss-based Adams, who has won all titles an athlete can dream (three World outdoor titles, two World indoor gold medals, one World Junior gold, one World Youth title and won the Commonwealth Games twice) produced another ultra-consistent season in which she twice put over the 21 metres barrier in Rome (21.03) and Lucerne (21.11) and ten more throws over 20 metres. Olympic silver medallist Evgeniya Kolodko and Trinidad and Tobago’s Cleopatra Borel will be in the field.

Hammer Throw Olympic champions on show

Rieti will play host to the final leg of the IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge which will feature both London Olympic champions Tatyana Lysenko and Krisztian Pars. The Hammer throw competitions will be staged over two days with a qualifying round on Saturday (8) and the final with the top-four qualifiers on Sunday (9) during the main programme of the meeting.

Pars, who also won the European title in Helsinki and currently leads the Challenge, will look for his second consecutive win in Rieti. Last year the Hungarian thrower won with 78.77 but he will try to throw much further and attack Koji Murofushi’s meeting record of 82.62 set in 2007. He will face Pawel Fajdek from Poland (PB 81.39), who finished second behind Pars in Zagreb, Kiril Ikonnikov from Russia (fifth in London), 2000 Olympic champion and 2001 World champion Szymon Ziolkowski (seventh in London), former Olympic and European silver medallist Nicola Vizzoni, who qualified for the Olympic final for the third time in his career in London, and Marco Lingua from Italy.

Lysenko, the winner in London with an Olympic record of 78.18 in the greatest Hammer Throw competition in history where the eighth ranked athlete threw 74.06, will also defend the Rieti title from last year where she set the meeting record of 75.58 just a few days after winning the World title in Daegu. Lysenko will take on Olympic silver medallist and former World record holder Anita Wlodarczyk from Poland. Other London Olympic finalists in the field are Kathrin Klaas from Germany (fifth), 2008 Olympic champion Oksana Menkova from Belarus (seventh) and Zalina Marghieva from Moldova (eighth).

Cheruiyot, Savinova, Kemboi and Makhloufi to highlight middle distances

The middle-distance races which traditionally produce a great depth of results on the women’s side of the programme will feature reigning Olympic and World champion Mariya Savinova from Russia in the women’s 800 metres, and 2011 double 5000 and 10,000 metres World champion Vivian Cheruiyot in the 3000 metres.

The Kenyan, who won the bronze in the 10,000 metres and the silver in the 5000 metres at the London Olympic Games, will renew her battle against Mercy Cherono, World Junior champion in the 3000 metres and in the cross country. Cherono narrowly edged Cheruiyot by just 0.01 (8:41.21 to 8:41.22) in the Birmingham Samsung Diamond League meeting but Cheruiyot avenged this defeat by winning over Cherono in Brussels and lifted the Diamond Trophy. Cherono did not qualify for the Olympic Games but in the post-Olympic-season she also won the 3000 metres in Lausanne and finished second in the 1500 metres in Zurich. The field also features twice World silver medallist Sylvia Kibet.

Savinova, already European champion in Barcelona 2010 and World gold medallist in Daegu 2011, completed her title collection in London by winning the 800m in 1:56.23. The Russian will take on young rising-star Francine Nyonsaba from Burundi, who finished seventh in her first Olympic Games but surprisingly won in Brussels on Friday in a new national record of 1:56.59. This season Nyonsaba ran 1:58.67 in the London semi-final and 1:58.68 in the Monaco Diamond League meeting.

In the women’s 1500 metres, World silver medallist Hannah England from Great Britain, who is returning to good shape after a season plagued by injury problems, will run against Kenyan Mary Kuria, winner in Rovereto in 4:03.18, Ukraine’s European bronze medallist Anna Mischchenko, USA’s Anna Pierce and Kenyan Eunice Sum.

Kenya’s Ezekiel Kemboi, double 3000m Steeplechase Olympic champion (2004 and 2012), is the latest addition to the men’s 3000 metres flat race which also features his compatriot London 2012 Olympic 5000m bronze medallist Thomas Longosiwa

Fast times are expected in the men’s 800 and 1500 metres. London 1500 metres Olympic champion Taoufik Makhloufi will be looking to continue the Algerian tradition in Rieti which began in the early Nineties with Noureddine Morceli who broke the 1500 metres and the Mile records running in 3:28.56 in 1992 and 3:44.39 in 1993.

The other man to watch in the two-lap race is 17-year-old Edwin Melly Kiplagat who won the World Junior bronze medal in Barcelona and then went on to run two fast times in Stockolm (1:44.32) and Berlin (1:44.36) and won at the Palio della Quercia in 1:45.01.

World silver medallist Silas Kiplagat will be looking to continue his solid post-Olympic campaign following his seventh place in the London Olympic Games. The Kenyan middle-distance runner, who clocked 3:29.63 in the opening leg of the Diamond League in May, won in Lausanne and Brussels and lifted the Diamond Trophy. In Rieti he will face very strong opposition from London Olympic bronze medallist Abdelati Iguider from Morocco and two Kenyans who ran very fast this year: Collins Cheboi (3:32.08 in Monaco) and 2010 World Junior champion Caleb Ndiku (3:32.39 in Lausanne).

Fast times are expected in the sprints

Jamaican sprinter Nesta Carter, Olympic Relay champion, will return to his favourite Rieti track where he clocked 9.78 two years ago setting the fifth fastest time in history. Carter, World Indoor silver medallist in Istanbul in the 60 metres, has run fast in the post-Olympic weeks clocking 9.95 twice in Lausanne and Zurich and 9.96 in Brussels.

Carter will square off against twice European champion Christophe Lemaitre, who improved the French record in Rieti in 2010 clocking 9.97, 2003 World champion and 2011 World bronze medallist Kim Collins, second last week in Berlin in 10.07, last year’s European Junior champion Jimmy Vicaut from France, who set his lifetime best of 10.02 in Lausanne, and 9.99 Jamaican sprinter Lerone Clarke, winner in Rovereto on Tuesday.

European champion Ivet Lalova from Bulgaria, who trains in Rieti and knows the Guidobaldi track very well, and European 200 metres champion Mariya Ryemyen from Ukraine, start as the favourites in the women’s 100 metres.

Jamaicans are set to dominate the women’s flat 400 metres, where 400m Hurdles Olympic fourth placer and Diamond League winner Kaliese Spencer will make an attempt over the flat distance against Olympic 4x400 Olympic bronze medallist Christine Day and Patricia Hall, who clocked 50.71 in Oslo this year.

The women’s 400m Hurdles race features Olympic champion Natalya Antyukh from Russia, and Olympic finalist and European Indoor 400 metres champion Denisa Rosolova from Czech Republic.

Yarisley Silva, Olympic silver medallist with 4.75, and European champion Jirina Ptacnikova from Czech Republic are the top names in the women’s Pole Vault but the local interest will be focused on this year’s World Junior bronze medallist Roberta Bruni who comes from Rieti.

Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF