Allyson Felix runs away with 200m title - US Olympic Trials (Getty Images) © Copyright
Preview Rethymno, Crete, Greece

Triple Jump to take centre stage again “Vardinoyiannia 2008” - PREVIEW

The 24th annual version of Vardinoyiania meeting is scheduled for Monday 14 July with the meeting concentrating on some of the athletes who shone in the Olympic Meeting of Thessaloniki last week, especially the women’s Triple Jump.

The participation of Virgiljius Alekna and Gerd Kanter in the men’s Discus Throw, a competition between the fastest women’s 400m Hurdlers, and double World 200m champion Allyson Felix in the 100m are the other standout athletes and events.

The Vardinoyiania meeting is one of a select group of Area meetings at which points can be acquired by athletes to qualify for the IAAF / VTB Bank World Athletics Final, to be held on 13-14 September in Stuttgart, Germany.

Devetzi vs Savigne vs Sestjak

Less than a week after the great Triple Jump competition in Thessaloniki, the stars return for a re-match in Rethymno. The world season leader Chrysopigi Devetzi is like the rest preparing for her main objective of the season:

“I want a medal in Beijing, if possible the gold medal. I’m in great shape this year and I think I can win it, although Savigne and Lebedeva have the same objective as me,” she said in a conference given after the world leading 15.22m she managed in Thessaloniki.

“Of course the World record of the event is a dream I have. I wish I could break it one day” she added.

The event will be one of the highlights as besides Devetzi, World champion Yargelis Savigne who was second in Thessaloniki with 15.15m, and Slovenia’s Marija Sestak compete, as does France’s Teresa Nzola Meso Ba, Ukraine’s Olha Saladukha and the veteran Yamile Aldama of Sudan.

Some of the best female hurdlers

In the women’s 400m Hurdles, the world leader America’s Lashinda Demus (53.99) is joined by fellow Americans Tiffany Williams who follows her in the season’s list with 54.03, and Christine Spence, 4th this year with 54.21.

In Rethymno the Olympic champion Fani Halkia will attempt once more to make a good race, while the best Greek hurdler this year Christina Chatzi – Neag having set the ‘B’ standard for the Olympics competes targeting an even better performance.

American Damu Cherry, second in the world list this season with 12.47 is the faster entrant in the women's 100m Hurdles, where we have see the participation of Nichole Denby (12.54) and 2005 World champion Michelle Perry (12.74) from the USA, the Turkish national record holder Nevin Yanit (12.76)' and Poland's Aurelia Trywianska (12.81)

Alekna vs Kanter

One of the best known duels in current athletics, that concerning the men’s Discus Throw comes to this meeting on the island of Crete. The reigning World champion Gerd Kanter of estonia has thrown 71.88m closely followed by the reigning Olympic Champion Virgiljius Alekna of Lithuania (71.25m this season). Their meeting in Rethymno will give a taste of their battle to come in Beijing.

Olympic Games bronze medallist Estonia’s Aleksander Tammert is also going to participate in the meeting.

Kotova in the Long Jump

Russia’s Tatyana Kotova, 2002 European Long Jump champion, but also with 4 medals in World Championships and two in the Olympics is one of the big names in the women’s Long Jump. This season Kotova has jumped 6.83m, the second best among the meeting entrants, as Brazilian Maureen Higa Maggi with season’s best at 6.99m is the one athlete to have gone further. Ukraine’s Victoryia Ribalko (6.73m), and Slovak Dana Veldakova will also be strong contenders for the win, while Greece’s Styliani Pilatou (6.60m this season) will try once more to make the 'A' standard for Beijing.

American to dominate the sprint events

Among the American sprinters competing are Rodney Martin (9.95) and Marc Jelks (9.99) who each have a season’s bests under 10 seconds, but the men’s 100m entry has also attracted Trinidad’s Marc Burns (10.01) and Jamaica’s Christopher Williams. Jelks was third in Athens Grand Prix yesterday, clocking 10.19 and taking third place after Derrick Atkins and Darvis Patton.

Martin also tops the entries of the 200m race (19.99 this season). The fastest European last year, Greece’s Anastasios Gousis (20.11 in Osaka World Championships) participates in this race attempting to improve his season’s best which stands at 20.57

Allyson Felix will participate in the women’s 100m race. The double World 200m champion competes with her compatriots Carmelita Jeter, the World 100m bronze medallist, Angela Williams and MeLisa Barber, third and fourth yesterday in Athens in the same time of 11.15sec.

Greece’s Maria Karastamati and Ekaterini Thanou as well as Slovenia’s Alenka Bikar will also start the 100m race.

Other events

American Stacy Dragila participates in the Pole Vault (4.70m this year) with her compatriot Lacy Janson and the Greek national record holder Afroditi Skafida, both having cleared 4.55m this season.

In the women’s High Jump Greece’s Antonia Stergiou (1.97m) has to face Ukraine’s Irina Glavaski and Russia’s Irina Kovalenko.

American Reggie Witherspoon is the fastest entrant in the men’s 400m with the 44.99 he set in the American trials. Trinidad’s Ato Stephens will be his main rival.

Finally, Sydney Olympic Champion Szymon Ziólkowski dominates the Hammer Throw entry where he has to face Hungary’s Kristian Pars, the Germans Jens Rautenkranz and Markus Esser and the Italians Marco Lingua and Nicola Vizzioni.

Michalis Nikitaridis for the IAAF