Sandra Perkovic in the discus at the Hanzekovic Memorial in Zagreb (© Organisers)
As is now tradition, local heroines Sandra Perkovic and Sara Kolak will serve as both headline acts and meeting poster girls for the Hanzekovic Memorial in the Croatian capital Zagreb, the final IAAF World Challenge meeting of 2019, on Tuesday (3).
Perkovic, who has thrown 68.58m this season, the third farthest throw in the world this year, is working her way back towards the consistency which has helped her claim the last two Olympic gold medals, two of the past three world titles and the last five European championships. Perkovic is gunning for the 70.83m meeting record she set in 2017.
Kolak, who took a shock victory in Rio three years ago, is working her way back into form after taking 2018 off to recover from elbow surgery. She's thrown beyond 64 metres twice this season and like Perkovic, is targeting the 65.20m meeting record set by 2004 Olympic champion Osleidys Menendez. Kolak's season best is 64.45m; on paper, her closest rival is Liveta Jasiunaite of Lithuania who has improved to 63.98m.
Naser vs Felix in the 400m
In the women's 400m, the leading sprint race on the programme, Salwa Eid Naser returns to action after her convincing victory in the Diamond League final in Zurich on Thursday, to lead a 2017 World Championships podium reunion which includes London champion Phyllis Francis and runner-up Allyson Felix who continues her comeback from maternity leave. Naser, who was third in London two years ago, arrives with a 12-race unbeaten streak.
World champion Justin Gatlin and his US compatriot Michael Rodgers, who finished fourth and eighth in Thursday's Diamond League final, head the field in the evening-capping men's 100m.
Rounding out the sprints, Britany Brown, the 200m runner-up at the US championships in July, leads the field in the women's half lap.
The meeting’s signature events are the sprint hurdles contests named to honour Croatia’s inter-war hurdler Boris Hanzekovic.
On the men's side, Sergey Shubenkov heads the field, chasing a fourth Zagreb victory. The 2015 world champion clocked 13.12 to win in Rabat in June. He'll take on rising US star Freddie Crittenden, who improved to 13.17 this season and South African Antonio Alkana, the two-time African champion.
In the women's sprint hurdles race, Christina Clemons and Sharika Nelvis head the field in a chase of Olga Shishigina's meet record of 12.60 set 20 years ago.
Amos back in action
In the 800m, world leader Nijel Amos heads the field, returning to action after his narrow defeat in Zurich where he was run down in the waning stages after a fierce front-running effort. Amos, who has clocked 1:41.89 this season, set the meeting record last year with 1:44.08. Taoufik Makhloufi of Algeria, the 2016 Olympic silver medallist, and Polish middle distance ace Marcin Lewandowki are also in the field.
22-metre trio heads shot put field
Action kicks off with the Ivan Ivancic Memorial, a men's shot put competition near Zagreb’s city fountains, on Monday evening. The field assembled includes three of 2019's 22-metre men: world champion Tom Walsh of New Zealand, who's thrown 22.44m, and Joe Kovacs and Darrell Hill of the US, who've reached 22.31m and 22.11m, respectively. Local eyes will focus on Filip Mihaljevic who threw 21.84m in late May to equal the Croatian national record.
The men's long jump features the strong South African trio of Luvo Manyonga, Ruswahl Samaai and Zarck Visser. Samaai was second in the Zurich and Manyonga fourth. All three will be chasing Monyonga's year-old 8.46m meeting record.
Wu Ruiting, who improved to 17.41m on 3 August to win China's World Championships trials, takes on compatriot Zhu Yaming, who improved to 17.40m in June, in the triple jump.
Elsewhere, Kenyans Lawrence Kemboi and Nicholas Bett, who have bettered 8:12.00 this year, lead the field in the steeplechase, and sub-4:00 runner Axumawit Embaye of Ethiopia tops the entries in the women's 1500m.
Bob Ramsak for the IAAF