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Stellar line-up for IAAF meet

By | March 4th 2010

By FeverPitch Reporter and Agencies

Such is the quality of the entry list it’s hard to forecast the likely highlight of Thursday’s Melbourne Track Classic, which is as it should be for the opening meeting of the IAAF World Challenge series.

Kenyan Olympic champion, Asbel Kiprop and African champion, David Rudisha, will be among the stellar line-up at the first leg of a brand new series introduced by global track and field ruling body.

Steve Hooker, Dani Samuels and Valerie Vili come to Melbourne as reigning World champions (Hooker and Vili as Olympic champions, too) but face only token opposition in their events.

Kiprop and Nick Willis, the Beijing Olympic gold and silver medallists at 1,500m face each other for the first time since, and must also contend with a group of up-and-coming Australians.

Rudisha, whose 1:42.01 in Rieti last year made him the fourth-fastest man ever over 800 metres, is predicting a 1:43 clocking in Melbourne, a prediction that has been lost somewhat in the hype surrounding the 1500m.

Besides Vili and Samuels, the field also boasts a strong Javelin Throw contest between Finland’s 2007 World champion Tero Pitk‰m‰ki and Australia’s Beijing sixth placegetter Jarrod Bannister.

Speaking at the John Landy Lunch to launch the Melbourne meeting, Pitk‰m‰ki suggested he would be after a performance in the 85-90 metre range.

Bannister, who was next in line to comment, added with a straight face that he would be shooting for something between 86 and 91.

And the forecast is for a warm day, which should favour the explosive events but cool off enough into the evening to please the middle-distance athletes, too.

Suffice to say, that whoever comes up with the outstanding performance of the Melbourne Track Classic will have to go some indeed.

Kiprop was installed as Olympic champion after International Olympic Committee disqualified Rashid Ramzy of Bahrain for testing positive to a banned drug.

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