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World Athletics Championships Oregon22

Previews12 Feb 1999

Record blitz planned for Birmingham


Maria Mutola winning the 800m at the 1998 IAAF World Cup (© Getty Images)

Maria Mutola, Daniel Komen and Haile Gebrselassie plan a St Valentines Day world record massacre at the Birmingham indoor grand prix on Sunday.

Mozambique's Mutola, the three times world indoor champion, will attempt East German Christine Wachtel's 11-year-old 800 metres world record of 1:56.40.

Mutola, 26, a product of the American collegiate system since first leaving her home town of Maputo eight years ago, thought she had broken the record in Lievin last year.

But the mark was not officially accepted because a television recording of her run showed that she had stepped inside the track during the race. "I was unlucky last year, but now I know I can break the record," Mutola said.

In the men's events, the ideal race would have been a clash between Komen and Gebrselassie.
But the two African distance rivals have not met on the same track since a fabulous clash over 5,000 metres in Zurich two years ago, so the best the meeting organisers can manage in Birmingham is to have the two men attack one of their rival's world record.

"When I race against Haile, I am racing and pacemaking," Komen says. "I would prefer it if he did some of the work."

Accordingly, Komen, the 5,000 metres outdoor world champion will have a crack at the 2,000 metres indoor world best of 4:52.86 seconds which Gebrselassie set on this same track a year ago.

Minutes later, Gebresilassie will attempt to beat Komen's world indoor record of 12:51.48, also set last year.

Among the other highlights is the men's high jump featuring Cuba’s world record holder Javier Sotomayor. Another Cuban, world indoor champ Anier Garcia, takes on Britain's Colin Jackson and the American, Tony Dees, over the 60metres hurdles.

The top women's event is undoubtedly the 60 metres between Russian Irina Privalova and American world indoor champion Gail Devers.

For the first time in eight years, the Birmingham meeting is a 8,500-seat sell-out. Total prize money of $154,500 is at stake with $50,000 world record bonuses.

Steven Downes for the IAAF