Previews31 Aug 2018

Eleven European champions return to Berlin for ISTAF meeting


Thomas Rohler, winner of the javelin in Ostrava (© AFP / Getty Images)

Eleven winners from the recent European Championships will return to Berlin’s Olympic Stadium for the ISTAF meeting on Sunday (2) for the penultimate IAAF World Challenge fixture of 2018.

Turkey’s world and European 200m Champion Ramil Guliyev will contest the 100m, while other European champions set to compete in Berlin include France’s Pascal Martinot-Lagarde in the 110m hurdles, German high jumper Mateusz Przybylko, javelin thrower Thomas Röhler, decathlete Arthur Abele in the discus, sprint hurdler Elvira Herman, long jumper Malaika Mihambo, triple jumper Paraskevi Papachristou, Polish shot putter Paulina Guba and German javelin thrower Christin Hussong.

Caster Semenya, who produced the stand-out performance of last year’s ISTAF meeting, will also return to the German capital. The South African, who last year ran a world best of 1:21.77 for 600m, will this time contest the 1000m in Berlin.

The ISTAF meeting played host to a world 1000m record back in 1990 when Christine Wachtel ran 2:30.67. The world record has since been reduced to 2:28.98 by Svetlana Masterkova, but Semenya – who earlier this year ran 2:31.01 – will have at least Wachtel’s meeting record in her sights, if not Masterkova’s world record too.

“After the great European Championships a few weeks ago, we are happy that so many champions as well as other top stars are returning to the ISTAF,” said meeting director Martin Seeber. “We will celebrate a sort of ‘extra time’ after a superb athletics summer. Ending his career on Sunday in the Olympic Stadium, Robert Harting will be very much in the focus.”

Fond farewell for Harting and Collins

Meanwhile, two stars of the sport – sprinter Kim Collins of St Kitts and Nevis and discus thrower Robert Harting of Germany – will end their careers on Sunday in the Olympic Stadium.

The men’s discus is scheduled to be the last event to finish. It will also be the last event for 33-year-old Harting, the 2012 Olympic champion, three-time world champion and two-time European gold medallist.

Some of his fiercest rivals from previous years are on the start list: Poland’s Piotr Małachowski and Robert Urbanek, Estonia’s Gerd Kanter and of course Harting’s brother Christoph, the Olympic champion.

The men’s javelin has been a true highlight of the ISTAF in recent editions. Olympic gold medallist Thomas Röhler finished second last year, but he return to the ISTAF as the European champion. European silver medallist Andreas Hofmann and Estonia’s bronze medallist Magnus Kirt are set to challenge Röhler again.

A women’s mile race will be held for the first time in the meeting’s history. Britain’s European 5000m silver medallist Eilish McColgan will take on Germany’s European indoor 1500m silver medallist Konstanze Klosterhalfen in what will be the first track mile for both athletes.

The steeplechase also looks set to be a close race. Kenya’s Roseline Chepngetich, who has a PB of  9:08.23, and Daisy Jepkemei (9:10.71) plus Bahrain’s Winfred Mutile Yavi (9:10.74) are the favourites.

The men’s 1500m features IAAF Diamond League champion and world silver medallist Timothy Cheruiyot, who this year became the seventh fastest runner in history when he clocked 3:28.41 in Monaco.

Spectators at the ISTAF will look forward to the women’s 100m, where double world silver medallist Marie-Josee Ta Lou takes on European silver medallist Gina Lückenkemper. 

European champion Malaika Mihambo will be challenged in the long jump by Britain’s Shara Proctor, who took the bronze medal in Berlin. Proctor’s teammate Jazmin Sawyers, the winner at last year’s ISTAF meeting, should also be in the mix.

Poland’s Paulina Guba snatched the gold medal in Berlin in the shot put a few weeks ago, stunning Christina Schwanitz in the last round. The German had to settle for silver, but will look to amend things at the ISTAF. Both might be challenged by USA’s Raven Saunders.

Organisers for the IAAF

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