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Previews01 Jun 2000


Ivan Pedroso heads strong Cuban challenge at the Ericsson Grand Prix

Cuba's Ivan Pedroso celebrates winning the long jump title in Maebashi

Three time World long jump champion Ivan Pedroso of Cuba will join an all star line up which already includes Maurice Greene, Wilson Kipketer and Sonia O'Sullivan at the Ericsson Grand Prix on June 15th in Helsinki's Olympic stadium.

Pedroso, who has also won four consecutive world indoor titles will head a strong Cuban team including Anier Garcia, the 1999 World 110m hurdles silver medallist and Osleidis Menedez, the double women's world junior javelin champion.

As well as Pedroso, the men's long jump will give an opportunity to view the prodigious talent of his 21 year old compatriot Luis Meliz, who was third at the world junior championships in 1998 and jumped 8.21m indoors earlier this year.

As well as the talented Cuban squad a whole host of medallists from last year's Seville World championships have also been added to the Ericsson line up including (events in brackets), Llewellyn HERBERT (RSA) World silver (men's 400m hurs); Claudinei DA SILVA (BRA) 200m World silver (men's 100m); Anja RUCKER (GER) World silver (women's 400m); Anzhela BALAHONOVA (UKR) World silver (women's pole vault); Tatjana GRIGORJEVA (AUS) World bronze (women's pole vault).

These world medallists will also be complimented by a strong British contingent led by Darren Campbell, the current European 100 metres champion, Christian Malcolm, the recently crowned European Indoor 200 metres gold medallist and Tony Jarrett, the reigning Commonwealth 110m hurdles champion.

However, most British attention will be focused on the performance of the fast improving Katharine Merry in the women's 400 metres. Merry who took a surprising 5th place in the Seville World championship final last summer, will be making her season's debut at the one lap sprint in Helsinki and she is certain to give Anja Rucker, the world silver medallist a strong challenge.

Also confirmed for the Ericsson Grand Prix are two reigning Olympic champions, Norway's Vebjorn Rodal in the men's 800m and home girl Heli Rantanen in the women's javelin.

The world's fastest 10,000 metres runner of 1999, Charles Kamathi of Kenya who ran a 26:51.49 debut last year, will run in the men's 3,000 metres. While in the women's long jump, Brazil's Maurren Maggi, the world's furthest jumper in 1999 (7.26m) will be joined by Sweden's Erica Johansson, the newly crowned European indoor champion.

Chris Turner for the IAAF