It may be held at a later date than originally planned, but in a year that has already been filled with so much uncertainty, athletes and fans have just two more days to wait until the first World Athletics Continental Tour Gold meeting of 2020 – the Paavo Nurmi Games – takes place.
The organisers have been working tirelessly to ensure the competition will go ahead in Turku on Tuesday (11) with high-quality international fields. The men’s discus looks set to be a particular highlight.
Sweden’s Daniel Stahl will line up against his predecessor as world champion, Lithuania’s Andrius Gudzius, as well as rising Slovenian star Kristjan Ceh, Sweden’s Simon Pettersson and Romania’s Alin Alexandru Firfirica.
Stahl has already thrown beyond 70 metres this year, sending his discus out to 70.25m in Helsingborg back in June. Since then he has been undefeated, although domestic rival Pettersson has pushed him close on more than one occasion.
Gudzius, undefeated this year, also heads to Turku off the back of a string of consistent results in the 67-68-metre range. Ceh, who has added five metres to his best this year with a PB of 68.75m in June, has the ability to cause an upset, as does Firfirica, the fourth-place finisher at last year’s World Championships.
The javelin-loving Finnish crowd will be treated to a quality men’s competition. 2017 world champion Johannes Vetter takes on European silver medallist Andreas Hofmann, Sweden’s Kim Amb, Latvian champion Gatis Cakss, and 2019 Finnish champion Lassi Etelatalo, who placed fourth at last year’s World Championships.
Three high-quality hurdles events highlight the track action in Turku.
World bronze medallist Pascal Martinot-Lagarde will contest his first 110m hurdles race of the year, but the Frenchman won’t have it easy as he’ll be up against world indoor champion Andrew Pozzi, African record-holder Antonio Alkana, and 2019 French champion Wilhem Belocian.
In the women’s sprint hurdles, the final event on the programme, European indoor champion Nadine Visser of the Netherlands will line up against top Finnish trio Annimari Korte, Nooralotta Neziri and Reetta Hurske.
The men’s 400m hurdles line-up includes Ludvy Vaillant of France, Poland’s Patryk Dobek, 2014 European silver medallist Rasmus Magi and Britain’s Chris McAlister.
In other track action, Britain’s 2017 world 4x100m champion CJ Ujah takes on Italy’s Lamont Marcell Jacobs in the men’s 100m.
There will be some hotly contested jumps events too. European silver medallist Nikoleta Kiriakopoulou of Greece will face British record-holder Holly Bradshaw and rising Greek vaulter Eleni-Klaoudia Polak in the women’s pole vault.
Bulgaria’s 2015 European indoor silver medallist Gabriela Petrova takes on Lithuanian record-holder Diana Zagainova, World University Games champion Evelise Veiga and Finland’s Kristiina Makela in the women’s triple jump.
And in the women’s long jump, Romania’s two-time world finalist Alina Rotaru will face British champion Abigail Irozuru and 2016 European silver medallist Jazmin Sawyers.
PNG set to receive Heritage Plaque
The World Athletics Heritage Plaque, awarded in December 2018 to honour Nurmi and the Paavo Nurmi Games, will be presented to the meeting by World Athletics Council Member Antti Pihlakoski immediately before the start of the competition.
"Paavo Nurmi’s running career is unsurpassed in the annals of our sport," said World Athletics President Sebastian Coe. "Among his 22 ratified world records, Nurmi set a 3000m record in Turku in 1922 in the stadium where the Paavo Nurmi Games is annually celebrated. This World Athletics Heritage Plaque is awarded for an outstanding contribution to the worldwide history and development of the sport of track and field athletics. World Athletics is proud to honour Paavo Nurmi and the Paavo Nurmi Games, whose joint athletics history is without parallel."
Jon Mulkeen for World Athletics