Another 2010 Samsung Diamond League 800m victory for David Rudisha, this time in Lausanne (Deca Text&Bild) © Copyright
Preview Berlin, Germany

Hooker and Rudisha lead the fields at ISTAF - Preview - IAAF World Challenge

Steve Hooker and Caster Semenya return to their World Championships gold medal Alma Mater of Berlin's Olympic Stadium for the ISTAF Meeting on Sunday determined to re-invent their form before October's Commonwealth Games.

The Australian pole vaulter last August defied medical advice to win his title with only two jumps in the final while Semenya was the runaway 800m winner.

The pair both admitted at the pre-meet press conference for the this IAAF World Challenge Meeting that they believe returning to former but highly successful pastures, will generate their desire to succeed when the Commonwealths' get underway in New Delhi.

Hooker makes no secret that Berlin even before his painful victory, has always been one of his favourite venues and after a lean spell this summer is hoping to rekindle the confident mind game which saw him snatch victory despite suffering from an abductor injury.

The upbeat 28-year-old reigning Commonwealth champion on his return to the German capital, said: "It's good to be back competing on what will be exactly one year since my win here. The painful memories of a year ago are all gone. I'm just looking forward to jumping in the Olympic Stadium again.'

"It hasn't been easy this season," Hooker continued, "although I've managed some solid results around 5.80m but I've also produced some no marks as well. But I won here in 2006 and I've always jumped well in the past. This is one place in the world where I've jumped 5.90m and 5.96m."

The Olympic champion despite his seriousness on the runway is also well known for his fun sense of humour and admits that is an attribute when soaring in his case to a personal best of 6.06m.

"I think to jump high a bit of craziness helps. You can't be afraid standing at the end of the runway," said Hooker. "Hopefully I'll be feeling a little bit crazy on Sunday."

Hooker winner of the IAAF World Indoor title in March with a height of 6.01m and who has an outdoor best of 5.91m this summer, faces a strong field including Derek Miles who has cleared 5.81m and the German duo of Malte Mohr and Raphael Holzdeppe plus Lukasz Michaelski, all who have season bests of 5.80m.  

Semenya who was cleared to return to action last month believes following two races in Finland and a testing training regime back home in South Africa, she can with a few more races under her belt, do the national squad proud in New Delhi.

The teenager who won her World title in a fantastic time of 1:55.45 places great faith in her coach Michael Seme and he has set her a target of running under two minutes before deciding whether to bid for Commonwealth glory.

"According to my coach we will be hoping to be under two minutes (in Berlin) and this is what we are aiming for," said Semenya, although it won't be the end of the world if she doesn't.

Finnish agent Jukka Harkonen has already arranged for her to compete in Brussels next Friday followed by Italian meetings in Rovereto and Milan on August 31 and September 9.

Semenya, determined to pick up the threads on her career, added: "I have now run at two meets in Finland and won them both. But I cannot be completely satisfied with my times. Still, after 11 really hard months in which I've been through a lot, I'm looking forward to being on the track once again. I'm already looking forward to the beautiful stadium and the Berlin public."

The opposition on Sunday will incluse four sub-2 performers this year, Jemma Simpson, Elisa Piccione Cusma, Lenka Masna and Molly Beckwith.

With more than 47,000 spectators expected to pack out the lower tier of the 1936 Olympic Stadium, and a gathering of 40 athletes who have won  medals at recent Olympic, World, and European championships, a thrilling menu is on the table.

The major highlight could be world 800m leader David Rushida challenging the meet record of 1:42.98 Joaquim Cruz achieved in 1985 while his fellow Kenyan and world leader Silas Kiplagat is in a loaded 1500 field.

World indoor champion Bernard Lagat at the press conference made it plain that he wanted hares to help him lower his 3000m PB of 7:32.39 and that may also see Ali Said Saidi-Sief's 10-year-old meeting best of 7:30.76 consigned to the scrap heap.

Priscilla Lopes-Schliep and Lolo Jones after their recent Diamond League battles with the Canadian currently in the driving seat, go head-to-head in the 100m hurdles while the pre-event hammer on Saturday has a loaded field including the world's top six ranked throwers.

Olympic runner-up Sherone Simpson continues her rehabilitation from injury in the 100m whilst World Indoor 400m gold medallist Debbie Dunn after giving Allyson Felix a fright in Zurich on Friday, will be determined to hand out a dose of the same medicine to Olympic and World silver medallist Shericka Williams.

The men's 100m features Olympic silver medallist Richard Thompson against Nesta Carter the world's quickest at the distance behind the Gay/Powell/Bolt consortium while Jermaine Gonzales who lost his world 400m lead to Jeremy Wariner in Zurich, should trump his rivals on this occasion.

The American Shot Put giants of Cory Martin, Reese Hoffa, and Adam Nelson take on Poland's Olympic champion Tomasz Majewski with Ralf Bartels assured of a great reception from the home crowd after his bronze at the Worlds' 12 months ago.

Likewise Robert Harting will be willed along by the same fans in his Discus Throw contest where Zoltan Kovago and Bogdan Pishchalnikova should provide healthy opposition.

Ryan Wilson looks the best bet to take the 110m hurdles while the Long Jump pits European champion and world leader Christian Reif against an Area line-up apart from Aussie Chris Noffke and Hussein Al-Sabee of Saudi Arabia.

Back on the home front newly crowned European javelin champion Linda Stahl will be aiming to avenge the defeat she suffered at the hands of Christina Obergfoll in  Zurich, while Ariane Friedrich will no doubt set German hearts beating strongly in the High Jump against Antoniette di Martina, Irina Gordeyeva and Vita Styopina.

David Martin for the IAAF