Pawel Fajdek at the 2014 Rieti IAAF World Challenge meeting (© organisers)
The 2015 IAAF World Challenge circuit will end on Sunday (13) in the Raul Guidobaldi Stadium in the Italian town of Rieti but proceedings get underway on Saturday with the final event in the men’s IAAF Hammer Throw Challenge.
Two-time world champion Pawel Fajdek has a commanding lead in the standings – he is the 2015 world leader with 83.93m and has produced the 10 best performances of the year – and the Pole is almost certain to take the title, regaining the honour he also acquired in 2013.
He knows Rieti well, having won here 12 months ago, and so should not suffer from any ring rust when he returns to the hammer circle for his first competition since Beijing.
However, the competition will reunite the entire podium from Beijing: Tajikistan’s silver medallist Dilshod Nazarov and Fajdek’s compatriot bronze medallist Wojchech Nowicki.
The field also features two other 2015 world championship finalists: Russia’s Sergei Litvinov and Slovakia’s Marcel Lomnicky, who were fifth and eighth respectively.
It is not inconceivable that Fajdek could attack the meeting record held by Japan’s Koji Murofushi, who won in 2007 with 82.62m.
Another potentially great throwing event on Sunday's programme is the men’s javelin where Ihab Abdelrahman El Sayed, from Egypt, the world championships silver medallist in Beijing will take on Germany’s Andreas Hofmann and Japan’s Ryohel Arai, who were sixth and ninth in the Chinese capital.
Another Beijing silver medallist, Adam Kszczot from Poland, is the star name in the men’s 800m, which will will also feature two more finallists from Beijing: Qatar’s Musaeb Abdulman Balla, who won in Rieti in 2013, and Morocco’s Nader Belhanbel.
Kszczot followed up his second place in Beijing with a win at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Zurich last week, and a second place at the IAAF World Challenge meeting in Berlin ion Sunday.
Algeria’s London 2012 Olympic Games champion Taoufik Makhloufi will pursue another sub-3:30 time in the 1500m which also features Kenya’s Robert Biwott.
Makhloufi, who finished fourth in Beijing, set his personal best of 3:28.75 in the super-fast race at the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Monaco in July.
Arazamasva and Bishop go head-to-head again
Marina Arzamasova, from Belarus, and Canada’s Melissa Bishop, the world championships gold and silver medallists in Beijing, are the top names in the women’s 800 metres.
The impressive field also includes three more Beijing finalists: Morocco’s Rababe Arafi, Great Britain’s Shelayna Oskan Clarke and Poland’s Joanna Jozwik, plus Kenya’s Faith Kipyegon, the 1500 world championships silver medallist as well as Burundi’s Francine Nyonsaba, who clocked 1:59.62 in Padua last Sunday.
Justin Gatlin, the 100m and 200m silver medallist in Beijing, will return to Rieti where he won the shorter sprint last year in 9.83.
Gatlin set the fastest time in the world this year with 9.74 in the IAAF Diamond League meeting in Doha, which is the same time clocked by Asafa Powell in Rieti in 2007 when he broke the former world record and set the current meeting record.
The American will face the Jamaican duo of 2013 world championships 100m bronze medallist Nesta Carter, who clocked his personal best of 9.78 in Rieti in 2010, and Rasheed Dwyer.
Jamaica’s Elaine Thompson, the Beijing silver medallist with 21.66, the fifth fastest time in history, will be the main attraction in the women’s 200 metre,s which also features her compatriot Natasha Morrison, sixth in the 100m in Bejing.
Thompson and Morrison were teammates in the Jamaican team which went on to win the 4x100m gold medals in Beijing.
Bulgaria’s Ivet Lalova-Collio, seventh in the Beijing 200m, will also run in the town where she now lives and trains with her husband, Italian international Simone Collio.
A special 300m race will be held for the third consecutive year to commemorate Italian sprint legend Pietro Mennea who competed 11 times in Rieti and ran for the local athletics club.
Mennea set a former world best over this distance with 32.23 in 1979. Jamaica’s Rusheen McDonald who won this race in 2013, will be aiming at a fast time after clocking 43.93 in his heat of the world championships.
The men’s triple jump sees Portugal’s former world and Olympic champion Nelson Evora, who put behind him several years of injury problems to win the bronze in Beijing with 17.52m , his best distance for seven years, face Russia’s 2014 world indoor champion Lyukman Adams.
Seven world records have been broken in the glorious history of the Rieti meeting which celebrates its 45th edition this year and IAAF President Sebastian Coe will attend the meeting where he memorably won the 1500m in 3:29.77 back in 1986.
Diego Sampaolo for the IAAF