Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce in action in Szekesfehervar (© Organisers)
Sprint stars Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce and Andre De Grasse will headline the Kamila Skolimowska Memorial in Silesia, Poland, on Sunday (5), a World Athletics Continental Tour Gold meeting, while there will also be a wealth of champions in action in the field events, including a fond farewell to a legend of Polish athletics in Piotr Malachowski.
Fraser-Pryce will race her specialist event, the 100m, and the two-time Olympic champion at that distance should prove tough to beat, having clocked a PB of 10.60 in Lausanne last week.
De Grasse will line up in the 200m, the event in which he’s the Olympic champion, having clocked a Canadian record of 19.62 to take gold in Tokyo, which he backed up in fine style with a wind-assisted 9.74 (2.9m/s) to win over 100m at the Eugene Diamond League. Also in the field are Italy’s Filippo Tortu, Turkey’s Ramil Guliyev and Britain’s Nethaneel Mitchell-Blake.
Another Olympic champion will be in action in the men’s 110m hurdles, with Jamaica’s Hansle Parchment looking to back up that Tokyo win against a formidable USA’s Devon Allen.
Brazil’s Alison Dos Santos, who took bronze in Tokyo in a South American record of 46.72, should prove tough to beat in the 400m hurdles. Fellow Olympic finalist Yasmani Copello of Turkey should be his closest pursuer.
US pair Michael Cherry and Vernon Norwood will be big contenders in the men’s 400m along, while Poland’s Karol Zalewski and Kajetan Duszynski should mount a strong challenge on home turf.
Jamaica’s Candice McLeod is the fastest in the field this year in the women’s 400m, while the home charge is led by Justyna Swiety-Ersetic and Anna Kielbasinska, the latter in sparkling form following a PB of 50.38 in La Chaux-de-Fonds last month.
Nigeria’s Tobi Amusan, who clocked 12.60 to finish fourth in the Olympic final, should be tough to beat in the 100m hurdles, though USA’s Christina Clemons will put it up to her along with Jamaica’s Megan Tapper.
The women’s 400m hurdles features a clash between the fourth-, fifth- and sixth-place finishers in the Olympic final: Janieve Russell of Jamaica along with Anna Ryzhykova and Viktoriya Tkachuk of Ukraine.
There will be a string of local heroes in action across the field events, with Olympic champion Wojciech Nowicki headlining the men’s hammer field, which also includes four-time world champion Pawel Fajdek and the man who split the Poles on the podium in Tokyo: Eivind Henriksen of Norway.
All eyes will be on Piotr Malachowski in the men’s discus as the 38-year-old performs in front of his home crowd for the last time before bringing the curtain down on a career that has included one world title, two world silver medals, two European golds and two Olympic silvers.
“Over 20 years of training, effort and sacrifice are now behind me,” said Malachowski. “It was a great time, full of joy. It is now times to say goodbye. I am retiring, bidding farewell to the fans, thanking them for the invaluable support they have given me over the years.”
Also in the field are Jamaica’s Fedrick Dacres, Slovenia’s Kristjan Ceh and Lithuania’s Andrius Gudzius.
Poland has a typically strong hand in the men’s pole vault where Piotr Lisek and Pawel Wojciechowski take on Olympic silver medallist Chris Nilsen and world champion Sam Kendricks.
The men’s shot put will be a must-see event, reuniting the top four finishers from the Tokyo Olympics: USA’s Ryan Crouser and Joe Kovacs along with New Zealand’s Tom Walsh and Brazil’s Darlan Romani.
Johannes Vetter is the star attraction in the men’s javelin, the German looking to put his Tokyo disappointment firmly behind him as he takes on Anderson Peters of Grenada and Vitezslav Vesely of Czech Republic.
Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi will take star billing in the men’s high jump where the Olympic champion takes on Olympic bronze medallist Maksim Nedasekau, while the women’s high jump features Ukraine’s Yuliya Levchenko and Iryna Herashchenko along with Poland’s Kamila Licwinko.
Poland’s Maria Andrejczyk will be a popular presence among fans, not only due to her Olympic silver in Tokyo but due to her decision to auction off that medal to raise money for a Polish toddler’s heart surgery. Polish convenience store Zabka won the auction and returned the medal to Andrejczyk, who said that she believes “the good we do comes back to us.” In Silesia she will take on world champion Kelsey-Lee Barber of Australia.
Poland’s Malwina Kopron will take on France’s Alexandra Tavernier in the women’s hammer, the woman she beat to the bronze medal at the Tokyo Olympics, while fellow finalist Joanna Fiodorow is also in the field. Portugal’s Auriol Dongmo is the leading entrant in the women’s shot put.
Olympic 3000m steeplechase champion Soufiane El Bakkali of Morocco is the star attraction in the distance races, competing in a 3000m race that includes rising star Tadese Worku of Ethiopia, the world U20 champion, and Morocco’s Abdelaati Iguider.
In the women’s 1000m, Britain’s Jemma Reekie should prove tough to beat if replicating the form that saw her finish fourth in the Olympic 800m final, just 0.09 outside the medals. Ethiopian duo Hirut Meshesha and Diribe Welteji should also be in contention along with Kenya’s Mary Moraa.
The men’s 800m features Olympic bronze medallist Patryk Dobek, but the Pole will have to be at his best to take victory in front of his home crowd given the presence of Kenya’s Michael Saruni and Wycliffe Kinyamal, Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Amel Tuka, USA’s Clayton Murphy and British trio Daniel Rowden, Elliot Giles and Jake Wightman.
Cathal Dennehy for World Athletics