News01 Feb 2007

Millrose Games prepares to celebrate 100th edition


Tirunesh Dibaba wins the 5000m in Boston in a World indoor record in 2007 (© Victah Sailer)

A cavalcade of stars past and present will be on hand to celebrate the 100th edition of the Millrose Games – IAAF indoor permit – meeting at Madison Square Garden, Friday 2 February 2007.

Americans Maurice Greene, Bernard Lagat, Alan Webb, Reese Hoffa, Brad Walker, Joanna Hayes and Gail Devers will be joined by an international contingent that includes Yelena Isinbayeva of Russia, Ethiopia’s Tirunesh Dibaba and Australian Steve Hooker seeking to add another chapter in the legacy of the longest running event at  New York’s world famous arena.

Lagat seeks fifth Wanamaker Win

There have been 44 different winners in the 81-year-history of the Wanamaker Mile but Lagat has become one of the most distinguished champions along with Ireland’s Eamonn Coghlan, the “Chairman of the Boards” and all-time leader with seven wins.

A former Kenyan, Lagat has produced two of the most memorable performances on the tightly 160-yard banked oval. In 2005, Lagat clocked 3:52.87 to break the 24-year-old meet record of 3:53.0 set by Coghlan, while last year, Lagat handed Ethiopia’s World and Olympic 10,000m champion Kenenisa Bekele a rare defeat en route to his fourth Wanamaker win, the latter’s first ever competitive outing at the distance.

Lagat, who anticipates it will take 3:55 or better to win this year’s Mile, with opponents of the calibre of Alan Webb and Craig Mottram of Australia, who both posted good wins in the Reebok Boston Indoor Games (27 Jan). Webb clocked an indoor personal best of 3:55.18 in the Mile and Mottram ran 7:39.24 in the 3000m. Tomorrow’s field also includes World Indoor 1500m champion Ivan Heshko of Ukraine.

Isinbayeva makes U.S. Debut

World Pole Vault record-holder Yelana Isinbayeva will look to add Millrose champion to her résumé that includes World and Olympic gold medals, and the feat of being the first woman to clear five metres and 16 feet.

American Jenn Stuczynski is tied with two others for the world season lead with a 4.70m clearance at the USATF Pole Vault Summit in Reno on 19 Jan and is coming off a win in Boston, while compatriot Mary Sauer is the defending Millrose champion.

The men’s Pole Vault features a showdown between Steve Hooker of Australia, and World Indoor champion Brad Walker of the USA. Hooker cleared a world indoor leading 5.81m in Boston, while Walker has scaled 5.71 so far during his 2007 campaign. American record holder Jeff Hartwig, who won his fifth Pole Vault Summit title two weeks ago, 2004 Olympic Silver Medallist Toby Stevenson and defending U.S. outdoor champion Russ Buller are also in the field.

All in the family for Dibaba and Clark

Tirunesh Dibaba of Ethiopia who smashed her own World Indoor 5000m record by more than five seconds with her 14:27.42 clocking in Boston last weekend to lead a 1-2 finish with her older and Olympic 10,000m silver medalist Ejegayehu Dibaba will be looking for another strong showing in the 3000m at Millrose. As well as her sibling that field includes Kim Smith of New Zealand and Americans Jen Rhines and Sara Hall.

No family has been more dominant than the Clark family, which has won 18 Millrose titles. Hazel Clark is seeking her fourth win in five years in the Women’s 800m. Hazel’s older sister Joetta is a seven-time Millrose 800m winner and sister-in-law Jearl Miles-Clark has combined for eight Millrose wins in the 400m, 500m and 800m.

Clark is expected to be challenged by Francis Santin, a former 400m hurdler who advanced to the 800m semi-finals in the 2006 Moscow World Indoor Championships.

The men’s 800m will include 2003 World Indoor champion David Krummenacker against Sam Burley, Justus Koech of Kenya and Trinidad’s Sheridan Kirk.

Shot Put at Centre Stage
The men’s Shot Put will be conducted at the centre of the infield under a spotlight with a four-man, all USA field of Reese Hoffa, Christian Cantwell, John Godina and Dan Taylor.

Last year, Hoffa, the 2006 World Indoor champion, on his way to that title set a Madison Square Garden record of 21.65m to earn the Fred Schmertz Waterford Crystal Trophy as the Outstanding Performer of the Meet.

Dan Taylor, though, is coming off an upset of Hoffa, Cantwell, the 2004 World Indoor champion, and three-time outdoor World Champion Godina in Boston with a world-leading 21.57m effort.    

Greene vs. Crawford in Sprints

Former World and Olympic 100m champion Maurice Greene, who remains the World record holder for 60m, will look for his fourth Millrose dash title against defending champion Shawn Crawford, the 2006 Olympic 200m gold medallist. Greene, has six of the top seven times in history is attempting a comeback after an injury-plagued 2006 season.

The women’s 60m features an intriguing mix. The field includes 2005 NCAA 100m champion Marshevet Hooker, who is competing in her first full season as a professional, 2005m World 200m silver medallist Rachelle Smith, high schooler Gabby Mayo, World Junior Championships 100m silver medalist, and 2005 Millrose champion Angela Daigle-Bowen.

Devers returns to Millrose at 40

Former World sprint Hurdles and Olympic 100m champion Gail Devers will juggle the role of athlete, agent and mother at Millrose. Devers, 40, a three-time World Indoor 60m champion and Millrose Games record holder, is the coach and agent of Danielle Carruthers who will be in the Women’s 60m Hurdles field with Devers.

Devers raced at last year’s Millrose Games for the first time since giving birth to daughter Karsen Anise on 20 June 2005.

It won’t be easy for Devers to come away with a sixth Millrose win in the sprints and hurdles with 2004 Olympic 100m Hurdle champion and 2006 Millrose champion Joanna Hayes and 2003 World 100m Hurdle champion Perdita Felicien of Canada in the opposition.

The men’s 60m Hurdles field includes Americans Aries Merritt, Joel Brown and Aubrey Herring.

Washington not ready for retirement

Tyree Washington, 30, who announced his retirement after aggravating a hamstring injury in a 600m race at the inaugural Celtic Cup in Grangemouth, Scotland last August, is back for the 2007 campaign.

The 2003 World Indoor champion and World outdoor silver medallist at 400m, who also took an earlier break from track in 1999 when he turned his attention to football and earned a tryout with the San Diego Chargers, will face 2005 World 400m Hurdles champion Bershawn Jackson in the 600m.

The women’s 400m pits DeeDee Trotter, against defending Millrose champion Hazel Ann Regis, and 2006 USATF runner-up Mary Danner.

Acuff headlines women’s High Jump

Amy Acuff, who has gained notoriety for her outlandish outfits at Millrose that has included a halter top made of fur with matching fur-trimmed briefs as well as a gold sequined top, will be seeking her third win in five years in New York.  Acuff will be challenged by 2006 NCAA champion Destinee Hooker, the younger sister of Marshevet Hooker, and 2006 NCAA indoor champion Sheena Gordon.

Schmertz to be honoured

Howard Schmertz, who served as Millrose Games meet director from 1975-2004, will be recognized as the meet’s only 2007 Hall of Fame inductee during a ceremony which will take place before the Wanamaker Mile. The Schmertz family has been involved in every Millrose Games since the event began in 1908, when Schmertz’s father Fred worked as a delivery boy for the John Wanamaker Department Store.

The elder Schmertz, was named Meet Director in 1934. In 1950, Howard was named assistant meet director, and assumed the head role when his father retired in 1975. In 2004, Howard was named Meet Director Emeritus.

Kirby Lee for the IAAF

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