Joe Kovacs competes at the World Athletics Continental Tour Gold meeting in Zagreb (© Zagreb Meeting)
A highly competitive men’s shot put and an attack on the world best in the women’s 2000m steeplechase are among the many potential highlights for the Boris Hanzekovic Memorial – a World Athletics Continental Tour Gold meeting – in Zagreb.
The action begins on Friday (8) with a city centre long jump competition, featuring 2019 world champion Tajay Gayle in the men’s event and European indoor long jump champion Jazmin Sawyers in the women’s.
The focus then shifts to the men’s shot put on Saturday (9) in a contest known as the Ivan Ivancic Memorial, held at the Zagreb Fountains. The event features eight finalists from the recent World Championships, including four of the top five finishers.
World silver medallist Leonardo Fabbri and his Italian teammate Zane Weir have been in superb late-season form. Fabbri set a PB of 22.34m to take silver in Budapest, while Weir improved to 22.44m – the best throw by a European athlete since the 1980s – to win in Padova earlier this month.
Past world champions Joe Kovacs and Tom Walsh are also in the line-up, along with US duo Payton Otterdahl and Roger Steen, Jamaican record-holder Rajindra Campbell and European champion Filip Mihaljevic of Croatia.
All of the city centre competitions will whet the appetite for the main meeting on Sunday (10), where one of the main attractions will be an attempt to break the world best in the women’s 2000m steeplechase.
The current mark stands at 5:52.80 to Germany’s Gesa Felicitas Krause, but Beatrice Chepkoech – world record-holder for the 3000m steeplechase – will have that in her sights on Sunday. When the Kenyan set her world record for the standard event, she passed through 2000m in 5:49.9, so she is certainly capable of breaking the world best.
The likes of Albania’s European champion Luiza Gega, Slovenia’s Marusa Mismas and Kenya's Winnie Jemutai will ensure a competitive race.
In other distance events, Australia’s Linden Hall and Josette Andrews will clash in the women’s 1500m, while Dominic Lobalu leads a men’s 3000m field that also features Serbia’s Elzan Bibic and Germany’s Sam Parsons.
Olympic champions set to star in sprint hurdles
Both sprint hurdles events in Zagreb feature the Olympic champions.
In the women’s 100m hurdles, Jasmine Camacho-Quinn takes on European champion Pia Skrzyszowska, Jamaica’s Amoi Brown and Nadine Visser of the Netherlands.
In the men’s 110m hurdles, meanwhile, Jamaica’s Hansle Parchment faces fellow world medallist Daniel Roberts, France’s Wilhem Belocian and Senegal’s Louis Francois Mendy.
Olympic champion Marcell Jacobs is the standout name in the men’s 100m, but the Italian will have his work cut out for him as he takes on the likes of African record-holder Ferdinand Omanyala, World Championships fourth-place finisher Oblique Seville and his fellow Jamaican Rohan Watson.
World finalists Talitha Diggs and Candice McLeod will contest the women’s 400m alongside Norwegian record-holder Henriette Jaeger and Britain’s Laviai Nielsen.
In the men’s 800m, African champion Slimane Moula faces British champion Dan Rowden – who will be racing on his 26th birthday – Kenyan champion Alex Kipngetich and Italy’s Simone Barontini.
The women’s event, meanwhile, features Oceanian record-holder Catriona Bisset, European indoor silver medallist Anita Horvat and Olympic finalist Alex Bell.
Perkovic chasing 11th Zagreb victory
Sandra Perkovic is synonymous with the Hanzekovic Memorial. The Croatian discus star has competed at her home meeting countless times, and has won on 10 occasions.
The multiple global champion returns this week, seeking an 11th victory in front of a home crowd. A couple of minor injuries prevented her from being at her best at the recent World Championships, where she placed fifth, but she rebounded with a season’s best of 67.32m in Xiamen last week.
Germany’s three-time European bronze medallist Shanice Craft and Portugal’s world and Olympic finalist Liliana Ca will provide Perkovic’s toughest opposition.
The men’s event is of a similarly high quality. 2022 world champion Kristjan Ceh takes on 2019 world silver medallist Fedrick Dacres, Australian record-holder Matt Denny and 2016 Olympic champion Christoph Harting.
Elsewhere in the field events, Jamaican duo Shanieka Ricketts and Kimberly Williams will clash in the women’s triple jump, while Austria's Victoria Hudson and USA's Maggie Malone will compete in the women’s javelin.